Reaping what we’ve sown

Felicia Cruz, Hanna el Debbar, Jodel Fernandez, Daenne Gomez, Mark Tan, Benny Tañedo, and Chad Yee

When the words “development” and “technology” are found in a sentence, it’s typical for one to imagine artificial intelligence or microbiology or astrophysics. And there’s nothing really wrong with that—the human mind has, time and time again, pushed at the limits of understanding, always seeking for improvements to the multi-layered problems of life.

Of course though, this perspective is sorely limiting. Technology isn’t only about the Higgs Boson particle or about the cutting-edge chemistry used by Breaking Bad’s Heisenberg; there’s much technology and development to be found in your great-great-great grandfather’s farm.

And not just any kind of development, mind you—it’s sustainable, too. After all, there is such a thing as crop rotation.

As seen here quite clearly.

As seen here quite clearly

Food, feed, fallow

Crop rotation, in essence, is growing a set of crops in a regular succession over the same piece of land within a period of time. It’s a common farming practice where different series of crops are planted in the same area each sequential season.

It was called “Food, feed, fallow” once people figured out how to go about it, since the process cuts the land into three parts: One for the actual crops, another to feed the livestock or the animals in the farm, and another third to lie fallow or idle so that it could recover the organic matter being used.

Common cycles in crop rotation

Common cycles in crop rotation

6

Yeah. I like that.

4 years for you!

Now, you may be asking: How is this a sustainable piece of development? Well, if you slept through your history classes, you should know that this has been around since the Roman times. Even by then, we’ve come a long way from simply planting seeds somewhere and expecting them to grow. There’s a clear development here—one of the first of man, to be exact.

By the 1950s, crop rotation fell out of favour with most developed countries due to the introduction of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to make life easier for farmers. However, this also gave rise to health concerns as it damaged soil structure and fertility—soon, farmers returned once more to crop rotation, finally seeing the unsustainable side of chemicals and pesticides, while recognizing the sustainability in crop rotation.

This practice has since improved plant nutrition, benefitted soil health, and helped control the spread of diseases. It was also indispensable to the growth of the British Empire, and it’s just as important to us Filipinos with our tropical climate and agriculture industry.

Organic touch

“With organic farming, your production costs are significantly reduced because organic inputs are found on the farms,” explains Jose F. Lorenzo, a farmer from South Cotabato and recipient of the most outstanding corn farmer in the Gawad Saka Award last March 2011.

His average corn yield is five tons per hectare, as compared to the average two to three tons in other farms; this is because he rotates the planting with vegetables. Also, he lets the leaves of harvested crops rot, thus giving him natural fertilizer without the need for animal manure.

This is just one of countless other cases where crop rotation had a positive effect on farmers. Of course, the correlation here is clear between organic methods and crop rotation—however, some other points of exploration and inquiry remain for the practice.

At least that's one question down.

At least that’s one question down.

Here’s another interesting case to note: Scientists from the Iowa State University have found that if crops are rotated more—over a three or four year period—and include alfalfa or oats, then the use of fossil fuels on the farm can be drastically reduced.

Their study showed that between 2003 and 2008, nitrogen fertilizer inputs decreased 66% in the 3-year rotation and 78% in the 4-year rotation. This, of course, contributed to the study of fossil fuel savings, by reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Although there is no direct connection—aside from crop rotation, of course—these two cases clearly illustrate how practicing this sustainable operation isn’t just a technological development concerned for nature: On the business side, it is also very financially viable, and worthwhile when considering costs and yields. Who would have thought that growing food would be a win-win thing for us and nature?

Nature, nurture

Crop rotation is pretty straight forward; it’s really just growing different crops in one place for one season. Perhaps, next to fire, it is the first historical vestige of man’s inherent reason and capability over nature. And to think that we still use it up until today—that’s definitely some technology then!

It has been so significant, so much so that that scientists who have experimented with crop rotation have discovered that there is scientific use for this practice due to their finding an increase in the number of good bacteria.

These findings could be used to develop plant varieties that encourage beneficial microbes in the soil—this also gives the possibility of engineering cereal crops able to associate with the nitrogen-fixing bacteria normally associated with peas.

With these in mind, perhaps there is indeed so much more to be found with this sustainable development. Perhaps around 4000 years of using this means that we’re only about to reach the beginning of true development, of true science. Perhaps, after everything that man has made, the first is, indeed, the most meaningful.

THEY ARE ENDLESS.

THEY ARE ENDLESS.

Sources(MLA)

Albert, Jose Ramon G., Ph.D. “How Important Is Agriculture in the Economy?” NSCB. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2013.

“Crop Rotation: Benefiting Farmers, the Environment and the Economy.” Aprodev, July 2012. Web. 13 Sept. 2013.

 Sarmiento, Romer. “Farmer Bags Award for Crop Rotation and Organic Methods.”Article:. N.p., 17 Mar. 2011. Web. 13 Sept. 2013.

“Sustainable Crop Rotation.” Science Today. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web. 13 Sept. 2013.

“Why Crop Rotation Works. New Research Could Help Explain the Dramatic Effect on Soil Health and Yield of Crop Rotation.” News from the John Innes Centre. N.p., 18 July 2013. Web. 13 Sept. 2013.

Photo sources — in order of appearance

http://www.yearofplenty.org/2012/04/gardening-advice-crop-rotation-companion-planting-and-other-tips.html

http://www.wikihow.com/Practice-Sustainable-Agriculture

tell me your secrets grass

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One blok at a time: Steps towards sustainable development

by Miguel Benavides, Rowie Chua, Katherine Khoo, Alexandra Martin, Juana Montelibano, Laura Que, Maegan Santos

The resources available on Earth for our use are finite. On the other hand, the human need is not. This is where the problem arises. We need resources in order to satisfy the needs of the people. But then if these needs are infinitely many, then the resources that are for our generation will not be enough to answer to this demand. This will then lead us into using more than our share of resources, depriving future generations of their own ratio.  But fear not, for the answer to this problem can be found through sustainable development.

Sustainable development is an approach to development that takes the finite resources of the Earth into consideration. It is all about a delicate balance, a balance between the human need for a better lifestyle and feeling of well being, and the preservation of the resources around not only for our use, but also for the use of generations of the future (Srinivas.) The need for this kind of development arose due to the increasing population of the world. As the matter of fact, United Nations has predicted that the human population by 2100 would already be around 10 billion. This would then mean an increase in the needs of the people.  That is why we cannot afford to use up more than our designated portion, because if we ourselves are having problems rationing the remaining resources, how do you think they will be able to do it? The solution is to create a system that is “sustainable”, meaning one that can keep on going indefinitely into the future (Skye.)

