Your garden not doing so well? Neither is mine — this heat and drought have been brutal. Rather than bitching, though, those of us with yards might want to take a look at the practices and products used by people without them (or with really limited space) for growing ornamental plants and vegetables.
Heard that the light bulb that won $10 million from the government will still cost you $50? Wonder if the UK’s watering ban will really make a difference in terms of water savings? Read on: we’ve got the facts on these questions and more in this week’s green tech finds.
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.
In the wake of the Japan’s tsunami and subsequent nuclear meltdown disasters, people were extra skittish about the threat of radioactive poisoning (especially Lindsay Lohan, who promptly evacuated herself from Los Angeles even though her hair already looks like a victim of toxic fallout). To poke fun at our paranoia, art collective Luzinterruptus installed 100 “radioactive” figures in a field outside Hamburg’s Dockville Festival. The effect is surprisingly eerie, each figure outfitted in protective white clothing and lit from within. With their heads pointed at the ground, it appears to be a giant alien army advancing from the forest.
In the developed world, renewable energy technologies have to compete with existing infrastructure based on fossil fuels or nuclear power. In the developing world, however, power grids and centralized power stations are often in poor shape or non-existent, so technologies like solar and wind play on a much more level playing field. Cambodia’s grid was relatively primitive from the start, and decades of warfare have degraded it even further; as a result, over 11 million people have no access to it.
In this kind of setting, solar power often works as a safe, affordable means of providing the most basic electric “luxury”: lighting.
We’ve got mushroom materials this week… plus another upgrade in ENERGY STAR standards, and algae’s potential for cleaning up nuclear wastes…
- Dell piloting mushroom packaging: I mentioned this development last year… this week, Dell packaging guru Oliver Campbell announced that the company will be piloting use of a mushroom-based packaging materials for shipping products. (Note: Spent a few days in Austin to attend a Dell CAP Day last week… they paid for my trip).
- Ford’s looking at mushroom-based foam insulation: Yep… a mushroom twofer — Ford’s also considering using Ecovative’s material to replace petroleum-based foams used as insulating material in its cars interior elements.
I love the element of danger and wonder in this photo of Mark Twain in Nikola Tesla’s lab that was published in a 1895 article titled “Tesla’s Osillator and Other Inventions.”
Google Earth’s new “tree view,” state-by-state run-downs on solar power, and LED holiday lights… your green tech finds for the week.
- Energy Star Plus: Paul Smith at Triplepundit profiles Energy Forward, a Northwest-based electronics efficiency standard that claims to exceed Energy Star standards by 30%.
- Missouri a great state for solar? That’s right… as are Arkansas, Mississippi, and Wisconsin. A new study out of Arizona State University ranks the optimal state for solar development based on environmental and economic factors.
Poop-powered lighting, a shipping container office building, and the trade-in possibilities for a Chevy Volt battery… your green tech finds for the week.
- The affordable EV: Lots of green tech news coming out of this week’s meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, including GreenTech Automotive‘s announcement that it will sell the first 100,ooo of its MyCar neighborhood electric vehicles at a discounted price of $10,000. (via TMCnet)
- Dog-powered lamps: Specifically, dog poop powered… part artistic statement, part green tech, the Park Spark Project gives Cambridge, MA, dog walkers the opportunity to power a outdoor lamp with their dog’s “leftovers”…. (via Green Upgrader)
I’ve heard just about every excuse out there for not switching from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs): they cost more; they look funny; they’re a hazard because they contain mercury. It’s pretty easy to rebut these arguments, but another common complaint — the quality of the light — was an issue for quite some time. Not so anymore… and New Zealand’s Electricity Commission now has data to support that claim.
I don’t mean to encroach on our lovely Em and Lo’s territory, but I had to share this neat chandelier available at Culver City, California’s Sundayland. This 26” by 26” chandelier, the “Sylvia” is built from silver plastic vibrators and is sure to “turn on any room.”
John Niero’s “Monkey Around” re-purposes the classic barrel of monkeys toy into a fun chandelier made from “hundreds of playful monkeys made of laser cut acrylic.” [Via]
Could you use an extra $475 a year? According to the US Department of Energy, that’s the amount the average American family could save on energy bills by implementing long-term energy efficiency changes in their home. You don’t have to start with big purchases, though: all of us can cut our energy usage (and utility bills) with some common-sense practices.