Category Archives: Stewardship

Indoor forts just got a whole lot more fun

Indoor forts for kids (and adults) just got a whole lot easier – and more fun. Made from recycled cardboard, these lay flat for storage, but can be folded into lego-like blocks for easy stacking.  But the genius is the ‘mortar’ that holds the blocks together, and the easy-on roofs.  Take a look – and be a part of the kick starter program if you like what you see.

This is a possible step towards an outdoor building system for reusable small buildings as well.

Solar Roadways Are A Reality

Solar roadways do more than just create abundant electricity and green jobs – they also can:

1. Melt snow in the northern climates so you can drive cars and ride bikes safely year ’round

2.  Be programmed with signage  – so as traffic patterns change you don’t have to repaint the roadway stripes – just reprogram the configuration

3.  Help keep the air and water shed cleaner

4. And a whole bunch of other amazing things.

The technology prototype has already been proven, and the technology is ready to launch commercially  –  starting with parking lots and private driveways and eventually leading to roads worldwide (if we cover the roads in America, we’ll have 3 times more energy than we need).  If you’re a business or an eco friendly early adapter check out the indiegogo campaign.

Ikea leads the way in system to stabilize refugee families

Ikea is developing a prototype of refugee shelter that is easy to put together, is insulated, has a solar light so people can cook/sew/do homework when it gets dark, and other simple yet practical features.

Ikea is getting feedback from refugees to improve upon the concept before they roll out the final design.  They also plan to include a system of health care, education, and more so refugee families can not only get stabilized physically, but get all members of a family back on their feet in body/mind/spirit as quickly and respectfully as possible.

Good News Network gets a fantastic make-over

The Good News Network was started by Geri Weis-Corbley in 1997, and I’ve enjoyed the little encouraging stories sent to my email inbox for many years.  Recently the Good News Network went through a transformation, and is now a free and easily navigated news service. The insight and direction of Geri’s work and attitude are cutting edge cultural creative.  Check out more information about what she’s doing, why, the history, how you can get involved by sending in your own stories, and more here.  Now you can start and end your day with GOOD news from the Good News Network  – rated #1 on Google.

Start a Free Store for the Homeless

Wanna start a free pop-up store for the homeless?  Check out this video, which gives how-to information including downloadable posters!

Introducing The Street Store. The world’s first rent-free, premises-free, free ‘pop-up clothing store’ for the homeless, found entirely on the street and curated by you.

Download open-source files and host your own Street Store on www.thestreetstore.org

Follow on Twitter @TheStreetStore and on Facebook.com/thestreetstoreorg 

High School Students Work To Clean The Air

 

April2014Final(1)Be blown away by youth that demonstrate a passion for restoring the health of the environment! The April 26th Sharing Ideas event, features the Roosevelt High School Science Club, a group of students determined to counteract pollution in Portland, Oregon. These local youth are experimenting with planters that recycle polluted air into clean air and testing of air quality surrounding Roosevelt High School. They have been invited to Washington, D.C. later this year to present their findings.

Sharing Ideas events raise awareness of local grassroots efforts throughout Portland Oregon that strengthen community. Project presenters share the inspiration that launched their idea, how it moved into action, where they are today, and their hope for the future.

Everyone is invited. RSVP suggested online or by phone at 503.546.7499. Refreshments will be provided. Childcare (9 and under), transportation, and interpretation are provided upon request, with 48 hours advanced notice.

When: Saturday, April 26th, from 11 AM to 1 PM

Where: Central Library, 801 SW 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97205.

Who: You! Bring your friends and family to this free event and discover pathways to new possibilities!

 

Tennessee considers funding free community college for all High School Grads

Tennessee is considering using lottery money to fully fund community college and technical school for all high school grads. Since cost is the biggest hurdle to getting a higher education, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is on the right track to make higher education truly attainable – without all the hoops. Read more here.

Free wood chips help local small business, local landfills, and homeowners

IMG_2450What do you do if you’re a small tree chipping company and you don’t want to spend your money on dumping fees? What do you do if you’re a city planner trying to keep your landfills from filling up so fast?  What do you do if you’re a homeowner who wants to do some sustainable and frugal landscaping pathways?

IMG_2441A new website in Portland Oregon solves this three way problem with chipdrop.  You open an account and give your address, and whatever local tree chipping company has a load of chips they need to dump, they drive it to your house and dump it free in whatever location you mention. It helps the tree chipping companies because otherwise they’d have to pay dump fees. It helps the homeowner because you get free wood chips delivered to your door. It helps the city because it doesn’t get it’s landfills full of woodchips. Everybody wins.

We took advantage of this new service and created front and backyard pathways!  Our load, we were told, was mostly douglas fir, so the whole yard smells wonderful, and it’s safe for our backyard free range chickens.

