Week 8 “Tiny Houses”

Apr 14 2014 • Posted by

Hey all,

So this week has been a busy one. Wednesday I ventured to New Bedford for the Ocean Explorium “Solar Decathalon” event. The event was a showcase of a team building a unique solar home that would compete in an event overseas. It was interesting to see the team of young women from Brown University explain their home, which claimed a 90% energy efficiency and a design that promotes the use of solar for the changing seasons in France, where the competion will be held.

This inspired me a bit. We watched “The End of Suburbia at this week’s team meeting.  Since I’m studying Urban Sociology, I was already quite aware of how problematic our suburbs are, particularly in their energy consumption. I had to wonder where our motivation for a big house, big yard, and fancy cars came from. No doubt the prevalence of suburbia enforced these desires, but I can’t come to terms with them considering their impact.  I have begun looking at alternative ways to live.

I have discovered the tiny house movement, which promotes small houses that are sustainable and efficient for heat and energy use. Obviously the smaller the house, the easier it is to heat/power. Responding to the issue that suburbs present will require a re-assessment of our most basically held assumptions about a desired life, especially if we want a sustainable future. Here’s a link to an article about tiny houses


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Portable Solar Panel

Mar 24 2014 • Posted by

I wanted to share this great solar product that I just purchased, Solar Restore. It is a small portable solar panel for charging USB powered devices. It can be attached to a backpack so that you can charge your cell phone or iPod as you walk. For me, this is a great solution for campers. One thing that annoys me when I’m camping is the sound and smell of a car engine running for fifteen to thirty minutes, so that a cell phone can be charged. This portable solar panel would greatly reduce both noise and air pollution for everyone trying to enjoy the great outdoors.

Overall, this is a perfect way to reduce the use of electricity needed to charge any electronic device with a USB port. I highly recommend this solar product. It is well worth the fifteen dollars!

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King Corn – It’s looming over us

Mar 18 2014 • Posted by

Earlier this week, I saw a documentary on the corn industry in the American Midwest called King Corn. These two regular guys from Taunton, my hometwon, went off to find out more about how the corn industry works. What they found was extremely shocking. For just growing the corn, the government gives massive subsidies. You make more from the government than you do selling the corn itself. That was the first part that made me angry. The next part was the way the cows were handled and treated at the ranches. Their 80% diet of corn makes them extremely sick. Cows stomachs are not designed to digest that amount of starch, therefore giving them ulcers and open wounds that go straight into their stomachs.

Not only are the cows getting sick, they have literally no room to move around. That is by design to fatten them up as quickly as possible to get to the slaughterhouse faster. Not only does the corn make the cows sick, it is making us sick as well especially through diabetes. The amount of high fructose corn syrup that I found in my own pantry made me panic. I feel overwhelmed by it. The documentary did not leave a good taste in my mouth and I know, from now on, I will be actively avoiding high fructose corn syrup as much as possible. This documentary also strongly inspired me to keep to my “no more soda” decision. I’ll try to get as many people as I can to watch this because this is something that is not OK anymore. Not even the farmers who grow the corn want to eat it and people need to be aware of that.

Personally, however, I am comforted by the fact that the milk we get comes from Monroe Dairy in Rhode Island. If you haven’t tried their milk or other products, I highly recommend you do as soon as possible. Their cows sleep on WATERBEDS. These cows are less stressed and produce better products. If there is any hope,  it is from places like Monroe Dairy.

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Moving Forward

Mar 03 2014 • Posted by

Last week I came up with a few, personal, sustainability goals that I felt would make an immediate difference in my everyday life. If I remember correctly, they are: 1) Drink less soda 2) Buy a reusable container 3) Reduce energy usage in my own room/buy a power strip 4) Take shorter showers. So far, I think I am doing well with most of these. I bought a thermos for everyday usage and I usually make tea in it for classes. I don’t have to buy anything from the vending machines anymore which is quite nice. I know those dollars will add up eventually. It also stops me from adding to the waste of the school, even if they can be recycled. I have found that I run out of tea pretty quickly throughout the day so I started bringing more tea bags with me to stop me from drinking soda. I guess I’m killing two birds with one stone there.

