EcoModo - The Best of Treehugger

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This week at TreeHugger: We come across one of more inventive design concepts we've seen in recent memory: the yo-yo powered mp3 player. Can you hear Recellular now? They're keeping 75,000 cell phones out of the garbage each week and passing them on to developing countries around the world. Check out Motherboard, the company that specializes in recycling defective bare circuit boards into office supplies like binders, clipboards, mousepads and more. And last, but not least, we bring you the HumanCar, a human-powered, electric-motor-assisted, street-legal quadcycle that'll go fast enough to scare the pants off your friends.

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Just when you thought you'd never be able to get down to Michael Jackson's Billie Jean while tossing a yo-yo, this lifesaving gadget arrives. Though just a design concept, it recently took home the Pop Sci and Core77 award for best human-powered device. The inventors, Chris Aimone and Tomek Bartczak, who, by all accounts, are two of the swingingest guys you'll ever meet, estimate that 10-12 tosses per hour will keep the music playing without interruption. And don't worry about the headphone cord getting tangled, or having to stop listening to keep yo-yoing; a pair of wireless headphones allows for endless music and yo-yo fun.

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Americans, gadget-lovers that we are, trade in our cell phones for a newer model every eighteen months, on average. This can be fun, but also creates a huge waste stream of used phones still in usable condition. Recellular, a fifteen year-old company with some serious vision, now controls more than half of the US market for used cell phones, and in addition to keeping 75,000 phones a week out of landfills, the company provides affordable wireless communications to residents of developing countries around the world. If that weren't do-goodie enough for you, the resale of these phones benefits cash-strapped non-profits. These phones often go to countries where residents often have cellular access (over 80% of the world has it now), but where new phones are prohibitively expensive. Recellular's phones retail for $40 or less, opening up communication possibilities to people far from land line infrastructure. Now that's what we call a win-win-win.

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From phones to motherboards, we can't get enough waste stream reduction this week. Motherboard, an appropriately named company if we've ever seen one, has been specializing in recycling defective bare circuit boards since 1991 in order to help divert waste from landfills and make some pretty snazzy office supplies in the process. The circuit boards may have been designed for use gadgets galore, from computers to phones to televisions, and we've never seen anything like Motherboard's products before. Their collection consists mostly of office supplies like binders, clipboards, journals and mousepads but also has some fun with things like cuff links, coasters, photo frames and money clips. They also offer CD storage, photo albums and lighting. Is there anything busted circuit boards can't do?

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Lastly, we bring you a story of a gadget-rific device designed to marry the wind-in-your-hair exhilaration of bicycle travel with a bottomless need for speed. Though more of a quadcycle than a bicycle, the HumarCar is a human-powered, electric-motor-assisted, street-legal ride. The prototype, after being tested in "downtown Seattle traffic, raced downhill (faster than the turbo charged camera chase car was willing to go at our secret testing facility)..." is ready for the peaks and hills in your town. The question is: are you ready for it?

TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.

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