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Archive for : Co.Exist

Repair Inspiration: Al Gore’s Optimistic Outlook on Climate Change

There’s no question that conversations about climate change can get a little depressing. Ok, a LOT depressing. There is plenty of news out there these days about climate change’s effect on the planet, and very little of it is positive.

That is why we were happy to read about Al Gore’s refreshing outlook in a recent Co.Exist article. As the man behind the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Gore knows a thing or two about climate change. And so while he does not paint an overly rosy picture, his words of confidence about the growing movement to stem it’s impacts are heartening.

Check out an excerpt below, and find the whole article over at Co.Exist’s site:

Al Gore’s Climate Change Optimism Will Make You Feel A Little Better About The Future
By: Ariel Schwartz

These days, Gore is hopeful that the world will avoid the worst consequences of climate change, even as reports warn that the world hasn’t made any meaningful progress in slashing carbon emissions.

“I think the momentum is generally shifting,” says Gore. He has great hope that the recent People’s Climate March in New York City, an event held in the run-up to last week’s Climate Summit, will contribute to what he calls “a growing social movement.” He’s also encouraged by the 800-plus investors, including heirs to the Rockefeller family’s oil fortune, who recently engaged in a $50 billion divestment campaign from fossil fuels. The U.N. summit, he notes, “has been a trigger for the largest surge of attention by the media to this topic in several years.”

Aside from being a catalyst for other events, the summit itself ended with some significant pledges in play. China, for example, pledged to make significant emissions cuts by 2020–the country’s first big commitment to reducing CO2 emissions.

When I ask if this is a turning point for China, Gore responds he believes “some turning points are kind of rounded. I think China has been rounding the top of this turning point for a couple years now. Next March, we’ll see the definitive commitments China is prepared to make, but we’ve already seen the introduction of a cap and trade system in five cities and two provinces and a declaration that it will be the beginning of a nationwide cap and trade system.”

For more on Co.Exist, check out Repair the World’s interview with editor Ariel Schwartz.

And check out Repair the World’s photo album from The People’s Climate March!

Repair Inspiration: Turning Swimming Pools Into Backyard Farms

With Labor Day come and gone, summer might be past it’s peak, but our minds are still on swimming – or swimming pools, rather! We’re particularly intrigued by this story on Co.Exist about how some folks are transforming their backyard swimming pools into super-productive gardens filled with vegetables, a chicken coop, and even a tilapia fish farm!

Check out the excerpt below, then get the full scoop – and check out the truly awe-inspiring video – over at Co.Exist’s website:

“In the hot summer months, it might be a shame to use a swimming pool for anything other than splashing around in. But then turning your pool into a highly productive growing system is more practical. It’s also cheaper, overall.
Dennis and Danielle McClung pioneered the Growing Pool–a solar-powered aquaponic greenhouse–back in 2009, shortly after buying a foreclosed home in Mesa, Arizona. They didn’t want to spend time and money doing up the eyesore in the backlot. And, besides, they’d always wanted to be more self-sufficient.

Since then, a host of imitators have come up with their own Garden Pools, based onhow-to instructions the McClungs have posted online. Actually, it doesn’t seem that difficult. First, you surround the perimeter with a metal frame and add poles to support a plastic covering. Then, you mount some solar panels to run the water pumps. Then, you put in a chicken coop, tilapia fish (in the deep end) and some plants.

The idea is that chicken waste falls into the tank, which feeds the fish. The fish provide nutrient-rich water, which is pumped to the plants, which grow and feed the McClungs. The whole system uses a fraction of the water employed for soil-based growing–one of the main attractions of aquaponics.”

Read the full story…

Repair Inspiration: Refrigerators That Don’t Need Electricity

Refrigerators – those blessed, buzzing boxes that keep our ice cubes frozen, our milk unspoiled, and our vegetables crisp – are serious energy hogs. In most homes, they use up more energy than any other appliance, and lead to unintended food waste. Meanwhile, in countries where energy is scarce, the lack of refrigeration can also lead to food waste.

According to an article (and awesome slideshow) on Co.Exist, it doesn’t have to be that way. Check out the excerpt below about a clay fridge by a company called MittiCool that does not require electricity, and read the whole thing on Co.Exist’s website:

Clay Fridges That Keep Food Cool Without Electricity
By: Ben Schiller

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the world wastes an astonishing 1.4 billion tons of food a year. This while plenty of people are still starving, and while many countries spend large percentages of their income to feed themselves.

Reasons for food waste differ from developed to developing worlds. In rich countries, it’s usually the food consumers who are responsible–i.e. people just throwing away excess food that they haven’t eaten or that spoiled before they could. In poorer nations, the problem tends to be in the supply chain. Because of poor refrigeration, food rots during transport or spoils at market stalls because it’s not sold quickly enough.

Made from clay and not needing any power to run, it keeps vegetables fresh for up to a week and can even store dairy, according to Mansukhbhai Prajapati, its Indian inventor.

The fridge is made of a porous type of clay from Gujarat, the region in India where Prajapati has his workshop. You feed water into a 5 gallon holding tank at the top and it gradually drips down through the material. On a warm day, the water evaporates, cooling the clay and leaving the contents inside relatively cold. Prajapati says the fridge is eight degrees Celsius less warm than room temperature.

“The fridge is not harmful for our health. It’s totally eco-friendly. And there is no maintenance like other refrigerators,” Prajapati points out. It’s also relatively cheap. Models cost about $50.

Read more…

Repair Inspiration: Kicking To-Go Coffee Cups to the Curb

We all know the pattern. Wake up, head to a café on the way to school or work. Order a coffee, tea, latte, or grande whatever with extra whip – to go. Drink coffee, toss out cup. Repeat.

Well, an inspiring article on Co.Exist suggests there could – and should! – be a better and less wasteful way to get our caffeine fix. Of course, there are reusable mugs we can tote along, but lots of coffee shops get sketched out about using them. (Health codes can be strict!) But what if, just like a bike rental or a library, we could borrow them for the day? Check out the excerpt below, and read the whole article on Co.Exist’s site.

“Earlier this week, a team of social good entrepreneurs launched a cup-sharing pilot program in DUMBO, a cute and highly expensive cobblestone neighborhood in Brooklyn. The DO School, a 10-week international social good program, partnered with the Brooklyn Roasting Company to roll out 500 ceramic cup-share mugs. Instead of buying a disposable cup each day, coffee-drinkers have been picking up their bright blue mugs from the Brooklyn Roasting Company and returning used ones to be washed and sanitized the following day.

“The regular single-use cup costs about 15 cents, which is quite a significant number,” says DO School CEO Katherin Kirschenmann. ‘Even that location in DUMBO, they go through a thousand cups a day. Think about a midtown Starbucks. Cutting down those costs is actually a pretty big incentive.’ It’s a big incentive for New Yorkers, too. Bring in a cup-share mug, and it’s 25 cents off the price of coffee. For a city of shameless caffeine addicts, that’s not a bad deal.”

Read more…