For if we do not begin to implement these kinds of development, then we would be faced with undesirable situations that we would have been better off not encountering. For example, every living man has the most basic of needs such as food, water and shelter in order to live. But to create these basic needs, we need to use up resources most specifically finite fossil fuels. That is why if we do not find a sustainable option rather than just using fossil fuels, then the prices for these needs would increase to a point that only the insanely rich can afford it. Another example is that of concerning climate change, one of the most important environmental issues we are experiencing. Through a sustainable development for the production of materials, the fossil fuel used would definitely lessen, and in turn, would lessen the greenhouse gases released from them that cause the Climate Change (Skye.)

Ultimately, there is no dispute in the political aspect when we talk about sustainable development. Sustainable development is more environmental friendly, has more capability to dynamic in the same time, economical, has long-term potential and is the only manner leading forward for a progressing world economy. Mankind already uses a big percentage of the planet’s non-renewable resources to live their daily lives. As more people join them, more and more resources are being used and the quicker these resources are reduced. Over ample time, sustainable development will no longer be a preference for people who want to feel that they’ve helped the world with their choices. It will be the only choice for cities and regional development. It’s easily a matter of time until we won’t have choices anymore. The question is if people have the will to make the shift toward sustainability on their own free will or if they will have to be forces to make a swift conversion when all of the other choices are exhausted.

Phonebloks

bloks

Most of the phones, nowadays, are easily disposable. In a span of two years, the phones we use could just wear out because of a broken part, not enough memory, old battery and the like so we tend to just throw them away. That being said, the amount of e-wastes we produce is astoundingly increasing because of phone disposals but there’s a solution to that problem. What if we can just replace the broken component? Or change the battery if it’s already used up? Is it possible? Can a phone be customizable?

Here comes Phonebloks to the rescue. Conceptualized by Dave Hakkens, Phonebloks is basically modular mobile phone that is made of bloks. These electrical modules are attachable to a base similar to how Lego blocks work, the base connects everything and two pins lock these parts together. If the screen breaks, you can easily replace it, in the same way that you can replace its battery for an upgraded one. Is the storage memory, insufficient? You can opt to pick how big or small your storage capacity can be. In short, the phone is customizable and it is “designed to last”.

If there’s a need to replace the parts already, there’s a Blokstore, also similar to an app store, where you can buy new bloks or even sell your old bloks. These bloks are not just manufactured by a single entity but are by different, big or small, companies. You can choose to have a pre-assembled one or if not, you can assemble these parts on your own from your favorite brands. This is designed to suit your needs and wants individually and even corporately.

How are they sustainable?

Sustainable development is that approach wherein it aims to optimize the use of Earth’s limited resources. One of the many strategies in sustainable design is creating modular products, that is, if one part breaks it can easily be repaired without disposing the entire unit (Williams). Knowing that mobile phones increase and eventually phase out rapidly, this modular approach will aid in lessening electronic wastes.

detachedThis is the idea Dave Hakkens incorporated with the Phonebloks. This perennially designed product is made of detachable bloks that enables one to keep all the other functioning parts or bloks should there come a time that at least one blok becomes defective. Phonebloks definitely optimizes the use of our resources. It aims to lessen the need of having more non-repairable products made. It even allows us to choose what parts we want our own phone to have. Imagine having to satisfy human’s multiple demands by just using up few resources and enabling the future generations to benefit from this.

But is it feasible?

For any tech business project to be feasible, it must fulfill at the very least two criteria: technological feasibility and commercial feasibility. The first answers the question, “Can it be made?” or, more precisely, “Is the science and technology available?” The seconds asks, “Will it sell?”

The short answer to the first question is “Yes.” The technology does exist and we have, in theory, the methods to create such a modular phone. Technological barriers have often been more of a question of time rather than of possibility. Today’s advances in science and technology seem to show that there may be no limit to what we can create and design, and so, we can posit that, if there is enough interest to make such a phone, smartphone companies would feel pressured to create and innovate such a device.

But that’s the problem. Sure, the idea can capture our imagination, but would companies be willing to make it? There’s more to business than market pressures and trends. And so, we have the problem of logistics. Existing companies benefit from something called a supply chain. Here, the manufacturing process is streamlined and this enables the company to mass-produce their products while optimally reducing manufacturing costs. The whole concept of Phonebloks would be a nightmare to implement on a supply chain. Think about it: There are at least ten major components of the modern smartphone – the screen, storage, battery, WiFi, Bluetooth, CPU processor, radio antenna, camera, audio jack, and the gyroscope. The reason companies such as Samsung and Apple can keep prices relatively reasonable is that their phones are designed so compactly and efficiently, that to do otherwise would incur greater manufacturing costs. In effect, each part would have its own supply chain, and would then have to be put together in the end. The price then of the final product would be immense.

parts

The one thing that would be common to all Phonebloks would be the base. Everything else can either be stock or purchased and installed by third-party companies. People want customizability. If a business venture were to capitalize on this idea, it would have to create arrays of separate parts. This would mean multiplying each supply chain by whatever number of options would be available, just to start the company. If from the outset, such a company would create only one set of stock parts, there would be the added challenge of convincing buyers to get this phone over existing, cheaper, more streamlined phones.

You could suppose that, given enough consumer demand, such a company would partner with other companies to produce third-party components, but again, that would take much convincing and capital. The odds are undeniably against the company.

blok store

But we’re assuming this company would be a new startup. What if the existing giants start it? What if Apple or Samsung saw enough value in this venture? The problem is, they have existing products, and for them to create such a concept phone and not expect returns would be unimaginable. People would not pay for a premium to buy a bulky concept phone over existing streamlined phones. For those giants to create a more expensive and logistically improbable phone would in effect, lose them money.

The idea is noble. All companies should aim for sustainable development. But if doing so would mean ultimately losing money and ruining the business, it can’t be done. Phonebloks will remain a pipedream.

Sustainability Talks: Apple vs. Phonebloks

Upon the widespread release of the Phonebloks concept video came the outpour of netizens expressing their opinion on how we should “forget the iPhone 5S” and have these phones instead. It was quite a statement – especially since the release of the video happened right after Apple’s latest announcement of products. What’s more interesting however is the notion people have of sustainability regarding tech companies and products in general. While you may think that this concept phone is far more sustainable than your average iPhone, think again. Apple is one of the most sustainable companies in the tech industry right now.

sustainable design

There is a difference in how Apple and the Phonebloks concept approach the idea of sustainability. Apple prides themselves in operating and producing with a significantly low carbon footprint. Ever since 2009, they have constantly been trying to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve recycling efforts, increase energy efficiency, reduce waste in production, and adopt as many renewable energy policies as they can. Their marketing efforts exploit these facts too. By telling consumers that the newest iPhone is so light because the more light-weight and compact the materials are, the more finished products can be sent out and shipped in one go, thus saving great amounts of energy, time, and resources. Apple even goes as far as switching their energy sources from fossil fuels to 75-100% renewable not only in production sites, but in corporate offices as well.

The Phonebloks concept on the other hand focuses on what Apple does not: what happens at the end of a product’s life? This is the starting point of the Phonebloks concept. When only one part is usually broken or damaged, we waste a great deal of other materials in the process. The idea of having to change only the part that is broken or damaged is what appeals to a lot of people. By replacing only a fraction of your phone, you are also paying only a fraction of the cost, consuming only a fraction of the energy usually used, and creating only a fraction of the waste. Sounds good, right?

