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Products and Design

New Flexible Solar USB Charger Can Charge iPhone 3.5 Times

Minnesota-based research group Skajaquoda has developed a flexible solar panel that goes around any bag strap and charges its internal battery as you go about your day.The device, called Sun Strap, uses a 1.5W flexible solar panel and has a 5600 mAh built in battery that can charge any USB device such as a smartphone, tablet or camera. When fully charged, Sun Strap's battery is capable of charging an iPhone 5 three and a half times.On the bottom, Sun Strap has a 5V/1A USB output, LED battery indicator and 5V/1A micro USB input so you can always leave the house with a full battery. It's lightweight, which makes it useful for outdoor activities, weighing only 5.8oz (165 grams) and with a size of: 3" x 15" (7.6 x 38 cm).

Food Industry Playing Catch Up on Sustainability

Food and beverage companies are beginning to realize the importance of sustainability, with a growing number of companies working to advance environmental and social improvement in product ingredients, manufacturing, and packaging through to end-of-life.

Turkish Design Firm Looks at Plastic Bottle Waste in a New Light

Designnobis, a creative innovation firm, has developed a cheap lighting concept comprised of solar panels and discarded plastic bottles. The Turkish firm developed a product they call ‘Infinite Light’ — a solar lantern that could be a cost-effective way of supplying light to people in the developing world.The lantern consists of a flexible solar panel and batteries fitted inside an empty plastic bottle (which increases the energy gain). During the day, the solar panel harvests sunlight, charging the batteries before switching to battery power in the evening once the solar energy has dissipated. The device is held together in a wire frame, with a handle for easy hanging or carrying.

Solar-Powered Plug Transforms Windows Into Outlets

A pair of designers have developed a new portable outlet that absorbs solar energy and converts it to electricity for everyday use.This nifty device can be attached to a window or wall that gets a lot of sunlight and, after eight hours of charging, holds up to 10 hours of electricity. This can then be used to charge your phone or any number of electricity-hungry gadgets.If you are in a location that lacks an electrical socket, it is even possible to leave the solar plug on the wall and use it as an outlet to keep your laptop or anything else requiring electricity charged. This is an example of how solar technology is developing to become practical in consumers’ everyday lives.

Unilever Says New Ice Cream Fridge Reduces Energy Use by 70%

Unilever, which developed improvements in point-of-sale freezer technology that have reportedly resulted in energy reductions of up to 50 percent through improved insulation, high-efficiency compressors and LED lighting, announced this weekend that its scientists have improved on the technology. The company says the new, hyper-efficient freezers that house its Wall’s brand ice cream now have the potential to achieve an industry-leading 70 percent* energy reduction, resulting in CO2 savings equivalent to removing half a million cars* from the road.

Electrolux Design Lab Semi-Finalists Tackle Issues with Textiles, Food, Air Quality

The Electrolux Design Lab announced its 35 semi-finalists for this year's competition for design and technology students. They include everything from sustainable fashion solutions to futuristic air purifiers to food growth and storage systems.

'Rag Bag' Makes It Easy for Shoppers to Donate Unwanted Clothes

Many of us buy new things even when we’ve already got a closet full of barely worn clothes. Swedish fashion label Uniforms for the Dedicated has come up with a creative way to alter that behavior with the Rag Bag, a biodegradable shopping bag that helps shoppers live up to the motto: “Donate something old every time you buy something new.” The pre-addressed and postage-paid carrier breaks down various barriers consumers might encounter before donating their unwanted clothes.

A Sustainability Tale of Two Cities: Dubai and London

The term permaculture, coined by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in 1978, originally referred to "permanent agriculture" but was subsequently broadened to include "permanent culture”:"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system." (Mollison)Its three cardinal tenets: care for the earth, care for the people, and return of surplus.

P&G, Human Needs Project Open Self-Sustaining Community Facility in Africa’s Largest Slum

Procter & Gamble and the Human Needs Project (HNP), an NGO dedicated to providing basic and empowerment services to meet everyday human needs, are today launching a sustainable community center in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa and one of the largest in the world.

The North Face to Use 100% Recycled Polyester Fabric By 2016

The North Face has announced a series of updates to its CSR agenda, such as using 100 percent recycled content for all of its polyester fabric by 2016.The most significant updates focus on increased use of recycled content in apparel, an extended lifecycle for products through Clothes the Loop, a clothing take-back program, reduction in environmental impacts, and the launch of the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), a universal standard for improved animal welfare throughout the brand’s down supply chain.

Company Develops Coconut Husk-Based Filters to Treat Wastewater

Premier Tech Aqua (PTA), a business unit of the Environmental Technologies Group of Premier Tech, has announced that it has achieved a breakthrough in its compact biofiltration technologies for the onsite wastewater treatment industry.The company says its new Ecoflo Coco Filter is a model of sustainable development — a permanent septic installation that fully protects ecosystems using a filtering media mindful of its impact on the environment and the prosperity of future generations.

