Tech Trends w/ Tara: Earth Day Edition

Image courtesy of flickr

In 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson championed the creation of Earth Day as a way to bring the public’s growing ecological and environmental concerns to the forefront of the national agenda. We would see the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in December of that year and the Clean Air and Water Acts ushered in a new wave of political environmental activism.

Today we still face immense environmental hurdles. Our growth as a civilization, especially our consumer, industrial, and financial cultures, are often and justly blamed for playing a large role in our planet’s continual deterioration. Yet, new technologies are giving us more earth-friendly options in creating clean energy, recycling used goods, and sustainably feeding the world. Check out some of the links below to learn how technology is helping us live more environmentally responsible and sustainable lives.



  • Strawberry Tree: Free, Solar-Powered Charging Stations: iPhone running low on battery? Just head over to the nearest clean charging station. This company has been getting a lot of good buzz recently and says its order number continue to grow. Don’t you think one of these would look fantastic on Loyola’s campus?


  • The Future of Food: 11 Unique Urban Farming Projects: FarmVille fan? Check out MyFarm mentioned in this article.  The 2,500 acre farm in the UK lets online users help make decisions on how to raise livestock and crops with the help of a farm manager who acts as an educational resource. It’s a great example of blending online and physical environments to produce opportunities for education and awareness.


  • Thermodynamic ‘Beans” Keep Hot Beverages at the Perfect Temp: Stop wasting energy by reheating your tea and coffee. Instead drop a few Coffee Joulies into your hot beverage and let the laws of thermodynamics do the rest. Their polished stainless steel shells are full of a phase change material that melts at 140°F. When you put them in your hot beverage the inner material begins melting, absorbing a lot of heat in the process and cooling your drink down much faster than normal – making a scalding tea ready for drinking much sooner.  As your beverage then continues to cool, the beans slowly solidify and release their stored heat – keeping your beverage at an ideal drinking temp!


  • Harvesting Energy: Body Heat to Warm Buildings: A Swedish company has designed a way to harness the body heat of the 250,000+ people who pass through the Stockholm Central Station. Heat exchangers in the ventalization system convert the excess body heat into hot water and pump it to a nearby building, saving that building nearly 25% in energy costs.


  • 999Bottles: 999Bottles isn’t selling just another Naglene bottle knock-off. These stainless steel bottles have dials which allow you to keep track of how many times you fill up and therefore, how many plastic bottles you are not using (up to 999). The accompanying app lets you see how your and your friends’ actions are making a positive impact on the planet’s natural resources.


  • Wind Turbine Produces 1000 Liters of Clean Drinking Water in the Desert: Eole Water has created a wind turbine which can change wind into water (with the help of a generator). The turbine uses 15 mph+ winds to condense water found in the air and send it to a holding tank for filtration and purification. A prototype has been functioning in Abu Dhabi since October 2011 and these machines hold great promise for areas in need of clean water who are off the grid – such as remote desert communities and disaster areas.



  • What if the Environment was as Big as Social Media? “If all Twitter users powered down their computers for 1 hour, it’d be like taking 9,128 cars off the road each year.”  This infographic points out that the potential to harness the growing number of social media users for environmental good is limitless.


  • Next SimCity Will Go Green: “Slated for release in 2013, the new SimCity invites players to grapple with tough choices about energy generation, environmental costs and the responsibilities shouldered by inhabitants of a planet with finite resources — choices faced by real policymakers on the very real planet Earth.” You can check out the trailer for this suped up environmentally-minded video game here.


  • Apps for Energy: The US Energy Department is offering $100,000 in cash prizes to the software developers and designers that submit the best apps utilizing Green Button – an initiative that gives access to energy usage data in a streamlined and easy-to-understand format. App developers are encouraged to combine data from a variety of sources to present a complete picture of the customer’s energy usage.
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