But what about production? How ‘sustainable’ is Phonebloks’ sustainability approach? And what about sustainability in terms of people and relations? Both Apple and the Phonebloks concept have yet to develop their sustainability approaches towards a more people-friendly aspect – one that does not exploit cheap labor and low regard for human dignity (such as in sweatshop factories in China), and one that encourages free trade and supports local initiatives for livelihood and welfare. Either way, both Apple and the Phonebloks concept have their own right in being ‘sustainable’, and at the same time, both also have areas that need much improvement.

Conclusion

After the problem of convincing companies to go into the Phonebloks concept, there is the issue of how appealing these Phonebloks will be to the consumers. Although the Phonebloks concept video garnered 5 million views in its first three days, one must consider that this support might not translate into the market. Among the many criticisms its received, one of them is its lack of aesthetic appeal. Many critics have gone so far as to call the Phonebloks phone “ugly”. As cellphone trends opt for sleeker, streamlined designs, the Phonebloks phone stands out like a sore thumb, given that its design (the three layers of screen, base, and bloks) will inevitably mean that it will be significantly bulkier. Since cellphones are considered as status symbols and fashion statements, “ugliness” might deter potential buyers. Although others have argued that hiring more designers and manufacturers to create cases will beautify the phone and fix said problem, wouldn’t it add to more bulk and added costs for both consumer and producer? The Phonebloks phone is already receiving criticism concerning its estimated price: as explained above (referring to its feasibility) this phone will most likely be quite pricey, or at least significantly so compared to other mainstream phones.

Also, a smartphone’s hardware is built such that each component is as near to the others as possible because each added millimeter distance slows down the whole device, which is why manufacturers tend to maximize the number of components per chip. Smartphones, such as the iPhone 5s, tends to put together the CPU, graphics, and ram together to hurdle over this problem. However, the “bloks” concept would put too much space between each component, significantly slowing it down. Not only that, it would mean that the phone would take up much more energy than it could have, resulting in a device that would need a bigger battery to last just as long as the mainstream phones. This of course translates to either a bulkier phone or a bigger battery blok which would lessen the amount of space for other bloks. Also, the Phonebloks phone will need expensive sockets that will allow the CPU, graphics, and ram to communicate at high speeds if it wants to get past its speed problem. With a phone this slow, bulky, aesthetically unappealing, and pricey, will consumers really choose this over a streamlined iPhone 5s?

But, what if the consumer really just wants to lessen the world’s e-wastes and lessen the future costs of buying new phones, wouldn’t the Phonebloks phone be a good alternative? Well, no. Although this phone showcases itself as being able to last for years because broken parts can be easily replaced and so on, this isn’t necessarily true given that the number one reason that smartphones actually break is because of mishandling on the part of the consumer. For example, consumers tend to drop their phones, smashing the screen onto the hard pavement. Now imagine the damage done to just one phone and multiply that to the number of bloks a Phonebloks phone has. By allowing the user to take apart each blok, tinkering with it, and putting it back again, the Phonebloks phone increases the potential breakage that mishandling can cause that isn’t present at all in ordinary smartphones. We wouldn’t be throwing out our Phonebloks phone because it was behind in technological advances, rather we would be throwing them out because they keep breaking on us! Given that this phone is much bulkier, we wouldn’t be lessening our e-wastes at all. We would be contributing much more.

The Phonebloks phone may have been an attempt to lessen both e-wastes and consumer expenditure on phones, however it fails on both aspects ultimately. Not only is it added consumer expenditure, it’s also producer hell. Companies don’t want to forego their current market shares so that they could contribute to this phone. Although it was a noble attempt at making the world a better place, the Phonebloks ultimately falls short of nearly all its objectives. So what does it really contribute? Well, it shows us that although designs like these are imperfect and maybe useless, it does show us that there is a potential for technologies engineered for sustainable development although perfecting it will take time and quite a lot of money. Also, this should motivate companies into competing with each other not just in market shares but also in technological developments and designs geared for the maximization of what finite resources we have left in this world.

References:

Bradford, K. T. “Upgrade, Repair, and Modify Your Smartphone Bit by Bit with Phonebloks.” Digital Trends. Designtechnica Corporation, 12 Sept. 2013. Web. 15 Sept. 2013. <http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/phonebloks-video/&gt;.

Brownlee, John. “Why Lego Design Principles Don’t Work On Smartphones.” Co.Design. Mansueto Ventures LLC, 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 15 Sept. 2013. <http://www.fastcodesign.com/3017409/why-lego-design-principles-dont-work-on-smartphones&gt;.

United Nations. 1987.“Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development.” General Assembly Resolution 42/187, 11 December 1987.

Skye, Jared. N.p..”Why Is Sustainable Development Important?”. Web. 14 Sep 2013. <http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/Why_Is_Sustainable_Development_Important>.

Srinivas, H.. N.p. Web. 14 Sep 2013. <http://www.gdrc.org/sustdev/definitions.html>.

Fenlon, Wesley. “How Phonebloks Could Work (and Why It Probably Won’t).” Tested. BermanBraun, 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 15 Sept. 2013. <http://www.tested.com/tech/smartphones/457508-why-phonebloks-could-work-and-why-it-probably-wont/&gt;.

“What is Sustainable Development?”. N.p.. Web. 14 Sep 2013. <http://www.worldbank.org/depweb/english/sd.html>.

Williams, Jeremy. “Phonebloks – A Phone Worth Keeping.” Web. 15 Sep 2013. <http://makewealthhistory.org/2013/09/12/phonebloks-a-phone-worth-keeping/>.

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NEWater for a NEWorld

Araneta, A. Cruz, Encarnacion, Enriquez, Fucio, Sanchez, Sol Cruz

       Considering the number of people in the world today, it would be foolish to think that we can still live like we used to. We are too careless with how we handle our resources and it is doing us harm. Our mindset regarding how we manipulate our natural resources should change if we want to prolong our stay in this planet. This is our planet and it is, as far as we know, the only planet capable of harboring life. Knowing this, shouldn’t we take the responsibility of taking care of it to heart? In light of responsible stewardship, our group has decided to share technologies, movements, and practices that promote using water sustainably.

       One of the foremost solutions to safeguarding one of Earth’s most important resources is to reuse, but there lies the problem of how and why. How can we reuse water once it has already been used and why would we want to? The answer is quite simple: we are running out of clean water. As an example for the main discussion in this blog, we would like to focus on NEWater as our model for sustainable development.

NEWater

“LRT not so fast, NEWater they laugh at us. I live in Singapura, it’s not perfect living but at least it’s interesting.”

