Salts: Natural and Uncommon

There are actually a wide variety of natural, gourmet salts out there: pink salt from the Himalayan Mountains, black salt from Cyprus, grey Celtic sea salt and red salt from Hawaii and Australia. Natural sea salts are nothing new, of course. They’ve been around forever. By contrast, white table salt is but a blink of the eye in the history …

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Very Compact Ofuros (Japanese Baths)

Japanese soaking baths are built small but deep. These compact “ofuro” will fit in just about anywhere — even the smallest apartment. Diamond Spa makes the baths pictured here. We’ve no idea on the price, but the concept is good. If anyone knows where to get this style of tub at a reasonable price please let us know.

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PaxFan: An Innovative Spiral Form

A fine example of biomimicry, the PaxFan is an innovative, spiral fan created by Jay Harman, an Australian inventor. His domestic exhaust fan is half as noisy and three-quarters more efficient than the average fan. Sierra Magazine reports: Harman spent a lot of his life watching water flow, both as a diver and as a sailor, one of those principles …

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Presso: A Non-Electric Espresso Maker

The Presso is a manually operated espresso machine — no electricity is required. You make an espresso by adding hot water and ground coffee at the top. When you press down on the levers, the pressure pushes the water through the coffee, and it is deposited in your cup. You can make either a double espresso or two single espressos …

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Effective Microorganisms or EM

“Effective Microorganisms” or EM is a formula of specially selected microbes which can be used for many applications. For example, they are a metaefficient compost additive. If you add a mixture of them to your kitchen compost and it will decompose more quickly and with less odor.

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Non-Toxic, Soy-Based Lubricants

If you want a metaefficient lubriciant, a soy-based one is probably the best choice. We’re talking about the kind of lubricant you use on gears, valves and chains. SoyClean makes a lubricant with all natural ingredients, and it penetrates just as well as more toxic lubricants. When using it, there are no harmful fumes or vapors involved. If you oil …

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MetaEfficient: Hand-Crank Coffee Grinders

Grinding coffee by hand has a few advantages: it’s quiet, it yields a more uniform grind, and you can take them camping. You can find hand-cranked grinders at Amazon.

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Solar Water Heating Simplified

Solar water heating works efficiently even in cloudy areas. Home Power Magazine recently ran an article that gives a simple overview of solar water heating systems (well, relatively simple). In the article, they examine various popular systems that have proven themselves reliable.

Biopavers

We mentioned previously that using porous pavers is an effective alternative to paving with concrete. They make patios and driveways less erosion-prone and they do not get as hot as hard-surfaced pavement. Now a company called Biopaver is trying to take things a step further by introducing a new type of paver designed to catch storm water run-off but also …

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Faucet Restrictors/Aerators

Have you ever spent time at the sink, judiciously adjusting the hot and cold water, to achieve that happy medium between “cold” and “scalding hot”? Well, we’ve been there too — and we’ve noticed that water streams down the sink in a meta-inefficient manner. That’s why these faucet restrictors are so handy. They attach like a regular faucet aerator but …

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BioBag: Biodegradable and Compostable Bags

BioBags are the first 100% bio­degradable alternative to plastic bags. They are made from cornstarch, vegetable oil and other renewable resources. BioBags makes kitchen “compost bags” to store foods scraps before composting. They can also can be used to store food in the refrigerator. The advantage over plastic, is that these bags will “breath” without leaking. This allows heat and …

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Eco-Disposable Diapers

Nobody makes eco-disposable diapers in the U.S. — Seventh Generation diapers come close, but according to a company representative, they are not fully biodegradable. The trouble is the outer liner of disposables is always some kind of plastic. The only commercially available, fully biodegradable, disposable diaper is the Swedish “Nature Boy & Girl” diaper which, instead of a using plastic …

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Kapok Pillows

Kapok is a silky fiber harvested in the rainforests of the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, tropical America and Africa. After the ripe pods of the tree are harvested, the seeds are removed and the fluffy fiber is meticulously cleaned and dried.

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Earth Sheltered Houses

Earth sheltered houses make use of earth or “berms” for protection against the natural elements. These homes can be complete underground homes, or homes which are protected by earth on just one side. The major advantage of this style of building is that the house has a constant and comfortable temperature throughout the year, so it is much less expensive …

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Natural Indigo Jeans: Metaefficient?

Originally, jeans were dyed with the color of the actual indigo plant. Today, natural indigo jeans can’t be considered metaefficient because they are expensive and only available as a kind of designer jean. Notwithstanding this, people admire these jeans because of their distinctive, deeply hued appearance. The story behind them is interesting too. There are at least three companies making …

MetaEfficient: Metal-Free Inks by Ecoprint

Not many print houses put much thought into making their production processes more efficient or non-toxic. Ecoprint, based in the Washington DC area, is different. They have developed their own “eco-inks”. These inks are specially formulated to be free from toxic metals like copper and barium. The Ecoprint shop also runs on 100% wind power, and uses 100% recycled or …

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Red LEDs to Grow Lettuce

Apparently red LEDs are 60% more efficient than fluorescent light when growing vegetables hydroponically. According to IEEE Spectrum Online: Of all the colors of the rainbow, red is lettuce’s favorite. Chlorophyll, the electrochemical engine of photosynthesis, runs on red photons. So if you are growing the vegetable indoors in a factory, why waste energy on colors you don’t need?

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Oxygenics Showerhead

The Oxygenics showerhead is definitely worthy of inclusion here. With a nifty design, the showerhead is able to take low pressure water and transform it into a forceful stream for showering. It does this while using just 1.5 gpm (gallons per minute). It adapts to variable water pressure, and any water pressure from less than 20 psi to 100 psi. …

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Xtracycle: Efficient Bike Extender

Xtracycle is a 15-inch bike extender with dual racks. It turns standard bikes into practical transportation devices, capable of carrying sizable loads. The inventor, Ross Evans, realized that by lengthening the wheelbase of an ordinary bike he could increase the portage capacity without significantly hindering handling. He arrived at a simple, elegant modification: Remove the rear wheel, bolt on a …

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SafeCoat: Non-Toxic Paint

Why does almost all of the paint sold in the U.S. contain toxic ingredients? Because chemicals (such as formaldehyde and acetone) are cheap. The resources needed to study the long-term effects of the thousands of chemicals contained in paints, stains, and varnishes would be immense. The . Other non-toxic ingredient could be used — but they are slightly more expensive. …