15 Bizarre Green Inventions

A group of lightbulbs with one illuminated

 Avlasenko / iStockphoto

Eco-friendly inventions are revolutionizing the way we generate energy, recycle waste, and protect the planet. After all, if it weren't for such green innovation, we wouldn't have solar panels, wind turbines, and hybrid cars. However, not all environmental advancements are as conventional as green roofs and electric cars. Here are 15 inventions that are definitely green — and definitely a little strange.

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Blood Lamp

Mike Thompson.

When designer Mike Thomspon asked himself, “What if power came at a cost to the individual?” he ended up creating the blood lamp as a statement on energy conservation. This single-use lamp requires a drop of blood to be activated — a personal sacrifice that will really make you think twice before turning on the lights. The lamp’s secret ingredient is luminol, the chemical forensic scientists use to check for blood, which glows blue when it reacts with the iron in red blood cells.

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Green Warrior shower curtain

Puff and Flock/Flickr.

Elisabeth Buecher’s eco-themed shower curtains come with a strong green message: Turn off the water ... or else. Buecher designed two inflatable curtains as part of her “My Shower Curtain is a Green Warrior” project: One slowly inflates, trapping you in plastic, and “Spiky” sends out inflatable spikes if you go over the time limit. These innovative and somewhat unsettling designs are part of the project’s goal to show how water overconsumption can be countered in what Buecher describes as a “disturbing or gorgeous way.”

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White Goat


Your office will never waste paper again with Oriental's White Goat machine, which converts normal paper into toilet paper. Simply insert about 40 sheets of paper, and in 30 minutes you’ll receive a freshly made roll of toilet paper. The machine shreds the paper, dissolves it in water, thins it out and then dries it and winds it around a roll. According to Oriental, it costs about 12 cents to churn out one roll.

White Goat goes on sale in Japan this summer and will be priced at $100,000. While the machine will definitely make your business more eco-friendly, there is one snag: Where are you going to store this nearly 6-foot-tall machine?

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture.

The planet is warming, glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising, which means that people living in low-lying areas will be displaced over the next century. That’s why architect Vincent Callebaut designed Lilypads, self-sufficient floating cities that would each accommodate up to 50,000 people. Inspired by the shape of Victoria water lilies, these eco-cities would each be made of polyester fibers and feature three mountains and marinas — dedicated to work, shopping and entertainment. Aquaculture farms and suspended gardens would be located below the water line, and the cities would run on renewable energy.

Callebaut plans for his Lilypad concept to become a reality in 2100, but this is sure to be an expensive piece of real estate so one may wonder how displaced climate change refugees will afford to live on these state-of-the-art floating cities.

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Moss carpet

La Chanh Nguyen.

La Chanh Nguyen’s moss carpet brings a little green into your bathroom in an unconventionally natural way. This living bathmat features three types of green mosses — forest moss, island moss and ball moss — that grow in plastazote, a decay-free, recycled latex foam. This mat will certainly liven up your shower space, and it’s wonderfully low maintenance. Because moss flourishes in damp, humid places, your bathroom is the ideal location for the moss carpet — even the green-thumb challenged can keep it alive!

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Solar bikini

©Andrew Schneider.

When you’re wearing a solar-powered bikini, you can spend the entire day at the beach grooving to your favorite tunes and never have to worry about your iPod battery dying. Andrew Schneider designed this swimwear with photovoltaic film panels and a USB connection as part of a student project for the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. He says the male version of the solar bikini is coming soon.

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Poor Little Fishbowl Sink

Yan Lu.

If this doesn’t get you to turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth, nothing will. With this combination sink/goldfish bowl, the more water you let drain from the tap, the less your pet has to swim in. The tap water’s pipeline isn’t connected to the bowl so the water is pure, and designer Yan Lu assures us the water never actually drains out completely. But while the water level returns to normal when the tap is off, it still has to be stressful for the fish to live in a constantly fluctuating environment.

