Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Super Tub


Photo courtesy Flickr

I treated the household to a top of the line step-open waste bin and realized I’d been living like an animal. The device was far from cheap, but so far seems to be worth every penny we shelled out. Emptying it for the second time, I realized that fitting the rubber feet with magical sliding castors would, in effect, put the thing on wheels. The sliders accelerate the not so cumbersome process of pulling the unit out from under an old-school open sink, lifting out the liner bag, tying it shut, setting a new one in place, and shoving the bin back into position.

I did so the same morning I wrestled twenty-five pounds of oatmeal into a feed bin in the pantry. A metal waste bin with a step lid would be a cool way to store bulk staples. One that is strong enough to use as a stool at the kitchen table would be even cooler. The just-thick-enough-to-do-the-job stainless shell of the new bin could be reinforced with a heavy food grade plastic liner.

A series of bins with flat sides could be lined up to serve as a storage and/or sleeping bench. If they had extending handles on the back, like rolling suitcases, they would have built-in backrests. Foam seat toppers could cushion the base. Replacing back feet with skate wheels would make the units easily mobile. Adding the straightforward strap system Deep South America uses on its backpack/rolling suitcase would add a valuable extra level of versatility.

An insulated bin could work as a refrigerator or fire-proof storage unit. A different format could digest compost. I could see a bin reconfigured as an electronic pressure cooker, computer tower, shredder, or food dehydrator. It wouldn’t take much to produce a small washing machine, either: if the German laundry spinner I use to wring hand washing had a drain plug, I could save transferring wet clothing from the sink. A washing function would call for locking castors. A simple lock would add a security option to any unit. 

Thinking this post through, I realized that any sophisticated amenity, something that reflects what Paul Hawken called high intelligence in a product, like a tablet computer, rapidly pays for itself in an environment where habitable space is figured in cubic inches.

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