The Outside Blog


A Cookie Jar That Won't Let You Get Fat

Forget running 800-meter repeats. Since you baked those chocolate chip cookies, you’ve been perfecting the 30-meter repeat: couch, kitchen, couch, repeat.  

You shouldn’t feel bad about your lack of self-control. Willpower fatigue—or the inability to make a lot of good decisions in a row—is well documented by social scientists. But that still doesn’t make it a good excuse for sucking down cookie number 14 of the day.

Luckily, David Krippendorf understands your inner fat-kid desires. He’s the creator of the Kitchen Safe, a locking, time-release cookie jar that solves the perennial problem of too many cookies in the kitchen.

“For me it was always one of those things where if I had it around I’d eat it,” says Krippendorf. “Sometimes my wife would hide things in the house for me, but that would just cause me to search the house for it. Or I’d eat a few cookies and then throw the rest of the package away—I kept thinking, what’s a better way of going about this?”

At the time Krippendorf was an MBA student at MIT. He recruited engineering classmates (and brothers) Ryan and Nick Tseng to help him build a prototype. Then the trio turned to Kickstarter for funding and quickly raised $41,991. (Good on you, America, for realizing your collective self-restraint issues.)

The plastic container has a lid with a programmable timer. You tell it when to re-open and it goes to work keeping whatever you crave out of reach. Krippendorf says that there’s no way to circumvent the timer once it’s set—even taking out the batteries will only freeze it in place. If you really need to get into the bin, your best bet is channeling hangry Godzilla and stomping it to smithereens.

While most customers buy the container for its intended use, Krippendorf says there have been some surprising secondary markets. “Some people who smoke [pot], and during the week they need to work, but on weekends they want to smoke out, they’re buying it,” he says. “And we’re getting people from the bondage area. I guess people put their chastity key in there and lock it up. If you Google ‘Kitchen Safe bondage’ you’ll see it come up on forums.” (We know better than to do that from our work computers, but you’re free to.)

At present there are no plans to make one with an electro-shock lid, and Krippendorf says he doesn’t think there’s a need for it. No offense, Krippendorf, but you haven’t lived with my roommates. Cookie monsters, all of them. 


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"Jaws" Tourism Waves over Cape Cod

For tourists seeking a thrill, Martha’s Vineyard probably isn’t the first destination that comes to mind. Until now (queue John Williams’s famous score). 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released a study finding that after decades of decline, great white shark populations are surging along the eastern shores of Canada and the United States. According to reports from the AP, more than 40 shark sightings were reported in the past two years. Prior to 2004, sightings hovered around two per year. Increased conservation efforts and seal populations have been credited with the related influx of great white sharks in the Cape Cod area

The spike in shark sightings, along with the area’s connection to Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, has caused summer tourism to boom. The 1975 classic film, shot in Martha’s Vineyard, has been screened in local theaters all summer. Justin Labdon, owner of the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company, can’t keep enough shark paraphernalia on the shelves, according to the New York Post. “I mean, truthfully, we’ve probably grown about 500 percent in terms of the sale of our shark apparel.”

Visitors can sip on shark-themed beverages while taking boat trips with local outfitters to see the seals—and maybe even a dorsal fin sticking out of the water. Beats mini golf, right?

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Do Laundry While You Run

We usually don't encourage multitasking while running, but a treadmill that lets you wash clothes while you work out might change that.

Si Hyeing Ryu, a student designer in South Korea, created the Wheel treadmill design concept for the Electrolux Design Lab 2014 design competition. The washing machine–treadmill hybrid would use human kinetic power to do your laundry while you run.

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"To clean, or not to clean, that is the question," said Hyeing Ryu in his design submission. "This is an eco-friendly and efficient experience. It saves time by doing the workout and washing clothes."

The machine is composed of a circular treadmill track that contains multiple compartments serving as washing machine tubs. Inside, "washing balls" help get clothes cleaner while reducing the amount of water used. A person's steps would spin the wash cycle, and miles logged would be stored as battery power for days when your legs need a rest.

That age-old excuse for having no time to work out because of all the chores on your to-do list? Go hang it on the clothesline.

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This Supermarket Runs on Rotting Food

The UK supermarket chain Sainsbury's is setting an example in sustainability by transforming its own food waste into energy. A store in Cannock, in central England, is now run entirely on electricity generated from its own recycled refuse, marking the first time a major retailer is not reliant on the national grid for its power.

Here's how it works: Any food that can't be donated to local charities for human consumption or turned into animal feed is transported to a nearby anaerobic digestion (AD) plant run by waste management company Biffa. The food waste is converted into biomethane gas, which is used to power the store.

A 1.5-kilometer cable (that's less than a mile, for you metric-phobes) connects the processing plant to the Sainsbury's, thus very literally closing the loop on food recycling.

This remarkable model may not work everywhere, but it certainly offers grounds for optimism.

As Richard Swannell, a director at Wrap, a government-funded organization that promotes recycling and sustainable business, told the BBC, "There are now 60 AD plants recycling food waste, which can process up to 2.5 million tons of food waste per year and generate enough renewable electricity to power a city three times the size of Cannock."

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