2:52 from I Live in Singapura

       NEWater is essentially wastewater made drinkable. What? Yeah it’s wastewater made drinkable, that includes sewage water which are made up mostly of feces, urine, and toilet water.  Wastewater becomes NEWater only after it goes through four stages of purification. First, it is treated in conventional Water Reclamation Plants like how typical wastewater is handled. In the second stage, water is treated via microfiltration and ultrafiltration. What’s left after this stage is water containing dissolved salts and organic molecules; solids have been removed and only some of the viruses and bacteria remain. After this, for the third stage water is treated through reverse osmosis wherein contaminants are further removed. At this point the water already meets USEPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) and WHO (World Health Organization) requirements and is already drinkable. But before it becomes NEWater it has to go through the fourth stage where it undergoes UV disinfection to ensure that all organisms are deactivated. Alkaline chemicals are added after this to restore the pH balance and thus NEWater is ready for Singapore use. (see illustration below)

NEWater

NEWater Process

       The first NEWater factory was completed in May 2000 but it was actually an idea shelved since 1974 when they considered that the current technology then were not sufficient to create a plan to produce potable water from wastewater. The quality of membranes produced before did not purify the water effectively and the costs were too excessive. But even before shelving it was developed for 2 years, the idea being born during 1972. This just goes to show how much planning can be made and how it can be realized if we put effort into it.

       It is easy to see how their lack of clean and drinkable water resources enticed Singapore to look into solutions such as NEWater which currently responding to the 30% of the nation’s water demands. Then again, we cannot be so sure that everyone else in the world won’t be running out of water soon and will need to resort to their own NEWater. In the future this could be a viable solution for everyone in the world–why not, right? It turns wastewater to drinkable water and that’s very practical.

       NEWater may be innovative and all but it also has its shortcomings. The long purification process is costly and the price of NEWater is not economical. The government tap water or imported water from Malaysia are cheaper, thus only few of the public would avail of this alternative drinking source. In addition to the cost, many Singaporeans still refuse to drink NEWater because of the sheer notion of where it was from. Despite the statistics that exceed the standards for normal drinking water, it still is not considered as potable water by the general public. It comes down to a matter of acceptance. However, once they warm up to NEWater for drinking, it can do a lot of good to Singapore and its economy as it will ease its dependence on imported water from Malaysia.

NEWater could possibly revive the river of our dreams

NEWater could possibly revive the river of our dreams

       If the resources and financial support from the government were sufficient, countries like the Philippines (i.e. countries that have polluted waterways and improper waste management, and are heavily affected by seasonal typhoons) could very well make use of such an innovative technology. Putting it in the Philippine context, NEWater would provide ways to purify and reuse dirty water from the sewage system that would otherwise cause major flooding in the metro during typhoon season. Furthermore, landmark bodies of water such as the Pasig River have long been polluted and absolutely inconsumable for that very reason. Reusable water technology such as NEWater could perhaps restore these polluted  bodies of water to their former pristine glory days (and if only our fellow countrymen would be more responsible with their waste disposal habits as well!) while at the same time, providing a large source of waste water to be purified and distributed to those in need. The demands for good quality drinking water during times of calamity could be easily addressed as well, giving much comfort and support to those who have been affected and are in dire need of supplies.

       On a much larger scale, innovative technologies like NEWater might just mean more than reusing water. If properly developed, this type of new wave technologies could possibly eliminate possible cases of extreme dehydration or instances where contaminated water is consumed due to the lack of potable sources. This can consequently eliminate waterborne diseases and low mortality especially in children. Moreover, this method of water-recycling not only fixes the problem of heavily-polluted water sources but it also feasibly lessens future extraction of natural sources in the aim of fulfilling the need for clean water, which in the long-run contributes to our desire of ensuring environmental sustainability. This, together with a probable decrease in diseases and child deaths, are three of the United Nations Millenium Development Goals. With sufficient research and support, it is not impossible that technological breakthroughs like NEWater might just be our ticket to a better future: initially for two years (in time for the 2015 UNDG deadline) and hopefully for a longer-run of more environmental–and economic–sustainable advancements for our present society.

       To conclude, NEWater could be seen as something beyond a water-recycling technology. More than its practical uses, it could be seen as a metaphorical reuse of our natural resources. For a long time, people thought that water will come infinitely, that water, unlike fossil fuel, will never run out. Now that people have come to realize that there is a possibility of us waking up to a future without water, science was able to give birth to this preventive measure named NEWater. With further technological studies, we might as well see that more than reusing water to prevent our world from “drying up,” now is the time to start preserving and conserving what we still have. Past the idea of purifying sewage water for drinking purposes, NEWater would hopefully make us see the need for further scientific advancements dedicated for ensuring environmental sustainability. NEWater could help us see science as our avenue towards a better future. Technologies of this kind would lead us to a technologically-advanced yet environmentally-friendly society, and eventually, to a sustainable NEWorld.

Sources:

http://www.pub.gov.sg/E-Services/NEWater/Pages/NEWaterUsedinIndustrialandCommercial.aspx

http://www.pub.gov.sg/about/historyfuture/Pages/NEWater.aspx

http://alltimesigaporepreciouswater.blogspot.com/2013/03/tap-3-newater_23.html

http://x3pureelement.blogspot.com/2010/05/newaterpros-and-cons.html

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Momento for Kwento with Satchy and Bibo

by Angela Abaño, Mari Chiong, Spencer Galit, Ysa Gohh, Cody Ipapo, and Rajah Padaen

Satchy_sachet
Hi, I’m Satchy the Sassy Sachet! Have you heard the cool story about how I went through a great change in my life? No, you say? Well, my best friend Bibo Balahibo is here to tell us all about it!

Bibo
That’s right, Satchy! Here we go!

          I first met Satchy at the landfill together with her entire clan of sachets. She also introduced me to her distant cousins who were on the streets, in rivers and bodies of water, near drainage systems, or as we say, kung saan-saan. There were billions of them! It was an overwhelming sight.

          Satchy told me about how she felt that she had lost meaning in her life. When she was first born, her mission was to bring shampoo to someone who needed it. Her relatives, on the other hand, brought with them conditioner, detergent, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid, toothpaste, powdered drinks, ketchup, and the like. However, once they had given all that they had, there was no longer any use for them. They were torn and empty—empty of meaning.

Video1_edit

          Satchy was dismayed. She had a terrible existential crisis and always asked herself why she had to exist to begin with. Why did the humans have to make use of sachets that ended up as a burden to the environment, when they could’ve just used bottles to begin with? Sachets like me are a one-time use packaging; while bottles can be reused and recycled!

          The reality is that single-use sachets make products more affordable for those with low income. People could buy products in small quantities for when they need them. Sachets are also efficient for packaging, as they “[create] less waste by weight per millilitre of product sold than bottles.” The problem then is disposal. Being multi-layered plastics, it is difficult to recycle them. Sachets also do not have “sufficient economic value” for collection and recycling (Unilever [1], n.d.). In other words, “empty sachets are generally considered not worth collecting because they are small and lightweight so they lack value” (Unilever, 2012, p. 38). Moreover, there are limited infrastructure for recycling or disposal; hence sachets end up in landfills and “become an environmental eyesore” (Unilever [1], n.d.).

