Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
September 29th, 2014

…seems like it’s time for humans to take a cue from them!  Soft bamboo shoots, stems, and leaves are the major food source of the giant panda of China, the red panda of Nepal and the bamboo lemurs of Madagascar.   You’ll often see bamboo in the mix of plants that people give as gifts.  Beautiful to the eye, and yummy in a panda’s tummy, but did you know of the incredible impact of this plant as a highly renewable and eco-friendly material with infinite uses?

A bit of background: Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth.  Bamboo species are found in diverse climates, from cold mountains to hot tropical regions.  Unlike all trees, individual bamboo stems, or culms, emerge from the ground at their full diameter and grow to their full height in a single growing season of three to four months.  A brief life span means culms are ready for harvest and suitable for use in construction within about three to seven years. (Source: Wikipedia  Click the link for more info about bamboo ecology, uses, and history.)

Here is an expansive look at what bamboo can be part of:  Products Made from Bamboo From bamboo beer to bicycles, wind turbine blades, bedsheets, helmets, bathtubs, it is all possible with bamboo!    Lots of great links and discussions on their site.  And check out the video on: Bamboo Renewable Energy.   How will you incorporate bamboo in your contribution to a Smarter Planet?

Bamboo is the main food of the giant panda, making up 99% of its diet.

Bamboo is the main food of the giant panda, making up 99% of its diet.


See if ‘a plant life’ is awaiting you:

Fun Fact:  There’s actually an American Bamboo Society which was formed in 1979 that has chapters across the U.S.: Promoting the Beauty and Utility of Bamboo… Your source for all things Bamboo, Bamboo Societies, Bamboo Growers and Bamboo Products.  They hold an annual conference and have a bi-monthly Magazine and annual Journal.  Take a look at their site and be inspired!bimonthly Magazine and annual Journal.

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The world’s fertilizer producers have a large task at hand – to feed the world’s need for more fertilizer. The need is so great that the companies are not just accelerating production. New factories are being built because farmers are not getting enough to feed their crops, with fertilizer prices making purchase out of reach for many farmers worldwide. When the new factories produce the much-needed fertilizers, the farmers will be able to buy the fertilizers at lower prices once more. The methods to produce the chemical fertilizers are through fossil fuels. This is a temporary solution for a growing problem that environmental engineers need to address, if any sustainable solution is to be reached.

Read more from the New York Times

Worldwide, fertilizer needs and projections are shown.

Worldwide, fertilizer is needed. Developing countries are relying more heavily on chemical fertilizers, leading to an increased demand.

Fertilizer use is increasing and the dead zones are growing. More fertilizer use is going to lead to more dead zones worldwide, and the pollution caused is only going to grow in the present trend. Solutions are needed. Environmental engineers worldwide are devising ways to provide equivalent alternatives to chemical fertilizer. Fertilizers from solid waste is something sustainable that has great potential, if properly accessed. At the University of South Florida, students are trying to find ways to access the nutrients in solid waste so that a cheap and effective fertilizer alternative can be created. With the goal to limit the leaching (ability to dissolve quickly), the fertilizers USF students are trying to create and test out may last longer. When fertilizers last longer, they don’t need to be replaced as fast. Efficient nutrient delivery is what farmers want for a low price, and USF students are attempting to make that dream into a reality.

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September 27th, 2014

I was pained by reading the article linked below about blast fishing off the coast of Africa. (Yes, you read that correctly – blast fishing: fish being caught by being blasted out of the water with explosives).  It is a very real scenario and needs more Smarter Planet minded folks to come up with alternatives that will help provide financial stability for the fishermen as well as keeping them uninjured and out of prison…

Blast fishing destroying Tanzania’s marine habitats


Thankfully, the damages suffered by the marine eco-system and the humans injured by engaging in this dangerous form of fishing have not gone unnoticed.  Read about how Smart Fish  is working to combat the problem.  SmartFish is one of the Largest Regional Programmes for fisheries in Africa covering 20 bénéficiaire Countries in the Eastern, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean (ESA-IO) area. Funded by the European Union and Implemented by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) Jointly with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

A statistic that put things into greater perspective:

  • Each blast kills all fish and other living organisms within a 20m radius, completely destroying the coral reef habitat and there is no natural recovery   Source: SmartFish


Ponder that! And consider what will become of the Indian Ocean if blast fishing is allowed to continue…  Will you make a difference with your work now and in future?

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September 23rd, 2014

I became a coffee drinker after consuming just a single espresso following an Argentine Tango performance; I was a member of the audience, not a performer, in case you wondered (or worried, if you’ve read any of my previous posts about my lack of innate grace on the floor).  The purpose of my acquiring a love for coffee is unclear to this day… be that as it may, I am doing my bit to support the coffee growing industry.

However, I hate being wasteful & throwing out coffee grounds, so I have found a variety of “useful” things to do with them.  Don’t ask – some have been utter failures!  But,  I do try to re-purpose things, wherever I can…  This use of part of the coffee industry’s “waste material” fascinates me – and I do hope that a market will build.  I have to do some checking around our local stores to see if I can find this product anywhere. 

What uneaten part of your next meal could be transmuted to a great new taste sensation?  Give it some thought, create a useable & palatable dish, try it out on your friends and take it to market yourself.  Bon appetit!

Read the story and…


EAT your coffee!

(then click on the pic below to check out the coffee flour website…)

Coffee Flour

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September 11th, 2014

There has been a lot of discussion about eco-friendly packaging.  Part of the challenge is making it durable enough for transport, safe enough that it won’t affect the contents, and bio-degradable or otherwise recyclable.  Kind of a tall order, isn’t it?  Plus you want any package to be reasonably attractive to catch a buyer’s eye and make them drool over your product from the outside, before they actually use it, right?

Here are some notes from various sources about the ways that packaging is becoming more ‘green’- and the why’s behind this trend.  Maybe you have some ideas of your own that you can bring to market and make a contribution in helping to cut down on landfill…links for the companies are within each article – perhaps your new career lies with one of these corporations!

“Consumers are increasingly expecting eco-friendly packaging, says SIG Combibloc, as it sets ‘ambitious targets’ to reduce its environmental impact”

EcoShield, an environmentally friendly moisture barrier paper

“Pack The Future 2014” Award goes to Promens

Cartons are most eco-friendly packaging

AstraPouch introduces 750ml soft packaging solution

Promoting Eco-friendly Physical Distribution and Packaging

The eco-container by Murata Packaging Co., Ltd.

The eco-container by Murata Packaging Co., Ltd.


And here’s an article about packaging problems you’ll want to avoid repeating…

Good product, bad package: top sustainable packaging mistakes

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