Category Archives: Stewardship

14-year-old scientist works to clean drugs out of drinking water

Maria ElenaMaria Elena Grimmett, a 14 year old who is a noted research scientist, has won awards, published articles and more on the subject of removing ground water contaminants.  As she watched pesticides being sprayed on the golf course grounds next to her house, she wondered if the contaminants could possibly get into the water system due to Florida’s shallow water table. Her research tenacity paid off with a little help from her parents, teachers, and mentors in the scientific community (including Russian scientist Dr. Vadim Davankov, whom she’s corresponded with about his invention of hypercrosslinked adsorbents).

Maria Elena Grimmett’s dream is that “water engineers will be able to remove sulfamethazine from water around the world” using her research.  Read more about her work here.

10 tips to a zero waste household

Our family has worked the reduce/reuse/recycle mantra and gone from weekly to bi monthly garbage collection, and we were feeling pretty good about that.  When a neighbor friend of mine said that she has been able to whittle down her family’s garbage collection to only once a month, I was impressed.  But thanks to Yes Magazine, this story tells how a family was able to pare down their yearly solid household trash to fit into one quart size jar, plus gives 10 tips to a zero waste household.

Street lamps powered by algae eat CO2

French Bio Chemist Pierre Calleja discovered that Micro Algae eats CO2 – i.e. car exhaust – and then uses that energy power to create light.  This technology was recently tested in a parking lot to clean air – it can capture and filter one ton of CO2 per year – and used the pollution as an energy source to create light.  This technology is currently being used to light and filter the air in an underground parking garage, but this would work great in urban areas, and revolutionize cityscapes.

Thanks to the Good News Network for this story.

Goji Berry: chinese shrub provides delicious berries

Goji berryWolfberry or Goji berry is a yummy anti-oxidant berry on an easy to grow vine.  We’ve got our vine bungee-corded to a metal pole with a curved plant hanger on each side, but you can run this vine up anything from an arbor to a dead tree.  The first year it just kinda sat there and looked sad, the second year it had a few berries, but after the third year it’s been healthy and happy and keeps producing more berries as I pick off the ripe ones.  They’ve got a definite juicy honey-sweet flavor to them.  I’ve found that it’s not a good idea to let them dry on the vine, because they get so sweet they attract ants.  Maybe in a few years when the vine is totally full of fruit we might think about picking them fresh to dry, but at this point in time they are so good none get past the picking-fresh-and-popping-in-the-mouth stage.

(Lycium barbarum) Also known as Matrimony Vine, is an attractive Chinese Continue reading

Free Swaps in action – what a 16 year old with a video camera can do

Ever wanted to see what a Free Gift Swap or Free Stuff Swap looks like in action?  Here’s a video my daughter, then 16 years old, created to show how a Free Gift Swap works:

Aubrey summerMy daughter Aubrey is now a junior at university majoring in Environmental Science.  Yeah, I’m pretty proud of her:)  She’s always been very concerned about helping people and the environment (she is a big supporter and helper at the free swaps she’s able to attend), and her university experience has given her a new and exciting window on the world.  If you want to help support Aubrey’s education, check out her photography prints for sale here.  For more about Free Swaps, and how you can start one in your area, click here.

Learn simple jewelry repair for free

I like learning new things, especially for free.  I was researching online about how to repair jewelry and came across a website by Esslinger, a company that sells watchmaker and jewelry supplies, explaining how-to tips for beading, identifying your birthstone, do-it-yourself jewelry, watch repair and more.  This site is full of tips about gems and jewelry for the curious and frugal.

For example, here’s a video that shows how to change a watch battery:

According to the website, Esslinger has been around 90 years, which is pretty darn impressive.  You can learn more from their ‘about us’ page.

Food Forest tour – plants change people

Why have brown grass when you can be feeding people?  This gentleman planted a food forest in the parking strip in front of his house.  Neighbors come by to walk the paths.  What a great community builder, sharing food, peace, and care. Here’s Ron Finley talking about the Food Forest in his yard:

Thanks to Upworthy for this story.

