30 mar 2013

The radio silence on the blog

I've been away, 
which explains the radio silence on the Sustainable diary for the past few days.
I've been very busy with my day job and I also did a bit of travelling,

Now I'm here, ready to write.

18 mar 2013

Dabba wallas: 4,000 men and 175,000 lunches delivered. A sustainable food delivery system

Today Sustainable diary writes about the successful system of the Dabbawallas, who manage to deliver food from mothers and wives at home into the hands of their sons and husbands who are off at work. “Dabbawalla” comes from the term tiffin dabba, referring to a tiered lunch box and “walla,” a carrier or vendor.
This process, how you can see in the video, is complete sustainable.

"In India, where many traditions are being rapidly overturned as a result of globalization, the practice of eating a home-cooked meal for lunch lives on.
To achieve that in this sprawling urban amalgamation of an estimated 25 million people, where long commutes by train and bus are routine, Mumbai residents rely on an intricately organized, labor-intensive operation that puts some automated high-tech systems to shame. It manages to deliver tens of thousands of meals to workplaces all over the city with near-clockwork precision".

Dabbawallas's video is realized by The Perennial Plate, who explain: "Each day in Mumbai 4000 men in white outfits and matching hats transport 175,000 lunches across the big city. They retrieve the tiffens (lunch containers) of food from mothers and wives, and bring them (by foot, train, bicycle and even carried on top of their heads) to the office buildings of waiting husbands and sons. The Dabba wallas have been doing this since the late 1800s. Despite the unsophisticated mode of transport, the lunches always arrive on time (the error rate is 1 in every 16 million transactions). It's a pretty impressive feat and we were lucky enough to follow a couple Dabba Wallas for a day in Mumbai, and see their work first hand."

Despite the influx of food chains and eateries in Mumbai over the last decade, demand for the lunchtime service is higher than ever before, with customers from multinational corporations and hedge funds. If we thought it was too hard to have a hot, home-cooked meal for lunch each day, well, this organization proves us wrong.

More info

17 mar 2013

Sunday's tale: Bottle Masonry. Made house with recycled plastic bottles

Sunday's Tale: a post from the past
On Sustainable diary last Sunday we spoke about an amazing building made with glass bottles, and also today we decide to tell a bottle’s story.

Plastic bottle construction is an idea of Andreas Froese, an architect and environmental entrepreneur. Froese developed Eco-Tec, a method to utilize plastic (PET) bottles as “bricks” in the construction of houses, latrines, and water tanks. It is a good idea to address the problem by putting to use some of the million plastic water bottles discards each day in developing nations.

The first plastic bottle construction project in Africa was pioneered in Uganda by an organization called Butakoola Village Association forDevelopment - BUVAD. BUVAD is located in Kayunga, a district north of Kampala.
They teamed up with Eco-Tec to bring bottle construction technology to Uganda in the form of a latrine block. Students and community members at a local primary school collected and filled bottles found throughout the community and together they built a block of latrines for their school. Constructed in April 2010, BUVAD’s latrine block was the first of its kind on the continent.

Benefits of Bottle Construction
Waste management - A small house can use as many as 10,000 bottles, waste that would otherwise be deposited in a landfill or burned.
Environmental protection - Unlike “traditional” bricks, bottle bricks are not fired, a process which uses much firewood and contributes to deforestation.
Cost effective - Building with bottles is typically less expensive than building with bricks as the main construction material is trash.
Job creation – The construction process of building with bottles is work intensive. This means many can be involved in the process, creating opportunities for employment and community involvement, from collecting to filling to building. While this method would potentially be costly in more industrialized nations, where labor is expensive and materials are cheap, in countries like Uganda, materials are expensive, labor is cheap, and jobs are in demand.
Shock resistant – The plastic coating of “bottle bricks” makes them more flexible than fired bricks. Bottle construction has greater shock resistance and is well suited for earthquake prone areas.
Long lasting – It is estimated that it takes a plastic bottle approximately 300 years to decompose.

Here you can have a tutorial, and here you can find some inspirations.

More info
website Eco-Tec

Photo credit © Aminu Abubakar

16 mar 2013

Buffalo Project: on-demand mobile electricity. A simple and unique solution

In recent years mobile phone communication has been a major contributor to economic growth in developing countries but its spread has been hindered by limited charging options for the 650 million off-grid mobile phone users who have network access.
Having an operational phone means access to services that have improved banking, health and farming in Africa and Asia. Many millions of people at the bottom of the economic pyramid are expected to acquire mobile phones, greatly benefiting their lives, business activities and access to information. However, most of these new subscribers will not have direct access to electricity.

In response to the growing problem, London-based Buffalo Grid have developed a text message activated solar-powered cellphone charging station to help cut electricity costs. The technology utilizes a 60-watt photo-voltaic panel, which charges a battery that is then taken to the village on the back of a bicycle. The portable micro generator extracts power from the harvested solar energy using a technique called maximum power point tracking (MPPT) - providing on-demand mobile electricity. The system is activated when a customer sends a text message to the device. Once the message is received, an LED above a socket on the battery lights up, indicating that it is ready to charge a phone. On average, each text message allows a phone to be charged for 1.5 hours; where a fully charged 'buffalo grid' unit can last for three days, with up to 10 charging points and charge 30 to 50 phones per day.

In addition to this, Buffalo provides environmental benefits through supplying zero CO2 power which translates into increased access to safe lighting. The system can also be used to provide off-grid power for a range of uses from medical to educational applications.
It will help in bringing a considerable amount of economic growth to hundreds of rural communities around the world.

More info
facebook page

Photo credit © Buffalo Grid
Buffalo entrepreneur, Bududa village, Uganda



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