Sustainable and environment-related causes have gotten a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. Some see this as a fad or a craze, as if it were some “health swing” that happens every decade. The real reason this is becoming more popular is that the environment (which we as a species still occupy) is in need of relief, shall we say, from the pressures humankind is putting on it. Nonetheless, our civilization, which has carried on in its mad drive for material profit at an accelerated growth since the Industrial “Revolution”, seems to be at odds with the very place we call home, and, ironically, represents the reserve of natural resources with which Industry must make business happen. Not all businesses or people think this way, and it’s not necessary to link making a buck with this rapacious speed with which we’re eating up reserves and polluting what’s left. There’s a lot of talk about the Triple Bottom Line which amounts to People, Planet, and Profit. I’d like to point out the need to switch thinking, even though it’s nice alliteration, to think of it more as People – Planet – Financial with Profit (actual) being the meeting of these three concepts. In my opinion, actual profit is not achieved until your business creates gains in all three.
If we are going to re-define profit altogether, we need new profit modeling software that allows businesses, individuals and organizations to track, record, and publish their efforts results in real time.
There’s a lot of talk out there about renewable energy, living off-grid, tiny homes, passive solar, underground greenhouses, and other ways of fixing more of our resources closer to the homestead. If there was a way to do much of this, using very simple even throw-away or recycled materials, we’d hear about it right? Well, if you’ve heard about EarthShips, you’re lucky. If you haven’t yet, you’re in luck. Talk about the sustainability rubber meeting the road, it couldn’t get more perfect. Of course they’re hard to code, zone, and establish – because they fly in the face of all the dominant trends in building that have been written and dominated by a Dupont-dominated building industry and reinforced by a culture that will demean you for wanting to “live in a hole” because they just don’t understand yet that natural or Earth-based building is the wave of a future that we can actually afford to turn the lights on in. But don’t take my word for it, take a look at some of these videos from Taos, NM (Earthship capital of the Earth right now) and other places where people are innovating these unique structures. Also please keep in mind, that even if zoning or coding will not allow you to build one of these to live in primarily on your land, you can still construct an outlying “shop” or “greenhouse” that use these techniques, and even pipe the warm air it creates into a “proper” house – just to make the system happy. As innovations like this become more popular, hopefully culture will shift toward adopting concepts like this – building renewable sustainable homes with recycled materials – and move away from the toxic stick-houses that are hurting the Earth and easy to destroy by climate-assisted super-storms.
Most of us would agree that cities are a huge source of pollution. Generally, most of the junk in the air, waters, and land comes from urban areas, where the greatest concentrations of humans are gathered. This leads some to believe that the best way to “get sustainable” is to move to the country, where things aren’t so crowded and the potential and space exists to do projects that nurture the Earth and grow food. In reality, if there was a mass exodus of people from the cities currently, the countryside would be destroyed by urban sprawl in no time. This process of people leaving the gray city slate for the forested green of the country could explain how urban sprawl actually occurs. Rather than entertain potentially destructive notions in the hope of making a dent in the problem, turn the problem to its source for solutions. Cities are hubs of communication, the home to millions who want to see green where they live; they don’t want to have to leave to have their cake and eat it too. They want to green their cities, and why shouldn’t they? Introducing the movement to improve the ecology in the most ecologically destitute places on Earth, turning some of the world’s biggest cities into resplendent emerald attractions that bring even more residents, commerce, and tourists.
This is probably one of the best ideas for reforestation that you haven’t heard of yet. Have you? Well, if you have, good – because it’s brilliant! This is a group of web programmers turned environmentalist that have set up a search engine that plants a tree every time you make a search! It’s based on a google API so it has all the power you’re used to, but less ads – and the ads you experience also go to fund reforestation! Check out Ecosia.org now to use it as-is or install safe add-ons and search plugins for your browser. We encourage this as well as any and all efforts to use the time we spend on computers and internet devices to do good for the environment!
Do you have plants to water? Do you grow food in a dry region? Don’t throw out those recyclable containers! Jars, bottles, and cartons of all kinds can be used to literally pull water out of the air, and keep it from flying away. Water is a polar molecule – it attracts to itself magnetically. Also, it makes a great heat sink, cooling down your plants in the hot dry summer. If you have taken a look at plants in the morning dew, you will notice that moisture tends to stick around established plants – why? Part of it has to do with the moisture in the plant fixing more moisture from the air. Have you ever seen the water droplets on the side of a cold bottle of water form before anyone has opened it? That’s moisture in the air that’s forming on the bottle due to the cold, and a little bit due to the electromagnetic bonds all water molecules feel to each other. “Plant” jars and bottles at the base of your plants to help pull moisture out of the air, keeping them alive and well – and to help keep water from evaporating out of your soil. On a grand scale, think of the effect this could have to help fix liquid fresh water in areas that are being desertified, or where we need to reforest, but it’s hard to get liquid water out to every tree in the rehabilitation zone. Passive condensation tech like this could be part of a toolkit for survival in the parched 21st century, especially with drought from climate change. Just fill any water-tight container with a fitting lid to the brim and bury it 3/4 in the Earth. Compare the results between plants with passive moisturizing or without. Let us know!