Retailers Including Walmart, Target Influencing Investment in Product Sustainability

Walmart is the top retailer driving companies to invest in product sustainability, followed by Target, Costco and Nordstrom, according to research released by Pure Strategies in the report, The Path to Product Sustainability. The research, completed in February 2014 with 100 global consumer product companies such as The Coca Cola Company, Henkel and Timberland, finds that retailers, along with corporate strategy and CEO vision, are the primary reasons firms are incorporating product efforts in their sustainability programs.

Honest By Offering Scholarship for Tomorrow's Responsible Fashion Designers

Honest By, the pioneering fashion company founded by Belgian designer Bruno Pieters, which centers itself on price and production transparency as well as sustainability, has announced a new initiative, the 2014/2015 Future Fashion Designer Scholarship (FFDS).The first scholarship of its kind, the FFDS aims to offer financial support to an exceptional student who wants to develop his or her MA collection in a responsible and transparent way. The winner will receive a €10.000 cash prize to develop his or her MA collection, and receive guidance and mentoring from Pieters himself.

Chevy Volt Drivers Surpass Half a Billion Electric Miles

Chevrolet Volt owners have accumulated more than half a billion all-electric miles since the electric vehicle’s (EV) launch in late 2010, according to a recent announcement.Based on a General Motors (GM) study of more than 300 Volts in service in California for more than 30 months, many owners are exceeding the EPA-rated estimate of 35 miles of EV range per full charge, with about 15 percent surpassing 40 miles of range.Volt owners are doing more than 63 percent of their overall driving in EV mode. While the driving range in EV mode can be greatly impacted by temperature, driving technique and terrain, the ease with which Volt drivers are avoiding gasoline use further shows the Volt’s suitability for almost any lifestyle, GM says.

Whirlpool Receives First ENERGY STAR® Certification for Clothes Dryers

Whirlpool is now the first appliance manufacturer to offer an ENERGY STAR® certified clothes dryer, after receiving certification from the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ENERGY STAR program.The Whirlpool Duet dryer uses new technologies that combine to create a highly energy-efficient drying cycle. Advanced moisture sensors are used to assure the cycle ends precisely when the load is dry, which helps prevent over drying that leads to wasted energy and can cause damage to fabrics. The dryer also uses dual element modulation technology through the Ecoboost setting to adjust the heat output based on the exact moisture content in the clothes. This reduces the heat for the overall cycle, reducing energy consumption, while only slightly extending the drying time.

Ford, Samsung Developing Fuel-Saving Vehicle Batteries

Ford and Samsung have announced a dual-battery system for gas-powered cars which could offer significant fuel savings in future vehicles.The process combines a lithium-ion battery with a 12-volt lead-acid battery for a new power source that the companies claim could provide fuel savings by enabling regenerative braking in non-hybrid and non-electric vehicles. The system is the product of a 10-year research partnership into battery technology.

UCS Names Hyundai-Kia, Honda, Toyota Least-Polluting Automakers

Hyundai-Kia, Honda and Toyota are the most eco-friendly automakers in the world, according to a new ranking released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).The 2014 Automaker Rankings report analyzes new passenger cars and trucks from the 2013 model year. For the first time, the UCS analysis shows that all 8 top-selling automakers now have reduced the global-warming emissions from their average vehicle sold when compared to the first report that looked at 1998 vehicles. Tailpipe emissions of smog-forming pollutants from the average vehicle also have decreased by 87 percent since 2000.

Autodesk Sustainability Report Shows Internal, External Victories

The world’s swelling population is intensifying the complexity and urgency of numerous global challenges, from climate change to healthcare to access to water. Many of these problems are so complex and interconnected that they seem unsolvable, but designers worldwide are stepping forward to meet these challenges with smarter, better design.

Startup Using Magnets for Salt-Free Solution to Softening Water

In the weeks leading up to the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) finals on June 4th, where the runner-up will be decided via live online public vote, we will get to know our 11 semi-finalists. Today, meet AkwaMag.Have you ever noticed the build-up of limescale — hard, chalky deposits — in your kettle, on your dishes or sometimes around your taps? This is the side effect of “hard water” evaporating. Other than being unsightly, hard water deposits can clog pipes and accelerate corrosion.

A Record 7 Black Pencils Reward Creativity for Social Good at 52nd D&AD Professional Awards

The juries at the 52nd D&AD Professional Awards last night at Battersea Evolution in London gave out the highest-ever number of Black Pencils ever awarded to a host of projects representing socially progressive, ethical and innovative advertising and design.


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