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Best Eco-Innovations of 2012

Best Eco-Innovations of 2012

Below is a collection of  some of the top eco-innovations of 2012. It’s not a complete list, of course—there were many fantastic, weird, and wonderful ideas that came into being over the last 12 months—but there are a few little gems here that we can tap into to use in our own lives.

Cuppow!

Say it out loud. Really loudly. You know you want to.

cuppow

     

    Cuppow is a reusable lid that turns any jar with a standard mouth into a drinking vessel. Canning jars, mason jars, jam jars—now they can all be used to drink from without slopping your smoothie down the front of your shirt. The Cuppow lid can be sipped-from directly, or you can poke a straw through the opening for a more genteel drinking experience. The lid is made of phthalate- and BPA-free plastic, is completely recyclable, and will likely last you for years.

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    Peel-and-Stick Solar Panels

    solar-cell-sticker

       

      The brilliant beasties over at Stanford have created peel-and-stick solar cells that could revolutionize the way we use solar energy. The cells, made of a silicon, silicon dioxide and metal “sandwich”, are topped off with thermal release tape that allows them to be peeled off and stuck to surfaces such as paper, plastic, fabric, glass… just about anything you can imagine.

      Tiny Houses

      tiny house

         

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        Last year seemed to be the year of the tiny house. Though 2011 took great strides with buildings like the teensy Eco Cube, 2012 saw an enormous number of small-scale, eco-friendly houses being built around the globe. Though miniscule “survivalist” dwellings like these might be a bit extreme, cute little dwellings like those created by the Tumbleweed Tiny House company and Twelve 3 manage to combine sustainable living with adorable, innovative design. This past June, the most recent creation by the Micro Compact Home company was installed near Lake Maggiore in Switzerland, and is an absolute work of art, complete with double beds, a modern bathroom, great storage, and a modern kitchen. These tiny buildings prove that you don’t need a lot of space to live in style, and sustainable living doesn’t necessarily equal living in forest yurts.

        Wind Turbine, Even With No Wind?

        apple-wind-patent

           

          So, this is really new news, and the thing hasn’t been built yet, but apparently Apple has filed a patent for a wind turbine that can produce energy even when there’s no wind. According to the official patent, published online here:

          “…the system uses a set of rotating blades to convert rotational energy from a wind turbine into heat in a low-heat-capacity fluid. Next, the system selectively transfers the heat from the low-heat-capacity fluid to a working fluid. Finally, the system uses the transferred heat in the working fluid to generate electricity”

          From what I’ve been able to glean, it will draw its energy from heat rather than rotation, and can draw on that stored heat in the fluid whenever the wind isn’t blowing hard enough to spin its blades. That’s pretty impressive, right there.

          The Water Bottle that Fills Itself

          self-filling-water

             

            As water pollution renders more and more of the earth’s potable water supplies undrinkable, action is being taken to ensure that people will have enough clean water to survive. Enter the NBD Nano: a water bottle that fills itself by drawing moisture from the atmosphere. The bottle is still in its development stage (they’re hoping to have it available to the public by 2014) but the technology could make a monumental difference in developing countries where clean, safe water is scarce. The inspiration for the bottle came from the Namib desert beetle, whose carapace is covered in little bumps: these allow tiny beads of moisture from the air’s humidity to accumulate until they’re large enough to roll into its mouth, thus allowing it to stay hydrated (and so, survive!) in an environment that’s hostile to most other forms of life.

            As a final nod to eco-innovation, we have…

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            The Energy Belt

            energy-belt

               

              If you’ve been worried about the excess weight you might have put on over the holidays, what with stuffing your gullet at countless family gatherings and all, fear not! There’s the Energy Belt, from the Nano Supermarket. It sounds like something a superhero would wear, doesn’t it? Well, sure… if that superhero needed to lose a few, but wanted to be environmentally proactive about it too.

              The Energy Belt mimics the body’s “brown fat”(which is the beneficial fat that cushions our internal organs), drawing energy from the white fat (the mooshy stuff we get after eating too many burgers) and converting it into Adenosine-5′-triphosphate (ATP) energy. That chemical energy can then be used to create electricity, so you could technically power your mp3 player with your own body fat.

              From the official website:

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               “Eat what you want at dinner, and give up that gym membership for good. Energy Belt cuts down on electricity costs while you cut down on size.”

              Considering how many people around the world are overweight/obese, this could certainly be a great way to slim down the population while creating energy to fuel all manner of devices. I’d say that’s a win-win all around.

