Seventeen years ago Kamal Meattle found out that the air in his home city of Dehli was killing him. He had grown allergic to the pollutants in the air and his lung capacity started declined to 70%. He began researching and found that these three plants can provide a human with all the fresh air they need indoors to be healthy. The three plants are the Areca Palm, the Mother-in-law’s Tongue , and the Money Plant.
- The Areca Palm (or Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) is does great air cleansing work during the day. About 4 shoulder height plants per person should do the trick.
- The Mother-in-law’s Tongue (or Sansevieria trifasciata) takes over by converting CO2 to O2 at night. You want about 6 to 8 of these waist high plants per person.
- The Money Plant (or Epipremnum aureum) does the job of filtering out removing Formaldehyde and other VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds).
Plastic waste makes for one of the worst forms of trash because it takes so long to degrade, thus overflowing our landfills and polluting our oceans and waterways. But what if we could make plastic from a recycled, natural, biodegradable source?
That’s the idea behind a novel new technology developed by British scientists that uses microwaves to turn plant-based waste, such as orange peels, into an eco-friendly plastic, according to the Independent.
Researchers have already created a partnership with the juice-making industry in Brazil, and have launched the Orange Peel Exploitation Company, in order to demonstrate the technology on a large scale.
“There are eight million tons of orange residue in Brazil. For every orange that’s squeezed to make juice, about half of it is wasted,” said James Clark, professor of green chemistry at the University of York and developer of the new approach. “What we’ve discovered is that you can release the chemical and energy potential of orange peel using microwaves.”
The technique works by focusing high-powered microwaves on plant-based material, thus transforming the tough cellulose molecules of the plant matter into volatile gases. Those gases are then distilled into a liquid product which researchers say can be used to make plastic. The process works at 90 percent efficiency, and it can be used on a variety of different kinds of plant waste besides just orange peels. (more)
Almost everyone these days talks about sustainability. Businesses, government, individuals, all want to see innovations that create prosperity while making the world a better, healthier place for us and future generations. But who’s really doing something about it? Here’s one answer.
Katerva, a sustainability recognition and intelligence organization, has just announced the finalists of its first annual Katerva Awards, which spotlights the most promising new sustainability concepts in the world.
“It’s always been good practice to give high fives for jobs well done,” says Katerva’s founder and chief executive, Terry Waghorn. “Business as usual just isn’t cutting it these days, and we want to recognize those who are leading the way to a better world.”
The finalists cover a wide variety of undertakings, from Barefoot Power to GirlUp to Sustainable Stock Exchanges to Rwanda Forest Conservation.
Katerva has a network of individual “spotters” and organizations all over the world that nominated more than 150 innovative programs and ideas. A panel of sustainability thought leaders evaluated the feasibility, marketability, scalability, originality and impact of each of the nominees to find the top five finalists in each of 10 categories of sustainability. The categories are Food Security, Behavioral Change, Economy, Protected Areas, Gender Equality, Materials & Resources, Human Development, Energy & Power, Transportation, and Urban Design.
“Being a finalist means you are one of the five best new ideas in your area,” says Klaus Kneale, a co-founder of Katerva. “It means you have the makings to change the world for the better.”
To be eligible, each nominated program or idea had to meet the following criteria: The nominee must be ongoing, active, and capable of scaling up; the nominee’s primary purpose must be directly related to sustainability; the nominee must either have been launched during the two calendar years previous to the award year, or, if launched earlier, must have significantly updated its core innovation, mission, or direction during the two calendar years before the award year.
“We look for the right combination of growth potential, self-sustainability, and broad impact,” Kneale says. “We take nominees regardless of region, type of idea, or size, and they must answer a single question: Can this idea change the world? We’re looking for those concepts that will change for the better the way the world works.” (more)
1. Open those windows
The late-summer and fall months are full of perfect open-window days. You may have been cranking the air conditioner all summer, costing you hundreds of dollars on your electric bill and burning loads of energy. The next time you step outside and feel a pleasant breeze, open those windows and enjoy a cheaper bill and a much smaller footprint.
2. Cook for compost
A zero-waste meal rarely happens by accident. Plan your meals ahead of time – not just for flavor but also for waste reduction. Choose foods packaged in recyclable material whenever possible. And if you’re feeling ambitious, plan a family meal made only from compostable ingredients. Don’t have a compost pile? Check out Earth911 for tips on starting one.
