Kitty Planes? Sprout Pencils? Earth Day’s Strangest Gifts

Earth Day is officially April 22, but protecting the planet is something we should do every day of the year.

A lot of crafty entrepreneurs have taken the concept of renew, reuse and recycle to weird lengths.

How so? How about a kilt made from recycled soda bottles? Or pasta made from crickets? How about a bottle opener made from bullets or bike chains?

Check out these products. If someone says, “Saving Planet Earth isn’t weird,” just tell them, “No, but this way is more fun.”

It’s like Captain Planet said back in the 1990s: “The power is yours!”

  • Airplane Cat House
    Snoopy the beagle isn’t the only pet who is a flying ace. Your cat can be one, too, thanks to this lovingly-recreated cardboard model of a P-47 plane. Not only does the propeller spin, but there are other cool details, including a “taped photo” in the cockpit that shows kitties in bikinis stretched out on lawn chairs next to a plastic pink flamingo. Oh, and it’s made from 100 percent recycled paper stock. (, $35)
  • Kilt Made From Recycled Plastic Bottles
    These kilts made from recycled plastic bottles will definitely make a jogger “kilt” for speed. And if you decide to go commando underneath, you will definitely be forced to run faster than normal (if only to avoid arrest). (JWalkingDesigns, $62)
  • F Bomb Paperweight
    No, dropping f-bombs at the office isn’t always a good thing, but having this paperweight of recycled steel nearby will remind your irritating co-workers why they should stay on your good side. (, $45).
  • Pasta Made From Cricket Flour
    Eating bugs still turns some people off, even though they are more environmentally sustainable than beef. This pasta made from cricket powder and wheat flour is lower in carbs than regular pasta, while high in protein, non-dairy calcium, iron, vitamin B12 and Omega fatty acids. Plus, it’s worth it just to see the expressions on people’s faces when you tell them they just chowed down on bugs. (, $6.40)
  • Climate Change Coffee Mug
    Nothing beats a nice cup of coffee while lamenting the effects of climate change on the world. When filled with hot liquid, this coffee mug illustrates global warming by showing which areas of the world are liable to become deserts in the coming years. Mmmm, that’s good coffee. (, $14.99)
  • Worn Jean Stool
    This stool made from worn out jeans is the true epitome of reuse, renew, recycle. The jeans are coated with resin and formed into a sturdy piece of furniture that can hold 450 pounds. It costs $640, so you can expect the creator is making a lot of green. (UncommonGoods, $640)
  • Bike Chain Bottle Opener
    Usually, old bike chains are just allowed to rust away, but a group of artisans in Moradabad, India, have turned them into something every socially conscious beer drinker needs: A bike chain bottle opener. No, the chain isn’t long enough to allow it to double as a weapon. Can’t have everything. (, $10)
  • Sprout Pencil
    Writing is a dirty job. So is gardening. The Sprout Pencil combines both activities. A capsule of seeds comes in place of an eraser. When the pencil becomes too short to write with, it’s planted and the seeds in the capsule eventually become flowers or herbs. Sorry, Colorado: The herbs are strictly things like basil or coriander. (, $7.45)
  • Captain Planet Costume
    Back in the early 1990s, Captain Planet taught young kids about the dangers of pollution. With this authentic costume, you can teach the next generation the dangers of bad fashion. The power is yours. (, $59.99)
  • Bullet Bottle Openers
    “Shoot! This bullet casing has already been fired so I can’t load it.” “Shoot! I can’t find a bottle opener.” And so begins a truly bizarre salvaging attempt where old bullet casings are turned into bottle openers. As openers go, these are truly high caliber. (, $18.99)
  • StopinTime Shower Timer
    It’s important not to waste water, but when you’re in the shower and that hot water is pouring down, you can lose track of time. The Stop-In-Time Shower Timer uses the same technology that brought the world the hourglass and adapts to the heated environment of the shower. The low-tech product saves energy, but you might forget to look at it to see if you’re done. It happens. (, $3.33)
  • Billboard Bag
    Usually when a billboard is done being used, it gets thrown away, even though the material is made to withstand all sorts of weather. These billboard bags, which are made from the recycled signage, are a perfect way to advertise your willingness to help the environment., $30)
  • Kali Tampons
    Feminine hygiene and saving the environment don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Kali Tampons are biodegradeable and 100 percent organic. The perfect product for a woman who wants to save the planet a few days every month, not just once a year on Earth Day. (, $6 for sample pack)
  • Lobster Rope Doormats
    Looking for an Earth-friendly way to get the dirt off your shoes? These doormats are made from ropes previously used to tether lobster cages off the coast of Maine. There’s no “claws” for alarm: The lobsters have been removed., $39.95)
  • Leashpod
    Anyone who has stepped in dog poop knows it’s one of the scourges of this planet. Trying to walk your dog and clean up after it can require a whole bunch of juggling. The Leashpod makes that easier by putting a baggie dispenser and a poop holder onto the leash. It should do the trick until someone invents something better: A dog that doesn’t poop. (LeashpodUSA, $34.95)

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Less Is More: How Growing Up With Nothing Teaches You Everything

No one deserves to be born into poverty. In a perfectworld,we’re all given the same amount of money in the game that is life. Unfortunately, the real world isn’t as fair or logical as a board game. And as disappointing as it may be, over the years we come to find that life is more like Mouse Trapthan Monopoly.

