There is all kinds of free cold air outside the house, but we have a fridge running, expensively moving heat from inside the box to the kitchen. Meanwhile we have an electric humidifier under the piano, trying to get a little moisture into the air. It is so silly, we are all paying for electricity to have appliances fight against each other.
It is in the Core 77 Greener Gadgets competition. Oliver describes it:
In Nigeria a simple device called a Zeer is used to store and cool food. It is incredibly simple yet effective method of refrigeration. A Zeer is made by placing one earthenware pot into another slightly larger earthenware pot. A layer of sand is placed in between the pots to which water is added. Then a damp cloth is placed on top of the pots. The water is drawn through the outer earthenware pot by capillary action. Evaporation of the water from the outside pot causes the temperature of the inside pot to naturally cool down.
A prototype was built to test if this simple method could be adapted for use in the modern kitchen. The results were positive establishing a temperature of around 10 degrees Celsius was attainable. Although this temperature is not suitable for storing foods such as meat and fish further research showed that it is perfect for a variety of fruit, vegetables and some other foods that are normally and incorrectly stored in a fridge or a cupboard. The project was then able to develop around consumer interaction, the overall aesthetic and the manufacturing restrictions of earthenware ceramic to create a new product solution that hopes to drastically reduce energy consumption required for storing food.
This makes tremendous sense. So much of the contents of peoples' fridges can be classed as "compost and condiments", both of which could last a long time in something like this. It might not work as well in summer when the humidity is high, but perhaps a small computer case fan might increase the evaporation without a lot of energy use. More at Core77.
More on Greener Gadgets in TreeHugger:
Vote For the Best Green Gadgets: Winners Will Be Judged Live at Greener Gadgets 2009 in NYC
GREEN DEETS 013 Greener Gadgets Wrap Video
More on living without a fridge:
Designing a Kitchen Without a Fridge
Could You Unplug Your Refrigerator, For Good?
Getting Rid of the Fridge: Big Step or Small?