Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

Just following the People’s Climate March in NYC, Rick McGahey, who teaches economics and public policy at The New School, published an CNN Opinion article.

In the article, Rick tries to debunk the notion that helping our environment would hurt our economy. Though transitioning would cost more, the end result would actually create new US jobs.  Studies have shown that for every $1 million of investment in clean energy, the U.S. can create 16.7 jobs compared with only 5.3 jobs from fossil fuel investments.

blog carbon

Read the article here.  Where do you weigh in with this debate?  And, more importantly, do you have the expertise for one of these newly created jobs?

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October 17th, 2014

Building your dream home with your own two hands and a bunch of your friends just became a little easier…  That is, if your family will fit comfortably in about 700 square feet of house!

Check out this amazing structure assembled in public view, on the grounds of the London Building Centre, in England-

Downloadable, 3D-printed house built with staples, screws and a hammer



Take a look at the company’s website (including their blog):  WikiHouse

Challenges remain on the structural integrity in the face of weather issues – strong winds… lashing rains… violent, ‘no fun’ kinds of storms.  Maybe there’s an opportunity for you to bring your mind to the puzzle and create a more sustainable model?  Great opportunity to put your “inner architect”, as well as your techie self, into a potentially great future!

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October 15th, 2014

Here in the U.S., there’s been a growing trend to give incentives to people who reduce their use of non-earth friendly carriers (e.g., plastic bags).  While they are convenient, most are NOT biodegradable and create mountains of waste.  There has been some success – I’ve seen lots of shoppers at the grocery stores and farmers’ markets using canvas or cloth bags for their purchases.  Small victories, to be sure…but they do add up!

The Scottish have taken this further and there is a Parliamentary pledge for the entire country:

and click here to read the clip about:

The Zero Waste Scotland Carrier Bag Commitment

The Scottish Parliament has passed legislation that will require ALL retailers (food and non-food) to charge a minimum of 5p for each new single-use carrier bag (including paper, those made from some plant based materials and plastic), from 20th October 2014.

The Carrier Bag Commitment will recognise businesses who donate the proceeds from the bag charge to good causes, and all retailers are being urged to sign-up, free of charge.Here’s a story about one retailer, Superdry,  that’s taking the Pledge and donating their proceeds to the Trees for Life charity in the U.K.

Think about what kind of ‘bag-gage’ you use and carry – and make a conscious effort to reduce, reuse and recycle.  It’s good for everyone!

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Managing waste is a growing problem around the world and cities, citizens and businesses are pitching in with innovative ways to recycle. Here are three ideas that help keep used products out of dumps, landfills and waterways.

Method Products

A Clean Solution to Ocean Pollution

More than 220 million tons of plastic are produced each year, and a lot of it finds its ways into the world’s oceans. The resulting water pollution threatens the environment and marine life. Every year at least 1 million sea birds and 100,000 sharks, turtles, dolphins and whales die from eating plastic. One company is trying to call attention to the issue by recycling plastic that washes up on the beaches of Hawaii and transforming it into bottles that contain hand and dish soap made by the firm. Method Products touts its method as better than using virgin materials to make new bottles.

De Ceuvel community center

Rusty Vesssels Make Waves in Amsterdam

The founders of De Ceuvel floated an idea to the city of Amsterdam: Lease us an abandoned shipyard and its decaying boats and we’ll turn it all into a sustainable urban development with reused, recycled and found materials. Needless to say, municipal officials fell for it hook, line and sinker. And why not? The group is transforming the polluted brownfield and boats into the De Ceuvel community center, which will be a hub for offices, artist workshops, meeting spots, a bed-and-breakfast and a restaurant. The site will also feature bamboo paths and soil-cleaning plants to help filter any remaining toxins in the ground.

Where Trash Is a Hot Commodity

For Sweden, not having enough garbage is a real waste. That’s because it burns household trash at incineration plants to produce energy. The problem is, the country, which has one of the highest recycling rates in the world, doesn’t produce enough garbage for the generators to run at maximum capacity. To help solve the issue, Sweden now imports 700,000 tons of waste from other countries. While most of Sweden’s waste is incinerated, 1 percent ends up deposited in landfills, while the remaining 15 percent is recycled.

For more inspiration on how smart recycling is making an impact on the environment, read the post Cities, Citizens Look to Unearth Opportunity by Talking Trash.

What could your city do to improve recycling in your community?

Sign up here to comment and tell us about it.


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October 3rd, 2014

Or at the very least, inspire change for the better in some capacity?  While you should aim to ‘make your mark’ on a global scale, sometimes starting small makes sense – take into consideration financial constraints and that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.  But, don’t stop dreaming on a large scale!  Every idea that comes to fruition began with a dream…

Here’s an event being held in October in the U.S. that is worth investigating (click the pic for full details). 


BBC World Changing Ideas

 Speakers are to include:

  • Professor Mary “Missy” Cummings, Director of Humans and Autonomy Laboratory, Duke University
  • Ezekiel Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, University of Pennsylvania
  • Julius Genachowski, Former Chairman, FCC
  • Alexis Ohanian, Partner, Y Combinator and Co-founder, reddit
  • Alfred Spector, Vice President of Research, Google


NOTE: I’m aware it’s a pricey event for a Grad Student.  If you aren’t able to attend, you can follow them on Facebook or Twitter!

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