Sunday, August 30, 2009

Solar Energy - Can We Make a Difference?

Sun Chips thinks so. By creating their product using solar energy, they're a corporation headed in the right direction. Check out one of their commercials from YouTube:

thinks so too.

"SolarAid aims to enable the world's poorest people to have clean, renewable power. Solar power leads to better education, health, safety and income by allowing poor communities to cook, pump water, run fridges, store vaccines, light homes, schools, clinics and businesses, power computers and homes, farm more effectively, and much more.

SolarAid carries out DIY solar projects - training local communities how to build small scale solar devices such as solar powered radios and lanterns - and installs small solar systems for community centres, medical clinics, schools and other such communal infrastructure."


What do you think?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hope, Medicine & Healing Freebies

With all the controversy swirling around Healthcare reform in the U.S., I decided to post some Healthy "freebies" :

Hope, Medicine & Healing is a *FREE* book that is being offered by the Oasis of Hope Hospital in San Diego, CA. Oasis provides alternative cancer treatments designed to improve the mental, spiritual and physical quality of patients' lives.

The Federal Citizens Information Center has a vast collection of informative brochures on health topics (as well as family, food, small business, housing, etc.). The majority of the publications you can order from the site are FREE. Under Health, here's a few of the interesting topics: Antibiotic Resistance, Sports Injuries, How to Get the Best Pharmacy Benefit, and Drug Interactions. Be informed and go green by opting for the PDF version of each of their publications.

The Oregon Dairy Council has a free downloads section that includes: Fuel for Training & Competition, Weight Management, Whey Protein Info and the MyPyramid mini-poster for kids.

And, lastly : Health Profile Organizer FREE pdf download. It's a 13-pg health history form available from Health InfoSTAT. You can print out and fill in all your pertinent info onto the form, or you can opt to download their software and keep a secure copy on your computer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Alternative Stoves & Solar Ovens

An Alternative Stove Worth It's Weight in Gold:
Last Christmas I opted to support a variety of charities in lieu of buying gifts for friends and families. In the process of searching for organizations, I came across the Darfur Stove Project - a program that brought together a group of UC Berkeley engineers and the women of Darfur, who have endured not only poverty and displacement, but the constant threat of rape every time they leave a camp to gather wood for cooking.
Check out the project story, donate if you can, and please pass it on to others.

The Berkeley Darfur Stove® is four times more efficient than traditional 3-stone fires and two times more efficient than clay stoves. The efficiency and design of the stove has many benefits including:

  • less time outside of the camps collecting fuel wood, reducing the risk of exposure to rape.
  • fully enclosed flames reducing the danger of the dense straw and stick shelters from burning down.
  • reduction of smoke production compared to other stoves, reducing smoke inhalation and lung disease.
  • saving time by cutting down fuel wood treks, allowing women to pursue income generating opportunities.

The website also has instructions for building your own Berkeley Darfur stove. What a great project this would be for a science class, a scouting adventure, or even a family project for your next camping trip.

Eco-friendly Solar Ovens

Solar Cookers or Sun Ovens harness the energy of the sun to bake, boil and steam a wide variety of foods. They're eco-friendly, relatively portable (depending on size), and uses a free fuel source. Even if you're not ready to cook full-time on a solar oven, it's a worthy investment for part-time use.

There are a variety of types of solar cookers: over 65 major designs and hundreds of variations of them. The basic principles of all solar cookers are:

  • Concentrating sunlight: Some device, usually a mirror or some type of reflective metal, is used to concentrate light and heat from the sun into a small cooking area, making the energy more concentrated and therefore more potent.
  • Converting light to heat: Any black on the inside of a solar cooker, as well as certain materials for pots, will improve the effectiveness of turning light into heat. A black pan will absorb almost all of the sun's light and turn it into heat, substantially improving the effectiveness of the cooker. Also, the better a pan conducts heat, the faster the oven will work.
  • Trapping heat: Isolating the air inside the cooker from the air outside the cooker makes an important difference. Using a clear solid, like a plastic bag or a glass cover, will allow light to enter, but once the light is absorbed and converted to heat, a plastic bag or glass cover will trap the heat inside. This makes it possible to reach similar temperatures on cold and windy days as on hot days.

Alone, each of these strategies for heating something with the sun is fairly ineffective, but most solar cookers use two or all three of these strategies in combination to get temperatures sufficient for cooking. -- Source:

Prices for solar ovens can vary from $40 to a small model for camping or fishing, to more than $350 for a large model designed for use as a primary stove. Solar Cookers International has a great "Solar Cooking Archive Wiki with lots of information and recent news. The wiki covers a variety of topics from the basics of solar cooking to water pasteurization and global usage.