Every person can make a positive difference to benefit all

SI_at_Friendly_House_(6)_for_webThe Community Legacy Program of Our United Villages believes that every person can make a positive difference for the benefit of all.  They celebrate and support everyday people who in small ways are making a positive difference in their communities.  To celebrate, they have monthly free Sharing Ideas meetings that give individuals a chance to tell how they got involved/created their community strengthening idea, and how others can duplicate their template, allowing individual passions to encourage and inspire others.  To support, they provide free tools and resources on their Continue reading

Body heat powered flashlight

This body heat powered flashlight was invented by Canadian 10th grader Ann Makosinski.  Using no batteries, electricity, or cranking, just the difference between her warm hand on metal and the colder air flowing through a hollow plastic tube, the heat energy difference (thermoelectric effect) lights up the LED bulbs.

Ms. Makosinski is a finalist this year in the worldwide Google Science Fair.  Take a look at her simple and practical flashlight design.

Thanks to Gizmag for this article.

Little free libraries!

Littlefreelibrary1On a walk through our neighborhood yesterday, I saw a cute wooden box, and inside it was a little free library of books!  If you like little things, and you like to read, you might like the idea of installing a little free library near your house for the neighbors to enjoy.

The mission of the Little Free Library:

  • To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.
  • To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity, and wisdom across generations
  • To build more than 2,510 libraries around the world – more than Andrew Carnegie–and then more.

If you’d like to join in the fun, here’s how.

Toymaker makes flat-pack truck for people

the_ox_flatpack_carToymaker, adventurer, and philanthropist Sir Torquil Norman is designing a lightweight flat-pack truck for developing nations (and others interested in simple, easily repairable truck design).   Manufactured by UK-based Global Vehicle Trust (a charitable subsidiary of Mr. Norman’s), most of the truck’s panels are interchangeable and the parts are quick and easy to repair/replace. They are being designed to use the fewest possible components so they’re quick and easy to ship and build at location as well.  The truck can motor through up to 30 inches of water, has good stability, runs on diesel, and the engine can also be used for pumping water, sawing wood, or running a generator.  Sounds like a workhorse for farms, too.  See this Gizmag article for further information.

Wool as home insulation

What’s old is new again:  homeowners in Scotland have insulated their home with wool off the backs of the sheep from their farm.  They also have incorporated rocks found in their farmland fields for stonework, and wood harvested from their acreage in their home as well.  Add to that triple glazed windows, under floor heating by ground–source heat pump, water from a borehole, and renewable energy from a wind turbine, and you get a pretty sustainable home.  Their working farmhouse also doubles as a guesthouse where they serve meals from ingredients either grown from their farm or others nearby.

For the whole story, click here.

Put a beehive on your roof!

beeRecently, Portland-based grocer New Seasons Market introduced colonies of honeybee hives on the roof of its Happy Valley store.  Aware of the honeybee’s plight and decrease in populations, New Seasons Market wanted to be part of the solution by raising bees and educating customers. This team of 50,000 bee workers forage for nectar and pollen, and produce honey, which will eventually be available in stores.

This project is a team effort: The hives were donated by New Seasons Market’s longtime partner Continue reading

Goumi: a pie-cherry juice substitute with health benefits

GoumiNative to China, the Russian Far East, and Japan, Goumi is a very popular fruit, which is catching on in European and American gardens too.  Goumi (Elaeagnus multiflora) forms a medium size shrub about 6 feet tall, with attractive, silvery green foliage.  It’s flowers supposedly bloom in the middle to end of May, but mine are in full bloom in Portland Oregon in early to mid April. The juicy, scarlet-red fruit is speckled with silver and ripens elsewhere in July, In Portland in June.  The flavor is similar to pie cherries, and the fruit is about the size of a huckleberry or blueberry.  We usually just eat them fresh/raw or juice them.  They have a sweet/tart taste, with an interesting dry after taste.

The Goumi has been reported to be a nutraceutical- high in vitamin A and E, Continue reading

Sharing skills: a world-wide online teaching and learning community

Teaching and learning from each other has never been easier.  Skillshare is a global marketplace for classes, where you can learn real-world skills from anyone, anywhere.  Skillshare powers thousands of creative, collaborative classes on everything from programming to design to crafts.