          Not all hope was lost, however. Unilever, one of the biggest producers of merchandise that are packaged with the likes of Satchy, would churn out over 40 billion sachets each year (HUL, n.d.). The day came that they realized a change was in order.

          One approach was the improvement of their sachet design. They have successfully “optimized the use of laminate material, significantly reducing solid waste by weight” (HUL, n.d.). Another method that they are currently using is called pyrolysis, which converts the sachets into fuel. What they are focusing on now is improving their method of collecting used sachets, which I will expound on later.

Pyrolysis

       Pyrolysis is a process that “offers a closed loop system which involves catalytic depolymerisation of plastics into fuel” (HUL, 2012, p. 14). Plastic laminates in general, and in our case sachets, are depolymerized in a reactor and are converted into molten state and then a vapor. The vapor is thus condensed into general ‘fuel oil’ (HUL, n.d.; Unilever [2], n.d.). Their factories can use the fuel as furnace oil or similar industrial applications (HUL, 2012). Through this method, up to 60% of the energy embedded in the sachets is recovered (Unilever [2], n.d.).

Video3_edit          This process has shown to be worthwhile to Unilever. While still in the early days of Unilever’s use of pyrolysis, their Hindustan Unilever factory in Pondicherry, India was successfully able to use the extracted fuel from sachet waste in powering its plant. “The fuel [had] also been burnt in cement kilns in Western India” (Unilever [1], n.d.). In 2009, their study in Asia showed that pyrolysis was “an effective technological approach to dealing with sachet waste,” for most of the energy used in manufacturing the sachets was recovered. This also offered them “a practical solution to the problem of sachet litter.” Whereas in 2010, they carried out “assessments of various waste to energy options to determine commercial viability and [they] concluded that pyrolysis was the most promising option.” Hence, they have been working with their supplier in India to establish a distillation column in order to make the oil useful and profitable (Unilever [2], n.d.).

          All in all, Unilever was encouraged by the results of pyrolysis. They were able to show what they call the “technical proof of principle” of converting “sachets, pouches and other flexible plastic waste into fuel oil at a viable cost” (Unilever [2], n.d.).

Satchy_fuel
TADA!! That’s how I became who I am today. Do you like my costume change?

Bibo
Lookin’ good, Satchy!

Effectiveness

          Based on studies and tests outside Unilever, pyrolysis of the low density polyethylene waste resulting from sachets yields an 80% reduction in its solid waste volume. When done at a low temperature between 250 to 1400°C for 300 seconds, the process yields 2.53% ethane, 21.67% propane and 75.82% propylene which can be used in the production of more packaging material. At a higher temperature range between 500 to 2500°C, 48.57% (iso and normal) butane is produced. These noncondensable gases produced during the formation of fuel oil from waste polyethylene can serve as feedstock and fuel gas. Beyond this range at a higher temperature, no usable products are yielded (Ademiluyi and Adebayo, 2007).

Pyroliser

Pyroliser

          To evaluate the potential of pyrolysed sachets to produce different products, the material underwent the process at different temperature ranges: 130 to 190°C, 200 to 300°C, and 300 to 450°C. Below 200°C, majority of the waste (78%) was reduced to wax and this wax content decreases with increasing temperature. When pyrolysing the material at 450°C, 86.5% of fuel oil is recovered, making this the ideal pyrolysis temperature. From a chromatographic analysis of the resulting fuel oil, a variety of paraffins, isoparaffins, olefins, naphthalenes, aromatics and polyaromatics were shown to be present. This solidifies the effectiveness of the pyrolysis process as these substances can be further refined into kerosene and gasoline for a wide variety of uses (Ademiluyi and Adebayo, 2007).

Fuel Recovery

Fuel Recovery

          In analyzing the resulting fuel oil, its physical and structural properties were found to approximate those of  Aviation fuel JP-4, a common fuel utilized by the US Air force. Because of this, the resulting fuel oil from pyrolysis can substitute for JP–4 and provide the aviation industry with a cheaper and sustainable fuel alternative than crude oil (Ademiluyi and Akpan 2007). A study on the pyrolysis of low density polyethylene waste plastics conclude that every product of the pyrolysis of this plastic is useful (Osueke and Ofondu, 2011). Another study that used mixed plastics in the pyrolysis process report a mass balance output of only 8% total losses and 4% residual char due to contaminants while the rest had been converted to usable products. It reports that the char material are fit for landfill disposal after passing proper acid leaching tests. The emissions of the process are also minimal, due to the closed nature of the process and the capture of all products within the reactor used (Thorat et. al, 2013).

          Pyrolysis seems to offer a step in the right direction for two issues: the reduction of litter caused by the disposal of these sachets, as well as the question of what energy sources are available for the pyrolysis process, as well as other industrial processes. Pyrolysis offers a particularly attractive method of dealing with sachets, since they are usually not recycled due to their nature as multi-layered plastics, as well as lacking any intrinsic recyclable value by reusing them as valuable energy sources. It appears to be a neat system that can partially provide its own energy source by using the fuels it produces and feeding it back into the process.

Sustainable Development

Satchy_fuel


What did you mean by a “
sustainable fuel alternative”?

Bibo
Good question!

          Sustainability, or particularly sustainable development, is defined as “development that meets present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED 1987, Chapter 2; qtd. in Dayrit, 2011, p. 234). It is the fulfillment of needs without compromising the environment, society, and the economy simultaneously. It is thus the present generation’s responsibility to ensure that future generations will still have the environmental, social and economic resources needed for survival (Dayrit, 2011, p. 236).

Video4_edit          Keeping sustainability in mind is important, for the reality is that society operates within physical limits. Sources of energy and raw materials are finite. Even the sinks for our waste energy and waste materials are finite (Dayrit, 2011, p. 239). Sustainable development aims to make sure that these essentials do not run out.

          In the context of sachet waste, pyrolysis allows the recycling of energy used in manufacturing sachets. Instead of using new fuel, the fuel redeemed from sachets can be used. This keeps our finite sources of energy in check by reducing our consumption of fossil fuels or other types of energy directly from the environment. In terms of the finite sinks for our waste, by converting used sachets into energy, there would be less disposal of sachet waste into landfills.

Video6_edit        Fabian M. Dayrit (2011) explains that “sustainable development can be conceptualized as three interdependent and interacting systems: the environment, society, and the economy” (p. 239). Pyrolysis of sachet waste is effective for it affects all three. In terms of the environment, sachets don’t go directly into landfills, hence taking up less land area in dumpsites. There are also no harmful byproducts to pyrolysis, thus ensuring environmental well-being. Society is also still able to purchase products in sachets, which are cheaper than those in bottles. For the economy, pyrolysis provides an alternative source of fuel at a viable cost, thus there is less need to purchase new fuel. Also, since all the products of pyrolysis are useful, there are numerous benefits that society can take into advantage. The different types of fuel that can be produced may power various machinery. This also aids the environment as it decreases the rate of fossil fuel consumption.

