Plastic and coffee just don’t go together. And cheap plastic coffeemakers seem to be the very model of planned obsolescence. Fortunately, there are affordable alternatives to the $6,000 La Marzaccos you see in the best cafes.
The Pottle by the Japanese artisanal company Noda Horo is a beautiful enameled steel pot that goes on your stovetop. The company has been in the enameled kitchenware business since 1934, and they seem to have pretty well mastered the art. “It’s no fun if it’s just about function—there has to be beauty to it,” company president Koichi Noda told Monocle magazine. And he should know—he designed the Pottle.
So the next time your coffeemaker breaks down, consider this elegant alternative from rural Tochigi. It’s built to last and look good doing it.
It’s either a dog that sits up and begs or a cork table that transforms into a desk. According to its designers, U.M. (for Users and Makers,) it’s the latter.
The U.M.O. has a cryptic name to go with its cryptic function, but it’s versatile and plastic-free. Made from just cork and aluminum, it will also float in your pool (not recommended.)
It’s estimated that every year as much as 26 million tons of plastic—ten percent of what we use—ends up in the oceans. There it breaks down into tiny particles—up to two million bits per square mile—and is often ingested by fish, birds and marine mammals.
To some, the prospect of cleaning all that plastic from our oceans seems overwhelming. And even if we could clean it all up, what would we do with it? Adrian Midwood, of eco-group Ocean Ambassadors, and Tim Silverwood of beach cleanup initiative Take 3 have created a remarkable solution by collecting ocean plastic and converting it to fuel to power their boat, the SV Moana.
The boat uses the Blest technology developed by Japanese inventor, Akinori Ito, to convert ocean-borne plastic into fuel oil. As the Moana and its crew pulled into Newcastle Harbour in Australia last week, crowds gathered and questions flew.
"Doesn't it produce any toxic chemicals?"
"Nothing dangerous is produced in the conversion," Midwood answers. “A very small amount of biochar is produced, but it can be used for many agricultural purposes."
Over the last few weeks, the Talking Trash Tour has taken the crew around Australia’s East Coast and to the islands of Fiji and Tonga. For Silverwood, the most gratifying part is the sense of empowerment people feel when they see plastic being cleaned up and used to replace petroleum (which also fouls the oceans.) “Knowing that even that one bottle cap or bag isn't going to exist in the ocean forever—won't be killing a bird or a turtle—a simple action can have a massive benefit,” he said.
The Blest technology that powers the Moana empowers its users as well. “There is a limit to what can be achieved by collecting large amounts of plastic by truck, separating the plastics and turning it into oil,” said inventor Akinori Ito. “On the other hand, using small-scale equipment and converting the plastic waste at the point of production is more efficient. Yet for this to become a reality, it was essential to develop a simple machine anybody can operate.”
By comparison, the U.S. burns nearly 97,000 tons of plastic every day, mostly in large-scale energy recovery facilities. Mr. Ito puts the concept to work right where it’s needed. In the case of the Moana, that means scooping up plastic ocean debris and using it to power the boat, which serves as the Ocean Ambassadors’ flagship.