Device concept lets you monitor and lessen personal carbon footprint

If you’re conscious about how we’ve been treating Mother Earth the past few years, decades, centuries, measuring carbon emissions is something that you’ve probably looked into. There are a lot of tips out there on how you can keep track of your own carbon footprint and how you can slowly lessen it. It may sometimes require a huge lifestyle change and we also need a visible tool to help us do this and see how we can help our environment recover.

Designer: YeEun Kim

The Toad House is a device that looks like a cross between an air purifier and a smart speaker but is actually something you can use to monitor how much carbon emission you’re using when you’re at home and make the necessary adjustments. It is inspired by a Korean children’s song that talks about building a new house from an old one which can be a metaphor in how we can repurpose wasted energy.

The product description can be a bit vague on how the device can actually measure your carbon emissions but it says the interface at the top of the house is where you can check how much you’re already using. This is probably connected to the app on your smartphone where you set targets and also see the values of the various appliances and gadgets in your house. It also says that the wasted power from your devices can be stored and then used for wireless charging later on.

This is still a concept for now but if it eventually becomes a product, it would be interesting to see if a gadget like this can really affect how you use energy. Eventually, there can also be studies if it indeed lessens carbon emissions when you have a visual reminder of how much you’re using and leaving in your environment. Probably what’s needed now though is more education on how people can measure their carbon footprints, at least in their personal use.

McDonald’s Opens Its First LEED Zero Carbon Restaurant in Hong Kong

Living in a sustainable, conscious, and smart manner has become not only a necessity but our moral obligation and duty toward the planet. Our homes should seamlessly integrate with, and nourish the planet, not drain her resources and reduce her lifespan. Being at one with Planet Earth, while taking rigorous care of her has never been more of a priority. In an effort to encourage an eco-friendly way of life, sustainable architecture has been gaining immense popularity among architects. And, McDonald’s has jumped onto that bandwagon with its outlet in Tai Wo, Hong Kong.

Designer: McDonald’s

McDonald’s Tai Wo outlet in Hong Kong recently underwent a renovation that transformed it into a prime specimen of sustainable design and architecture. The restaurant is a testament to how sustainability can be incorporated almost anywhere with the right direction, effort, and intention. The Tai Wo location is Hong Kong’s first LEED Zero Carbon restaurant certified by the US Green Building Council. The building will save 848.22 metric tons of carbon dioxide which equates to planting more than 36,000 16-foot-tall trees!

The space is defined by twenty commendable sustainability efforts, which are working throughout it. McDonald’s collaborated with eco-social startup HK TIMBERBANK, and designed the exterior facade which is crafted from local trees. These trees fell either due to old age or typhoons. In fact, even the furniture and décor inside are built using recycled materials. McDonald’s also teamed up with CLP Power Hong Kong to set up a solar power system on the rooftop.

The entire building is marked with smart devices to monitor energy consumption and indoor air quality. In fact, the restaurant has also signed a “green lease” with the landlord to share data connected to sustainability and lay down low-carbon operational guidelines. It incorporates an education corner that is packed with sustainability-themed books, providing integral reading material to the next generation. Cool phone-charging bikes that can be ridden by visiting families have been added to the space as well. McDonald’s is also releasing a new line of Happy Meal books and coloring games that encourage children visiting to learn about environmental protection.

Off-grid camping will not be ordinary again with this carbon fiber and Kevlar body camper truck that sleeps four

Storyteller Overland has long been reckoned for its unwavering commitment to designing all-terrain camper vans that can tackle the wildest of terrains. The Alabama-based company is now taking a leap into uncharted territory in partnership with its latest acquisition, the Global Expedition Vehicles. The result is a mesmerizing off-grid heavy-duty camper truck dubbed the GXV Hilt.

It is a camper designed to take you deeper into the wild than you’ve ever ventured before, all while providing a level of comfort and confidence that feels almost surreal. The Hilt is not any average off-road vehicle; it’s a game-changer with a hydraulic smart suspension system, carbon fiber and Kevlar body, and an energy system to keep you away in the wild for much longer.

Designer: Storyteller Overland

The Hilt comes with a smart hydraulic suspension by LiquidSpring, which ensures that no matter how treacherous the terrain, your journey remains smooth and controlled. But what actually makes the Hilt stand out is its construction. Made from a vacuum-infused resin composite with carbon fiber and Kevlar, this off-road camper truck is made to withstand the harshest of conditions.

Powering this beast is a 6.7-liter diesel-powered Ram 5500 chassis that provides the backbone for all off-grid exploration. And for those moments when you need a little extra muscle, a 20,000 lb winch stands ready for self-recovery. But Hilt is not a wild maniac alone; it has its own commitment to sustainability. To that accord, it comes with a 1325W solar power system with two 3000W inverters and a 16.8 kWh lithium-ion battery to let you live in the wild for longer without compromise. All the essential electric systems are monitored and controlled by a touchscreen unit onboard.

Robust on the outside, the Hilt transports you into a spa-like oasis as you step inside. The interior of the Hilt is a fusion of modern, sustainable materials and has surfaces that elevate your living experience. The custom rear racks and storage system ensure that you have ample space to stow your gear, while the dinette cum living area comfortably seats four to five adults on an L-shaped sofa that quickly converts into a queen bed when needed.

The sitting area can be utilized for eating home-cooked meals, playing card games, or lounging in comfort after a day filled with adventures. With a stainless steel convection oven, microwave, air fryer, dual burner induction cooktop, countertop with large sink, and a built-in water purification system, the kitchen alongside is micro-sized but immensely equipped. The Hilt doesn’t hold back on comforts in the bathroom department either. The generously sized wet bath offers 120 gallons of freshwater tank, a shower, flushable cassette toilet, mirror, and a sink.


