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Solar hot water, biogas raise living standards in Cairo's "Garbage City"

Trash into treasure” may be a mantra for some eco-minded artists, but for people who dwell in slums around the world, it’s a method for survival. Philanthropist and UCLA Ph.D. student T.H. Culhane believes that the mindset of reuse that exists in one such slum, Cairo’s Garbage City, could be the means to raising the standard of living for its 20,000 residents. His Solar C3ITIES organization funds the installation of solar hot water systems and biogas digesters in Garbage City as part of its larger mission of “Connecting Community Catalysts Integrating Technologies for Industrial Ecology Systems.”

These relatively simple technologies are just early elements of a larger five-year plan focused on integrating energy and food production, and eventually developing light industrial capacity within Garbage City. While this work will have a impact on the (already low) carbon footprint of this area, Culhane notes that “environmentalism” isn’t the main motivating force behind the adoption of green technologies by the area’s residents: “This is not about saving the environment… This is about saving their environment, their children, their families . And they care so much about that that they are willing to invest everything they have, and take tremendous risks so that they can live a healthier life.”

via ABC News