I also scrounged around at home and found some power strips that apparently no one was using. Good news for me, right? I have just about all of my commonly used electronics plugged into one strip and when I remember, I make sure to shut it off before I leave for the day. I forgot a couple times because I was in a rush. I’ll have to think of something that helps me remember. Maybe I’ll leave my laptop on that side of the desk instead of near my bed because I bring my laptop with me everywhere.

The last thing is my most difficult task to modify: shorter showers. I don’t like singing in the shower so I let my phone play internet radio on its own battery. I’m still working on a solution to that.

As for this week, I’d say my goals are to figure out some sort of musically limited shower solution and try and convince my mom to become more sustainable. I’ll start small with her the same way I started. Travel mugs, eating out less, and eventually buying new light bulbs for the house. We definitely need them. Especially in a house with 4 guys who are terrible at shutting lights off.

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Taking Off the Rose-tinted Glasses

Feb 18 2014 • Posted by

I’m new here at the Challenge, but I feel that I am definitely in the right place.

Have you ever seen a movie or heard a song that, after seeing, you can’t help relate everything in the real world to? In a way, that’s how I’m currently feeling. After training and learning all about how deep our impact would be if we simply changed how we saw convenience, I’m slowly but surely starting to see new ways I can change my behavior. I’m starting to see my daily routine in terms of sustainability. Granted, I still have my habits and those are going to be difficult to change, but I think if I keep that mindset, I will slowly but surely become more sustainable as an individual. Once that happens, I can pass that on to my family. Currently, I live with five other people at home. You can imagine how difficult it can be to conserve water and how expensive it can be to go out to eat. I know it’s going to be difficult to rub off on the rest of them, but I guess the saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” is applicable here.

I have set a few personal goals for the beginning of my time here, and I’m sure the list will grow. I know I need to drink less soda. It has been something I have been working on previously, but due to its’ convenience, it has been so difficult. I think one key way to cut down is to start bringing my own bottle filled with water or tea with me in a reusable bottle. Another goal is to minimize the amount of electronics used in my room. Let’s be honest, my game station in my room is a force to be reckoned with. I have game consoles ranging generations, a TV the size of a car door, and a sound system that I know I can keep my neighbors awake with. One of the main things I know I should be doing is cutting off the power to the items I’m not currently using. I need to buy another power strip so I can plug in those specific systems that don’t get as much usage so I can switch off their power completely. Finally, on my list, is the length of showers. Who doesn’t love a good, long shower? Especially during this time of year. Well, as much as I love them, I know I need to start taking shorter ones. Personally, I think the best way I can do this is set up a playlist on my iPod and make sure the songs are shorter than a certain amount of time and try to get out before the playlist is over.

Once I’ve become more comfortable with those changes, I will definitely be adding more on the list. Personally, it will be easier for me to focus on just a few small things at a time so I can put much more effort into them instead of spreading my energy out too thin. I will be tracking my progress and, more than likely, posting it in these blogs. Thanks for tuning in.


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Your wallet

Mar 28 2013 • Posted by

Take a look at your wallet.

This is something you bring with you almost everywhere and is a great representation of yourself. Avoiding leather and cruelty towards animals, there are a lot of different fun ways you can store your money.

Option 1:

Make your own wallet, there are many steps online to re purpose some old duct tape and make yourself something useful.
Old keyboard? take the screws off and the circuit sheet inside is perfect and durable enough to hold your monetary items.

a step by step video to help you make your own one of these

If you’re not the creative type, I would highly recommend a mighty wallet. Made of Tyvek material, it is durable and waterproof. It comes in various designs, most of which don’t look like wallets at all. From maps to comic strips, there are plenty to choose from.

Check out http://www.mightywallets.com/ and find your own recycled wallet.

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Water Bottle Ban

Mar 23 2013 • Posted by

Believe it or not, there are many things you can do with your tap water besides washing your car and showering. Rumor has it that it is actually clean enough to consume.

To urge the use of drinking tap water, Concord, Massachusetts has recently placed a ban on single use plastic water bottles. With over 50 billion bottles of water being produced in America annually, this is a great start to decrease those numbers. More shockingly, the amount of oil used to produce these bottles of water is enough to power 1.3 million cars for one year.