If you have knowledge to share- Become a Teacher.  If you want to learn something- Browse Classes.

Here’s how it works.

1. Post a Class:  Posting a Skillshare class Continue reading

New membrane produces clean water AND creates energy

A team of scientists at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University have developed a material known as Multi-use Dioxide.  Research shows it can be used to produce hydrogen  and clean waste from wastewater, double the lifespan of batteries, create antibacterial wound dressings, and more.  Plus it’s a low cost alternative to Platinum.  Here’s a quote from Professor Sun from the article at the NTU website: “While there is no single silver bullet to solving two of the world’s biggest challenges: cheap renewable energy and an abundant supply of clean water; our single multi-use membrane comes close, with its titanium dioxide nanoparticles being a key catalyst in discovering such solutions. With our unique nanomaterial, we hope to be able to help convert today’s waste into tomorrow’s resources, such as clean water and energy.”

Learn more here.  Thanks to Gizmag for this article.

Shovels designed for short women

Wouldn’t it be great if shovels were easier to use for short people?  If you’re a short gardener, you know exactly what I mean – you’re out there with this long handle trying to weld the shovel and you can’t get a good angle or grip.  Well, one very innovative company thought to design shovels by a height so they are easier to use.  Gardeners Supply HERS™ Shovels are ergonomically designed to maximize women’s strengths and minimize strain, based on research into how women use tools differently than men. The extra-deep step has a non-slip tread to prevent slipping, letting you use your body weight and lower body strength to dig. The shaft and blade angle let you dig and carry soil efficiently. The large D-shaped handle lets you use multiple hand positions and grip the shovel easily with both hands   Shovels come in size small for those under 5′ 2″, medium for those between 5′ 2″ to 5′ 7″, and large if you are over 5′ 7″ tall.  What a great way to garden and not get as sore from all the shovel work. Plus, it might make it easier for other short people (like kids?) to help a bit more in the garden.  For more information, click here.

Match your skills with a good job

Maybe you’re looking for a new job.  Maybe you’ve been out of the work force awhile and aren’t sure how your skills might transfer to today’s workforce. If so, the site My Skills My Future might be a fun little foray into seeing possibilities.  You just type in a current or past job title, and then push the Find My Career Matches button.  You can search by zip code, state, etc. to narrow down your job search. I sent the site link to a few of my friends, and then thought I should post it here as well.  Even if you’re happy in your job, it’s fun to see what other jobs are available in your skill set…it might remind you of how valuable you really are.  The U.S. Department of labor sponsors the site, which probably explains why the jobs are for the most part good paying and provide benefits.

Old fashioned shoe cobbler: quality service at an affordable price

Hollywood Shoe RepairA few years back we found cute black cowboy boots for my teen daughter at a thrift shop.  They were in great shape except for the heels – which were trashed. We found an unassuming little cobbler shop nestled in a basement in our neighborhood. Hollywood Shoe Repair is owned and operated by Alex.  Not only was he kind and helpful, but his repair work was quality and reasonably priced.  He replaced the worn boot heels, but he went the extra mile and shined up the entire boots so they looked brand new!

Recently I was shoe shopping for waterproof walking/hiking shoes.  Although my Continue reading

Car & power plant run on liquid air

Inventor Peter Dearman of London has invented a car that is powered by liquid air:  no gas, no batteries.  He says the technology has been around for a while, and that since we’re running out of fossil fuel, it’s time to offer a non-toxic solution.  It won’t produce any emissions because it’s only air – just using heat from the atmosphere and liquid air.  An engineering company in Europe is creating a state-of-the-art version of Inventor Dearman’s prototype car later this year.

Liquid air can be used for more then powering cars.  It is currently being used on the outskirts of London in a power plant storing wind energy at night to be used during the day to power local houses.  The United States has more than $100 billion earmarked for investment in energy storage over the next 10 years, so this technology could be coming to a town near you.

When asked why he has spent 40 years inventing various technologies that he hopes will help save the planet, Dearman shrugged and said “Why not?’

For more information, check out this ABC news article.