We aren't living in a country where refrigerators are simply a standard kitchen fixture. Most people in the U.S. depend on fridges — and the uninterrupted supply of electricity they require — as a cornerstone of their food security.
That might have seemed perfectly reasonable at some point, but the risk of electrical outages makes conventional fridges a vulnerable technology in an unstable world.
With massive winter storms taking out infrastructure, cyber-attacks hitting unhardened targets, and simple equipment failures cascading into national emergencies, recent history makes it seem kind of risky to depend on the grid for something as essential as access to food.
Plus, odds are the electricity powering your fridge comes from burning fossil fuels, which is injecting even more instability into our precarious system.
Luckily, there's a product that solves some of those problems.
Groundfridge uses passive cooling to keep food fresh
A Groundfridge looks like an illustration from a fantasy novel come to life from the outside. A hobbit-sized door leads into a small mound of earth covered with green grass (or something else). Inside, several steps lead down a narrow passageway into a small, windowless sphere. The space isn't huge, but it's roughly 30 times more spacious than a regular refrigerator at six feet in diameter.
The Groundfridge isn't exactly a replacement for a standard refrigerator. It stays at 52 degrees, whereas a regular fridge runs closer to 40. So, while it can't keep something like ground beef safe to eat, it's ideal for storing fruits, vegetables, wine, cheese, and plenty more.
In other words, it's a prefabricated root cellar.
If your grandma tries to shame you for paying $16,000 for something made redundant by rural electrification, make sure she knows Groundfridge isn't any old modular passive refrigeration device. It was nominated for a Dutch Design Award in 2015!
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Schoonderbeek creates innovative products based on old ideas
Designer Floris Schoonderbeek isn't trying to pull one over on anybody. He calls himself a "reinventor" who "rediscovers and innovates old techniques."
The designer describes Groundfridge as "a basement as a product." It's "an innovative version of the traditional root cellar, for the new cosmopolitan [person] with [their] own vegetable garden and a modern self-sufficient existence."
- In addition to GroundFridge, he's created:
Raintap (a sink that collects water and uses a foot pump to send it through a spigot)
Windlights (outdoor light fixtures that only turn on when the wind blows their tiny rotors)
Sunstove (a parabolic solar cooker that doubles as a table)
Schoonderbeek says his main goal is "to provide for a[n] independent and sustainable existence."
"I believe we have all the tools we need to stop the destroying of the Earth," he told Weltevree Magazine.
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"We need to change our behavior, and that is what is interesting to me. I try to create products that change a certain behavior; products that help us find new durable values through new techniques or user scenarios."