“As well as an obvious environmental benefit, this route offers potential social and economic benefits, too, through job creation and alternative sources of income for poor communities. We have a global task force working to reduce sachet waste through technology and education – and possibly by helping to create a whole new market for reuse” (Unilever [2], n.d.).

Future Directions

Satchy_fuel


Bibo and I have BIG dreams for the future!

Bibo
Research shows that the process of the pyrolysis of plastics can be used on a majority of types of waste plastics produced by households. That is to say, curbside collection of plastic wastes do not need to undergo a very selective sorting process to find suitable stocks of plastics for pyrolysis. This also means that plastic wastes apart from sachets can be utilized in pyrolysis. Plastics usable in the process of pyrolysis include Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene (PS), ABS resin (ABS), and Fiber Reinforced Plastics (FRP). The plastics PET, Polyvinylchloride (PVC), and Polyurethane (PUR) are, unfortunately, unsuitable for pyrolysis (Thorat et. al, 2013). This shows a potentially broad range of plastic waste products that it can use as feedstock, and can help address the issue of plastic waste disposal beyond merely sachets, as well as provide a new source of energy. As pyrolysis also produces different kinds of fuel, the range of technology that it can power shows the potential of being extremely wide.

          Pyrolysis, as a solution, seems to possess much potential. In order to successfully utilize it as a solution to our need for sustainability, we need to be able to ensure that pyrolysis as a process can be scaled to a larger level in order to meet the tons upon tons of plastic wastes we produce every year. Now, we must look to establish the necessary infrastructure, as well as other necessary things in order to make a meaningful dent to our problem of waste disposal and energy. The facilities used in the different research papers on pyrolysis have given us the proof of concept, and given the way the process goes, it does not seem far fetched to scale them up in order for them to answer our needs.

          We must now also look into further research into the refinement of the hydrocarbon molecules produced by pyrolysis into even more desirable products, for this may help in establishing the streamlining of the process on an industrial level, as well as helping address the demand  these products. Knowing how to effectively produce high-valued products can help further incentivise the proper collection of plastic wastes, and it can aid in the further setting up of systems for their collection. In the same way that most people don’t dump their glass bottles anywhere because there is a deposit to be collected, perhaps people will think twice before tossing their plastic wrappers aside because they can still redeem significant value from it.

          Going back to Unilever, we may ask ourselves, is the company using pyrolysis at the optimum level? They have reported that pyrolysis has yielded them up to 60% of the embedded fuel in sachet waste. However, according to the studies previously mentioned, fuel oil redemption can reach all the way up to 86.5%. There is therefore much more potential than what Unilever currently practices. They need to develop their technology further, as well as use pyrolysis under the right conditions (temperature- and time length-wise) in order to gain the full potential of the process.

Video5_edit          Unilever’s present concern revolves around the collection of used sachets. They call it one of their “biggest barriers” (Unilever, 2012, p. 38) as they are searching for ways to “incentivise sachet collection on a large scale.” They are exploring working in partnership with others who use flexible plastic waste, with municipal authorities, and representative collectors of recyclable waste in order to foster “an economically viable, effective and sustainable solution” (Unilever [2], n.d.).

          Unilever is also seeking to further develop their technology as they aim for a “scale-up” (Unilever [2], n.d.). In 2012, they were able to “[identify] a new technology which [they] believe is the next generation to pyrolysis.” They conducted small-scale trials that resulted in a high yield and superior quality end product. Unilever is now in negotiations with the developer and other value-chain partners as they aim to commission the first commercial plant in Indonesia during 2013 (Unilever, 2012, p. 38). Hindustan Unilever Limited (the Unilever in India) is also exploring “long-term techno-commercial feasibility of different technology options” to further sachet waste recovery (HUL, 2012).

“We are investigating the potential of a new technology to find uses for sachet waste. We believe this will generate higher value returns for sachet waste, thereby helping us to build a stronger business case, which for the moment remains a challenge”  (Unilever, 2012, p. 38).

Back to the Motherland

Satchy_fuel
How about things back at home, Bibo?

Bibo
Well…

          Unilever in the Philippines has its own Sachet Recovery Program, which recovers Surf sachets (the most numerous among its products) and converts them into cement pavers for beneficiary public schools nationwide. They were able to collect a total of 10 million sachets in the year of its launch, and they hope to collect “more than double last year’s number to around 25 million sachets” this year now that they were able to partner with giants Smart Communication and Cebuana Lhuillier (Remo, 2013).

"Recovered sachets will be grounded and converted into cement pavers, which will then be donated to various beneficiary public schools" (Remo, 2013).

“Recovered sachets will be grounded and converted into cement pavers” (Remo, 2013).

          The unique sachet recovery model of the three goes as follows: Filipinos are urged to exchange their empty Surf sachets at any of of the 1,800 Cebuana branches all over the country for 25 free Smart texts. This will allow for an easier way of recovering the waste while making it more convenient and rewarding for Filipinos. These collected sachets will then be converted into items such as construction boards and fuel (Remo, 2013). Unilever Global should be able to get ideas from Unilever Philippines for its collection strategy.

          Since the formalization of the agreement among the three early this year, the project had produced about 30,000 cement pavers to be donated to 30 beneficiary public schools. Replacing a portion of sand and gravel in a cement mix, these pavers can be used for purposes such as paving roads and building infrastructure. It can be noted that for every 1000 pavers, about 800 kilograms of sachets will be needed (Remo, 2013).

Satchy_fuel
Cool! You must be proud to be Pinoy! Is there pyrolysis in the Philippines, too?

Bibo
Not at the same industrial level as Unilever Global. Based on my research, there was a man who was able to convert plastic bags into fuel using pyrolysis. They sent their process to the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for analysis, and patented it in 2008. What they need now are facilities to take this to a larger scale.

Satchy_fuel
So basically what are being made out of used sachets by Unilever Philippines are cement blocks?

Bibo
That’s right.

      In my opinion, however, converting the sachets into fuel is essentially more sustainable than using them for cement blocks. With pyrolysis, most of the fuel used to make the sachets are recovered and can be used to create new sachets or to power other things. It then becomes a cycling and recycling of fuel. In the case of making cement blocks, new fuel will always be used to manufacture the sachets. Hence, the cement blocks may solve the problem of disposal, but there is still a continual depletion of fuel from the environment.

         What Unilever Philippines, or Filipino scientists and innovators in general, may pursue now is having large-scale systems for pyrolysis similar to Unilever Global. We have the potential, we have the innovative minds, and Unilever as well as the government most likely have the capital. We have the abundance of used sachets. What we need now is to make it happen.

Bibo
Satchy, fuel ka ba?

Satchy_fuel
Hindi pa ba halata? Bucket?

Bibo
Kasi ikaw nagpapatakbo ng buhay ko. :”>

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References

*The sources of the photos are found as links on the pictures themselves. (Click the pictures.)

