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GiveMeTap water bottle

givemetap

What is it? GiveMeTap looks a lot like any other stainless steel reusable bottle. But there’s a lot more to it…

What makes it susty? First, there are the obvious benefits of a reusable water bottle: the decrease in waste and in energy needed to truck bottled water around. Beyond that, GiveMeTap operates a ‘buy and give’ model similar to Tom’s Shoes and Warby Parker. For every two bottles sold, one person in Africa gets a clean and safe supply of water for life through the building of boreholes and wells.

What makes it sexy? Sure, there are a variety of sizes, colours and caps. But what’s really interesting is what GiveMeTap has done to remove a major barrier to drinking tap on the go. It has recruited a network of cafes that promise to provide visitors with free tap water on request—no purchase necessary, no questions asked. An app helps you find the nearest source.

My verdict: As I’ve said before, I’m no fan of bottled water. So anything that makes tap more appealing gets a big thumbs up from me. By going beyond the bottle to provide a service that connects consumers to retailers to people in need, GiveMeTap is gushing appeal.

Definitely BOTH sexy and susty. 

KIND snacks

kind_snacksWhat is it? Available in the US, KIND snack bars are made with whole grains, fruit and nuts.

What makes it susty? For a start, ingredients are all natural, visible and easily pronounced, with no synthetic additives or preservatives. But they go further. Through their online KIND Movement, they encourage people to practice unexpected acts of kindness, from writing a thank-you note to helping rebuild the damaged home of a retired New Jersey firefighter who saved lives during Hurricane Sandy.

What makes it sexy? I tried one last time in was in the US and have to say it was pretty tasty. For the health nuts among us, the range includes bars high in omega-3s and antioxidants, and low in sugar.

My verdict: I love that these products aren’t just good for the body but also good for the spirit, and not just for the people eating them but possibly for those around them too. Something’s troubling me though. They used to encourage simple everyday acts of kindness, which they captured and shared online to inspire others. Lately, however, they seem to be more focused on mobilising big philanthropic efforts. That’s nice and all, but for me it loses some the magic.

Benefit of the doubt given, I’ll say they’re BOTH sexy and susty. 

Snow Leopard Vodka

snow_leopardWhat is it? Produced in Poland, this luxury vodka is made from spelt grain.

What makes it susty? Spelt is grown without pesticides and fertilisers—good for the land, good for the drinker. More importantly, 15% of the profits go toward snow leopard conservation projects. They aim to sell 100,000 cases of vodka each year to help get the snow leopard off the endangered species list.

What makes it sexy? It certainly looks the part, with a bottle styled much along the same lines as Belvedere or Grey Goose. It’s priced just below these—reassuringly expensive, but pleasingly ‘affordable’. As you’d expect, it’s made the rounds at predictably stylish events hosted by the likes of Burberry, Stella McCartney and Gwyneth Paltrow.

My verdict: I tried this a few days ago at a reasonably stylish marketing industry event. I’m no vodka expert, but it seemed to do the job. And I figure if you’re going to drink a clear flavourless spirit, you may as well choose the one that does more than just get you tipsy.

On balance, I’d say this is BOTH sexy and susty. 

Paradigm Hub’s Fridge Friend

fridge_friend2What is it? The idea for Fridge Friend came out of a recent brainstorm we did with the folks at Paradigm Hub. It combines a refrigerator that senses when food is starting to go off, and an app that tells you when and how to use that food before it spoils.

What makes it susty? Customised for your shopping habits, the fridge would be filled with modular compartments for different kinds of food—fruit, veg, meat, dairy, eggs—each fitted with industrial food safety technology, scaled down for consumer use. Using a colour signal to tell you when items are starting to turn (rather than just relying on often inaccurate sell-by dates) the Fridge Friend could significantly reduce food spoilage, a major source of household waste. By optimising the temperature of each compartment for its specific food type, energy and money would be saved along with food.

What makes it sexy? The fridge itself would compete with Smeg on looks (who knows, maybe Smeg could make it). The accompanying app would notify you anywhere, most helpfully at the grocery store, of items in danger of spoiling. Recipe suggestions including those items might encourage a little more creativity in the kitchen.

My verdict: Neither the idea nor the name are totally original (see here and here), but this goes further than the current app-centric thinking out there. We loved the new take on the fridge itself—an essential, overlooked and energy-guzzling appliance that hasn’t seen any real innovation in decades.

Worthy of a post here, we think it’s BOTH sexy and susty. (Thanks to Paradigm Hub for inviting us, and for being full of energy and ideas!) 

SodaStream

sodastreamWhat is it? SodaStream lets you make carbonated water and soft drinks at home. The system includes a countertop machine, plastic one-litre bottle, carbonation canister and flavoured-syrup container.

What makes it susty? The obvious benefit is reducing packaging waste. The reusable bottle cuts down on the billion cans and bottles that end up as landfill or litter each day. It also saves energy by reducing the need to manufacture, fill and transport so many drink containers all over the world. It doesn’t even use batteries or electricity, just the power of compressed gas.

What makes it sexy? Convenience, for one thing: it saves you from lugging, storing and binning bulky bottles and cans. Customisation, for another: with 100 flavours—including diet, fruity, tea and energy varieties—you can mix, match and bubble to your heart’s content.

My verdict: There’s nothing healthier about SodaStream’s fizzy sugar water than anyone else’s, and it turns out it probably won’t save you much money. Then there’s the whole issue of their West Bank manufacturing plant.

