Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Retail

This story featured in Smithsonian almost brought actual tears to my eyes.  While a chocolate flavor crisis is not at the top of most peoples’ minds, my love of that particular food-stuff is unquenchable. Sooo – I thought I’d share this article, as well as links to some of the organizations that are working to keep chocolate chocolatey.

We’ve done a LOT of tinkering with food – chemicals, cloning, grain-free, organic, gluten-free, etc., etc.  Undeniably, food shortages remain a CONSTANT source of concern world-wide.  “Waste not, want not” are words to live by – but, if foods become “Taste not”, will that lead to ‘want not’, too? That’s the concern of food manufacturers…

What cookery wizardry can you add to the recipe?  If you can bring out some new technology that’s safe for the Earth and helps save the flavor of foods, you’re sure to be popular!

How to Save the Chocolate Tree

Without Sacrificing Flavor

 

Choco splash

Check out these programs dedicated to being “flavor savers”

Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative—a partnership between the FCIA and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

Wilbert Phillips-Mora is head of the Cacao Genetic Improvement Program at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Costa Rica.

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March 20th, 2015
11:31
 

Have you ever pondered how much waste is generated when we do our grocery shopping?  From the large plastic bags at the checkout counter (which you’ve likely replaced with a reusable alternative) to the plastic produce bags, plastic containers for bulk items, and plastic packaging for all of the processed and portion snacks we love.

Not only are we perpetuating the plastic waste, but we typically only have a choice to buy food in bulk.  For example, say you want to make a recipe for savory chicken with thyme.  Your choice is to buy a plastic container of thyme or a VERY large bunch of it – enough to make the chicken recipe for a banquet party (which goes bad before you can come up with enough recipes to use it up!).

Not only does 23% of food waste end up in our landfills, but a high percentage end up in our oceans threatening marine life.  Consumer’s packaging may be used only once, but it truly lives for ever, polluting our environment.

We need more choices when grocery shopping so we can make a difference in our destiny.

blog package free

The zero waste grocery store trend is only just starting in the U.S.; so far there is only one completely waste free store in the U.S., In.Gredients in Austin, Texas.

East Berlin introduced the no package store when Original Unverpackt opened.

It may take a cultural change for some to get over their germaphobia, but in the long run, it will greatly impact our future for the better.   Together, we can turn this tide against food waste.

Would you shop at a supermarket without packaging?

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March 11th, 2015
6:37
 

Bionics used to be the stuff of fantasy and featured grandly on several U.S. television series.  In the world of everyday life, there are a good number of individuals who, for reasons of birth defect, disease or as the result of a (usually) shocking accident do not enjoy  ‘freedom’ of motion and sensory perception.  Until now, prosthetic replacements for amputated limbs have been limited to those with superlative insurance to cover the cost of these devices.  We hope that is about to change…

A company in Argentina – Bioparx Health Technology – has developed a state-of-the-art bionic arm for less than half of what the others cost.   Read about their technology here:  Smart Prosthetics

Bionic hand

Photo credit: bioparx site

And pay a visit to the bioparx company site to see if there’s a place for you to contribute (or be inspired to envision the next generation of their products…).  The site is in Spanish, so if you’re bilingual, this may be a great fit for you!  BIOPARX.COM 

You may also want to pay a visit to Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden where they, too, are working on bionic technologies.

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This article appeared in the Wall Street Journal…  If you don’t have a sibling, maybe Pepper could fill the void for you, too?  Bet he won’t eat the last of your favorite snack like a human little brother!

SoftBank Unveils Pricing

 

for Humanoid Robot Pepper

 

By Eric Pfanner

A man poses as SoftBank’s humanoid robot Pepper takes a picture.
Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

 

SoftBank says it will sell its new humanoid robot, Pepper, at less than the cost of production, but it will charge hefty monthly fees for the pleasure of its company.

The Japanese telecommunications giant plans to offer 300 of the ‘bots to developers, starting this Friday, at an upfront price of ¥198,000 (about $1,660). Monthly fees, however, will range up to ¥24,600 for a three-year contract.

SoftBank, which owns Sprint Corp. and a mobile network in Japan, recently delayed consumer sales of Pepper until the summer, but it plans to offer 300 of the robots to application developers in the meantime.

As of Friday, developers will be able to place orders for the first sizable production run; an undisclosed number of Peppers were previously shipped to encourage developers to create smartphone-style apps for the robots.

The monthly costs comprise a basic service fee of ¥14,800, which will offer cloud artificial intelligence capabilities, using SoftBank’s mobile network. That way, the robots—and app developers—can learn from each other by gathering data on what their owners do with them. SoftBank says about 100 apps will be available as of Friday.

SoftBank will also offer an “insurance plan,” at ¥9,800 a month, providing support and preferential pricing on repairs.

The company envisions Pepper as a companion for the elderly, a teacher of schoolchildren and an assistant in retail shops, among other uses. It is one of a number of robotics projects that are aimed at dealing with labor shortages as Japan’s population ages.

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March 7th, 2015
6:24
 

There are negative effects which occur in the body – and they have been well documented by the medical community – about standing too much or, conversely, sitting too much.  Muscles and bones alike show deterioration from either extreme.

This ‘quirky-looking’ invention may provide some relief…  Zurich-based startup Noonee has developed the Chairless Chair®, a wearable armature that provides workers with a place to perch—no matter where they are.  The Chairless Chair® consists of a thin aluminum armature attached to the user’s shoes and waist.

Take a look at the article from Smithsonian and watch the video about “The Chairolution®” here:

The Chairless Chair® 

 

Noonee chairless chair

 

What advances will you envision (& bring to market!) that will have a positive impact for workers in factories, offices, academic settings or anywhere that people have to spend their days to earn their wages?

 

 

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