Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
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Lots of us make sacrifices for the environment, but few of us would consider supporting the cause by moving into a dumpster. Dr. Jeff Wilson of Huston-Tillotson University, however, is doing just that. Working with his students and the community, he has transformed an old dumpster and is living in it for a year.

The aim of the Dumpster Project is to investigate sustainable living practices in recognition of a world with an increasing population but decreasing space and resources to go around. The dumpster itself is 33 sq ft (3 sq m).

Additions to the basic dumpster have included solar panels to generate electricity, a high-efficiency toilet, a false floor to provide storage, a weather station, air conditioning, a pitched roof, locks and a mailbox. The dumpster pockets have been sealed so that the dumpster cannot be mistaken for and serviced as a standard trash receptacle.

See where Dr. Jeff Wilson is his year-long journey:

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Dr. Wilson is making quite a sacrifice in the hope of getting more people to think about reducing our impact on our planet.  Could you live (for even a short time) in a dumpster?

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October 10th, 2014
11:48
 

I’ve sometimes pondered the effects of our wasteful practices in relation to what is discarded and ends up in our vast oceans and seas.   But I was more than a little surprised to see data that describes the decomposition rates of the contents of our debris soup, in other words, what resides in our oceans.

blog ocean soup

Our economical mindset to date has been that of take-make-dispose.  And we are learning that there is not an infinite supply of resources.

In the circular economy business model, the goal for durable components, such as metals and most plastics is to reuse or upgrade them for other productive applications through as many cycles as possible. This approach contrasts sharply with the linear mindset embedded in most of today’s industrial operations.

While I am a big proponent of reusing materials, after learning about this new path to sustainability, I have been further inspired to make bigger strides in this regard.  Do you feel inspired?

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October 1st, 2014
8:29
 

With a new illness dominating the headlines seemingly on a daily basis, health care has taken a prominent position in the minds of the global community.  Here’s an organization you may wish to consider adding to your list of ‘where will I go after school?’ and ‘what contributions can I make that will be valuable to the sustainability of our planet?’

Health Care Without Harm

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is an international coalition of more than 500 members in 53 countries that works to transform the health care sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it becomes ecologically sustainable and a leading advocate for environmental health and justice.

Programs include: Medical Waste, Toxic Materials, Safer Chemicals, Green Building and Energy, Healthy Food, Pharmaceuticals, Green Purchasing, Climate and Health, Transportation, Water.

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September 30th, 2014
17:56
 

January 2015 seems like it’s a long way away, doesn’t it?

It feels like there are weeks and weeks to go before we have to pack up our flying gear and head down to Belize to start aerially surveying the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. But before we know it, it will be January. It’ll be time to escape frigid western Massachusetts and kick our research into gear – and for that, we’ve already begun preparations.

Though surveys of the soft coral have been performed in the past, we’re hoping to obtain high-resolution imagery using UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the training required to safely fly a UAV is far less than that for complete pilot licensure. Also decreased are the costs associated with equipment and fuel requirements for a UAV in comparison to a full-size, manned vehicle. Finally, the quality – and quantity – of imagery obtainable with a personally controlled, low-flying aerial device is vastly increased due to the lower altitudes and number of passes that can be made by the vehicle.

The potential applications for low-altitude aerial imaging technology in geological and biological survey work are numerous, this particular job being just one example where an eye-in-the-sky really does provide a much-needed overview of the habitat just off the coast of Belize.

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September 27th, 2014
9:39
 

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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