EcoModo: The Best of Treehugger

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This week at Treehugger: Get rid of that "ghost who pollutes" without calling Ghost Busters: The Power Genie will take care of the phantom electrical load that so many electrical appliances have while in "off" or standby mode. Meet the Centennial Lightbulb, a light that has been on for over 100 years. The latest addition to the "i-thing" lineage, the solar-powered i-SHELTERs. And finally, a weird but beautiful meeting of technology and culture: The Afghan Buddhas that were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001 are back... In laser form!

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Is it well known that most electrical appliances (televisions, stereos, DVD players, etc) use up electricity even when they are turned off. Taken individually, that phantom load is not too bad, but if you combine all of them you get a lot of energy, and in most countries, that means more pollution from coal power plants and the like. The Power Genie is a technological solution to that problem. Say you have a TV, DVD player, stereo and lamp all in one room. Using the Power Genie you would only need to switch off the lamp on leaving the room and everything else would shut down too. No more crawling under furniture to find power sockets. No more standby lights blinking eerily in a darkened room, and this would work for office settings too.

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Well designed things that last a long time do not have to be constantly replaced (so they are not going to the landfill) and keep doing their job for a long time. The best example of this is the Centennial Lightbulb: It was handcrafted by the Shelby Electric Company, has a carbon filament and has been burning continuously since 1901 in a California firehouse as a nightlight over the fire trucks.

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The solar-powered i-SHELTER is probably the biggest i-thing around (even bigger than Toyota's new i-swing). Its main benefits over regular bus stops is that it lights immediately (with LED light-sources, hopefully white ones soon) when someone walks inside, and since it is solar-powered there is no need to plug it into the power grid, saving construction costs. It was created by a Canadian company and some have already been installed in Chicago, Seattle, Edinburgh, some parts of Canada, and London has already contracted for 1,200 of the solar-LED bus stops.

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In 2001, the Taliban blew up many 175 feet tall Buddha statues in Afghanistan, but now Japanese artist Hiro Yamagata has the blessing of Afghani government to install a series of laser lights to return the Buddhas. Confirmed earlier this month, he will arrange the construction of a series of windmills and solar arrays which will power the lasers for two hours after sunset, four nights a week. The renewable energy facilities will also provide lighting to the Bamiya villagers, so this is actually art + humanitarian help.

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Gizmodo has already linked to the very interesting Sunball Solar Appliance here, so we'll avoid redundance, but we encourage you to check it out.

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Treehugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.

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