Kids cars turned into mobility devices

Dr. Cole Galloway is turning kids toy cars into mobility devices and physical therapy for young children. This is making a lot of people happy – especially the little kids who get to drive the cool cars.

Learn more about the University of Delaware Go Baby Go! program here.

Read more about this on Upworthy here.

Self Cleaning Fish Aquarium

This self cleaning Beta Fish aquarium uses no batteries, filters, or fuss. Using physics alone, the clean water you put in flushes the dirty water out.  You can then use the wastewater to fertilize your plants.  The tanks are made in the US and won Best New Aquatic Product at the Global Pet Expo 2013.

Learn more at The Grommet.

Public urinal goes green

pplanterWhat happens when you combine bamboo plants and simple green science to create a public urinal?  The PPlanter.

The PPlanter is a simple and attractive public system that allows you to privately pee in a urinal (there are disposable women’s adapters as well), then step on a foot pedal that brings fresh water to wash your hands.  The fresh water flushes/cleans the urinal with liquids going into a holding tank.  From there, the mixed liquid is pumped into the planter/biofilter, where bamboo plants are growing in a mixture of rocks, wood chips and styrofoam. The water, nitrogen and phosphorous are used by the bamboo, while bacteria living in the growing medium break down carbohydrates and protein.

I talked to my son and he says guys would have no problem with this, but probably women wouldn’t be all that enthusiastic.  According to the Gizmag article, the test project had plenty of volunteers, but they didn’t break down how many were men/women.  Also what would you do if you ended up needing to do more than just pee – this particular invention doesn’t cover that.  But I think it’s a good start to re-imagine how to simplify waste systems.

Thanks to Gizmag for this article.

Garden Terrace Apartment Building uses recycled water and solar power

clearpoint-12Here’s an innovative apartment building in Sri Lanka.  It uses recycled water (including rainwater) to water the outdoor plants and flush toilets, and a solar panel to run the lobby lights and other shared resources.

When it’s completed in 2016 it will be the tallest residential vertical garden in the world, with planted terraces circling the entire structure.  The 164 apartments, each with 2300 square-feet of floor space and an open feel, are designed to give residents a sense of ground-level living, as well as privacy and tranquility in a bustling city.

The planted terraces for each apartment will help absorb sound, provide shade, and cleanse the air. They’ll be automatically watered using a drip-irrigation system of rainwater, and along with recycled water to flush toilets, will help to reduce intake from the national water supply by an estimated 45 percent.

Check out this innovative Sri Lankan apartment building here.  Thanks to Gizmag for this article.

solid shampoo is a win

photoSo I’m wandering the haircare aisle looking for a shampoo that won’t strip the oils out of my dry hair, isn’t full of toxic type chemicals, doesn’t cost a fortune, doesn’t pollute the environment, and is in a skinny enough bottle that it will fit on the side of my tub.   I spied a tiny little package – the only bar in the shampoo aisle.  I’d never heard of a bar shampoo so took a closer look.  This is J.R. Liggett’s old fashioned bar shampoo. It has no synthetic oils, no chemical concoctions, no plastic bottle, no detergents, so this shampoo won’t strip the natural oils from hair, is good for our water (from bathing in streams, to city showers because it travels well and doesn’t pollute!)

It sounded interesting, and seemingly fit all my criteria and more.  The ingredients are mostly oils such as  olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, a little bit of New Hampshire spring water, sodum Hydroxide (a binder) and essential oils for fragrance.

Since it was cheaper than most regular shampoos, I bought a bar to try it out. It doesn’t have a noticeable smell, so I can’t tell what essential oils were used.  I rubbed the bar shampoo around in my wet hands to make a lather, and shampooed as usual.  I can’t say my hair came out looking salon like, but it looks and feels CLEAN, and it’s not as dry as when using regular bottle shampoo with no conditioner, so probably all those oils in the bar soap are doing a good job of moisturizing.

I used it on my guinea pig and it lathered up and rinsed out fast and complete ( a plus when bathing animals!).  My husband tried it with his short hair and said he barely used any at all and it was effective.

I think J.R. Liggett’s is a keeper:)

I got the wire chair as an attempt at a soap dish, and it seems to work well to keep the shampoo bar dry.  I think the bar would melt into a sloppy mess if it didn’t have a place to dry out between uses.

I’ve been using foil wrong all these years!

Here’s a simple way to dispense plastic wrap and foil.  I’ve been doing it wrong all these years.  Boy do I feel stupid glad that I know how to do this the easy way now.

25 year old starts innovative ride-where-you-want bus system

Due to severe Detroit city cutbacks, the bus system didn’t meet the needs of the community.  So 25 year old Andy Didorosi bought a bus and started his own innovative transportation company.  He uses an app that lets riders know exactly when the bus will arrive, creating a new kind of transit system that only runs when and where it’s needed.