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              Catherine Winter

              Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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              Published on September 25, 2020

              10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

              10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

              When it comes to digital security, public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe enough, making it much easier for hackers to access your personal data. Whether you are studying in a library or scrolling through Facebook in a coffeehouse, it is vital to have a VPN installed on your device.

              VPNs work wonders when it comes to securing your internet connection. By creating an encrypted tunnel between a remote server run by the VPN service, they protect your personal data from prying eyes. There is a variety of VPNs available on the web, and we have collated a list of the best VPNs that stand out from the rest.

              How to Choose a VPN

              • Free trial period – Free trials allow you to try the product risk-free. The same idea technically applies to those with 30-day full refunds as well.
              • Speed – You want your VPN to be just as fast as the internet speed at home. Good quality VPNs are ones where you see little difference between those speeds.
              • Device connection – Of course, the more devices that can connect to VPNs, the better. It increases the customers’ coverage and the product’s value. You also want to consider compatibility since fewer VPNs may work for Mac or Windows only.
              • Number of servers – The number of servers determines how much capacity a VPN can handle while you are connected. The more servers there are, the more users it can handle without running into potential disconnections or slow speeds.
              • Kill switch feature – Having this feature means that your IP address isn’t exposed if the VPN disconnects for some reason. A lack of this feature is a big deal since the whole reason why you’re paying for a VPN is to hide your IP address, among other things. (Find out how to avoid getting tracked online here: Big Brother Is Watching You Online: How To Avoid Being Tracked)

              Why You Should Trust Us

              Our hand-picked VPNs are incredibly efficient and offer such distinctive features that grant you safe browsing. They outperform many VPNs in terms of both speed and security. Their primary aim is to provide you the utmost security, thus enabling you to surf the web safely and prevent any potential threat from causing harm.

              Among the best VPNs’ many unique features include split tunneling, strict logging policies, high encryption level, and availability of international servers. We have gathered them in this article to enlighten our readers and offer the best pieces of advice before you get one. Therefore, take our word for it, and if you go for a VPN mentioned below, you’d be fully appeased.

              1. NordVPN

              The most popular VPN on the market these days is NordVPN, and it’s easy to see why. It has widespread coverage, offering a selection of over 5,000 servers spanning across 59 countries.[1] Due to the high number of servers, its speed is similar to your Wi-Fi at home.

              Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, has been using NordVPN for many years and wants to recommend it for its remarkable server count in different locations with no-logs policy. The VPN perfectly works with Netflix and Fire TV stick, too.

              NordVPN is also compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can download the app onto Chrome, Firefox, Android, and Mac OS. Thanks to its massive coverage, it’s easy to connect multiple devices onto these servers.

              In terms of pricing, while NordVPN doesn’t have a free trial period, they argue that their plans are considerably cheaper than those of their competitors. For example, a one-year plan for ExpressVPN costs $8.32 per month, but NordVPN only charges $6.99 monthly.

              NordVPN has a new protocol called NordLynx that is based on WireGuard with speed benefits, though it’s still under development.[2] If you’re looking for general quality and affordability, this is one of the best VPNs around.

              Buy this VPN.

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              2. ExpressVPN

              ExpressVPN is the second-best option out there for keeping your privacy while browsing the internet. Like many other VPNs here, they will encrypt your IP address, offer vast coverage, and can have multiple devices connected to their servers.

              Compared to NordVPN, while the pricing point is higher, ExpressVPN’s biggest selling point is the number of countries that their connection covers. Depending on where you are in the world, this may be the only option you have. They have fewer servers — 160, to be precise — but they make up for the low server count by covering 94 countries.[3]

              Cost-wise, your best bet is to go with the yearly plan where they charge $8.32 a month. They also have one- and six-month plans.

              Buy this VPN.

              3. Surf Shark

              With regards to Surf Shark, you can connect multiple devices to its servers, and it’s compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is also available on Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and FireTV.

              Furthermore, Surf Shark can whitelist apps and sites, letting them bypass the VPN. This, along with the lines of split-tunneling, is another feature that many VPNs offer. The difference is that Surf Shark allows you to whitelist specific apps or any website, while most VPNs will whitelist all sites or none at all.

              The other consideration for this app is the price. While lower-tier plans are more expensive compared to others, Surf Shark’s 24-month plan is priced at $2.69 a month, so it’s cheaper than even NordVPN’s equivalent plan!

              Buy this VPN.

              4. CyberGhost

              Another top-reviewed VPN is CyberGhost. They’ve been around for 15 years and have fine-tuned their offers and features to stay competitive. They provide the standard package of browsing the web and logging into accounts safely and give you access to regionally blocked content.

