Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
April 17th, 2015

With the almost continual reliance on staying connected nowadays, a dead cell phone battery can be a catastrophic event in one’s daily life.  Remembering to charge that device to keep it functioning has been added to the list of daily items on almost everyone’s “to-do” list.  Now there’s a possible solution to that dilemma…

Tejas Shastry’s busy creating AMPY, a device he and fellow Northwestern Ph.D. students Alex Smith and Mike Geier invented in class. They say it’s a cure for the dead cell phone, turning energy from a person’s physical movement, called kinetic energy, into battery power.

Smith said. “The secret for AMPY really came from taking somewhat existing technology and shrinking it into a form factor that can fit right here in your pocket.”


Read about this invention, profiled by CBS News, here:

Run, walk, bike your way


to a full charge


Not only is this concept a great way to relieve your brain of having to remember to add charging your cell phone into your everyday routine, it’s got the added benefit of stimulating your physical activity to new heights.  The payoff isn’t just being fit and toned, but having a working phone to brag about your exercise accomplishments, as well!  And you’re being ‘green’ by not consuming electricity to recharge your phone!

If you’re interested in this gadget, the unit – along with various accessories – can be pre-ordered on their site:  AMPY cell phone charger logo    Estimated ship date: July 2015, base pricing cost ~$100 USD



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In an effort to promote sustainable development the Kingdom of Jordan has announced that all of their mosques will soon run on solar energy.  Jordan currently imports 96% of the energy they use.  Since around 300 of Jordan’s days are sunny, solar power is one great solution to their energy constraints.  The photovoltaic solar systems for power generation project will start by covering 120 mosques and installation will continue at other mosques across the country.

blog JordanThe country’s mosques are expected to see huge savings and even solar revenues from the project.  Check out more detail about this expansive solar project here.



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In the early days of water travel, the wind was the source of the energy used to power a large vessel (unless it was being rowed – backbreaking work, if you’ve never tried it!).  As times have changed, and technology has advanced, we’ve seen steam, fossil fuels and nuclear energy used to power ships across vast expanses of water.  It seems that we’re almost taking a step back in time to move forward now…

“The E-ship 1 system represents an annual fuel saving of 25% and avoids the emission of 5.000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, and at the same time does not need a constant or complicated maintenance system.”


Read the full article about the E-1′s oceanic voyage:

First wind-powered vessel expected

in Montevideo with turbines for eolian farm


Owned by German company, Enercon, the vessel is docked in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay.  The ship was designed specifically for the transport of wind turbine materials and uses wind technology itself for propulsion.

E-1 Enercon ship

Photo credit:

Quite a wonderful accomplishment, don’t you think?  Using a technology to share that technology with others…does it give you some ideas along the same lines?

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Biodiversity funding is needed in all corners of the world as projects are undertaken to improve our planet.  The European Commission has made a wonderful announcement for the forward progress of environmental projects within the Falkland Islands.  BEST 2.0 (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in European Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories) recognizes a need for support of projects on the ground.

The European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (EuropeAid) has two calls for proposals organized in the coming two years, with a total budget of over €6 million for this initiative.  The South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI) is the coordinator for the South Atlantic Hub, which includes Ascension Island, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and South Sandwich Isles.  Read more detail here:

Falkland Islands included in European

funds for environmental projects

SAERI logo SAERI is an academic organisation conducting research in the South Atlantic from the tropics down to the ice in Antarctica. It aims to conduct world class research, teach students, and build capacity within and between the South Atlantic Overseas Territories.Visit the SAERI website www. for further information.


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April 6th, 2015

I’m talking about textiles from banana, coconut and pineapple.  Just the latest in sustainable fashion.  As many people know, cotton makes up about a 3rd of the fiber consumption worldwide.  Traditionally, cotton has a been a very unsustainable crop.

Around a billion tons of banana plant stems are wasted each year.  In 2012, the Philippine Textile Research Institute stated that banana plantations in the Philippines alone can generate over 300,000 tons of fiber.

Eco-textile company Offset Warehouse has identified the banana’s potential in fabric production.  They claim that producing the fabric is nearly carbon neutral and its soft texture has been likened to hemp and bamboo making it perfect for jackets, skirts and trousers.

Outdoor clothing companies Tog 24 and North Face are two brands adopting cocona – a textile operating under the name 37.5 Technology that is produced from a combination of coconut shells and volcanic materials – and becoming less reliant on synthetic materials as a result.

Pineapple leaves as a sustainable alternative to leather has been developed by Ananas Anam, producing Piñatex as an alternative to leather and petroleum-based textiles.  The industrial process used to create Piñatex produces biomass, which can be converted into a fertilizer that farmers can spread into their soil to grow the next pineapple harvest.  The material, which has a similar appearance to canvas, is also biodegradable.

blog pineapple

Felt-like fiber Piñatex can be made into shoes, bags, chairs and even car upholstery.

I don’t know about you, but these pineapple leave products look pretty stylish!  Would you be a convert?


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