Lu says his innovative sink is “an emotional way to persuade consumers to think about saving water,” but PETA immediately sent him a letter stating, “environmental education does not require cruelty to animals.”

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Le Petit Prince


If mankind decides to colonize Mars, Le Petit Prince would be a good partner to bring along. This robotic greenhouse concept by Martin Miklica is designed to help the exploration and population of Mars by protecting plants and scavenging the planet for nutrients. Le Petit Prince carries a plant inside its glass container and provides it with everything it needs to flourish on the red planet. The greenhouse robot is designed to learn the optimal process of searching for nutrients, and it can send reports to its fellow robots through wireless communication, enabling them to learn from one another.

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Pencil printer

Hoyoung Lee/Yanko Design.

When Hoyoung Lee’s concept printer becomes reality, you’ll never throw away another pencil stub and never buy another ink cartridge. The pencil printer separates the wood from pencils and uses the lead to print documents. There’s even a built-in eraser component that allows you to remove text from a page and reuse the paper, so you’ll be saving money and trees.

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Eco-friendly bombs


The explosives commonly used for military and industrial applications generate toxic gases that can pollute the environment upon detonation. To address that issue, German scientists began exploring more environmentally friendly options. Using tetrazoles, a class of materials that derive their energy from nitrogen instead of carbon, they created two bombs: HBT and G2ZT. These bombs are less likely to explode accidentally than conventional explosives, and they produce fewer toxic byproducts.

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River gym

Mitchell Joachim & Douglas Joachim/Terreform ONE.

In 2005, New York Magazine held a contest for forward-thinking gym concepts, and Mitchell Joachim & Douglas Joachim submitted River Gym. This floating gym would harness the energy lost during New Yorkers' workouts and use it to move boats across the Hudson and East rivers. Not only does this innovative design use the energy created by people on cardio machines, the designers say it also “helps purify water, provides spectacular views and transports less-motivated citizens.”

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Lab meat


You get beer from a brewery and bread from a bakery, so developmental biologist Dr. Vladimir Mironov says it’s only logical that we’ll one day get meat from a “carnery.” Mironov has been working to grow meat in a lab for the past decade because he believes that manufactured meat could help solve global food crises. He says this “cultured meat” will one day be sold in grocery stores and come from bioreactors that allow the consumer to design exactly the kind of meat he wants — right down to its taste, texture and amount of fat.

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Biodegradable coffins


Interest in eco-friendly funerals and green burials has been increasing in recent years, and today there are many different biodegradable coffins on the market. These final resting places are made from a variety of materials, including paper, formaldehyde-free plywood, fair trade-certified bamboo and hand-woven willow. Ecoffins offers several woven and fair trade coffins, and Ecopod is known for its innovative designs, which are made from recycled newspapers and come in a variety of colors and designs.

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Pet fur clothing and accessories

Sarah G…/Flickr.

Ever wondered if you could put the hair your pet sheds to good use? You're not alone. Instead of throwing out wads of dog and cat fur, many people have used it to knit sweaters, afghans and handbags. In fact, some people have even made a business out of it. Some spin pet hair for inexperienced knitters, while others have invented custom dog-hair afghans and designer cat-hair handbags.

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3-D food printer


Scientists at Cornell University are developing a commecial 3-D food printer known as a “FabApp” that could one day allow you to print your meals off the Internet using raw-food “ink.” The printer is limited to ingredients that can be extracted from a syringe, but researchers say they’ve had success creating chocolate, cake and cookies.

Pretty soon the FabApp may become as common as the microwave, a development that would have huge environmental benefits. Chef Homaro Cantu told the BBC, “You can imagine a 3-D printer making homemade apple pie without the need for farming the apples, fertilizing, transporting, refrigerating, packaging, fabricating, cooking, serving and the need for all of the materials in these processes like cars, trucks, pans, coolers, etc."