We're all looking for easy ways to pitch in on the fight against climate change. Reducing our personal carbon footprint is a popular tactic, and student designer Christoph Thetard has created a multi-use, foot-pedal-powered kitchen appliance that will lower your electric bill and impress dinner-party guests.
The easiest way to extract maximum coffee-grinding power out of your body is to use your legs. So Thetard's design relies on a gigantic pedal-powered flywheel mounted inside a tastefully finished wooden case. According to Thetard, pedaling the flywheel at 400rpm will generate 350 watts of power per minute—enough to handle most casual kitchen tasks.
The various attachments — coffee grinder, blender, and something Thetard vaguely calls a "kitchen machine" — conveniently store away in the beautiful wooden frame.
The machine is only a concept at this stage, and Thetard's eco-aware design philosophy is admirable. The relative lack of plastic parts may also contribute to an overall reduction in carbon footprint. But what about the fact that it's made of heavy wood and metal? Unless consumers go full-on Amish, hewing the planks and forging the gears themselves, simply manufacturing and shipping this thing would have significant fossil-fuel costs. And even if it still comes out on top versus plastic-and-electric appliances in a cradle-to-grave energy analysis, the overall ecological impact of using a foot-driven kitchen tool (while still running, say, an electric refrigerator) is essentially nil.
However! Combating climate change is all about changing the culture by small steps, and designs like Thetard's challenge us all to at least question the environmental impact of everyday products. After all, if a kitchen appliance lasts a century because it can be easily repaired, versus 18 months because it's a cheap plastic P.O.S., that's nothing to sneer at. I won't lie: if I could buy one of these machines, I probably would.