Tag Archives: Sustainable

An electric socket that fits in your pocket!

solar plugCheck out this innovative new product design:  The Window Socket–  just attach the solar conversion plug onto a sunny window, and it will harness solar energy. A small converter converts sunshine into electricity you can carry with you, and can freely use as a plug when you’re in the car, on a plane, outside, camping, etc.  It’s like having an electric socket in your pocket!  Check out detailed information here.

Goumi: a pie-cherry 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.

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.

Bay Tree: Evergreen edible tree

Bay treeOne of the fun goals for my little urban yard is to feature as many edible plants as possible.  I try to go for trees, bushes, and groundcovers that are also somewhat ornamental as well.

We were looking for an evergreen tree to block a backyard view, and discovered the Bay Tree.  You may be familiar with using Bay Leaves in cooking, but the tree itself is rather nice in it’s own right.  And yes, it is a tree, although it can be kept small by keeping it in a pot, or with regular pruning.  In fact, you could prune off the ‘extra’, dry it, and give it away as gifts to cooks, turn it into potpourri, or create a Laurel Wreath Of Victory for the athlete, poet, or high ranking official in your life.

March 20th is the first UN International Day Of Happiness

International Happiness Day is TODAY March 20th!  Find out more about it, and ideas on how to celebrate, here.

Desks, cabinets, tables, couches…that turn into beds

Great ideas for small spaces, here’s some examples of the worlds most compact murphy beds, called Smart Beds.  They do all kinds of double duty – desk by day, bed by night.  Bookcase and table by day, bed by night.  Wall by day, bed by night.  Cabinet by day, bunk beds by night.  Couch by day, 2 twin beds by night.  The animations on this site show how they work, and remind me of transformer toys.  Watch a video here:   I

Switch plate doubles as key and mail holder

What if your light switch could also hold your keys, mail, bags, or hat?  Wouldn’t it be great to not always be searching for your keys, and to know where you put your mail (and not have it get buried under all the junk on your kitchen table?) Product designer Justin Porcano took a look at the basic light switch – something we all have in every room with wall holes already drilled – and came up with something better:  Walhub.   Take a look at the video here.

Thanks to Gizmag for this article.


How To Have a Good Day

If you need a lift, watch this short video:


Breathtakingly beautiful pictures, along with inspiring words including:  “Today is not just ‘another day’ –  it’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.”

This video explains in detail How To Have a Good Day.  Watch and enjoy.

The Freecycle Network: Get rid of stuff you don’t want…pick up stuff you DO want

something you might find on freecycleWhen we were kids we lived in a rural area where my dad used to take regular dump runs to throw out our trash. We kids sometimes would go along for the ride and help dad toss stuff from the back of the truck into the heaping pile of steaming garbage, and occasionally drag new junk home in it’s place (much to mom’s disapproval).  Well, the Freecycle Network is a present day version of dump recycling – except it’s much cleaner and you dig through a computer site instead of a junk pile.  The Freecycle Network is a world-wide phenomenon where people give away stuff – stuff they don’t need/want/use, or they otherwise might throw away – and other people who want it come pick it up.  This recycling allows less Continue reading

GMO labeling starting soon at Whole Foods

People want to be in control of what they put on and into their bodies.  Now, Whole Foods Market supports consumer’s right to know by setting a five-year deadline for labeling GMOs.  We can each do our tiny part to keep our food stream safe and healthy and that makes a huge difference in and of itself.  But it also brings me joy when one of the biggest natural foods chains does its part. Read the whole story here.

And speaking of Whole Foods, my husband Chris Taylor is performing in his band HDuo at Whole Foods in our neighborhood as I write!  Whole Foods strives to be involved in their local neighborhoods, yet another better idea in creating community and fun.

Water-producing billboard

The city of Lima Peru doesn’t get much rainfall, but they can get humidity as high as 98%.  The University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) has partnered with advertising agency Mayo-Draft FCB to create a novel way for residents to not only get unpolluted drinking water (their local wells are often polluted), but also to show prospective students that they could make the world a better place by becoming an engineer. The billboard catches humidity in the air and turns it into filtered drinking water, and is capable of producing 96 liters (over 25 gallons) of water every day for the locals or travelers needing a drink.  This video outlines the project:

Thanks to Gizmag for this story.

Kindness creates kindness

RedprimroseToday was a beautiful Spring Day. Cleared out the front veggie bed and planted peas. A lot of people were out walking and visiting. A neighbor named Maria who I’ve never met asked me about my Bloody Dock, so I rattled off about it. She said “I think it’s so pretty – I had one and someone stole it!” So I offered her a healthy one of mine (they self-seed). She said she was going shopping and would pick it up on the way home. When she stopped by she had a red Primrose plant she gave me in trade! How nice was that? I put the plant in my garden and gave her the pot back so she could take her new Bloody Dock plant home with her. I think I have a new friend:)

Cooking and medicinal herb: Sage

sage plant

This is our garden sage plant in February.  Granted, we’ve had a fairly mild winter in the Pacific Northwest, but this just goes to show that garden sage can provide edible herbs into the winter months during mild years even without protection from the elements.  If we do have a big freeze it will die back temporarily if it’s not covered, but always comes back when the temperature warms up.

To harvest, I cut off the ends and put them in the food dryer.  When they’re dry Continue reading

Pruning service and free wood chips for your yard!

Tree pruningWe needed a tree-size camellia bush pruned so called Jim Meyers of Hedgehog Tree Care. We had a specific goal:  to give the fruit trees on either side of the overgrown Camellia bush room to grow…while keeping the bush’s screening capabilities of the massive apartment behind us. To the left you can see him making some major pruning of our HUGE bush.

Driveway full of woodchipsJim loves his job and did great work, plus dumped a load of wood chips in our driveway.  After 2 days of shoveling and hauling we and our chickens are no longer walking in backyard mud.   Instead, we’ve recycled a waste woodchip product into an eco-friendly ground cover that will slowly decompose. Landscaping companies have to drive and pay for disposal of their Continue reading

New (ancient?) growing method drastically increasing crops

Low tech farming in India is far outpacing GMO and pesticide intensive farming. The super yields are from a growing method called System of Rice (or root) Intensification (SRI). This method has also dramatically increased yields of wheat, potatoes, sugar cane, yams, tomatoes, garlic, and many other crops, and is considered one of the most significant developments of the past 50 years for the world’s millions of small-scale farmers and the two billion people who depend on them.

Nobel prize-winning economist Jospeh Stilglitz visited the area in India using this system and was amazed, saying “If any scientist or a company came up with a technology that almost guaranteed a 50% increase in yields at no extra cost Continue reading

Fishing (or leisure) boat in a box

The Transporter boat goes from a box to a boat in 10 minutes.  You can strap the box to the top of your car or put it in the back of your van, then when you get to your destination you put the large pieces together by stacking and screwing the plastic components together.  The foam filled pontoons keep it afloat even if you hit a rock – and also double as insulation to keep your drinks cool.  With under seat storage and the purchase of a trolling motor and battery if you’d rather putter than paddle, this little boat would be great for the weekend fisherman, gentle family outings, or romantic evenings on the lake.


Thanks to Gizmag for this story.