Tough call, but overall I’m gonna go with SEXY on this one. 

New year, good beer: Adnams

What is it? Adnams has been brewing beer in Southwold, England, since 1872.

What makes it susty? You wouldn’t know it looking at their bottles or pumps at the pub, but Adnams is steeped in sustainability. They recycle steam in their brewery, capture rain at their distribution centre, and turn their waste into energy. Locally grown and malted barley, pest-resistant hops and a lightweight bottle help make their East Green golden ale carbon neutral. Did you know it typically takes six pints of water to make one pint of beer? At Adnams it only takes 3.2.

What makes it sexy? It tastes good…really, really good. And they have a lovely backstory that just makes you feel happy. And that’s what beer’s all about, isn’t it?

My verdict: Maybe you’re staying away from beer as part of a new year detox. But, when you get bored of being good, at least you can enjoy a beer that does good.

This pint’s BOTH sexy and susty. 

Sainsbury’s milk bag

What is it? British grocery chain Sainsbury’s sells milk in bags used to refill specially-made reusable jugs.

What makes it susty? Milk bags contain 75% less plastic than disposable milk jugs. This means less energy is used in their manufacture and they create a lot less waste. The milk itself is produced in Britain, which means fewer food miles.

What makes it sexy? A two-pint milk bag is 4p cheaper than the same sized plastic bottle. The reusable outer container can be purchased for a reasonable £1.98.

My verdict: Unlike the KeepCup, this reusable container requires people to change their behaviour significantly with no incentive beyond feeling good from doing good. That’s not enough to compensate for clunky design, fiddly use and fear of milky mess. According to research by Green Mondays, industry experts give Sainsbury’s low ratings on engaging customers in sustainability. This product is a good example of how the retailer needs to get better at understanding consumer behaviour, attitudes and purchase drivers, and deliver solutions that are just as sexy as they are sustainable.

For now, for me, this is just SUSTY

KeepCup reusable coffee cup

What is it? Hailing from Australia, but available worldwide on the web, KeepCup is the first ‘barista standard’ reusable coffee cup.

What makes it susty? Beyond the obvious, the manufacture of a KeepCup uses half the energy and one-third of the water used by a year’s worth of disposable cups. As stated on its website, since June 2009 KeepCup users have prevented 750,000 trees being felled for paper pulp. They’re also non-toxic which, surprisingly, is more than can be said for a lot of drinks containers.

What makes it sexy? Available in four standard takeaway sizes and a huge array of colours, you can fully customise your KeepCup. According to its creators, it fits in most espresso machines, has thermal properties similar to paper, doesn’t break the crema on the shot and assures a correct milk to coffee ratio. I don’t understand half of that, but I do get that it’s dishwasher and microwave safe and fits into most bicycle and car cup holders.

My verdict: It’s cute and clever, and feels lovely in your hand. That (and the fact that some coffee shops offer a discount for using one) is why I think it can overcome the hassle of washing and remembering it, encouraging a simple new habit…the coffee equivalent of a stylish canvas grocery bag.

A lovely balance of BOTH sexy and susty. 

Burgerville restaurants

What is it? On the face of it, Burgerville is a run-of-the-mill fast-food chain with 38 outlets in Washington and Oregon.

What makes it susty? From its vegetarian-fed, antibiotic-free beef burgers to its lightly-battered Yakima Valley asparagus spears, Burgerville’s produce is sourced locally, meaning its menu changes seasonally. Instead of toys, the kids meal includes seed packets for growing backyard veg. 100% of its energy use is covered by wind power credits, further supporting rural communities.

What makes it sexy? Having tried Burgerville during my stay in Oregon last week, I can attest that it’s living its mission to “Serve with Love”.  The service was fast and friendly, the food fresh and tasty, and it’s affordable to boot! The half-pound cheeseburger at Burgerville: $5.29. The McDonalds Big Mac: $4.50. The satisfaction of supporting local producers: priceless.

My verdict: Despite visiting after some wine tasting in the Willamette Valley, my judgment wasn’t impaired. If anything, I was drunk on the romance of Burgerville’s used cooking oil being processed by local firm SeQuential into biodiesel for use in the delivery vehicles of local bookshop Powell’s. Yes, fast food is unhealthy. No, beef isn’t very sustainable.

But I still think it’s BOTH sexy and susty

Gru Grococo chocolate

What is it? A joint venture between London chocolatier Rococo and The Grenada Chocolate Company, this limited-edition chocolate bar is 66% Grenadian Trinitario cocoa.

What makes it susty? The organic chocolate was grown by a co-operative of Grenadian peasant farmers and processed at a nearby solar-powered micro-factory. It was then transported from the Caribbean to the UK in a solar- and wind-powered cool room aboard a wooden sailing ship with no engines. The manufacturers claim its price reflects the true environmental cost of the cocoa, and all profits from its sale go to the farmers.

What makes it sexy? This is ”handpressed, single-estate, vanilla-free, vintage rootstock, grown-with-a-windward aspect” artisanal chocolate. In other words, posh.

My verdict: I’m tempted to call it Sexy because it smells suspiciously like a PR stunt. But I’m sufficiently assured of its carbon neutrality and its fair trading practices. That said, at £12.95 ($21) per bar, it will do little to convince people that green needn’t be the preserve of the wealthy. I’ll stick to Green & Black’s, thanks.

I’m going to call it SUSTY