Ingenious eco-friendly innovations

PaperFlops - made from upcycled newspaper and coconut shells

When it comes to being a more eco-friendly consumer, creativity plays a huge role. Nearly all of the best energy saving and waste reducing practises are the result of out-of-the-box thinking, such as all-electric vehicles and solar shingles. But you don’t have to be part of a high tech company to make a difference. Check out these ingenious homemade ‘greenovations’ to find some inspiration of your own:

Evergreen Plastic Bottle Christmas Tree

The holiday season may have just ended, but local governing bodies worldwide may want to take a cue from Kaunas, Lithuania, when planning next year’s festivities. With the help of artist Jolanta Šmidtienė, this Lithuanian city constructed 13-metre tall Christmas tree made entirely of 40,000 recycled green-coloured bottles and zip ties for the 2011 holiday season. The tree was lit up from the inside at night, creating an exemplary model upcycling in a traditionally wasteful season.

Water Watcher

Sometimes it takes a young mind to solve the world’s biggest problems. This was definitely the case for Elizabeth Rintels, a Virginia, USA native who developed the concept of the Water Watcher for the By Kids For Kids’ Going Green Challenge when she was just 12 years old. If developed, the gadget could be attached to any faucet and would beep each time a half-gallon (1.89 litres) of water was used. Rintels, now 15, has a prototype of the gadget and is seeking a manufacturer to make the product available in households worldwide.


Part of what’s trending now in fashion right now is what’s affectionately known by ecouterre, eco-friendly and sustainable fashion that makes use of organic and recycled materials. While many upscale designers have dabbled in the movement, one of the coolest contributions has come from the creative workshop known as PaperFlops, which uses recycled and upcycled newspapers—as well as coconut shells, palm tree roots, and 100% rubber—to make its flip flops. All materials are completely biodegradable, and the workshop employs mentally and physically disabled workers in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, to make this innovative homemade footwear.

Kyoto Box

What started out as an afternoon project with his two little girls became an award winning greenovation idea for Jon Bohmer, a Norwegian-born inventor based in Kenya. The Kyoto box is a solar cooker originally made from two cardboard boxes (now from polypropylene) and an acrylic cover that can be used to sterilise water and to boil or bake food. It won the FT Climate Change Challenge in 2009, as this eco-invention eliminates the need to cut down firewood, lowers the cost of energy, reduces C02 emissions, and provides a low-cost means for cleaning water.

Feeling inspired? Start implementing some simple changes to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Take shorter showers to reduce water usage, and unplug kitchen gadgets and electronics when they’re not in use. Use a mobile phone recycling site to dispose of your old Smartphone, and research new uses for old clothes, books, and scrap materials. Who knows—you might just become the next great green- innovater.

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