Sunday, February 15, 2015

I've Moved!

Please come visit my new blog/booksite!
Old content remains here, but it is also at the new blog, along with new content continually added at

Monday, February 9, 2015

Solar Bottle Light Bulbs: Free Light!

Cleaning off a newly installed solar bottle light bulb
Photo: A Liter of Light Mumbai
Tool 76 in the #countdown is solar bottle light bulbs. Invented in Brazil, they take advantage of free daylight. This simple innovation – a bottle filled with water & some bleach added to prevent bacteria build-up – gives out the equivalent of 55 watts of light. They"re fabricated out of local, cheap materials and inserted into a hole in the roof. They provide local jobs & zero carbon, free light. A Liter of Light has popularized them in the Philippines. Photo: A Liter of Light Mumbai

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Plastic Thatch - An Eco-Roof Overhead

Vananh Lee - Co-head of the ReuseEverything Institute shows off
their invention: plastic thatch
Thatched roofs are picturesque, but when people move out of poverty, they upgrade to more durable tin roofs. David Saiia and Vananh Le are pioneering a cool alternative: plastic thatch made from sliced, flattened soda bottles fused into longer strips, built up like traditional thatch but: 1) light filtering, 2) longlasting, 3) quieter and 4) affording better ventilation. Plus they are made from local waste, cleaning up the environment and creating jobs. Wins all around.
They are piloting this promising innovation with the Carnegie Mellon Engineers without Borders.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Don't Just Teach Women to Fish: They Can Raise the Fish, Too!

Photo: Practical action. Fishing means lifting and emptying the cage!
Tools 73 in the #countdown is micro farm-fisheries.  For the many who live near waterways (think Bangladesh!), fish cages can be built out of inexpensive materials, stocked with fingerlings, and suspended in water. Fish thrive on inexpensive feed + household scraps. They quickly grow and mature, providing families supplemental, tasty protein and an extra source of income.
Microfisheries do not face the eco-risks that challenge large enterprises.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Goats: Grazing Out of Poverty

Photo: N Siddhu - Flickr
Goats are popular poverty-busters. They eat most anything (so they must be watched) and can survive drought. Most provide milk and cheese. They also produce kids, often two or three a litter. Their manure makes great fertilizer. And of course, they can become the basis for a feast. Women usually raise the goats. In informal economies, they are an important asset that women can control, raising them and selling them cover large expenses.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Chickens & Eggs: Entry Level Livestock

Photo: Sustainable Harvest
Chickens are classic entry level livestock. Coops can be constructed of simple materials. Chickens feed on bugs & waste and lay eggs. If fertilized, the eggs develop into more chickens in just a few weeks. Both eggs and chickens enhance the nutrition of malnourished farmers and their families, and the surplus can be sold. Chicken manure boosts crop growth, an added benefit.  In economies where women have few savings options, chickens are a flexible asset.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

BeeKeeping: Increasing Pollination and Incomes

Photo: ApiAnon, Araku Valley Andhra Pradesh, India.
It doesn't take a lot of upfront cost to start beekeeping and it offers many benefits. All bees need is water; they do the foraging themselves. Then there's the honey and beeswax. In addition to adding food and income, bees increase pollination rates for crops and fruit trees by up to 30%.
And planet earth needs all the bees we can get. Raising income-producing hives encourages eco-stewardship: those bees need the wildflowers to be there to do their magic.