Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Sweet Upcycled Bottle Garden

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Treehugger has a nice piece detailing an innovative and cost-effective way to maximize growing space: build a vertical bottle garden. All you need is a pile of plastic PET bottles, a roll of twine, cutting implements, and some time.

If you were so inclined, you could modify the design to include a drip irrigation system using rubber tubes or some other kind of pipe. This way you would be maximizing both the use of space and the use of water.

Amazing, right? Another fine example of how great solutions to pressing problems are already here, it’s more a matter a spreading the know-how.

I find these stories of low-cost innovation so inspiring. And lucky for me, more uplifting tales of human ingenuity will continue to arrive faster than ever before.

What a great time to be alive!

A Liter of Light

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

A simple innovation – plastic bottles filled with chlorinated water – has been shedding light some of Earth’s poorest people.

Securely placed into a hole in the roof, Liters of Light can mimic a 50 watt bulb during the day time for the majority of the year, helping illuminate homes where electricity is not affordable.

Much like the SODIS water purification technique, or the MoneyMakerPlus manual irrigation pump,  the Liters of Light project exemplifies how effectively low cost innovations can dramatically improve quality of life.

Everyday in the struggle to eradicate extreme poverty, breakthroughs are being made and simple solutions are being found.

Within a decade or two, we’ll find that humankind’s rising tide has lifted all of earth’s ships, making it so every single human has access to at least the very basic necessities.

And with every step we take towards this admiral and ambitious goal, we also move closer to cementing a lasting peace around the planet.

Neat Innovation: Virtual Grocery Store

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

When grocery chain Tesco wanted to expand their market share in South Korea, they came up with a brilliant idea: put a virtual store in the subway so busy consumers can buy stuff with their cell phones while they wait for the train.

Now, instead of relying on a brick-and-mortar storefront, businesses can just put life-size pictures of their wares in high-traffic public spaces. Sure, it doesn’t solve issues like rampant consumerism, wasteful food transport practices, or obesity, but it’s an interesting innovation nevertheless.

Crowdsourcing the Gates-Buffett Pledged Money

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

The Giving Pledge, led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, is a campaign that encourages the world’s mutli-millionaires and billionaires to commit the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Crowdsourcing leverages the power of large groups to perform tasks traditionally performed by a few individuals. Successful examples of crowdsourcing include the Netflix Prize, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, and generating solutions to the Millennium Prize Problems.

Crowdvoting, when applied to a contest or competition, lets the public choose the winning candidates rather than having the outcomes being dictated by small, closed groups. Social media sites that allow liking, upvoting, and ratings are good examples of crowdvoting in action. As well, most of today’s televised talent shows rely on the audience to pick which contestants move on to the next round and ultimately win.

Now imagine if we combined the power of crowds with the wealth of the world’s financial elite. We’d end up with something similar to Kickstarter, only instead of funding creative endeavors, we’d have a process to find practical solutions for humanitarian causes.

Yes, this is what we our world needs: a social funding platform, backed by billions of donated dollars, that lets the public decide which projects are most worthy of receiving financial support. Boom! Just like that, doors and opportunities would open, generating huge strides towards a more just global civilization.

Not to worry, billionaires. Leaving such big decisions up to the unwashed masses has already been tried before. In 2008, for example, Google launched the 10^100 project, putting up $10 million to be distributed amongst publicly vetted, user-submitted proposals. Along these same lines, Pepsi has renewed their Refresh project into 2011, divvying up millions to fund great ideas every month.

An endeavor such as this could easily be spearheaded by one single wealthy individual willing to contribute a relatively small chunk of change, say $50 million. Then, as this trial run of democratic philanthropy proves to be a huge success, the process could be scaled up into the billions.

So there you have it… a breakthrough social innovation for the world’s wealthiest humans to embrace: letting everyone decide the best ways to help heal the world.