As part of the 2009 Greener Gadgets Conference in New York on February 27th (read about the 2008 conference here), the design magazine Core 77 is presenting a green design competition. There are 50 green gadget finalists and by voting before February 20th, you can help determine which will be the top 10 that make it to live judging from the stage during the conference.
Right now, Hernando Barragan’s environmental traffic light called Social-environmental Station is leading with 1182 votes. These gadgets look like traffic lights and are meant to be placed in public areas. They will measure things like CO2 and visually display them so that environmental phenomena become more immediately visible to the public and less of an abstraction. Essentially, they will be “environmental signals that support decision making on environmental issues”.
Coming in at 874 votes is Recompute, a real working computer that is made of corrugated cardboard. The body is recyclable and easy to disassemble in order to remove the electronic components so that they don’t end up in landfill. According to the inventor, Brenden Macaluso, “Recompute is a new way of thinking about computers that layers sustainable ideas throughout its lifecycle to make an overall sustainable product that can be easily replicated.”
Power-Hog is running a close 3rd place with 745 votes. It’s a power consumption metering piggy bank meant to teach kids about energy use and costs. Users plug the piggy bank’s tale into an outlet and an electronic device into the snout. A coin in the piggy bank gets 30 minutes of power use. It is made from recycled PET and 100% recyclable.
The RITI Printer which uses coffee and tea dregs instead of ink, putting in action the 2nd R, Reuse, is one of my favorites. The Zeer, based on a Nigerian device which keeps produce and other perishables cool without the use of electricity is also, for lack of a better word, cool. Ubicycle has solar powered racking stations with rental bicycles located throughout urban areas. A universal card system makes it easy to go from train to bus to bike, giving public transportation users lots of options. The CompostAll replaces the kitchen garbage disposal and, instead, keeps the mulched food waste in a removable container under the sink so that it can be put in your outdoor compost bin. And just because I like things that can be made from scratch, I am partial to the D.I.Y. Light Electric Vehicle, a micro- solar system that can be easily transported via bicycle trailer. With its covered wagon aesthetic, it’s a great conversation piece at campgrounds and Burning Man Festivals.
The best thing about most of these gadgets is that they serve either an educational purpose or create greater efficiency and less waste; they aren’t just taking products we don’t actually need and making them slightly greener in order to market them. At the same time, there seems to have been a lot of thought put into reducing and reusing in terms of materials and production. It’s just the kind of innovation that we need.
Image Credit: Hernando Barragan