Category: Green living

Kinetic pavement generates extra energy at Olympics

A temporary footbridge by London’s Olympic Park is being fitted with 12 energy-harvesting tiles designed to generate additional electricity during the Games.

Made from recycled lorry tyres and recycled aluminium, the tiles flex 5mm when stepped on, which creates the electricity. The company behind the tiles – Pavegen Systems – is elusive about the precise technology it employs, but according to an interview last year with The Engineer, the Pavegen team has invented a hybrid solution which takes advantage of the ability of certain materials to transform mechanical strain into an electric charge.

Forecast to generate a total of 21 kilowatt hours of electricity over the course of the Olympic Games, the tiles are unlikely to make a significant dent in the event’s overall energy use. However, as the company’s video highlights below, the installation could signal the mainstream uptake of a new renewable energy source.

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Edible packaging could help eliminate waste

Despite rigorous recycling campaigns, millions of tonnes of packaging waste end up in landfill every year. However, a new development in packaging technology could now mark the first steps to change.

Chemical engineer David Edwards is famed for his ‘breathable food‘ invention, and now plans to develop and commercialise a new idea: edible packaging.

The invention, called WikiCells, is derived from nature’s very own packaging system: its digestible skin. Potatoes, tomatoes, apples… they all have an edible exterior protecting the fruit within. Even lemon peel ends up eaten in the form of zest.

According to the WikiCells website, small particles of chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and other natural – edible – substances are used to create a packaging to protect soft foods such as cheese, yoghurt and even ice cream, which the company plans to market to a French audience later this year.

So far the team has experimented with a gazpacho-stuffed tomato membrane, a wine-filled grape-like shell and an orange juice-protecting shell. According to Edwards, an edible milk bottle is not out of the realms of possibility, either.

“No wrappers. No plastic. No artificial anything. Just all natural everything,” reads the WikiCells website. Are you eco-conscious enough to eat your own packaging?

Surprising household electricity habits revealed

Do you know how much your TV habit costs you? And we don’t mean your cable bill. As a nation, we watch an average of more than six hours of television a day, costing us £205 million in electricity more than the much-touted average of five hours a day.

This is just one finding from a new report by the Energy Saving Trust that delves deep into our household electricity habits. Other shockers include:

  • Single person households – over 29 percent of homes in the UK – use as much, if not more, energy than typical families use for cooking and laundry.
  • We run, on average, 5.5 washes a week, but we spend more on keeping crockery and cutlery clean than we do our clothes: using a dishwasher uses nearly twice as much energy as a washing machine.
  • Up to 16 percent of our electricity bill is spent on keeping appliances on standby.

Find more facts and figures, as well as guidance for lowering your energy bills, here.

Green beyond the grave: demand for eco-coffins soars

Eco-friendly Britons are ramping up their commitment to a green lifestyle by making environmentally-conscious decisions for their final hurrahs.

Leading textile mill Hainsworth has reported a 700 percent increase in sales of its woollen coffins in the past year. Wool is a natural, sustainable and biodegradable material that can be cremated, or will simply rot away in the earth, and offers the added bonus of supporting British farming.

The company began making woollen coffins in 2009 when a work experience student happened upon the 1668 Burial in Woollen Act, which stipulated that people had to be buried in a woollen shroud to help boost England’s wool industry.

Increasing numbers of Brits are shying away from traditional funeral services, with the number of eco-funerals reaching more than 50,000 a year – 100 percent more than five years ago.

‘Alternative’ coffins now account for around ten percent of all coffins used in the UK, with wicker and cardboard proving the most popular. Other materials include willow, bamboo, banana leaf, felt and of course, wool.

Spokesman for the National Association of Funeral Directors Dominic Maguire told Funeral Service Times: “People are concerned that, when they day, they don’t leave much of a carbon footprint. Thier feeling is that they want to leave a legacy, a sense that they didn’t use up natural resources.”