New green technologies are invented all the time, making life as we know it a little more eco-friendly. Think solar panels, hybrid cars, water-powered clocks, and post-consumer recycled toner cartridges (of which Dolphin Blue has a wide array).
But some inventions are a little more offbeat. Here are three that take something old and make it new again -- in totally unexpected ways.
1. Trash-powered street lamps. Webster's first definition of trash is "something worth relatively little or nothing, " but designer Haneum Lee has a different idea. His Gaon Street Light includes a trash can at its base made for food scraps. The methane from the discarded waste then powers the lamp, and compost is created that can be used to green nearby parks and other areas. With this concept, it is true that one man's trash is another man's treasure.
2. Washing machine beads. Washing your clothes with hardly any water? A company in England says it's possible. Xeros has developed plastic beads that fight stains while using 90 percent less water than a typical laundry cycle. The nylon beads can be reused hundreds of times, then recycled into things like dashboards for cars.
3. Pig urine brick? 2010 Metropolis Next Generation Design Competition winner, architect Ginger Krieg Dosier, has blended sand, clay, soil, and bacteria together to create bricks with a smaller carbon footprint than traditional cement ones. (Brick production currently creates about 800 million tons of CO2 a year.) Dosier says pig urine may become part of her process in the future.