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Watch a robot make a 3D-printed chair out of old refrigerators

Designer Dirk van der Kooij makes cool, modern-looking plastic furniture out of defunct refrigerators and other plastic waste. The plastic is ground up, then squeezed out like soft serve into a computerized pattern.

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Flame retardants can turn a burning room into a gas chamber

The Station nightclub fire at 40 seconds. (Photo by Daniel R. Davidson.)

You know brominated and chlorinated flame retardants are bad when when even Walmart bans them from its products. Unfortunately, some fire codes require them. But we’ll see how long that lasts, says Environmental Health News, given that new research indicates burning flame-retardant items makes them emit the same poisons used in Nazi gas chambers.

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Geek legend hacks together an off-grid smart home

Loren Amelang is a pioneer in C++ programming, and his homebrewed live/work space is a monument to sustainable geekery, says Fair Companies.

The entire south side of his home is covered in solar capture devices: 1600 watts of photovoltaic power, solar hot water panels, a sunroom/greenhouse and a solar hot air collector.

This isn't just your usual passive house or living building, either: Amelang can control the entire thing from a smartphone.

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FDA on BPA: We need more time to think

Photo by Nerissa's Ring.

This week was packed with incriminating evidence linking the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA) to an array of health risks. As we reported last week, a new study found regular, low-dose exposure to BPA might be far more dangerous than previously believed. Meanwhile, a University of Missouri report added to the growing pile of evidence that fetal exposure to the chemical can increase one’s likelihood of obesity, while a UK-based nonprofit organization, CHEM Trust, released a report [PDF] that includes BPA with a whole list of chemicals it calls “environmental obesogens” and diabetogens, along with persistent organic pollutants (POPs), arsenic, flame retardants, and phlalates.

As it turns out, this avalanche of bad news about BPA was not a coincidence.  You see, last December, a federal judge ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had been putting off responding to a 2008 petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to ban the plastic additive in food packaging for too long, and they had to respond by the end of March. So, in a move that won’t surprise anyone who watches the agency regularly, the FDA waited until the last Friday of the month to do so.

Read more: Food, Green Home, Living

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This house is so tiny, it’s practically two-dimensional

Oh, you live in 300 square feet? How nice for you. I mean, this house is only three feet wide, but I'm sure you're very committed to minimalist living too.

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Would you like a bamboo keyboard? Of course you would

The iZen bamboo keyboard is 92 percent bamboo, because normally keyboards are made from plastic, and plastic is made from oil and we'd rather not.

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Photos of students with all their possessions show how to live with less

Like their American counterparts, the current generation of Swedish teenagers is the first since the Great Depression to be financially worse off than their parents. Unstable employment opportunities have turned them into nomads who have to live light to get by. 

Read more: Cities, Green Home, Living

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Your next house could be made of pot

Photo by Push Design.

This North Carolina house is made of eco-friendly hemp-based bricks, and the company that makes them wants to start building a similar house in California. Throw in a natty hemp suit and Cheech and Chong's marijuana-resin car, and you've got most of the recipe for an entirely pot-based suburban idyll.

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Prevent furniture fires: Get the killer chemicals out of your couch

Photo by S. F. Pitman.

Cross-posted from Sightline.

Eureka! In a legislative dogfight of global significance, the California legislature will consider a bill this spring to modernize the “12-second rule,” the state’s obscure furniture flammability standard that fails to protect us from fires even while it poisons homes across North America.

Late last month, Rep. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) introduced AB 2197 [PDF], a bill that will bring California’s flammability standard into line with 35 years of independent fire safety science and 20 years of research by the U.S. government.

Read more: Green Home, Living

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Soon, your toilet could heat your apartment building

Now you can dump energy waste just by, well, taking a massive dump. Green tech company OriginOil is working on a project that uses toilet wastewater as a way to heat apartment buildings.

OriginOil, a start-up based in Los Angeles, CA., has begun a pilot of its urban algae farm concept at the La Défense complex near Paris. Wastewater from buildings nourishes algae growth; algae is processed to make heat. The company is attempting to prove that integrating algae production into large building complexes will help bring them closer to net zero.