Recycled wine corks get new life as stylish footwear

ReCork 2 new shoes

We’re able to recycle more things now than ever before. Entrepreneurs continue to come up with innovative processes that promise to keep expanding the list.

The latest recycling innovation is a new Kickstarter campaign I recently found called “ReCORK: Imagine Carbon Negative Footwear”. ReCORK promises stylish footwear for men and women made from recycled natural wine corks.

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Packaging goes green – with mushrooms

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Mushroom packaging is a green alternative to traditional bubble wrap

Think packaging and chances are bubble wrap comes to mind.

There are other, greener alternatives on the market, including Geami, a honeycomb-looking, paper-based wrapping that’s an effective choice. But a new, more natural option has hit the market that might just capture your imagination.

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Full Circle makes indoor composting easy

One of Full Circle’s eco-friendly compost bins

For many, the idea of composting conjures up a picture of smelly, insect-attracting, decomposing food leftovers. And although more people than ever are planting home gardens, taking the next step into composting can still be daunting.

Full Circle – a two-year old company with an ever-growing line of top quality, functional, eco-friendly products made from sustainable and renewable materials – has created two new products that will make composting easy for everyone.

For more on these remarkable eco-friendly in-home compostors, see http://bit.ly/nvz4k2.

Recycled Gift Wrap makes Gift Giving special

As we move closer to Christmas,with thoughts turning to presents and lists, there are some important ecological facts to bear in mind.

Americans generate an added 5 million tons of waste during the holidays. Of this, four million tons are wrapping paper and shopping bags. Worse still, the majority of holiday wrapping paper can’t be recycled because it contains lead and/or metallic materials, which are toxic if burned. So it all winds up in our landfills.

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Treefrog’s tree-free paper – an eco-friendly alternative

Treefrog copy paper is 100% biodegradable and made without any wood products

Worldwide, the consumption of paper has grown 400 percent over the past forty years. Thirty five percent of all the trees harvested are used to manufacture paper.

“There’s a huge amount of rainforest lost every day to make paper,” said Michael Nilan, CEO of Treezero, Inc., an Atlanta-based company that sells a 100 percent tree-less paper called Treefrog.

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Green Gadgets for your home

 This is a guest post by Danielle Brycz from Verde Lifestyles, an online eco-friendly home décor store.

Green ideasWhen I think of green technology for the home, my mind jumps to energy saving devices and appliances.  But there’s so much more!

Most of the products we use have eco-friendly alternatives. Take your daily routine. You wake up, hit your alarm clock, turn on your bedside lamp. Then you shower with a low-flow showerhead, blow-dry your hair, eat breakfast, and are out the door with your backpack or briefcase.

Besides conserving water and turning off your lights when not using them, did you consider greener options the last time you made a purchase? It’s just a matter of making small changes.

Here are some great green gadgets for the home you might not have considered.

The MiniWiz solar light

The MiniWiz solar light

 

 

Solar Powered Lamp

 

MiniWiz’s indoor/outdoor lamp – introduced at 2009’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – uses solar technology to provide light. Their SolarBulb can be attached to any plastic bottle. Its LED light automatically turns on when dark and is water-resistant. You can fill the water bottle when it’s windy. Though not currently available for sale, it will be priced around $25.

Naturally- Powered Clocks 

 

A handsome bamboo clock powered by dirt

A handsome bamboo clock powered by dirt

There’s an adorable clock from Bedol that’s powered by water and a little lemon juice. This mixture charges the clock for up to 6-8 weeks!

 

Another favorite is a dirt-powered clock by designer Marieke Staps. Its copper and zinc electrodes go directly into the soil for a natural source of energy. Not only is the power renewable, the clock’s made of bamboo, making it one of the most eco-friendly clocks I’ve come across. Another bonus is you can use any type of plant to power the clock!

Barbar-Eco-8000- dryerThe ECO 8000 Blow Dryer

While its hard to believe, this Barbar dryer cuts both your drying time and energy consumption in half!  Plus its ceramic heating components protect you from radiation. The cover doesn’t appear to be sustainable, but it’s a step in the right direction!

Naturally-powered Bags 

 

NoonStyle solar Messenger Bag

NoonStyle's stylish solar Messenger Bag

The Voltaic solar panel backpack has been on my wish list for a long time. It will charge all your devices, even rechargeable batteries. (Not all at once of course.) Fully charged in 6-8 hours, it comes with an adaptor to charge at home or in the car. Another bonus: the wire channels bring power to the shoulder straps for easy use and there’s a plug for headphones.  It’s a little more expensive than your average backpack, but well worth it.

 

If you’d rather have a messenger bag than a backpack, the NoonStyle Solar Messenger Bag  is for you. Same concept, different style. Though stylish, a big drawback is it’s almost double the price of the Voltaic backpack.

 

The solar grill - an eco-friendly way to cook

The solar grill - an eco-friendly way to cook

Solar Powered Grill

 

Developed by Tammock Trading, the Solar Grill is the first of its kind. Made of concave metal coated with a mirror, it focuses the sun’s rays to cook your food. While not practical for cloudy days, on sunny days it’s powerful enough to burn your food! For $240, this nifty grill’s great for camping or the beach. Compared to other eco-friendly grills, this product takes it to the max!

These are some of my favorite eco-friendly products. Feel free to share yours!

Danielle Brycz, Verde Lifestyles

Volvo to utilize a cleaner green fuel

Volvo CO2 carbon neutral truckVolvo announced plans to test Dimethyl ether (DME), a cleaner burning fuel sourced from renewable materials, in some of their trucks.

