MiaGreen Conference 2011

A couple weeks ago I attended the MiaGreen Expo & Conference in Miami, and here’s my review of the show…

Nearly 3,000 attendees turned out for the show, visiting some 120 booths in the showroom and 60+ speakers for the conferences.  Truth be told, I can’t give a very thorough review of the entire event because I only walked the showroom, and skipped out on the conferences.  But, I did get to see some cool products, discover new companies, and meet some wonderful people!

Most of the show was geared towards the building industry (engineering, architecture, construction), with a variety of innovative materials on display.  Solar panels, LED lights, water-saving adapters for toilets, recycled flooring, and energy-saving insulation.  Very good stuff, but I was on the lookout for more consumer type products.

The most exciting find for me?  The My Biotiful Bag booth!  It was like discovering a pair of Terra Plana heels in a closet full of work boots (albeit very cool, sustainably produced work boots!) The brand hails from Paris, and offers a full line of versatile day bags and purses in a host of scrumptious colors.  I was lucky enough to have lunch with one of the brand’s founders last week, and I will expound on this fabulous label in a later post!

Two more companies I found that don’t require a contractors license to get excited about: Elu-Zen and Aussan Natural.

Both brands offer all-natural cleaning products, but Elu-Zen impressed me the most.  The formula for their products is made from a blend of 100% nontoxic, biodegradable ingredients, and is safe enough to drink–literally.  Aussan Natural also claims to be 100% natural, botanical, and nontoxic (“Made with Food Grade Ingredients”), but I didn’t get a chance to test any of their products.  I will be on the lookout for them popping up in my local Wholefoods!

I tested Elu-Zen’s hand sanitizer (which is just as effective as Purell, yet without the reeking smell) and was informed that the essential base ingredients in that product are used in all their other products as well–face wash, pet spray, insect repellent, shampoo, laundry detergent, floor cleaner, and industrial-strength hand soap– which made me think that if you can put basically the same product on your face as on your floor, and still get the job done, then it must be worth a try!  But so far I have only sampled the hand sanitizer, so I can’t endorse the effectiveness of their other products.  I may order for myself some of their Sunburn Soother (for those long-exposure beach days coming up) and their Tile & Bath Cleaner (because I’m sick of using nasty Tilex!)  Will post my reviews if said purchases take place in near future   : )

All-in-all, I’d say the Expo was well worth the $25 entrance fee.  Next year I’ll make sure to sit myself down and soak up the conferences as well!

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Uncorporate Tees

Spotted on Springwise:  These T-shirts look comfy and quirky at once, with great cuts and real knots at the neck which make for a lovely trompe l’oeil effect.  On top of that, they are made made in the USA using organic cotton (which is grown in the USA!)  Americans can still make good stuff.

image from Formalitees.com

from the Formalitees website:

“The Tie Tee was invented by Bjorn Borstelmann and Kelley Sharp, two twenty-somethings who’re sick of the wastefulness of business as usual.

The Tie Tee combines the casual comfort of a sustainably produced T-shirt with the timeless icon of a necktie, creating a new symbol of professionalism – one that’s as substantial as the symbol of servitude it replaces is shallow.”

www.formalitees.com

Illumi-Charger

I admit, I’m guilty of it.  I leave my laptop, iPhone and other gadget chargers synced into the wall at ALL times.   I know I’m wasting energy, it’s just so darn convenient!  Well, hopefully we can say good by to those phantom electric charges with the clever new Illumi-Charger.  The charger uses solar power to provide you with off-grid power to fuel your gadgets.  An award recipient at this years Greener Gadgets competition, I hope to see this product on the shelves (and with a typical wall outlet option) soon!

Trash Talk

I’m on the downtown improvement board where I live and trying to encourage some sustainable decisions that will make living green just a little easier.  One pretty obvious idea: make recycling accessible to everyone!  It makes me cringe to see the large public cans overflowing with cardboard, paper, and water bottles.  So we just need to tell the city to grab some bins and leave them on the corners… Sounds easy enough, right?  Sure, if we wanted the bins to be rained on, get taken by the next morning and clutter the pedestrian corners.   I’m looking for a better solution.  A pretty and well designed solution.  I have found a few from landscapeforms (pictured), though I want to hear from you all on this one:

What creative ways has your city promoted sustainable recycling or trash managment?


Growing Holiday Cards

I love to get cards and letters… birthday, holidays, just-because.  There is nothing quite like getting a written note.  But what to do with cards when they’ve expired their display time?  It’s either sock them away in a box or drawer, or toss them in the garbage (which always makes me feel sad!).

Needless to say, I’m loving Green Field Paper Company‘s plantable “Grow-a-Note” holiday cards!  The paper is made of 100% post-consumer pulp and printed using soy inks, and is embedded with tiny wildflower seeds.  When the holidays are done, you simply put the card in a pot, add water, and voila!  Up sprout your wild-holiday-card-flowers!  So much better than just throwing them away.

Green Field makes all kinds of recycled and plantable paper goodies, from writing paper, to business cards, to journals and sketchbooks, made from hemp, recycled jeans, coffee bean scraps, and more.

Ross Lovegrove

Ross Lovegrove is sui generis in the world of designers.  His idiosyncratic approach to product design is organically breathtaking– fluid in appearance, and revolutionary in composition.  He describes himself as “an evolutionary biologist, more than a designer.”  This quote coming from one of the few sources I could find information on this incredible innovator, in an interview with Design Boom.

The following video is his presentation for TED, (which we recently wrote about here at Innovate). It’s a fantastic talk, but don’t get too sidetracked by the fact that there is a lot of focus on chairs!  (It’s more about the design process and materials, rather than the object itself).

Two items conspicuously missing from his talk are his Alpine Capsule and Solar Trees:

The Alpine Capsule is an off-grid, sustainable, futuristic cabin, if you will. Created as “simply a way to place people in the extremes of nature and its wonders, whilst retaining the maximum of comfort…space technology not in space, but on earth.”¹ The Capsule is meant to be a sanctuary within nature,  transparent from the inside looking out, but reflective of its surroundings on the exterior.  Learn more about it here.

Street lamps are often a dull affair, and Lovegrove’s Solar Trees are a welcome aesthetic antidote to humdrum street appearance.  ” The Solar Trees communicate more than light… they communicate the trust of placing beautifully made, complex natural forms outside for the benefit of all of society”  Read further at hg.hu.

image via Lisa Town

image via hg.hu

¹from interview featured in Clear magazine, issue 33

*Alpine Capsule images from Dezeen.com (Design Magazine)


The Indoor Mini-Garden

I live in an apartment without any yard to speak of (the crawling vines on my building’s fence don’t really count), so there isn’t a place where I can grow my own yummy, organic veggies, even though I want to!  Neither do I possess the green thumb needed to sustain a living plant. Needless to say, when I saw this cool little creation called an Aerogarden, I was pretty stoked.

Touted as the “Foolproof dirt-free indoor garden”, the Aerogarden works by way of oxygen and water.  There is a little pump inside the bottom half of the unit which circulates water into the seed pods, causing them to grow, without the need of a soil base.  The actual science behind this is called aeroponics (similar to hydroponics), which utilizes air and mist to make the growth happen.  The top part houses a special growth light, to make sure the little green guy gets plenty of “sun”.  The Aerogarden is built to house all kinds of edibles and pretty things, from heirloom tomatoes and salad greens, to delicate herbs and flowers.

Though there is no real match to an old-fashion dirt and (real) sun garden, this might be the next best thing!  And you’ll always know exactly where your tomatoes and herbs came from.