However, when it’s time to retire for the night, you will have to climb a short ladder to the loft with a queen bed awaiting your arrival. The space is outfitted with power outlets and a wireless charging station next to the mattress, while natural light from the skylight and side windows fills the area with warmth. If the commitment to functionality and toughness on the road has got you inclined toward the GVX Hilt, you may want to act instantly. The off-grid camper truck is currently selling for a strictly limited price of roughly $400,000, but this is not the final retail price.

Apple’s ‘Carbon Neutral’ Mission Explained: The Tech Giant’s Ambitious Plan for the Planet

Last night’s 80-minute keynote saw the launch of four new Apple products – the Watch Series 9, Watch Ultra 2, iPhone 15, and iPhone 15 Pro… but arguably the biggest focus of the event wasn’t on a product – It was on an initiative. Apple spent well over 20 minutes talking about its commitment to the environment, its focus on reducing its global impact, and even formally unveiling its ‘Carbon Neutral’ program.

The segment even had a 5-minute short film starring Octavia Spencer as ‘Mother Nature’ visiting the Apple HQ for a status report on their mission (how they got her to act in it despite the SAG AFTRA strike is a separate question entirely). It marked a unique shift for the company, which usually has spent more time in its keynotes talking about cameras or Apple’s unwavering approach to user privacy.

‘Carbon Neutral’ isn’t just Apple’s biggest climate initiative, it’s probably the biggest by any company in the world – and Apple clearly wants everyone to know that. The short film with Spencer (you can watch it above) was an informal way of letting people know exactly how much Apple’s doing to “permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere”. This pretty much influences every single part of Apple’s operations, from the energy used to run the building, stores, and server rooms, to the materials used in the products and their packaging (even down to ensuring their suppliers are carbon-neutral), and also the way the products are shipped by sea instead of by air. Apple additionally ensures its products have a high trade-in value, so there’s a better chance they’ll get recycled instead of thrown in the trash. It’s a complex system that they’ve executed pretty well, if we’re to take them for their word… and it shows how only a company as big and influential as Apple could have pulled it off. So what exactly IS Carbon Neutral?

What IS ‘Carbon Neutral’?

Tim Cook made a bold claim to make Apple carbon neutral by 2030, and to mark this journey, Apple has designed a new symbol that will now feature on product displays and packaging moving forward. A green flower created using the ‘leaf’ of the Apple logo, the Carbon Neutral mark indicates that a product has a carbon-neutral impact. Which means, for every unit of that product manufactured, Apple has already minimized its carbon footprint down to zero. Why Apple would do this is a layered question, but it’s the “how” that’s MUCH more interesting.

How is Apple Reducing its Impact?

Most of Apple’s products are made using recycled materials. The company’s invested billions of dollars in designing systems and robots that can disassemble old, damaged, or sub-par products with staggering efficiency. Almost every ounce of aluminum used in Apple’s gadgets comes recycled from a previous gadget. The company’s even committed to using 100% recycled cobalt on its iPhone 15 batteries, and 100% recycled copper in the logic board. New tech from flagship models makes its way down the chain to budget models as time goes by, ensuring nearly a decade’s worth of recycling and repurposing that saves the environment and saves Apple a whole tonne of money. The company even ensures its headquarters, stores, and server rooms run entirely on renewable energy, and that its suppliers operate using clean electricity.

The packaging for newer products is made smaller so as to efficiently ship larger quantities in the same space, and Apple’s also increasingly opting for sea-shipping rather than air to lower their emissions. The company is looking to eliminate plastic from its packaging by the end of next year, has effectively phased out the use of leather because of its climate impact, and claims to have reduced its water usage by 63 billion gallons (don’t ask me how much water Apple currently uses). Whatever carbon Apple DOES produce gets minimized by its initiatives, like planting forests in Paraguay and Brazil, restoring the mangroves in Colombia, and the grasslands in Kenya.

This year, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra Series 2 are the first ever products to come with the Carbon Neutral logo on them, signifying that up until the point that you buy them, they have zero climate impact.

Is it all Hype?

It’s worth noticing that all this comes at a time when Apple’s being forced to switch from Lightning to USB-C, and to adhere to removable battery protocols for their devices by the EU in the years to come. Apple’s AirPods are also known to be ridiculously difficult to recycle and absolutely impossible to repair, prompting this young YouTuber to design his own repairable AirPods Pro case. Some would also raise the point that all these initiatives get baked right into Apple’s pricing, which is significantly higher than other companies. In a way, Apple isn’t paying for these initiatives out of their own pockets… It’s passing the price onto the consumer, which most people seem ready to pay.

It’s easy to dismiss all this as posturing, and a lot of it probably is just that because Apple’s data is somewhat vague, to begin with… but it’s also a brilliant marketing tool to make Apple stand out even more against a backdrop of technology that can often be seen as ethically or environmentally corrupt. We’re increasingly learning about the harsh conditions of cobalt or rare-earth-mineral mining that help create the technology we so readily use, so Apple’s stepping ahead of it all to show that they still “think different” even after all these years.

That being said, even if it IS all hype, it’s hype in a good direction. Apple doesn’t operate within a void – how it operates affects the way the entire tech industry operates too. When Apple forces TSMC or any of its raw material suppliers to switch to clean energy, that means Google, Samsung, LG, etc. are also being positively affected by the decision. A switch to plastic-free packaging makes that particular manufacturing method and its adjacent materials available to other tech giants too. Sure, we can’t expect the entire technology industry to go carbon neutral by 2030, but Apple makes up a significant chunk of that industry – so its rising-tide effect definitely lifts all boats… although I wonder if other companies would be comfortable using Apple’s Carbon Neutral logo or its evaluation system!