From Waste to Warmth By Jane Morse mericans love their fried food. Every year notably winning a 2009 President’s Environmental Youth in the United States, billions of gallons of Award. Since 1971, this award has recognized young cooking oil are used to fry favorite dishes. Americans for protecting the nation’s air, water and land. The result is billions of gallons of dif- One of TGIF’s founders, 13-year-old Cassandra Lin, ficult-to-discard grease is left behind. has been recognized by the United Nations Environ- Many restaurants pay private compa- ment Programme (UNEP) for her environmental ac- nies to dispose of their discarded oil, but a pioneering tivism. She will be among 1,400 youth delegates at the group of teenagers in Rhode Island has come up with a 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable De- way to use that grease in a positive way. velopment in Rio de Janeiro. Lin is particularly proud In 2008, five middle-school students from Westerly, that her project helps both people and the environ- Rhode Island, launched Project TGIF (Turning Grease ment. “I want to make an impact,” Lin told UNEP. “It into Fuel). They found a way to convert discarded cook- doesn’t matter how big or small you are, anyone can ing oil into fuel, which they then donate to heat needy make a difference!” n families’ homes. The students worked with Westerly’s Jane Morse is a staff writer with the U.S. State Depart- town council to provide collection containers. Now ment’s Bureau of International Infor- local restaurants and residents are able to donate their mation Programs. cooking oil for recycling. One of TGIF’s partners is called Grease Co. It picks up Facing page: Waste not, want not: (Left to right) Mark Walker, the cooking oil from the collection containers and de- Miles Temel, Vanessa Bertsch, livers it to biodiesel refineries. There, it is recycled into Marissa Chiaradio, Taylor Fiore- fuel. The fuel is then distributed to charitable agencies Chettiar and Cassandra Lin help and families needing heating assistance. convert used cooking oil into energy. Right: Now To date, Project TGIF has produced more than 30,000 accepting offers! (Left gallons (113,562 liters) of biodiesel a year — worth ap- to right) Cassandra Lin, Vanessa Bertsch, proximately $60,000 — and offset the release of nearly Taylor Fiore-Chettiar, 600,000 pounds (272,155 kilograms) of carbon dioxide John Perino and Miles into the atmosphere. The students have donated more Temel set up recycling than 14,000 gallons (53,000 liters) of recycled oil to lo- drums at a local festi- cal charities and helped 144 families with emergency val for food vendors to recycle used oil. heating assistance. The Turning Grease into Fuel project has won recog- nition on both state and national levels — most Photos courte Watch the TGIF team explain how their project works! http://goo.gl/82XtG sy of Westerly Innovation Ne twork Return to eJournal USA 9Table of Contents
Sharing a Ride Reduces Traffic and Pollution By Jane Morse Palacios and team members, Anibal Abarca, Alberto Padilla, Federico Alatriste and Ignacio Cordero, first met to discuss their ideas for a ride-sharing project in August 2010. By January 2011, they “L were serving their first clients. ess traffic, lower The ride-sharing service has provenCourtesy of Aventones/Margarida Luz emissions, better cities” — that’s the to be very popular in cities such as mantra of Aventones Mexico City. Drivers there spend an (“Rides”). Aventones average of two hours a day in their is an online ride-shar- cars. Aventones has already begun ing company based in Mexico. offering their services in Chile and hopes to expand to busy cities Aventones was founded by five young Mexi- across Latin America. can entrepreneurs to encourage “carpooling” in their city. The organization provides an Aventones founders have won sev- online service that links commuters who eral awards for their innovative and need transportation with individuals who environmentally friendly business. can provide it. Members register by cre- Their awards include a 2011 e-busi- ating a profile in the company’s network, ness award from the Talent and In- where they offer or request shared trans- novation Competition of the Ameri- portation. Online software matches com- cas and a 2011 “Go Green!” World patible commuters and suggests where Summit Youth Award. n they should meet. Jane Morse is a staff writer with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of In- Aventones’ founders — all between the ternational Information Programs. ages of 25 and 30 — wanted to launch a business that would raise environ- Top: Can we get a ride? Young en- mental awareness. They also wanted to trepreneurs, Cristina Palacios and improve the quality of life in Mexico. Ignacio Cordero, encourage Mexican commuters to share “I always had the desire to do some- rides and save the envi- thing to improve my country,” said ronment with their com- Cristina Palacios, one the company’s pany Aventones. founders. “That is why Aventones was born.” Visit the Aventones web- site for more information! http://goo.gl/BWuRV eJournal USA 10 Return to Table of Contents