There are plenty of opinions against this new law.  The first to point out is taste.
How many times have you heard “I don’t like the taste of tap water”?
People seem to have a preconceived notion that tap water is dirty or not good to drink, when in fact it is bottled water that has less regulation than the city or towns water department. On top of all this, blind taste tests prove that people actually prefer tap water to bottled water.

Want some Aquafina or Dasani? Turn on your faucet and there it is. These brands are purified tap water put in water bottles and sold to the public with the marketing idea that it is safer to drink. Not to mention drinking the recommended amount of water per day from the tap would cost about $0.49 per year versus $1,400 in store bought bottled water.

Stores will surely still sell bottled water, the fine is minimal at $25 for a first offense and only $50 for each offense afterwards.  But not to fret, gallons of water are still on shelves as well as cases of water bottles may be had in the event of an emergency.

Drinking bottled water is for the arrogant and uneducated.

To learn more visit


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Mar 19 2013 • Posted by

Soccket Balls by Uncharted Play can capture and store kinetic energy and then use it to power a light!  They can also include an emergency cell phone charger and an energy tracking device.  Amazing!

Soccket balls by Uncharted Play


Read the full story from Time here:

Visit Uncharted Play here:


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Solar Phone Charger!

Mar 08 2013 • Posted by

Walk into any store, classroom, restaurant or home and look around at the people you see.  I guarantee that half of them (especially the younger generation) have their eyes glued to the screen of their smartphone.  Since the iPhone was released in 2007, it has gained tremendous popularity. In 2011 alone, Apple sold 72 million iPhones.  I, myself, have had an iPhone for a few years, and I find that having the Internet in my pocket is incredibly useful.

I’m not the crazy texter type, and I much prefer to read a book than to be on a computer or a cell phone, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need to charge my phone.  I may not charge it as often as some, but it still needs to be done.  Every time I need to charge my phone, it gets plugged into a wall outlet and uses the power that my lovely coal-burning electric company has so kindly provided for me. So, when I came across this product, I immediately thought, “Waaaay Cool!”

Misemet Company has some really awesome green products, one being the Soladec Hybrid Solar Power Charger.  This really neat charger works for most USB devices, such as the iPhone or Andriod phones.  Not only does this charge your smartphone, or iPod, or whatever other nifty USB device you have, but it also has and LED light in case you’re stuck in the dark somewhere.  In addition the Lithium battery can hold its charge for up to two years, which could really come in handy in case of a power outage (oh no!) when you feel disconnected from the world.

Just in case you aren’t basking in the sun, you can still plug this charger into the wall or a USB outlet to juice it up so you can charge your devices on the go. I was just talking to a 16-year-old girl who told me she charges her phone four times a day (….what!?).  I would love to buy her this, and I think anyone that is constantly searching for an outlet to charge their things should invest.

The Soladec charger has fantastic reviews across the board.  Although I don’t personally own one (yet), others really seem to be loving it. Of the reviews on Amazon, an overwhelming majority gave this product four or five stars.  The biggest critic, who still gave the product three stars, was an engineer, who, of course, had to point out design flaws.  However, he still mentioned great functionality. He just would have made it more watertight, you know, in case you think it’s a good idea to charge this device outside on a cloudy, rainy day. (And why would you ever do that, anyway?)

The Soladec Hybrid Solar Power Charger is not sold directly from the manufacturer online, rather from other companies. The cheapest that I found this product was around $78, new on Amazon.  I think it seems like a really cool product, and I definitely think I’ll look into it.  If anyone else has tried this, let me know what you think!

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Algae Lamp! Revolutionizing Energy Production.

Feb 25 2013 • Posted by

Algae lamps have the abilityto collect more CO2 than trees.  Energy production through algae plants is being researched, and there are products like lamps being designed and developed to harness this energy. Researchers at Stanford have been studying the electrical current that algae plants produce during photosynthesis, a plants way of creating energy by converting sunlight into chemical energy.  Scientists have been developing lamps that will generate electricity from algae, and are revolutionizing the way we produce energy. So Cool!

These lamps work by collecting CO2 and sunlight, which causes the algae to undergo photosynthesis. During the photosynthesis process, the algae lamp charges a battery that will then release light. I think lamps like these will be a great way to reduce electricity consumption from dirty energy like coal, oil, and gas. The lamps even look cool, while at the same time making the air cleaner and lighting the world.



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