Upcycling A Pizza Box.

The Buzzfeed article states differently but I’m pretty sure these upcycled pizza box ideas assume you don’t have the cheese-grease stain that kept you from recycling the pizza box in the first place.

Pizza box cat bed

Pizza box cat bed (click on the image for instructions)

Pizza box solar-powered s'mores oven.

Pizza box solar-powered s'mores oven. (click on image for instructions)

Pizza box birds nest.

Pizza box birds nest. (click on the image for instructions)

Upcycled pizza box Battleship game.

Upcycled pizza box Battleship game. (click on the image for instructions)

What can you do with a cheese-grease stained pizza box? Rip-off and recycle the unstained lid and then save the lower cheese-greased section as a fire starter. Additional upcycled pizza box ideas are posted on Buzzfeed.


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Solarclave Sterilizes Medical Equipment In Remote Areas Using Sunlight.

Solarclave from MIT's Little Devices groupIn hospitals, an autoclave is an electric-powered device that is used to sterilize medical equipment and supplies. The Solarclave, designed by MIT’s Little Devices group, is an autoclave that is solar-powered and can be used cheaply and repaired easily by remote clinics in developing countries. Here’s a description of the Solarclave from the Little Devices group:

“With a bucket, a pressure cooker, and 140 pocket-sized mirrors, IIH researchers have invented a device that uses sunshine to sterilize surgical tools. Solarclave provides reliable surgical sterilization for rural clinics outside of the grid – enabling healthcare workers to provide basic, life-saving services for patients.”

And here’s how it works (SmartPlanet):

“Under a clear sky, the system takes 45 to 60 minutes to heat up to a sterilizing temperature (250 degrees Fahrenheit) and then 20 minutes to carry out the sterilization cycle.”

The final design of the Solarclave was modified based on feedback from rural users in Nicaragua. [SmartPlanet]

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Republican Mayor Of Lancaster CA Wants To Require Solar Panels On Every New Home.

Solar Lancaster
Mayor of Lancaster California R. Rex ParrisWhat the what – Republican Mayor wants solar panels on every new home? It’s true. R. Rex Parris, the Mayor of Lancaster California, wants to institute a new requirement that all new homes built after January 1, 2014 must include solar panels. From Greentech:

“The purpose of the solar energy system standards is to encourage investment in solar energy on all parcels in the city, while providing guidelines for the installation of those systems that are consistent with the architectural and building standards of the City. It is further intended to provide standards and procedures for builders of new homes to install solar energy systems in an effort to achieve greater usage of alternative energy.”

Those damn treehugging Republicans! Why can’t they stay out of renewable energy and stick to advocating fossil fuels so it’s easier to paint them as the enemy? I think this quote from Mayor Parris answers that question:

“[Mayor Parris noted that Lancaster is] one of the most conservative Republican districts in the country. But Republicans are smart,” he said. “When you show them a solution, they will take it.”

So it’s smart to move to solar; it doesn’t have to be green. [Greentech]

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Clotheslines Season Is Around The Corner. Check Out The Clotheslines Of 1930’s New York.

Clotheslines on laundry day in 1930's New YorkBuzzfeed posted “Monday, Laundry Day, New York City” and it was a nice reminder that clothesline season is almost here. My indoor clothesline has been working overtime this winter. I wash and hang a load on plastic coat hangers in the morning and then repeat the wash and hang process one more time in the evening.

Clotheslines on laundry day in 1930's New York

If you’re chomping at the bit and can’t wait for clothesline season, hang-dry your clothes indoors by purchasing an adjustable closet rod and a pair of wall brackets to hang your laundry over your washer/dryer. Your bathroom shower rod will work too.

Clotheslines on laundry day in 1930's New York

If you’re an anxious planner and can’t wait to get your outdoor clothesline set up, you can invest in an outdoor umbrella clothesline or get real old school and tie a rope/phone cord between to posts/trees.

Clotheslines on laundry day in 1930's New York

From my experience, wooden clothespins work the best on outdoor clothesline. Plastic clothespins become brittle from the temperature change of daytime heat and cool evenings.

Clotheslines on laundry day in 1930's New York

Good luck with clothesline season. Remember: clotheslines are the easy-to-install, affordable solar panel system. [Buzzfeed]

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Solar Impulse Solar-Powered Airplane Is In America – Wants To Fly Across It. World, You’re Next!

Solar Impulse in flight.The 100% solar-powered Solar Impulse airplane arrived in the US on February 21 and is in the process of being reassembled for its transcontinental solar flight from San Francisco to Washington DC with a final leg to New York. Its powered by four 10 horsepower electric engines and has a cruising speed of 50 mph.

Led by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the Solar Impulse will not be the first plane to cross the US powered by solar – that feat was first accomplished in 1990 by Eric Raymond’s Sunseeker solar power airplane. Mr. Raymond’s transcontinental trip required 21 separate flights over 121 hours to cross the country. The Solar Impulse’s transcontinental trips will be broken down into 20 hour flights with stops along the way to raise awareness about solar power.

Below is a video of the Solar Impulse being disassembled and shipped to San Francisco. [Wired]


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Lessons Learned From Eco-Cities In China.

Tianjin Eco-City Tianjin Eco-City - Solar panels in front of building.Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a do-over? China has been looking to redo by re-thinking their future cities and developing eco-cities like Tianjin Eco-city. When it’s complete some time after 2020, Tianjin Eco-city will be home to 350,000 residents where 90% of in-city travel can be accomplished by foot, bike or public transportation. Green buildings will be the norm and renewable power will supply 15% of the eco-city’s electricity needs. What’s the motivation? From the NY Times:

“Today, facing challenges like runaway urbanization, soaring energy consumption and environmental degradation, China is hoping to establish a different set of paragons. With its cities expected to swell by another 350 million residents in the next 25 years, according to World Bank estimates, the government is scurrying to find sustainable urban solutions. To that end, it hopes to have 100 model cities, 200 model counties, 1,000 model districts and 10,000 model towns by 2015.”

One interesting fact about the Tianjin Eco-city project is that when construction started in 2008, EV charging stations where never included in the plans. Maybe a good lesson that can be learned from China’s experience is to build future eco-cities that are simple and flexible. They didn’t plan for electric vehicles and now, just like every non eco-city, they have to update their infrastructure to account for them.

Check out the NYT article for more information on the goals and challenges of building an eco-city. [NY Times]

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