It tends to appear that money and the environment are at odds. In order to make money, usually you have to participate in a job or investments that actively antagonize the already-unstable global ecosystem. There is a lot of talk about the parasitic “big banks”, “too big to fail”, and the system of toxic corporate financial entities that control the system. Not often enough, however, do people change where they bank in order to change things. Signing up at a credit union is one such way. Credit unions are non-profit organizations that exist for the express purpose of helping ordinary citizens build up credit and actually move forward as a result of keeping a stable balance. They tend to invest in local projects, businesses, governments and housing and thus represent a more direct democratic option in banking. Here’s a government website specifically created to help people find a credit union in their area. There has been a new trend as well in environmental investment banking with banks such as Aspiration opening checking account services to everyday people that allow for investing with a conscience. These banks have come to the conclusion, as many of us have, that the future of business is green, and investments into that future will be lucrative as well as wholesome for all concerned. These maintain a portfolio of investments that rate ecological benefit against monetary profit. They do this by picking “high road companies” vs. “low road companies” and prioritize investments on a scale of how well a company is doing financially and the good they are doing for the planet and humanity in the process.
It’s that time of year in the Pacific Northwest – the end of September, and the first chilly nights are here. Dew is forming more readily in the mornings, some days are just gray and cold again, and we are thinking about how we are going to last the winter and keep from going stir-crazy. For the self-actuated social entrepreneur, and many others, this is the time to mind the keep, keep the hearth, and hit the internet with your stories of last year and plans for the next. Whatever your circumstances, whatever your reasons, it’s good to make sure that during this time your connection to the web is intact.
As always, we are in the business of discouraging waste and encouraging functionality – and computers are no exception. Now is a good time to make sure that your computer’s software is fully functional and free of bugs such as malware, adware or OS/drive errors. Most problems on all devices are easily solved by eliminating bulk software or turning off excess features and programs which are no longer in use. If your PC is getting up there in age (we actually set the bar at 8 years, otherwise it’s pretty easy to keep a Windows 7 PC humming along nicely on Dual-Core with 4GB of RAM) you could look into upgrading the hardware or special-ordering a refurbished machine through us. We have a connection to a Microsoft-certified wholesaler in Canada that can ship out a good used or refurbished laptop for less than $200. We can help you set up appropriate open-source security software, such as non-profit and cloud antivirus and Firefox with Ad-blocking, to make sure that your platform stays solid as you use it. If you’re intrepid, we’ll give you the resources to do it yourself.
Over the weekend, we had the treat of going to a unique gathering in the activity room at the local Port Angeles library. Sarah Tucker has been working with marine debris and other forms of recyclables to create beautiful art pieces that have been recognized for making apparent the plight of sea creatures and other animals in places we ritually contaminate with our garbage. As 99% of the plastic we were trying to find recently is missing, possibly dissolved to micro-plastic, the current home of much of it may be the top predator in the ocean – at this point, humans. There is an emerging trend seeking to reclaim this apparent “garbage” as essential materials to artwork – and to proving a point about out excess.
The photoelectric effect occurs when light particles interact with matter, especially semiconductors like silicon, producing a flow of electrons that can be used as electricity.
I am making power in my backyard with microscopic pond algae. Rather, they are making the power, as I believe they’ve been doing since the Jurassic age, and I am just beginning to gather it, test it, and put it to use. Diatoms are surface phytoplankton (plant-like photosynthetic microbes in the surface of water) that are mostly made of silica (glass). Even though algae is being cultivated for fuel sources lately, this is not that kind of energy. There is no combustion here. The effect I’m observing I believe to be based on quantum physics in the interaction between light and silicon via the photoelectric effect, the same interaction that produces power in conventional solar panels. There is some precedent for this coming from moss – and theoretically any plant can put out energy that can be used to power light-duty applications.
Well first off, I live off-grid myself, having most of my power coming directly from the sun. I have a battery and a relatively low-wattage solar panel providing enough power for lights and some low-wattage computers and other meager appliances. I do not have the luxury of a multi-kW ongrid hookup for things like water heaters, washing machines, or large-screen HDTV’s – but we find other ways to heat water and do our laundry anyway.
It’s not easy – we have to budget power and literally count every volt and amp of every appliance we plug in, to find out if it fits within the parameters of our AC power inverter and battery life. Thankfully newer computers are offering more and more power with less and less power consumption, and longer battery life – enabling us to get more blogging done after the sun goes to bed. LED bulbs also get your basic need of light covered through the light easily with extremely low power consumption.
Although there are things about it that leave something to be desired, tilling a garden’s soil every year is still the old standby for creating a garden literally from the ground up. Tilling aerates the soil, and “green compost” or old cover crop and other plant material can be chopped up into the soil to return carbon, nitrogen and other nutrients for further growth. In combination with a no-till method, tilling can be a great way to get a garden going at least – to transform the surface of the land once, in order to set up mulching and compost-injection systems that keep up the no-till permaculture design in the long run. Generally speaking, however, no-till gardening is easier, more effective, healthier for the environment and better at keeping nutrients and water in the soil. It’s also closer to the natural systems that uphold the balance of nature in forests and fields as it is.