3. Plan an unplugged party
With summer quickly drawing to a close, now is the perfect time to plan an end-of-the-season soirée. And what makes a better venue than the great outdoors? Invite friends and family to your outdoor fiesta, and tell them to shut off the thermostat and all electrical appliances in their homes. Turn off all your electricity, and head outside with loved ones for an unplugged good time.
4. Put your shades to use
For many of us, curtains and shades are more for decoration than anything else. But using them effectively can help regulate temperature in your home and reduce air conditioning use. Close your curtains during the day to keep your home cool, and open shades and windows at night to let the summer breeze flow through.
5. Use a tote
More and more municipalities are banning plastic bags from grocery stores and other shopping stops. But if your hometown hasn’t made the switch mandatory, take matters into your own hands by ditching plastic bags for good. Keep tote bags handy in your car or desk for impromptu trips to the grocery store. And totes aren’t just for food shopping. Take one with you on your next trip to the mall, and carry all your purchases in one reusable bag.
Across the country, a handful of municipalities are radically reducing the amount of refuse they send to landfills, with the eventual goal of reaching “zero waste.” Seattle recycles or composts more than half of what its residents toss out. San Francisco diverts 77% of its waste from landfills. Even sprawling Los Angeles recycles or composts about two-thirds of its garbage.
Those numbers stand in stark contrast to the rest of the U.S., where the Environmental Protection Agency estimates only about a third of waste is recycled or composted. The cities are getting the job done largely by having citizens and businesses sort trash more carefully, to recycle as much as possible.
Officials in these cities think they can go further. “It’s good; doesn’t mean we stop there,” says Tim Croll, solid-waste director for Seattle Public Utilities. “We know the word ‘low-hanging fruit’ is overused, but there is still more stuff to be gotten out of that waste stream.”
The prime benefits in adopting zero waste are environmental; many cities that have enacted zero-waste plans say they have taken up the task in the name of sustainability. (more)
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has already warned of an impending water shortage this summer, and has urged citizens to take steps to conserve water to mitigate the severity of the problem. The warning comes amid increased discussions about long-term water-shortage issues. For both immediate and long-term relief, there are a number of ways that citizens can help to conserve water:
In the Kitchen
There are many simple ways that you can save water by making different choices in the kitchen. The biggest source of water use is washing the dishes. If you must use a dishwasher, be sure that you always run a full load. However, to really conserve, it is best to wash dishes by hand. Don’t run the water to rinse, as this can waste many gallons each time you wash. Instead, fill one sink with rinse water, and use as little soap as needed to clean the dishes so they require less rinsing.
For food, be sure to also use a pot of water to rinse vegetables rather than running them under the faucet. Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator or the microwave rather than letting water run over them.
Conserving food is also a good way to conserve water. Hundreds of gallons of water go into the production of food, and minimizing food waste also minimizes water waste. (more)
When people think of urban areas, they usually think of lots of concrete, tall buildings and not much green space.
While this is true, there are always ways to incorporate urban agriculture into the urban landscape. It is not only possible, but important for urban areas to have green space and be a part of the agricultural scene.
Here are some simple reasons why:
We meant to grow food, not sit in front of computers
Sounds odd, but it’s true. Look back at history and you can see this. Computers are pretty new invention and most people who work and live in cities spend most of their time in front of one. I know that I do.
By allocating space for urban agriculture, individuals get reconnected with their food source and nature while still enjoying the city life. It can help to serve as an escape from the everyday craziness that has become our lives. (more)
Want to have some fun while also conserving energy and reducing your carbon footprint? These unusual power-generating systems are sure to make your friends and neighbors take notice.
Everyone knows that you can put solar panels on your roof, use a dual-flush toilet, or install a tankless water heater if you want to conserve resources in your home, but there’s nothing exciting or unique about these green upgrades. The key to making conservation a regular part of home life is designing technologies that can be integrated seamlessly into the structure and decoration of the building.
Here are 3 unique ways that you can generate power, and an interest in sustainable living, just by making your home more beautiful!
Inspired by the ivy that decorates the exterior walls of older brick homes and reflects the organic essence of nature, Solar Ivy (also pictured at top) was designed by siblings Samuel and Teresita Cochran for a thesis on Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology in 2005. Lightweight and flexible, this “ivy” can be mounted on to a vertical wall, not only creating a pleasing aesthetic but also expanding the area of power generation. Each “leaf” features a thin photovoltaic panel, and 500 of them on a sunny wall can generate close to 250 watts of power. (more)