              The network also maintains security from hackers, malware, and phishing. Aside from that, you can connect multiple devices, and it’s compatible with all kinds of platforms.

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              What separates CyberGhost from the others is their extensive coverage. They have multiple servers, and the pricing point is still very low. It covers over 88 countries and has roughly 6200 servers for you to choose from, all while charging $2.75 for their 18-month plan.

              Buy this VPN.

              5. IPVanish

              IPVanish’s prime purpose is to give users online freedom by providing fast speeds and private connections. It’s clear that they can meet that promise as they provide many of the features that have been listed previously from their competitors.

              IPVanish is a part of SugarSync now. What is that, you may ask? It’s a cloud-based service that syncs files across devices and computers for sharing, backup, and many more. What this means is that other devices can access various files and videos so long as they are connected to your specific VPN. Furthermore, it can serve as a backup plan if you get hacked or lose your device for some reason.

              Buy this VPN.

              6. Private Internet Access

              Private Internet Access (PIA) is a remarkably generous company in many ways. Aside from the obvious features, they offer great incentives and discounts for people to try out their products. They claim to be the most trustworthy and reliable VPN around, and we believe that.

              One notable thing is that PIA offers a free two-month trial. Compared to other VPNs to this point, none have provided free trials (though all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee). On top of that, small businesses can avail of their VPN at a discounted rate. There is also the fact that their pricing plans go as low as $2.69 a month for two years, and they let you pay with gift cards.

              In terms of specs, PIA has over 2695 servers that cover 47 countries right now.

              These particular aspects make PIA unique and one of the best VPNs to consider.

              Buy this VPN.

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              7. Hotspot Shield

              Hotspot Shield is all about offering protection while you’re browsing the internet or using streaming services like Netflix. The encryption is military-grade, and its speed is ultra-fast. In truth, it is even marketed as one of the fastest VPNs.

              Hotspot Shield offers a plan that only costs  $7.99 a month; however, it’s one of the few in this list to provide its services for free. Like other Freemium apps, the free version comes with limited features. That said, it gives you a much better feel for the VPN.

              Also, take note that the encryption feature is still there, though the limitations in the free plan include connecting to one location in the US and having limited streaming options and speed.

              Buy this VPN.

              8. TunnelBear

              As unusual as a name choice for an online security protection service can be, TunnelBear is nothing short of incredible. It makes our list of the best VPNs for various reasons.

              The biggest one is that the company goes through a yearly security audit. This is notable because many VPNs don’t bother about independent audits to ensure their systems are secure and safe from any issues. This is critical as VPNs have gotten some bad reputation over the years, as TunnelBear has noted in their post about their security audit.[4] The fact that they are doing this annually ensures that nothing is being compromised.

              Furthermore, TunnelBear offers limited services for free, but even their paid plans are pretty cheap. For individuals, you’re merely paying $3.33 per month. The only catch is that you can connect five devices regardless of which paid plan you pick.

              Buy this VPN.

              9. Norton

              Norton has been on the security scene for some time, and it’s actually one of the founders of the internet security industry. It started with virus and malware protection in 1991 and has since branched off to other sectors as the industry has shifted.

              As you might expect from a company that’s been around for a long time, Norton provides excellent services, and a few of their other services have gone into the VPN package. In reality, Norton is the only one thus far to offer a password manager with their VPN services. They provide 50GB of cloud storage as well.

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              Norton has one of the cheapest VPNs, considering you can get their deluxe plan at $49.99 per year. That comes up to roughly $4.17 a month. It might be slightly higher than other equivalent plans, but you get a lot of extra value that makes it worth the price.

              Buy this VPN.

              10. StrongVPN

              The final VPN we want to cover is StrongVPN. Like many others, it’s great at blocking unnecessary web traffic and providing a fast and simple solution to navigating the internet without any hindrance.

              StrongVPN has over 900 servers. It is available in more than 30 countries and compatible with all devices. Beyond that, the only notable selling point it has compared to others is that it also offers Sugarsync services and 250GB of storage, irrespective of your chosen plan.

              As for the pricing, their year-long plan costs $5.83 a month, while their month-long one is $10.

              Buy this VPN.

              Bottom Line

              Getting online protection is important these days, and companies recognize this.

              With more hacks and breaches occurring every single day, the best VPNs can provide an excellent haven for many people who value their security and privacy.

              We hope that by putting together this list, you’ll be able to find the best VPN that you can trust and enjoy using. As you can see, there are several great options with no real wrong one out there. Pick the VPN that’s best for you.

              Featured photo credit: Petter Lagson via unsplash.com

              Reference

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