Much like Mouse Trap, life can cage us in different ways — but the biggest cage of all is debt.

Debt keeps us shackled to disadvantage. Sadly, lacking money often means lacking security in life: The impoverished are more vulnerable toabuse,mental illnessanddangerous situations that harm brain development.

But no matterhow deep your debt is, you can know that you have more knowledge and experience than people whose toes have never touched poverty’s swell.

I know all too well what it’s like to have alack of moneybreak you down. Since the age of 10,Ive lived in places that have not exactly been legal. Ive known what its like to not have any windows to look out or stoves to cook on. And for two years, I shared a roomwith my father that was smaller than a prison cell.

An upbringing like this stays with you.It wasn’t easy, but Iwas somehow able to surface againstronger and smarter than ever. Because as Maya Angelou oncesaid, “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

Empty pockets don’t equal empty minds. In fact, I’ve found thatpeoplewho grew up with little are often theones who have gained the most from what life has to offer.

Overtime, life might dim the lights on the dreams of peoplewho can barely afford the electrical bill. But with the skills they learnedwhile struggling, these same people overcome anything with all of the lessons money can’t buy.

You learn how to shape-shift.

Dave Chappelle has performedhilarious skitsin whichhe pretends to be a white anchorman. He embodiesthe mannerisms of a completely different person. And because of the ways you’ve tried to fit in, you do this sort of thing in real life.

You learn how to tone down your accent when necessary or to make your voice more Anglo-Saxonon command. Its not right or fair, but its society — at least for now.

Maybe you can help change it once you are in power. But until then, you force yourself tobecome acultural chameleon.

Youve learned who you cantell certain things — and who you can’t.You have a different vocabulary with everybody you encounter. You alsoknow how to dress up in suits during the workweek and switch back totojoggers and a Snapback on Saturdays.

You develop an open mind.

Difficult times have trainedyouto think on your feet. When youve lived in rough neighborhoods or encountered dangerous situations, improvisation becomes your superpower.

If your spaghetti strap rips, for example, you know that a hair tie will keep it together until you can buy a new shirt. Youve been trained to use your head instead of your wallet. Youve been trained to survive.

While the privileged tend to lose it when their pathderails, you’ve gained the braveryto paveyour own path.

You learn how to treat and respecteveryone.

When you grow up with nothing, you encounterpeople from all walks of life. And you learn to treat them with the respect you wish people would show you.

You may have been exposed to the world of exclusivity and silver spoons.You’ve probablyseen images of the high life on TV shows and movies, and youve probably babysat for socialitesto help pay off your mortgage. And you respect people who live so luxuriously.

But on your way to babysit in that rich person’s apartment building, you might cross paths with the doorman. And while everyone else rushes in and out of the door,you stopto respect and acknowledge him.

You stop to ask him how his day is going because you can relate tohis struggle. Because even if you have just been paid $20 an hour for babysitting, a part of you will always be that doorman.

To you, a garbage man might as well be a CEO. Both have families, feelings and bills to pay. There is no difference between the two, and you treat themthe same.

You learn street smartsandbook smarts.

On top of your usual classes, you learn from your city. You learn where to avoid and where to go. You learn what’s safe and what’s not.

Unlike people who can afford cab rides, you are used to having strangers intrude on your comfort zone. You’ve had strangersfall asleep on your shoulder, crazy people whisper things inyour ear and other people’s tearsfall inyour lap.

Being thrust into strangers’ close quartersmakes you immune to almost everything.You don’t fear people.

Since youve been overly exposed to strangers, you can approach anyone without hesitation. To your benefit, speaking to people has made you bold about finding solutionsto your problems and questions.

You learn how to read people.

Just like a deaf person learns to read lips, poverty allows you to read souls.

Because you’ve beenraised in diverse communities and encountered language barriers, you probably haven’t been able to understand everyone. But being constantly aroundothers teaches you to seeinsidepeopleeven if they never open their mouths.

Accents, dialects and languages take a back seat to body language.

You know how different communities work from the inside out.

If your parents were absent during your childhood due to long work hours (or any other reason), you probably spent a lot of time with friends families. And in doing so, you grew to understand how different cultures function — and you gained a million different families in the process.

