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Green technology has helped our economy move forward. It’s given us jobs, new ideas, and reinstated our spirit of invention.

But sometimes, green gadgets come in odd and unique forms. They’re a bit hard to fathom at first glance, and warrant at least a double-take by onlookers. Here are a few eco-friendly products from around the world that are sure to have you thinking, “Say what?”

1) Vertical Forest

The idea of the vertical forest began on a small scale. Buildings in major metropolitan areas like New York and Chicago were often seen sporting extravagant gardens on their rooftops. They gave high-risers something to look at every day, and worked to decrease smog pollution and low-quality air. A perfect scenario of beauty meets innovation…

But this is small beans compared to what’s occurring in Nanjing, China, which will begin construction of its first vertical forest in 2018. The idea is to put as many trees as possible into one building. The atmosphere gets clean, and the quality of life for city-dwellers is vastly improved. On a “good” day, Nanjing’s smog rates exceed 68, so to say there’s room for improvement would be sugar-coating the truth.

Fans of this modern vertical forest can thank inventor Stefano Boeri, who began designing these buildings in his native Milan in 2014.

2) Biodegradable Coffins

Death is a part of life, so when our time is up, it’s nice to know we can help the Earth in some undiluted form. As our bodies decompose, we slink deeper into decay and enrich the soil. We also feed worms and other creepy-crawlies working to sustain our ecosystem. Seems we really are part of the “circle of life” after all.

But biodegradable coffins would really make Mufasa proud. The demand for eco-friendly funerals and burials has steadily increased over the years, and biodegradable coffins are selling faster than beanie babies in the late 90s. Available options come in recycled newspaper, bamboo, hand-woven willow, or formaldehyde-free plywood, and there’s a wide array of colors to choose from for anyone who wants to spice things up after passing on.

Now, you and your coffin can disintegrate together. It’s a match made in heaven…

3) Grass Furniture

You’ve all heard of the Chia Pet. Well, say hello to the “chia chair.”

It’s not exactly the same thing, but residents of the vertical forest may have just stumbled upon the perfect furniture to go with their living quarters… Grass furniture.

The idea for grass chairs and sofas surfaced in 2006. London-based design firm Purves and Purves developed the notion of offering flat, cardboard armchairs filled with grass seeds that owners could water and grow as they would a vegetable garden. Primarily designed for outdoor use, the furniture is comprised of 14 separate pieces that owners assemble and pack with dirt. Seeds are planted from there and cared for to create a personal “lounge lawn.”

4) Lilypads

Lilypads are the latest design of French architect Vincent Callebaut, who takes the threat of climate change very seriously. As sea levels rise and the planet gets even closer to becoming like 1995’s Waterworld, Callebaut has designed Lilypads (described as “self-sufficient floating cities”) to make sure people don’t have to start growing gills to adapt.

Lilypads are designed to house up to 50,000 people. They take the shape of Victoria water lilies, and feature three mountains and several marinas each, giving the word “utopia” new meaning. Residents can engage in normal past-times like working and shopping, and will enjoy suspended gardens and aquaculture farms.

On the downside, construction isn’t set to begin until 2100. Residents can also expect to pay a pretty penny for a seat on one of these floating cities, which developers have already labeled as prime real estate.

5) Plant Bullets

In the future, bullets my give birth to new life long after the death of war. (Photo: Gaetan Maerten / Flickr)

In the future, bullets my give birth to new life long after the death of war. (Photo: Gaetan Maerten / Flickr)

We’re at war with our environment. As temperatures rise and droughts and deforestation ensue, nature is proving to be one “tough mother,” and the Department of Defense is tired of losing the battle. Representatives are now seeking to tackle environmental problems by using seed-laced bullets to ensure casings do some good after a firefight.

Bullets take many years to decompose. Their compounds can poison nearby soil and water reserves, potentially harming agriculture and local wildlife. These new bullets will contain seeds that can survive high-speed blasts. They’re safe enough for animals to consume, and if left alone, will sprout and grow after lying dormant for several months.

Just last week, the military commissioned up to 40 individual rounds to undergo early trial testing. Should everything go as planned, additional units will be ordered for ballistics testing.

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