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Superfront furnishings

superfrontWhat is it? Superfront sells a range of custom fronts, handles, legs, tops and sides for customising IKEA cabinets.

What makes it susty? Much like its Swedish cousin H&M, IKEA could be considered fast fashion for your home. Something so mass produced is hard to feel attached to, and all too easy to get rid of. Enter Superfront, a stylish way to extend the life of old furniture that might otherwise be destined for the dump.

What makes it sexy? It’s an affordable way of making your affordable furniture a little more unique. No stranger to IKEA, I love the idea of giving my Bestå a more stylish and customised facelift. Their colours, patterns and little details can be mixed to make all sorts of good-looking combinations.

My verdict: Superfront’s cool, but by no means the first to reincarnate IKEA products. They claim to be environmentally friendly because “all of our products are made in Sweden”, but look a little closer and some come from China and India. And can’t they tell us more about how it’s made? Virgin or waste wood? Synthetic or natural resins? Non-toxic finishes?

On the fence, but for now I’ll have to say just SEXY

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. 

Tripp Trapp chair

tripp_trappWhat is it? Sold by Norwegian furniture maker Stokke, the Tripp Trapp has been seating kids of all ages since 1972.

What makes it susty? A system of grooves and adjustable plates means it can be used as a highchair for infants, a booster seat for toddlers and even a regular chair for the young at heart. There’s nothing more sustainable than a product that lasts a lifetime or more, except one that also biodegrades at the end of its life. Given it’s made of beech wood instead of plastics, that’s exactly what Tripp Trapp does.

What makes it sexy? Its timeless design is the antithesis of those bulky, tacky things you see in most new parents’ kitchens. But more importantly, it lets kids comfortably sit at the table with everyone else, rather than having to eat off a tray like some sort of uninvited cafeteria monkey.

My verdict: Constantly outgrowing everything, kids leave a trail of unwanted junk in their wake. It’s lovely to see a children’s product with designed-in longevity. Yes, it’d be even better if it was made of FSC-certified wood, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting one, even without a kid.

Proof, I’d say, that it’s BOTH sexy and susty. 

Nest thermostat

What is it? Nest is a new kind of thermostat. Trust me, it’s a lot cooler than it sounds. Read on.

What makes it susty? It senses when you’re asleep or away from home and adjusts the temperature to conserve energy. A bit like Nike+ for your home, it uploads data onto the web where you can track energy use over time and get tips on how to heat and cool your home more efficiently.

What makes it sexy? If Apple made thermostats, they’d be like this. But since it doesn’t, two guys left Apple and started Nest. You can control it from your mobile device, and over time it learns when you like it warmer or cooler and adjusts itself automatically. This can lower heating and cooling bills by up to 20%.

My verdict: It’s this kind of beautiful, smart, user- and eco-friendly technology that offers a glimpse into a better, brighter future. And I’m not the only one raving. Nest was valued at $800 million last week. If I have a complaint, it’s the little green leaf that’s displayed when the device is adjusted in a way that saves energy. Très cliché. I’d prefer a smile.

Still, if ever there was something BOTH sexy and susty, this is it. 

Voting results: Method

A while back, we brought you a post on Method, one of our favourite brands. After about six months of voting, we’re pleased to see you share our enthusiasm. Method currently leads the pack on balancing sustainability and desirability, with a full 92% of readers deeming it BOTH sexy and susty.

We think the main reason people like Method is that their non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products are as easy on the eye and on your health as they are on the planet. For those ‘in-the-know’, Method is a B Corp with Cradle to Cradle certification. For the rest of us, they simply make nice-looking, straight-talking, dependable products. My ylang-ylang shower spray keeps the glass door from going all spotty and doesn’t make me run out of the bathroom gasping for air.

Only 5% of you think that Method, while decidedly green, isn’t quite appealing enough. If you find yourself agreeing, speak out and let us know why. Does it seem less effective than other brands? Do you prefer the extra-cleverness of something like Replenish?

3% of readers think Method’s not as green as it could be. Some commentators, like Smartkleen, question Method’s use of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Perhaps, for some, vinegar and baking soda is all you need. But for those who don’t want their windows smelling like a side salad, you might be glad to hear what Tim Smith, team skipper (aka general manager) of Method Europe, told us about all of this:

We’re really pleased to see that method is seen as having both style and substance – and we’ve got more exciting developments for 2013 in both design and sustainability which we’re hoping will emphasise this even more.