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Powering the Philippine Stairway to Heaven

Asuncion, Calanog, Maleval, Sison, Tabuena, Tan, Tiambeng

        Throughout many years, the Banaue Rice Terraces of the Ifugao province has been hailed as one of the greatest wonders of the Philippines. Its beauty and purpose is known worldwide and the country takes great pride in its existence. However, the preservation of the terraces’ structure has been difficult; many parts have already deteriorated or have eroded away. Moreover, it currently becomes more and more difficult to balance that priority of preservation with the necessity of harvest.  This difficulty is only made continuously worse when locals have very limited resources. Many members are living in poverty and in the process of trying to save the terraces, their quality of life may suffer.

Banaue Rice Terraces       Fortunately, there is a program that tries to strike these balances, while developing the community further. The Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership undertook the development of a mini-hydropower plant (200kW) on Ifugao’s Ambagal River and established a rice terraces conservation fund financed by the plant’s revenues in power production.

        As compared to other efforts, this is deemed to be more sustainable because of how it uses the forces of nature to create electricity. 

Unesco Reference Sign

Powered by the natural flow of the river, the mini

-hydropower plant is expected to generate 1.443 MWh of energy per year, around 18% of the province’s total energy demand, and 70,000USD for the conservation fund. Think of it as a two-birds-one-stone natured program. As expected, the energy produced will be supplied to locals for the supplementation of their lifestyles while the money in the conservation fund will be used to pay for the protection and preservation of the rice terraces. Admittedly, this amount of money wasn’t available before and will make a huge positive difference in ongoing attempts.

       The program even sends a different positive message: the promotion of the development of sustainable mini-hydro power resources in rural areas of the Philippines. Normally, it is programs like this that represent the beginning of revolutionizing a country in terms of development impact. this is one of the first few steps.

Ifugao Ambangal project

        The project was subjected to an environmental and social impact assessment under the supervision of Tokyo Electric Power Company which lasted for a year. The study concluded that the project posed no major negative impact on the environment of the area and if present, these minor negative impacts could be mitigated. The project took into context the natural elements and surrounding environment of the place making sure that no major harm would be done. Another added bonus is that this project was in line with the ancestral Ifugao practices that viewed water as a primary life source.

Ifugao locals

        Local residents welcomed sustainable development projects and looked forward to the project’s contribution to the local economy. Manual Dulawan, a historian and noted authority on Ifugao authority, stated that “the whole project will not negatively impact local beliefs, customs or rituals.”

”At the start when you were coming to consult with us, we were doubtful and suspicious. We were concerned because part of our forest and rice land will be affected. But after the series of meetings and contacts, I began to change my mind, especially when I saw how the team was seriously working even during bad weather. This was also observed by our neighbours. We gave our consent even if we were not 100 percent sure. But it was a good decision and I was happy when the project started construction and the lands affected were compensated. During the inauguration, there were many people who attended. I am convinced that the project, as you have been saying during the many community meetings, is for the benefit of the community.”

– Eliza Guimbungan, resident of Pindongan, Kiangan.

        This does not mean, however, that the Banaue Rice Terraces can be saved by a single new effort. As a national (and even international) treasure, it requires national efforts in protection. This project primarily signified the importance of preservation. Can we really say that the government organizations and Filipinos elsewhere have been doing enough? What needs to be done now (alongside the program) is the increasing of awareness across communities through the power of government organizations or even educational institutions. The rice terraces comprises a large portion of the Philippine identity. Each Filipino does have a responsibility to protect.

 Sources
http://www.globalelectricity.org/upload/File/Project Communciations/IFUGAO publication FINAL.pdf
http://www.globalelectricity.org/en/index.jsp?p=121&f=236
http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/Philippines/Cagayan_Valley/Ifugao/Banaue/photo431678.htm
http://justthetravel.com/the-banaue-rice-terraces-in-philippines/
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0WXZG7YOtQk/UNEmV4UjEkI/AAAAAAAABdo/7UDGnMxa7Io/s320/0.jpg
http://philippineculture.ph/filer/Ifugao-Ambangal-project.jpg
http://e8casestudies.org/images/casestudies/Phillipines/e8_phillipinesBanner.jpg
 
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Sustainable D.

Cruz, Discar, Ng, Parlan, Tabafunda, Trinidad

———————————-

Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable—to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

An example of a general movement for sustainable development is RECYCLING

Recycle-for-all-its-worth-logo

With the ever growing population of our world today, comes the growth of our trash accumulation as well, and with technological advances, we have produced more products that make use of non biodegradable materials. We have packaging that is made up of plastics and glass; after a takeout meal we throw away plastic utensils, styrofoam cups and plates and more plastic materials; women alone have numerous toiletries that are made of non biodegradable materials: metal tubes of spray, tampons and napkins, and glass and plastic containers for creams and lotions.

The following examples listed here are examples of recycling methods under sustainable development. It’s not just the regular sorting of trash and then having them shipped off somewhere they can be reused or remade into something else. These have a larger impact and are more efficient and effective in meeting our human needs and preserving nature.Our past methods for disposing non biodegradable trash are becoming obsolete. Eventually we will run out of landfills to place them in. Plain recycling won’t be effective on a large scale unless the majority practices it. And so mankind has come up with sustainable development to help with the problem. We have found a way to make trash useful, to take it and dispose of it while at the same time contributing to another need of ours, such as shelter, and preserving the environment we’ve already abused so much.

23013

1. Unilever’s practice to use sachets to cement blocks

Laundry sachets have become a part of everyday living of basically every household in the country especially to the households living in the cities. In effect, these materials contribute to the accumulation of waste on dump sites. These materials even clog the canals of city streets when not disposed properly causing floods to rise faster during typhoon seasons. Before, it appeared that unlike other non-biodegradable materials that can be reused and recycled such as bottles and cans, these things having no more use, have no where else to go but to the dump. Today, it is now known that we can still find sachets and other flexibles (also known as laminates which are composite materials consisting of several layers of plastic, ink, and metal) useful by harnessing their energy content and use them to fuel forges that manufacture cement. Unilever have stepped up in collecting their produced sachets from the consumers through its promos.

IMG_0238

How it works: 

The flexibles, are shredded and ground into 16-mm pieces and then mixed with other ingredients, including liquid wastes that came from factories. These are then fed to the kiln that manufactures cement. The kiln/forge fires up at temperatures that range from 1,100 to 2,000 degree Celsius that easily decomposes the primary ingredients of the flexibles which are polyethylene (PE). These emit no toxic fumes but match the calorific value of coal. To put things into perspective, 1 kilo of the decomposed materials generates as much energy as 1 kilo of coal.

Effectiveness:

According to Unilever’s brand manager Jessica Inocencio, the collected 4 million empty sachets from February to May of 2013 from the company’s “Fiesta sa Surfresa” promo were able to produce 30, 000 hollow blocks. These were then donated to 30 public schools.

