One of the major consequences of industrial agriculture is the steady flight of rural populations to urban centers. Economists have widely encouraged this mass movement of people as a sign of a developing economies "specializing."
We are seeing this trend in all majors cities in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Young men and women leave their villages and move to the city in search of better wages and lifestyle. Unfortunately, the promise of a better livelihood often fails to materialize. Villagers are forced to live permanently in tent cities that are scattered across the city with little or no access to water or electricity. Meals are generally cooked inside the tent using open fires that cause respiratory problems for women and children.
Bangalore is no exception to the effects of a globalized economy, but there is an organization working hard to make life in the tent communities a little brighter: Pollinate Energy.
Pollinate Energy is a social enterprise working with Bangalore's migrant "tent city" communities selling small, efficient solar panels (10x20 cm) that power LED room lamps that can also charge mobile phones.
The lamp has three settings: the brightest setting can provide eight hours of light, the second brightest provides energy for 16 hours and the third setting provides light for 24 hours. The lamp itself costs 1,600 rupees ($24 USD) with options available to customers to pay in weekly installments. Along with the solar lamps, the Pollinate Energy team has plans to carry a line of highly-efficient cook stoves. These cook stoves are indeed attractive in that they emit far less pollution than a conventional wood oven, reducing respiratory health risks for the occupants of the home. Additionally, they require less wood fuel but don’t diminish the wood fire “taste,” a fact that Pollinate Energy has found very important for the women of the household.
Substituting solar energy for kerosene has an immense environmental benefits as well as being a financial boon to their customers. They have found that out of the 6,882 people they have served, they have sold 1,496 solar lamps saving 25,512 liters of kerosene preventing 61,129 kg of carbon emissions from going into the atmosphere. Kerosene is also expensive. Pollinate Energy has saved their solar lamp users approximately 1,326,631 rupees ($19,855 USD).
The founders of Pollinate Energy share a deep commitment to bettering the lives of others. They sincerely hope this social enterprise will distinguish itself from nonprofit, donation-based organizations by using tools of the market to build more resilient livelihoods. Ben, Monique, Emma, Kat and Jamie are close friends from university and earlier. They started developing their business model in 2011 and officially launched Pollinate Energy in 2012.
The organization of each pollinator team is split into three diverse and distinct groups, each with its own responsibilities. There are two fellows, one intern and one pollinator in each group. Fellows are selected from a pool of young applicants, mainly from Australia and eager to gain hands-on experience in sustainable development. The interns are selected from a pool of Indian and Nepalese university students.
The pollinator applicants are young, high-school educated individuals from local area paid on a commission per sale of a solar lamp. The fellows and interns assist the pollinators with their sales, accounting, and research for new tent communities. In the morning, the group works hard to scour Google Earth satellite images for the telltale blue tarp roofs of the tent homes.
They then plot the coordinates into their smart phones and make plans to visit that specific community later that afternoon, when most workers have returned home. Finding the communities that can benefit from Pollinate products and reaching the location in Bangalore's thick traffic seems to remain one of the main challenges.
As with any beginning organization, funding and access to talented individuals continue to challenge the group. They are continuing their ambitious plan to serve the entire Bangalore area by 2013 and hope to introduce pollinating teams in Chennai and Hyderabad in early 2014.
“We hope,” Mon says, “to make this enterprise as self sufficient and independent as possible to cut down administrative oversight. We want to see it spread as quickly as possible.”
I had the pleasure to accompany a pollinator team one afternoon and see tent communities that are popping up around the Bangalore urban area. As we navigated our way to our destination, I learned more about the team's experiences. It seems there was a general consensus in the van that the most rewarding part of work is the feeling that they are improving lives.
Sheetal, an intern studying engineering, told of how a 10-year-old girl pleaded with her parents for a lamp to help her studies. The next week, the parents thanked the group personally, saying that the little girl finishes homework every night without the constraint of night time.
“It was really cool to see that,” Sheetal said as she stared out the window, reminiscing, “I'll probably remember that for the rest of my life.”
As economic migrants flow into India's already bloated cities, utilities are strained. In July 2012, the largest blackout occurred in the history of the world. More than 100 million people were without power for nearly four days. Pollinate Energy hopes to relieve this drain by providing a means to electric resiliency, albeit modest.
The amount of carbon emissions saved by providing a safe alternative to burning kerosene is not insignificant. The financial and lifestyle benefits to the families should not be overlooked.
Visit EcoWatch’s PRODUCTS page for more related news on this topic
Around 50,000 farmed salmon swam free on Monday after a fire melted part of their enclosure off the coast of Tasmania.
- Thousands of Farmed Salmon Escape Into the Wild - EcoWatch ›
- Hard Evidence Shows Farmed Salmon Is Destroying Wild Salmon ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Steve Trent
Joe Biden's election is a huge positive in a year that has been extremely difficult across the globe. I speak for a vast number of people who watched anxiously from outside the United States when I heartily thank those who mobilized, campaigned and voted to make it happen. Your hard work affects us all.
But we're not at the end of the line. Far from it.
- Biden's Reported 'Middle Ground' Climate Policy Doesn't Go Far ... ›
- Biden Defeats Trump, Promises Sea Change on Climate and ... ›
- Does Biden's Climate Plan Make Sense? - EcoWatch ›
In a dramatic rescue captured on camera, a Florida man ran into a pond and pried open an alligator's mouth in order to rescue his beloved puppy, all without dropping his cigar.
- 'He had green eyes': Florida man will paint alligator that attacked him ›
- Florida alligator attack: A woman was attacked by a 10-foot alligator ... ›
- Weird presidential pets include alligator, tiger cub, dog named Satan ... ›
- Alligators make terrible pets: 'You're basically dealing with a dinosaur.' ›
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
- Coronavirus Plastic Waste Polluting the Environment - EcoWatch ›
- Scuba Divers Make Face Masks out of Recycled Ocean Plastic ... ›
By Bret Wilkins
In a year in which the United States has already suffered 16 climate-driven extreme weather events causing more than $1 billion in economic damages, and as millions of American workers face loss of essential unemployment benefits due to congressional inaction, a report published Monday reveals the Trump administration has given fossil fuel companies as much as $15.2 billion in direct relief — and tens of billions more indirectly — through federal COVID-19 recovery programs since March.
- 'We Need People's Bailout, Not Polluters' Bailout': Climate Groups ... ›
- Corporate Polluters Have Received Tens of Millions in PPP Loans ... ›
- Trump Bails Out Oil Industry, Not U.S. Families, as Coronavirus ... ›
- Former Federal Reserve Governor Rebukes Fed for Fossil Fuel Bail ... ›