Sky Planter

What is it? Based in New Zealand, Boskke makes this inverted planter that hangs from the ceiling.

What makes it susty? According to its website, the porous reservoir at the top (or is that the bottom?) of the planter conserves water by gradually diffusing it directly to the plant’s roots, thereby avoiding the evaporation and drainage of traditional pots. This particular range is made of recycled plastic.

What makes it sexy? Aside from its striking design? That reservoir at the top/bottom means you don’t have to worry so much about over/under watering. And paired with last week’s entry, Plumen lightbulbs, Sky Planters make a gorgeous chandelier.

My verdict: First, find a plant that doesn’t mind growing upside down. Repot it, fashioning into place the mesh screen and lid that keep in the soil. Install the ceiling hook, hang the plant and live with the niggling fear that, at best, bits of soil will fall out and, at worst, the whole contraption will collapse. Not sure the cool factor outweighs the hassle factor.

As it’s made of recycled plastic, I’m gonna call it SUSTY. (Thanks to my better half Jason for suggesting a review of this product.)

Plumen lightbulb

What is it? Plumen is a compact fluorescent lightbulb produced by British design company Hulger.

What makes it susty? It uses 80% less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb and lasts 8 times longer. It’s true, fluorescents contain traces of mercury, so if your local recycler doesn’t take spent bulbs you can send it back to Plumen.

What makes it sexy? There’s a reason why all the hippest coffee shops have these. The light emitted by Plumen is a warmer white than that blue glare you get from most fluorescents. And you can’t miss its design, which has been recognised by none other than New York’s MoMA, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and that ultimate authority on sexiness, GQ.

My verdict: Fluorescent bulbs typically have an unattractive, sterile, mass-produced look. Plumen proves that fluorescents can be not just tolerable but beautiful. Low-energy bulbs are pricey as it is, so for the right room and light fixture I’d have no qualms about paying a little extra for a Plumen.

For me, it’s BOTH sexy and susty. (Thanks to the fabulous Catherine Kent for suggesting we review this product!)

Dizolve laundry detergent sheets

What is it? Hailing from Canada, this concentrated detergent sheet replaces laundry liquids and powders. Pop one in with your wash and it dissolves in the water.

What makes it susty? While most detergents come in a big heavy box or bottle, Dizolve comes in a little plastic envelope. Less packaging means less waste. Lighter weight means lighter trucks and fewer emissions. Its ingredients are biodegradable and it works in cold water, reducing energy use.

What makes it sexy? Easy it is, messy it’s not. The size and weight of a paperback, a pack of Dizolve fits anywhere and goes anywhere (like to Tahiti, to hand wash your swimsuit). The 20-wash pack weighs orders of magnitude less than a 20-wash box of the leading brand, and is cheaper.

My verdict: The nice people at Dizolve sent me a sample which I used in the wash today. Good thing too, because their logo looks so much like this harsh bleach brand that had I seen it in the shop I would have walked right past. In any event, everything came out as clean and fresh-smelling as it does with the leading detergent brand.

All in all, I’ve got to say BOTH - sexy and susty. (Thanks to the lovely Lauren Stern who suggested we review this product!) 

EnergyEGG energy-saving device

What is it? Developed by Scottish start-up TreeGreen, EnergyEGG automatically switches off your appliances when you leave the room.

What makes it susty? Most wireless energy-saving gadgets make it easy to turn off appliances by letting you do so from a single conveniently-located device. But you still have to remember to hit the switch on the monitor. With EnergyEGG, even the forgetful (or lazy) can save energy.

What makes it sexy? EnergyEGG’s nifty motion sensor can tell if you are out of the room or just sitting still. That means it won’t turn the TV off at an exciting point in the match.  But its main selling point is that it helps you save energy without doing anything differently.

My verdict: According to the company’s energy saving calculator, if I used EnergyEGG in my house I’d save £41.68 per year. With a £40 price tag, it would take a year to pay for itself, by which time it may well be obsolete. And for a device that has to be out in the open to work properly, the design isn’t quite as sleek and beautiful as its name implies.

For me, this one’s mostly SUSTY.  (Thanks to the nice people at Green Monday who suggested we review this product!)