It took 4 months to collect a considerably large amount of empty sachets that were then used to make 30, 000 hollow blocks. If this was to be implemented in a national scale and we collected not just empty sachets but also other kinds of flexibles in a regular basis, then we would have conserved a large amount of fuel used in forges.

Why it is sustainable:

It is sustainable because sachets of laundry powders and detergents can be found in basically every household. We need not look further anymore because these things are constantly being produced already. We only need to collect and give these things to the proper companies and we would have already conserved fuel for manufacturing cement.

Impact:

There’s no doubt that most of our population makes use of sachet packets for their products.  Not everyone can afford the larger bottled versions of these products, and so they buy what they can.  But most of these sachet users don’t dispose of their packets properly and cause clogs by contaminating sewer systems with the sachets.  By using these sachets to help make cement blocks, we are both eliminating waste accumulation in the sewers and helping in a way in shouldering the fuel costs in creating cement blocks used for construction, hence providing effective and efficient sustainable development for our country.

2. Alfred Moser’s Liter of Light

Alfred Moser’s invention of using recycled plastic bottles as an alternative, free, and non-energy consuming source of light has been serving poor communities, especially in rural areas well.

liter-of-light-2

How it works:

A 1 liter plastic soda bottle is filled up with a solution of purified water and bleach. The bottles are placed in roofs with half of it inside the house while the other half outside. A sheet of iron is placed in the middle of the bottle so that when placed in a roof (with a hole), the bottle would not fall/drop. The bottle then refracts light inside the houses for free.

Effectiveness:

This practice of using recycled plastic bottles to provide light is so simple that almost anyone, even by just simply using materials found in their surroundings, can create from scratch.  Because it doesn’t use any form of electricity, using this technology reduces the danger of faulty electrical wiring that causes fires. What’s more, the bulb does not produce any harmful environmental pollutants.

Why it is sustainable:

Without the use of any real consumable energy like electricity, the bulb is sustainable. The bulb uses products that are easily replenished and can last up to a long time. Bleach, purified water, a recycled plastic bottle, and a sheet of iron, and sunlight can be used to light up an entire room every time there’s daylight for about five years. Though it’s not really practical to use during the night, because of its dependence on sunlight, it can be a very effective source of light in any place.

Impact:

liter-of-light

The solution of bleach and water only lasts five years, but then again that is not exactly a downside. Everything runs out eventually and needs to be replaced. But the fact that we were able to produce light in a room for almost no cost for a span of five years is pretty impressive. If you want to produce light for another 5 years, you just get another bottle (or recycle the same bottle) and create the very simple solution again.

Though it only works when the sun is up, it is still a pretty good way to save electricity. With this, we get to save money and electricity because of its use of natural sources. The biggest impact it has is its usefulness, efficiency and accessibility (cheapness).

3. The Eco-Brick

dsc05840

The idea of the Eco-brick was started by a group called Pura Vida Atitlán in the small village of San Marcos la Laguna on the shores of Lake Atitlán in Guatemala which was discovered by environmental activist Susana Heisse who promoted it to the rest of the world. It uses the plastic bottle and other non-biodegradable trash to fill up the bottle to be used an in-wall construction fill.

How it works:

A used plastic bottle is filled with compacted non-biodegradable trash. It is then either stacked horizontally and vertically on top of each other, fixed in place with wire and wire fencing, and then covered with cement. Another way of using the eco-brick is by placing them in rows horizontally with cement in between each eco-brick.

Effectiveness:

The small village of San Marcos la Laguna on the shores of Lake Atitlán in Guatemala was observed by Susana Heisse to have minimal trash. Eco-bricks are also used as projects in the Philippines to build libraries for public schools without having to spend as much money on cement.

Why it is sustainable:

With the increasing amount of non-biodegradable trash that we accumulate, we are running out of lands to dump our trash. The eco-brick gives a solution to this problem by decreasing the amount of trash and using it to build houses. This also decreases the need to spend money on cement by around 25%.

Impact:

With our ever growing problem of trash accumulation and the damage already done, we can never truly cure the world of the problem we caused.  At least not yet, but with technology like the eco-brick, we can begin to do so.  The impact of the eco-brick on societies is two-fold, and both are good.  For one, non-biodegradable trash that is taking up a lot of space in our world can be disposed of in more useful ways. They can now fill bottles, that are also trash, and be used to build houses.  Now that trash doesn’t just waste space we could use for other purposes.  One such other purpose is that of building houses.  Trash and new useable spaces can occupy the same space, which is a very efficient aspect of the eco-brick.  On top of all that, it’s cost-effective when it comes to both the bricks and cement itself.

These methods and others like it don’t seem to help if done by individuals. What would using one bottle for light or five or ten toiletry sachets as components for one brick do? However, if these methods are done in large-scale, there is no doubt of its impact on our society’s future.

There are a lot of ways to save our planet and maintain sustainable development. Sometimes we just need a little push and encouragement from envisioned people like the ones in the examples above.

Sources:

http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/features/science/18681-detergent-sachets-are-building-blocks-for-change

How to Build a Solar Bottle Bulb Solar Bottle Bulb. Rep. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2013. <http://aliteroflight.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Liter_Of_Light-How_to_build_a_Solar_Bottle_Bulb-English.pdf&gt;.

Kuruvilla, Carol. “Brazillian Mechanic Creates Light Bulb Using Water, Bleach, and a Bottle.” NY Daily News. NY Daily News, 14 Aug. 2013. Web. 31 Aug. 2013. <http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/brazilian-mechanic-creates-light-bulb-water-bleach-bottle-article-1.1427011&gt;.

Ambani, Pritie. “An Innovative and Cheap ‘Solar Bottle Bulb’ Solution Lights Homes in Manila.” Weblog post. Ecopreneurist. Ecopreneurist, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2013. <http://ecopreneurist.com/2011/09/14/an-innovative-and-cheap-solar-light-bulb-lights-homes-in-manila/&gt;.

“Turn Trash Into Treasure.” Ecobrickexchange.wix.com. Wix.com, n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2013. <http://ecobrickexchange.wix.com/ecobrickexchange&gt;.

The Eco-Brick Project (A Message from Mr. Illac Diaz). Perf. Illac Diaz. Youtube.com. UPEcoSocMonth, 24 Aug. 2013. Web. 14 Sept. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=br1XHgvIvSI>.

Staff of Utne Reader. “How to Make Eco-Bricks Out of Garbage.” Weblog post. Utne.com. Utne.com, Nov.-Dec. 2012. Web. 14 Sept. 2013. <http://www.utne.com/environment/eco-bricks-zm0z12ndzlin.aspx#axzz2ese88Lcb&gt;.

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Source URLs:

http://www.zetta.net/history-of-computer-storage/
http://www.zdnet.com/the-top-10-personal-cloud-storage-services-7000011729/
http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cloud-computing/cloud-storage1.htm
http://lifehacker.com/five-best-cloud-storage-providers-614393607

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