Another goal of Mr. Didorosi and his now public/private partnership with The Skillman Foundation, is to get not only people to work, but the elderly and disabled to their appointments, and kids safely to after school programs.  With that in mind, he’s created an online portal to show parents every after school program available for the kids by region, and has worked with these programs to create bus stops convenient to both the kids as well as the programs themselves – and this after school transportation is FREE to the students.  By creating only the routes needed, the savings are nearly 90% of what a traditional transportation system costs!

The Detroit Bus Company runs on bio fuels, technology, and lots of community support.  Read more about this innovative founder and community transportation idea here.

My son is not going to college

Toby dressed as the 'Repair Wizard' at Mac PCx on Halloween 2013

Toby dressed as the ‘Repair Wizard’ at Mac PCx on Halloween 2013

My high school senior is chomping at the bit ready to move on after 14 years of classroom education.  He’s going to high school part time and working part time at a computer store diagnosing and repairing computers.  His past resume includes volunteering at Free Geek where he learned to take apart and put together computers, then trained others to do so.   As a high school sophomore he took computer classes in C++ and other programming languages.  He’s currently studying on his own to get CompTA+ certified, and through a school class learning to write code and design his own website.  He’s been saving up his work money and when he turns 18 plans to purchase professional design software and begin his own software company on the side.

As a parent, I’m getting bombarded at all sides by society telling me my son MUST get a college degree or he’ll never get a living wage job. My son tells me “I know what I want – to work with computers and design computer software.  Why spend 4+ more years in a classroom and be thousands of dollars in debt before I do what I want?”

He’s got a point there.

He says a company should pay to train him in what else they might need because he’s a fast and motivated learner.  He also said that computer technology is growing /changing so fast that what he’d learn in a classroom would be practically obsolete by the time he got out of college, so taking courses now and building on those courses as he works makes more sense than spending his money/time on PE 101 and introduction to Lit classes.  He is studying and problem solving on his own to be on the cutting edge, and expects to be paid for his work (he feels he’s already done the internship route and proved himself).  He is calm about this.  He is focused.  I’m the one freaking out inside.  I’ve heard my whole life “Everyone needs a college education to get a good job”…yet many people in their 20’s  (as well as older adults) who have expensive university educations are looking for work that pays a living wage.

My child has his own vision.  I trust my son and support his wisdom.  And if in a few years he decides that a college education would be beneficial to him, he’ll have the money saved up, or the contacts made, to create a path where he doesn’t have debt.  That’s pretty amazing planning/thinking for a 17 year old.

Easy new way to eat oranges

photo 2It’s that time of year where oranges are plentiful, in season, and an easy and sweet vitamin C fix. But having to peel the darn things leaves pith under fingernails, as well as the possibility of getting more sticky sweet juice on your fingers then in your mouth.  Well, here’s a novel idea of how to eat oranges where you create a wonderful easy long carpet of juicy orange that you can eat right off the skin!  No pith under your fingernails!  No juice running down your hands!  Just a few cuts with a knife and you’ll be getting all that orange AND juice where it belongs – in your mouth.

Your welcome.

Make your own prosthetics for less then $10

Using free internet plans, your local 3D printer, and less than $10 for materials you can make your own hand prosthetics (what currently cost $20,000 ready-made).  Here’s what curiosity, collaboration, and a little love can do.

Can a toy help girls build our future?

GoldieBlox is a toy company that believes girls deserve more choices than dolls and princesses. They support that girls will build the future — literally.

Founder Debbie Sterling is a Stanford engineer who decided last year that girls need more choices than the pink aisle has to offer. She developed GoldieBlox, an interactive book series + construction set starring Goldie, the kid inventor who loves to build.  Find more information about Goldie Blox here – and watch this fantastic video as well.

book: Zero Waste Home

zero waste homeZero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, is a book  of  fun and practical ideas written by a frugal French mom living in America with her American husband and 2 boys. While several of her ideas I already have in practice (she details composting, de-cluttering, simplifying), I found many new ideas such as a simple multi-purpose balm, techniques for waterproofing leather, and special towel folding techniques to carry food to picnics and wrap gifts.   So far I’ve tried her cocoa powder eye shadow, where I brushed cocoa powder on my eyelids.  I then asked my 17 year old son what he thought.  He was like “Mom – it makes you look old and wrinkly!”  I put on my glasses and sure enough even though I liked the color, this is a tip for someone much younger…but it was fun and simple to try!

Bea gives a list of houseplants that clean the air, tips on travel, recipes, stories from her own family, decorating, cleaning, wardrobe, gift wrapping, simple home building/craft projects, holidays and more.   It was a fun read, a cross between homesteading and housekeeping, humor and practicality, simplicity and relaxation.  Instead of making me feel overwhelmed, she made me feel comfortable and curious to try new ideas.

Check out Zero Waste Home By Bea Johnson from your local library or bookstore.