When your friends’ parents made them go to tutoring after school, you tagged along. When your friends parents made you real, home-cooked meals, you learned about the delicacies of different cultures.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Thefamilies who contributed to your safety, well-being and development were that village for you.

You learn to make the most out of what you have.

You learn how to make things last, whether it’s a bar of soap or a box of mac and cheese. You’ve learned how to use your resources to the fullest and spend your money wisely.

Fromthis,you masterskills like budgeting,planningand rationing.

You learn to appreciate every little thing, both given and earned.

Once you finally make it in life, you can afford better food and a better lifestyle. But you still remember your roots — and how you used to count your quarters to get something off the Dollar Menu.

Those memories stay with you. You never allow yourself to become spoiled by your newly-gained riches. You only become further nourished by them.

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Welsh home installs UK’s first Tesla Powerwall storage battery

Battery could revolutionise UK energy market by enabling people to store excess energy generated from rooftop solar panels

The setting is decidedly modest: a utility room in a red-brick house at the end of a cul-de-sac in Wales. But if the hype turns out to be right, this may be the starting point for an energy revolution in the UK.

Householder Mark Kerr has become the first British owner of a Tesla Powerwall, a cutting-edge bit of kit that the makers say will provide a missing link in solar energy.

Like many owners of solar panels, Kerr and his family have a basic problem. They tend to be out at work and school when the sun is shining and the 16 solar panels on the roof of their home in Cardiff are producing power.

The excess they miss out on is fed into the grid and they make a return on it but it does not seem right that they do not get to use the power from their panels.

However, from now, energy produced but not used during the day will charge the Powerwall and can then be used to provide them with the energy they need when theyre at home and their lights, music centres, computers, televisions and myriad other devices need feeding.

A self-confessed tech-head and an electrician by trade, Kerr could hardly contain his excitement when the Powerwall arrived. This is the future, definitely, he said. For me this is the logical next step. We have the solar panels but we need a way to make best use of the power they produce.

Me and my family are all out in the day, and we are not making use of the enormous amount of clean energy that our solar panels produce. The battery will allow us to store the energy we dont use in the day to use when we need it in the evenings.

There are other battery systems on the market, but since its launch in California last year by Teslas billionaire founder, Elon Musk, the Powerwall has gathered something of a cult following.

Elon Musk unveils Teslas Powerwall in May 2015 – video

Kerr is clearly a disciple: Its a gorgeous-looking piece of technology, its design is very sleek and minimalistic and something you can hang on the wall like a piece of art, definitely nothing like some of the other clunky looking batteries. If Kerrs partner, Lyndsey, finds him missing one evening, it sounds like she may find him gazing at his new gizmo.

There is a growing school of thought that 2016 could be the year of energy storage. At one end of the scale are large schemes such as Highview Power Storage project, due to start generating power next month by turning air to liquid and back again, driving a turbine in the process. At the other end of the scale is Kerrs utility room.

The 7kWh Powerwall is a lithium-ion-battery system invented by the company that has popularised electric sports cars. Not one to underplay his products, Tesla CEO Musk heralded the battery as a fundamental transformation [in] how energy is delivered across the Earth.

A company called Solar Plants, based in Port Talbot, south Wales, has installed Kerrs Powerwall. Its managing director, Oliver Farr, said it had e-mailed 3,000 customers about the device. Of the 1,500 who opened the e-mail, 600 said they wanted one. There is a lifestyle element to it, said Farr. Its like people who have an iPhone wanting an Apple Watch.

Kerrs is a freebie. Farr said he wanted to check how it worked before he sold it to other customers. He is not putting a price on it yet either. At the launch event, Musk said it cost $3,500. But this does not take into account the cost of the switchgear needed to make it work, and installation costs. Some experts both in the UK and Australia have suggested it could be more than a decade – the length of warranty – before the Powerwall pays for itself.

The number-crunchers will not put Kerr off. He believes that his solar panels have already reduced his electricity bills by 20% and thinks the addition of the Powerwall might lead to a total reduction of 80%. But its not just about the money. Were environmentally minded and this seems the right thing to do.

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50 Home Upgrades That Cost $1 Or Less

Spring cleaning shouldn’t only lead to a tidy home. It should lead to a better home that looks and feels brand spankin’ new.

Lucky for you, help is on the way. We found the ultimate guide that not only breaks down the big clean sweep into five, easy-to-follow sections, it includes super affordable upgrades that cost $1 or less.

With genius cleaning hacks, cheap (and free) DIY upgrades, and insanely simple design tricks for your home and garden decor, the infographic below, created by the experts at Vibrant Doors, covers all the basics while saving you some serious cash.

Master the art of the spring home cleanse by trying these 50 home improvement hacks. You’ll turn your home into a cozy, immaculate and freshly styled sanctuary without ever breaking the bank.

Courtesy of Vibrant Doors

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