Electric Tankless Water Heaters

Note: This post has been expanded and updated for 2009! Tankless water heaters only heat water when it is needed. About 8% to 30% of the energy consumed by a standard water heater goes to keeping the water hot while it’s not being used. New tankless systems heat the water instantly when you turn on the faucet, rather than keeping …

Olive Oil Lamps

Lehman’s is now offering these newly upgraded olive oil lamps with stands. Olive oil is a renewable, non-petroleum fuel which burns without fumes or odor. You can also burn any vegetable oil, or liquid fat or grease in these lamps. The makers of the lamps also publish a booklet entitled “I Didn’t Know that Olive Oil Would Burn!”. It’s quite …

Non-Toxic Stainless Steel Sippy Cups

Klean Kanteen has just introduced this non-toxic Sippy Cup for toddlers. It is made with stainless steel, and it does not have epoxy coating in the inside. It’s coupled with a non-leaching #5 polypropylene adaptor and #5 polypropylene sippy spout. This cup does not contain the Bishphenol-A chemical, a potent hormone disruptor found to leach from hard, plastic (particularly #7 …

Green Building Using Thin-Film Solar

This is the new Ballard Library in Seattle. It’s a state-of-the-art green building which makes use of a sod roof, daylighting, and translucent thin-film solar collectors from Schott. It is listed in the American Institute of Architecture’s top ten green buildings.

Crayons Made With Soybean Oil

Today, virtually all crayons are made with petroleum wax. An optimal alternative, however, is to make crayons with pure soybean oil. One company, Prang, manufactures the soy crayons seen here. They are much less toxic, and they also write smoother and brighter without waxy flaking. Available from Blick Art Materials or eBay

Optimal: Natural Linen Sheets by Area Simone

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We recently discovered these 100% natural linen sheets by Area Simone. Linen, which comes from the flax plant, is an optimal material for making sheets. Like hemp, linen does not require pesticides to grow. By contrast, 25% of all pesticides used in the world are sprayed on cotton. Linen is also 2 to 3 times stronger than cotton, has no …

A Non-Toxic Stainless Steel Lunchbox

Here’s an interesting alternative to those regular old vinyl lunchboxes which have a tendency to leach phlatates and lead into your food. It’s a stainless steel lunchbox that will probably garner attention from your co-workers, fellow students or curious passers-by. Based on the idea of the Japanese Bento Box, the lightweight “To Go Ware” has two stainless bowls that sit …

Efficient: Making Organic Beer

If you are going to brew beer at home, why not brew organic? You’ll have clean tasting, fresh beer without using ingredients that are not genetically modified, and not grown with pesticides. Organic brewmaking ingredients cost slightly more but the rewards are worth the expense (in our moderately humble opinion). On a more technical side, organic malts on average have …

Carfree Cities: Where Are They?

Interested in knowing where you can find places free of cars? There’s an extensive list of carfree places around the world, available now on the Wikipedia. There’s also a book about Carfree Citites available. Here’s our review: Imagine life in a city free from the noise, stench, and danger of cars, trucks, and buses. Imagine that all basic needs, from …