Indonesia’s Sahabat Alam, Protecting the Earth By Lauren Monsen deline Tiffanie Suwana of Sahabat Alam planted coral reefs held in 2011 in understands the im- to replace the damaged reefs sur- Indonesia. At portance of environ- rounding the island. The group the conference, mental protection has also helped with fish breeding, Suwana said: in her native turtle protection and tree planting. “As children, we country. The 15- can plant trees [and] clean rivers Sahabat Alam is based in Jakarta. It’s year-old from Indonesia witnessed and beaches, but we cannot stop now an internationally recognized terrible flooding in her country’s industries from polluting our riv- nonprofit group that has won nu- capital city, Jakarta, caused in part ers; we cannot force them to adopt merous awards for its conservation by erosion and climate change. a green economy. We want policies projects. and laws that will make industries In 2008, when she was not quite 11, Suwana has done many things to en- sustainable.” she decided to do something about courage people to protect the Earth. it. During a school holiday, Suwana Suwana won the grand prize of the She presented her ideas to schools organized a gathering of almost 150 Malaysia-China Chamber of Com- and government agencies. She pro- school-aged friends to plant man- merce (MCCC) Golden Green Award duced a television program about groves. These trees prevent damage in 2011. Her efforts through Sahabat conservation and also recorded a from hurricanes and tsunamis. Alam earned her the award and a cash song (in English and Indonesian). prize of $6,000. She told MCCC of- Since that first event, she has re- As a spokeswoman for Sahabat ficials: “With our small hands, we can cruited more students to tackle en- Alam and a role model for youth, make a difference. I hope to reach out vironmental issues. She has invited Suwana is living proof that one per- to youths worldwide so we can con- young people throughout Indone- son can make a difference. tribute our ideas on how to conserve sia to form a community called Sa- the environment.” n habat Alam (Friends of Nature). The United Nations Environment Programme’s International Chil- Lauren Monsen is a staff writer with In the Pulau Pramuka area of Indo- dren and Youth Conference was the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of nesia, Suwana and other members International Information Programs. Top: Follow me! Adeline Suwana proudly waves the Indonesian flag at the 2010 Chil- dren and Youth International “Let’s Take Care of the Planet” Conference in Brazil. Left: We’re rich! Sahabat Alam partners with local schools to plant coral reefsPhotos courtesy of Sahabat Alam in Indonesia, the second richest coun- try on Earth for biodiversity, after Brazil. Watch Suwana’s video “Our Small Hands Against Cli- mate Change”! http://goo.gl/P4tkY eJournal USA 11 Return to Table of Contents
GreenShields Clearsthe Air, Boosts educationBy Mary-Katherine ReamE very weekday in the United States, nearly Cohen’s team 480,000 buses transport more than 26 mil- used the funds to Courtesy lion children to and from school. Sharing build a wind tun- transportation helps protect the environment nel for testing of G by limiting carbon dioxide emissions. How- prototypes. In reenShield ever, some old school buses can create a lot 2010, the teamof pollution. Is there a way to make them more “green?” refined the con-That is the question Jonny Cohen asked himself one cept and won a s/Natalieafternoon as he was walking home from school. Notic- $25,000 Pepsiing the clunky body of a school bus, Cohen, then 11, Refresh Grant. Seredawondered if he could create a more streamlined bus. Impressed byCohen came up with the idea of attaching shields to GreenShields’ success, Johnthe fronts of buses to redirect airflow. To test his idea, Benish, a bus company owner in Illinois, donated ahe launched GreenShields, a project to install plastic school bus to the team, and recruited a group of North-panels on buses to make them more aerodynamic and western University engineering students to help themenergy efficient. refine the project.“The focus of GreenShields is to save gas for schools so During a recent test run in Joliet, Illinois, the shield they have more money for education and to help decrease generated a 28 percent reduction in fuel consumption. pollution by using gas more efficiently,” said Cohen. According to some estimates, that reduction could save U.S. schools more than $600 million a year.With the help of his older sister Azza and his friends, Co-hen won a $1,000 Youth Venture grant from Ashoka — This year, Cohen will represent Illinois in the 2012 Pru-a global organization that supports social entrepreneurs. dential Spirit of Community Awards. This national pro- gram recognizes outstanding actsTop: Cutting edge: Jonny Cohen’s Green Shields project attracted volunteers from of youth volunteerism.schools such as MIT and Northwestern, including Manny Casro, Steve Jacobson andJuan Perez. Below: Get to work! GreenShields inventor Jonny Cohen attaches a clear “My goal is to give this technol-screen to the front of a school bus. By improving aerodynamics, the shields make ogy to every school district in thebuses more fuel- and cost-efficient. United States,” says Cohen, “but I Courtesy of GreenShields also hope to inspire kids that any idea they have can become some- thing if they try.” n Mary-Katherine Ream is an intern with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Informa- tion Programs. Visit the GreenShields web- site for more information! http://goo.gl/ApNnD Return to eJournal USA 12 Table of Contents
