Archive for : Environment

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.

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Repair Inspiration: Eat Vegetarian, Cut Your Carbon Footprint

There are lots of ways to “eat green” and live an eco-friendly lifestyle, but a new report published in the journal Climactic Change suggests that one of the best things you can do to lower your carbon footprint is to eat a vegetarian diet.

Whether you are a long time vegan or not a fan of the idea of living meat free (on Meatless Monday or any day), check out this story excerpt below, or read the whole thing on The Huffington Post.

Vegetarianism Cuts Your Dietary Carbon Footprint A Ridiculous Amount, Study Finds
By: Joanna Zelman

As the economic, political and personal costs of doing nothing to mitigate climate change skyrocket, there’s one lifestyle change that slashes dietary greenhouse gas emissions in half: Veganism.

Climate change is predicted to cost the U.S. billions of dollars by mid-century, poses a growing national security threat, and will make some regions of America “unsuited for outdoor activity.”

A new report published in the journal Climatic Change compared greenhouse gas emissions attributable to more than 55,000 meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the U.K. The researchers found that meat-eaters’ dietary greenhouse gas emissions were twice as high as vegans’.

The production, transportation and storage of food greatly contributes to emissions, the study points out. These emissions range from carbon dioxide related to fossil fuels used to power farm machinery, to the methane released by livestock. Animal-based products tend to release more emissions than plant-based products due to the methane animals can produce and the inefficiencies in growing livestock feed.

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Celebrate Tu Bishvat with Repair the World and Around the Country

Hey everyone, it’s time for Tu Bishvat – a.k.a. The Jewish holiday for the trees. Tu Bishvat is an ancient holiday that has evolved and changed throughout the centuries into a celebration of tikkun olam (repairing the world), connecting to the environment, eating seasonal and ancient biblical fruits, and having fun at seder celebrations.

There are lots of great ways to celebrate around the country – including with Repair the World’s own Fellows. Plug in and get connected to Tu Bishvat!

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Celebrate Clean Air Month This May

Take a deep breath in – what do you smell? Hopefully the warm spring air, the budding trees and the scent of springtime barbecues.

But for too many people across the country and world, breathing comes with a fair amount of baggage – specifically the air pollution from idling cars and busses, smokestacks, factories, and the harsh chemicals we use to clean our buildings. Believe it or not, nearly 4 out of 10 people live in a place where pollution levels are often too dangerous to safely breathe!

May is Clean Air Month – the perfect time to take action to ensure that we all get to breathe free and easy. Here are some ideas to get you started:

State of the AirCheck out the State of the Air. The American Lung Association’s interactive website lets you type in your zipcode to see how clean your air is, learn the health risks that come with polluted air, and discover opportunities to take action.

Divest from Fossil Fuels. The folks at FossilFree.org are leading the charge in getting people and institutions (like college campuses) to divest their financial support of fossil fuels, which both pollute the air and impact the climate. Find out how you can be a part of the movement.

full_1367609132earthbakedpsdWalk in biodegradable style. Walking or riding a bike instead of driving is a great way to help keep polluting car fumes out of the air. But there’s no need to sacrifice your style – check out these rad biodegradable walking shoes!

Clean the air – indoors. Indoor air pollution can be as harmful as the stuff we breathe outside, and can lead to headaches, asthma, and fatigue. These 5 ideas – from adding plants to your home, to switching cleaning products – will keep the air in your apartment or office clean and fresh.

How are you celebrating Clean Air Month? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld #cleanairmonth.

On Tap: Earth Day Turns 40

Tomorrow (April 22), Earth Day will celebrate its 40th birthday.

The environmental movement has changed a lot since 1970 when Senator Nelson decided to throw an annual awareness party for the earth. (Fun fact: Earth Day was founded not by a bunch of hippies, but by a straight-laced Senator from Wisconsin.)

In many ways, the threats of polluted air and water, species extinction, global warming and environmental injustice are just as dire as they were 40 years ago. Meanwhile, some activists suggest that Earth Day has lost its initial power and relevancy, and that focusing the ideas of conservation and care of the planet on one day makes them easier to forget the rest of the year. The very fact that the holiday is reaching middle age while humans’ consumption of fossil fuels remains sky-high is perhaps a case in point.

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