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The Most Efficient Candle: Palm Oil Candles

by Justin Thomas •

Most candles commonly found in households are made using low-grade paraffin (a petroleum by-product). They contain many impurities which are emitted into the air as the candle burns. These low-quality candles also tend to use wicks which are made with a metal core like zinc or possibly lead. This is not optimal. A good alternative to parafin-based candles are ones …

Crayons Made With Soybean Oil

by Justin Thomas •

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

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A Non-Toxic Stainless Steel Lunchbox

by Justin Thomas •

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 Lubricant: Jojoba Oil

by Justin Thomas •

You’ve probably heard of Jojoba oil being used in cosmetics, but it’s also a great substitute for petroleum-based lubricants, which tend to be strong smelling and polluting. Jojoba is the best alternative because it is a natrual liquid wax that never goes rancid. Use it as you would a petroleum lubricating oil, such as for stuck doors, squeaky hinges and …

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Origami Tableware by Orikaso

by Justin Thomas •

Orikaso, a design firm in the U.K., has released these foldable polypropylene cups, bowls and plates for backpacking or travel. They can actually hold liquids without leaking.

Modular and Sustainable Walkways

by Justin Thomas •

There’s too much concrete in the world and most of it is unnecessary. Here’s one alternative that you may have seen at the beach: low-impact, modular walkways made out of sustainable timber. The company, Mister Boardwalk, even makes “roll out” walkways that simply roll out on top of grass, wood chips, sand, gravel or old concrete. The company specifies that …

Biopavers

by Justin Thomas •

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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BioBag: Biodegradable and Compostable Bags

by Justin Thomas •

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 …

Biota Spring Water: Biodegradable Bottles

by Justin Thomas •

Biota is the first spring water to be packaged in a compostable bottle. The bottle is made of a corn-based bioplastic, which was exclusively created for Biota by Naturework PLA. The bioplastic is an alternative to PET which is the petroleum-based plastic commonly used to bottle beverages. PET takes about a thousand years to decompose. The bottle will break down …

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Rebinder by Sustainable Group

by Justin Thomas •

The Sustainable Group produce a binder made of a durable material that is 35-40% recycled post consumer corrugated cardboard. We are not fans of vinyl, the material usually used to make binders, so these binders are a welcome alternative. The binders have resuable covers that are replaceable because they are attached to the metal spine with screws rather than rivets. …