Walking into yesterday’s Green Products Expo was akin to watching an episode of “Lost”: You know everything’s supposed to serve a higher purpose, but when you’re initially exposed, a lot of it just seems…awesomely weird. There were dinner plates made from fallen leaves; pillows made from plastic bottles; and even seed-lined drink coasters that, if dropped in a backyard, would blossom into marigolds.
But after spending three hours chatting with the 70-plus exhibitors – and scoring some pretty sweet sustainable SWAG–my skepticism dissolved, much like a Flush Puppies soluable doodie bag ($3.99 per pouch). By the time I left, I’d assembled a laundry list of impressive innovations. Below are the highlights:
In just 30 seconds, SodaStream’s home soda-makers ($79+) and accompanying flavor syrups ($5 each) can turn tap water into carbonated beverages that rival Coke and Sprite. (I sampled the lemon-lime blend–it was surprisingly flavorful.) That’s good news for Mother Earth, since the average American guzzles roughly 600 cans or bottles of soda and sparkling water each year.
Absolut might be re-imagining the world, but 360 Vodka ($22-$24) is trying to save it. The green-hued bottles are made from 85% recycled glass; the labels are made from 100% recycled paper; and the swing-top closure comes with a pre-paid envelope, so drinkers can return it for re-use–and, in the process, earn $1 for a local environmental organization. Bonus: Each 12-bottle order is shipped in–what else—a bright blue recycling bin.
Plug the JuicedHybrid Kiwi ($289) into your car’s on-board diagnostic port, and it’ll average your drag, acceleration, and deceleration patterns into a real-time “Kiwi score,” which gauges fuel efficiency: The higher the number, the better you’re driving. As your handling skills (presumably) improve, Kiwi tracks your progress, and tells you–in dollars–how much gas money you’re saving.
AusPen dry-erase markers
AusPen dry-erase pens are both recyclable and refillable: Simply screw off the cap, pour in some replacement ink, and you’re good to go. And just in case your child wants greener school supplies, AusPen products are non-toxic. “You’d probably be okay if you took a few swigs from the refill bottle,” joked a rep. “But I wouldn’t recommend it.”