Our Thursday green news brings you the latest on green architecture, climate change, energy and communities:
- Unused London phone booths turned into free solar charging stations: Project Solarbox initiated by two London students, aims to re-purpose now obsolete London phone booths into free solar-powered charging stations for cell phones and other gadgets. As Harold Craston, co-founder of Solabox explained: “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.” The phone booths will be painted green to represent their new function and will be equipped with a 150-watt solar panel on top and with a mini/micro-USB and iPhone chargers as well as a screen that runs advertisements while people charge their phones on the inside. Solarbox estimates that the advertising will cover the costs to provide free charging to the public. The first charging kiosk out of six was recently put to use on Tottenham Court Road and the other five will be opened in other parts of the city in April 2015. To date, the box has served to about 85 customers each day, but the box is designed to handle about 100 phone charges a day. The boxes will be open from 5:30am – 11:30pm, 365 days a year and users can obtain about a 20 percent boost in their battery life in only 10 minutes. For their concept and service to the public, the team was awarded 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.
- Beijing encourages recycling with free service exchange: In Beijing you can now pay for your train rides or mobile phone top-ups directly with used plastic bottles. Machines in 34 locations now accept plastic bottle deposits and calculate their value, then issue a credit to the person’s mobile account or transit pass. While the company Incom, that introduced the concept, currently recycles more than 15,000 tons of bottles a year, it’s competing against many informal pickers “cleaning up” the streets. Although the machines are solely in Beijing, they certainly help raising awareness among public by putting a value on a commonly discarded material that often ends up in landfills and causes environmental problems.