World’s First Solar Cycle Path Is Performing Better Than Anticipated

May 13, 2015 | by Justine Alford

Photo credit: SolaRoad

If you can remember as far back as November, you may recall the announcement that the Netherlands had just designed and installed the world’s first solar cycle path in the town of Krommenie. At just 70-meters (230 ft) long, the SolaRoad project has been a proof-of-concept pilot to test out feasibility and practicality of such installations. Now, six months on, Dutch engineers have reviewed its performance and, perhaps surprisingly to skeptics, it has reportedly been more fruitful than anticipated.


Solarbox converts old London phone boxes into free solar charging stations


Two geography students in London have come up with a way to give the city's old red phone boxes a new life. An iconic symbol of the English city, the phone boxes have fallen out of use as the majority of people now have cell phones. Many of the boxes have been discarded, but with the students' Solarbox project, many others will now be converted into free solar-powered charging stations for cell phones and other gadgets.

"I lived next to a phone box in my second year at uni and walked past it every day. I thought, 'There are 8,000 of these lying unused in London and we must be able to find a use for them,'" co-founder Harold Craston told BBC News.

The project reinvents the phone boxes by painting them green and installing a 150-watt solar panel on top. Inside, the boxes have mini/micro-USB and iPhone chargers as well as a screen that runs advertisements while people charge their phones. The advertising pays for the booths so that the charging is free to the public.

The first of six charging kiosks were opened last week on Tottenham Court Road and the other five will be opened elsewhere in the city in April 2015. So far the box has seen about 85 customers a day, but each box will be able to handle 100 phone charges per day. The boxes will be open 5:30am - 11:30pm, 365 days a year and users can expect to get a 20 percent boost in their battery life in 10 minutes.

The team won the Mayor of London's Low Carbon Entrepreneur of the Year Award earlier this year and also won the LSE's Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award for their idea.

by Megan Treacy



Finally! California becomes first state in U.S. to ban plastic bags

Plastic bag

The first, and hopefully not the last...

This was a long time coming. California's Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill (SB270) that makes his state the first in the U.S. to ban single-use plastic bags. This widens the ban that is already in effect in San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles County, among other places, and retailers will have until July 2015 to turn off the litter machine. “This bill is a step in the right direction - it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”

Indeed, I hope that other states will follow in California's footsteps, until we eventually have a country-wide ban, or at least a nominal tax, on plastic bags.

Grocers will be required to charge at least 10 cents for each recycled paper bag or reusable bag provided to a customer (going from free to even a small fee makes the total number of bags used plummet, as we've seen in places where a simple plastic bag tax, rather than a complete ban, has been put on the books).