Heat and lighting are necessary elements for survival beyond bare-bones subsistence; in the developing world, however, these two necessities require a lot of labor for fuel sources that threaten the health of people who use them, as well as the planet. Women spend hours each week collecting wood for cooking, and lights, where available, are almost always powered by kerosene. Various social enterprises have worked to tackle the first issue with clean cookstoves; others are now stepping in to address the need for clean lighting with a variety of solar-powered technologies.
Got a Texan on your holiday gift list? As someone who grew up about 20 minutes away from the state line, I feel confident saying there’s one things that all residents of the state like, and that’s Texas itself. If you don’t believe me, take a visit and start counting the “Don’t Mess with Texas” bumper stickers – they add up fast.
Abilene entrepreneur Kyle Douthit clearly understands this. And as a former countertop installer, he also knows how much of the material from a job gets thrown away. He put two and two together, and about five years ago started collecting pieces of acrylic countertop, cutting them into the shape of the state and giving them away as gifts to family and friends to use as cheese boards, bread boards, etc…
From the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the Gulf oil spill, you don’t have to look far for evidence of how heavily we pollute our oceans. The effects of this pollution are both environmental and economic: harming ocean life diminishes our capacity to make use of the many resources on which we rely provided by the planet’s ample blue spaces. Just take a look at some of the numbers from NOAA, National Geographic, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute:
Composting is one of those green activities that may still scare you a little: after all, don’t decomposing yard waste, food scraps, and other organic materials attract bugs and smell badly? Done right, you can compost just about anywhere with minimal problems. But if you’re not interested in a worm bin in the apartment or basement, or shelling out relatively big bucks for an electric kitchen composter, the trash can isn’t the only option left.
Most of your aluminum can likely go into the recycling bin (because we’re certain you don’t just throw them in the trash!). Scott Bertelsmeyer, along with his sisters Sue, Sherry, and Shannon, thought something even more valuable could be done with those recyclables: they could serve as the drivers for economic redevelopment in their hometown of Vassar, Michigan (which, like the rest of the state, suffers from high unemployment: currently 13.7%), while still keeping them out of the landfill. Their company Cangles makes jewelry from the cans… which is now sported by celebs ranging from Paris Hilton to Kelly Rowland to Ian Somerhalder.