DME isn’t new, but its impact on the environment is impressive. This colorless, clean-burning gas has the potential to be 95 percent carbon neutral, with zero particulate emissions  According to Wikipedia, as a fuel source DME shows promise for diesel, standard gasoline and gas turbine engines.

The DME for the Volvo project will be an energy-rich, highly viscous by-product of the paper pulp industry. Volvo plans to have selected customers test 14 of their trucks at four locations in different parts of Sweden  between 2010 and 2012 at four Preem oil company stations.

To learn more, check out the video.

EPA ranks San Jose-Santa Clara in top 20 for green power

epa-green-pertnershipThe U.S. EPA has recognized San Jose-Santa Clara among the top 20 partners across the country in their Green Power Partnership for generating the most green electricity onsite.

The San Jose-Santa Clara Pollution Control Plant – one of 8 California organizations to be recognized by the EPA – generates 56 percent green power from biogas.

Green power – from renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, and low-impact hydropower – generates less pollution than conventional power and produces no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA’s Green Power Partnership works with over 1,100 partner organizations – Fortune 500 companies,  local, state and federal governments, and a growing number of colleges and universities – to voluntarily purchase green power to reduce the environmental impacts of conventional electricity use.

Once again, San Jose-Santa Clara County have raised the bar for their commitment to sustainability. Wonder what they’ll do next?

New Generations – a better carbon neutral biofuel

Not all biofuels are alike.

new-generation-biofuels-logo-300x911New Generation Biofuels, a renewable fuels provider, offers commercial customers a biofuel with minimal CO2 emissions and more than 40% lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions than either diesel or biodiesel.

New Generations’ biofuel comes from a variety of feedstock – vegetable oil, animal fat and/or algae. With water and some proprietary ingredients added to the mix, it’s then blended. The result is a white milky substance with virtually no sulfur, which the company believes provides a lower cost, renewable, sustainable and fully biodegradable alternative energy source.

Originating in Italy, this amazing patent-pending technology has made its way to North America where, says New Generation Biofuels Chief Marketing Officer Phil Wallis,there are several perfect large markets.

“We go after the market with the (largest) need to reduce their emissions,” he said – power generation and the boiler markets. The latter includes institutions, hospitals, and schools.

Currently working with combustion turbines and boilers, Wallis says the biofuel combusts so well, one client – Cleaver Brooks, a leading manufacturer of commercial and industrial boilers – saw a 50% reduction of NOx.

new-generations-biofuels2-150x1111This biofuel has a small carbon footprint compared to alternative existing fuel oil or biodiesel, says Wallis. “Many of the alternatives out there – wind, solar, etc. – require equipment, which comes at a cost.”  No extra equipment is necessary to make the switch to New Generations’ biofuel, Wallis said.

All that’s required is to clean the tank, tune the boiler to this kind of fuel mix (which takes about 1½ hours to do), then put the white liquid in.

“it’s as easy as changing your light bulbs.” Wallis said. This low cost alternative is “a low-hanging fruit for boilers,” he said.

Renwable Bambo Tableware in a Class of its Own

Bamboo Studio's elegant new product line

Bamboo Studio's elegant new product line

After a recent column on compostable disposables http://3.ly/IH6 I thought it fitting to look at some reusable tableware made out of renewable bamboo.

A species of grass rather than wood, bamboo has over 1,000 documented uses, including hardwood flooring, cutting boards and bathroom accessories.

A new company called Bamboo Studio recently introduced a stunning-looking line of reusable tableware. I say stunning because when I opened the box, I was astounded by the beauty of the products.

This tableware line includes different sized plates, bowls and round dishes, flatware, skewers and trays. These all-occasion dishes are created with simplicity and a natural design.

Though there are other renewable sources for tableware, materials like paper and sugarcane plates first must be turned into pulp before becoming the finished product. Not so with bamboo.

According to Scott Patterson, owner-partner of Bamboo Studio, the tableware is made from the bamboo’s sheath or outer covering. Unlike harvested wood, the sheath isn’t cut. After one year’s growth, the sheath dries, then falls to the ground. Bamboo Studio takes this naturally discarded product and turns it into good-looking tableware.

Unlike some bamboo products that are processed and laminated, the sheaths are boiled to allow for easy scraping, then cut into strips and layered.

That’s so it doesn’t leak, Patterson said.

It’s then glued with a water soluble, food safe glue, then pressed into shape. “It’s all done by hand,” he said.

And there’s no coating or lacquer. “It’s the natural beauty of the sheath.”

Invented and manufactured in China, “it has an elegant look,” says Patterson. “You could have a higher-end party and use a white tablecloth with it.”

“Everybody just loves (them),” says Patterson.

Many caterers and restaurants are using the bamboo forks and skewers, especially for things like sushi. The company just introduced a bamboo wine plate – perhaps the first of its kind that’s not plastic.

Adding to their appeal, they can be reused at least 5 times, perhaps more. Cleaning is easy, though don’t think about using a dishwasher. Hand wash in hot water, lightly scrub, rinse, then dry.

These products biodegrade within 6 months. And they’re compostable, though they’re not yet certified for this. The company’s working on that.

“From an environmental standpoint,” Patterson says, “we take something that’s laying on the (forest) floor and are reusing it instead of throwing it away.” And the result is a gorgeous, higher-end product.

Reasonably priced, they range from $7.99 to $9.99, depending on the dish size. The plates come in square or round. Bowls come in packages of eight. The distinctive-looking tray is $15.00 for a package of two. A set of eight (forks, spoons or knives) is $4.99.

Since these are new, they’re available at a limited number of small retailers, though Patterson says they’re working on getting them into Whole Foods Markets. The Bamboo Studio line is available online, along with specials, at www.ecobambooware.com.