Lately I have noticed a few different items I thought were really worth taking a look at. Obviously we (all of us, but especially Americans) have a lot of steps to take before the majority of consumer decisions are able to be low waste, low energy, and low production input, but each of these products is at least a little friendlier to the environment than its predecessors.
Have you been longing for something a little more beautiful than the typical flourecent bulb? Look out for the plumen. This recent winner of the Brit Insurance Design of the year award for 2011 (the photo source) is coming soon in a 110 volt version (US markets), and already available in a 230 volt version. Visit the plumen website for more pictures and specs. (I discovered this through EcoGeek.)
Bolefloors make the most of trees by using computer programs to decide the best way to cut each log into tightly fitting flooring pieces. Technically it may not "reduce waste", since scraps from typical board making are used to construct particle board, but it would reduce the number of trees necessary per floor, and enable the most beautiful woods to be utilized to their fullest. I think it is also a lovely new design technique; using a modern technology to create something old fashioned and homey looking. I'm a fan. (I also found this through EcoGeek, picture from Bolefloors.)
Last year was a big deal for us composting fans. Why? Because SunChips came out with compostable snackfood packaging. (And compostable in your yard, not just gigantic facilities.) I really liked SunChips even before that, so I was even more excited. Apparently though, some people did not appreciate how loudly the compostable bag crinkled when touched...it was pretty loud. So, this year SunChips has released a new bag, still compostable, but quieter because the material they created is a bit more rubbery. Want to learn more? SunChips has it all pretty well documented, and they even have a video so you can hear the crinkle comparisons for yourself.
Unfortunately, they will only be using this bag for the original flavor, and the other flavors will be switching back to plastic because of customer prefrence. Really unfortunate I think.
(I heard about this from the ENN, Environmental News Network. Photo from Our Twenty Minute Kitchen Garden, a fun blog with a nice write up on the whole process/issue.)
I wanted to add a link showing you a compostable toothbrush option, but I am sad to say all of the things I found were astronomically priced and had poor reviews, except for The Environmental Toothbrush (photo theirs). They are only being marketed in Australia, so shipping is a bit pricey, but for $36 plus $12 international shipping you get 12 brushes (in soft, medium, or child soft), or $4 per brush. Not too bad for plastic-free, though I'm not excited about adding world shipping to my toothbrush's footprint.
I would really like to see more options in this market. Toothbrushes come in all kinds of newfangled versions these days, but most of them will do nothing but pile up once we're done with them. Mixing with the soil is a much better option.
Let me know if you have any leads on compostable toothbrushes...or if you plan on visiting me on your way back from a trip to Australia....