Refrigerators consume about a sixth of all household electricity, more than any single kitchen appliance. What’s an environmentally minded consumer to do? You could buy an Energy Star refrigerator, but it’d only be about 20% more efficient than a standard model. So here’s a thought: Toss your fridge, and replace it with designer Jihyun Ryou’s manual food preservation system. Power usage: Zilch.
The conceptual system goes by the rather cumbersome name of "Shaping Traditional Oral Knowledge—Save Food From The Fridge" (can we just call it the anti-fridge?), and it consists of five wall-mounted contraptions that use natural materials, like wood, glass, rice, and water, to keep food fresh the old-fashioned way. There’s a sand box for storing root vegetables vertically, which apparently makes them last longer. There’s a wooden fruit box that exploits the ethylene gas apples emit naturally to prevent neighboring potatoes from sprouting up all over the place. There are spice bottles with built-in rice packets that absorb humidity and keep the contents dry. Ryou even came up with a "breathing of eggs" apparatus—a fancy name for an egg shelf—that preserves eggs better than a refrigerator, he claims: "An egg has millions of holes in its shell. It absorbs the odour and substance around itself very easily. This creates a bad taste if it’s kept in the fridge with other food ingredients. This shelf provides a place for eggs outside of the fridge." A glass of water built into the shelf lets you test the eggs’ freshness: Drop them in, and the fresher they are, the further they sink.
The ultimate goal here isn’t just about saving energy, it’s about creating mindful consumers: The more hands-on our approach to food preservation, the better we’ll be able to understand and appreciate what we stick in our bodies. "Through the research into the current situation of food preservation, I’ve learned that we hand over the responsibility of taking care of food to the technology, the refrigerator. We don’t observe the food any more and we don’t understand how to treat it," Ryou says. "Therefore my design looks at re-introducing and re-evaluating traditional oral knowledge of food, which is closer to nature. Furthermore, it aims to bring back the connection between different levels of living beings, we as human beings and food ingredients as other living beings."
Somebody’s been reading his Michael Pollan.