Building ind ills Photos: Tom Rielly by Candlelight By Louise Fenner t age 15, William But Kamkwamba isn’t satisfied to harness wind and sun’s power more Kamkwamba scoured help only his family. He aims to effectively,” he says. Currently, only a junkyard in his improve the lives of everyone in 2 percent of rural Malawians have remote village of Malawi. Since building his wind- electricity. n Wimbe, Malawi. mills, Kamkwamba has worked on Louise Fenner is a staff writer with K a m k w a m b a’s preventing malaria in his commu- the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of family had no nity, providing clean water using a International Information Programs. running water or solar-powered pump and building a electricity. Family members spent drip irrigation system. two hours a day hauling water, Kamkwamba returned to school and used paraffin candles for light. and graduated from the African Watch to learn more He had dropped out of secondary Leadership Academy in Johannes- about William’s inspi- school because his family could not burg, South Africa. After that, he rational story! http://goo.gl/ROigg afford the fees. He continued his co-authored a book, The Boy Who education by spending his days in a Harnessed the Wind. He has spoken Top: Just getting started: Wil- library. This is where he found the about his experiences at events all liam Kamkwamba has built books that would literally change over the world, such as the World three energy-producing wind- his life, including one with a pic- Economic Forum, TEDGlobal mills for his family compound ture of windmills on the cover. and many others. He inspired a in Malawi. He hopes to pro- nongovernmental orga- vide reliable, clean energy to “I didn’t read English well, so I his entire country. Right: See- mainly taught myself these things nization called Mov- ing is believing: William Kam- by studying the pictures and dia- ing Windmills, which kwamba recycled discarded grams,” Kamkwamba said in his supports rural economic metal and plastic to cre- blog. Kamkwamba began a blog in development and educa- ate a windmill in tion projects in Malawi. Malawi. 2007, five years after he built his first windmill from discarded piec- The organization helped es of metal and plastic. He used a rebuild Kamkwamba’s pri- rusted tractor fan for a rotor, a bro- mary school in Wimbe, which ken bicycle, plastic pipes and wood. now uses wind and solar power. He even made his own hammers, Kamkwamba is now a sopho- screwdrivers and washers. more in engineering at Dart- The first windmill Kamkwamba mouth College in Hanover, built, which was 5 meters (15 feet) New Hampshire. He is 24, and tall, produced enough electricity wants to start a company that can to power several light bulbs and a provide “reliable electricity” to Ma- radio. He since has built two more lawi, especially through renewable windmills for his family compound. energy sources. He also installed a well so that his “I will try family can irrigate its garden and to use grow produce year round. my engi- neering skills to Return toTable of Contents eJournal USA 13
Rural Innovation in IndiaS By Kathryn McConnell tudying at night was With the help of his invention, they plugged in the wires. Through making Shailesh Upad- Upadhyay was able to enroll in demonstrations, Upadhyay and hyay sick. university and study engineering. Shanker showed that at only 12 In the rural village in When he mentioned his design to volts, the gadget is very safe. Gurera, India, where classmate Ujala Shanker, who also Students in Gurera started using Upadhyay grew up, grew up in Gurera, the two co- Tractor-Factor’s circuit. They wereelectricity was hard to come by. founded Tractor-Factor, a venture able to study longer, and the num-With only a few hours of electricity to light homes in rural villages and ber of students passing their examsavailable during the day, Upadhyay help students study longer. nearly doubled. Some 240,000 fewerhad to study at night by the light of “Like me, many rural students strug- liters of carbon dioxide were releaseda kerosene lamp. gle to progress in spite of their intel- into the atmosphere each month.But Upadhyay had asthma and the ligence and enthusiasm,” Upadhyay “Understanding the needs and afford-kerosene’s toxic fumes affected his told Ashoka, a global organization ability and fine-tuning the solutionbreathing each night that he studied. that supports social entrepreneurs are the key,” Upadhyay told Ashoka.He was forced to drop out of school. such as Upadhyay. “Being a good observer helps in iden-Upadhyay was determined not to But their venture had many chal- tifying the difficulties and simplestgive up his studies, so he came up lenges. Upadhyay and Shanker first ideas that could be of great impact.”with a bright idea: use tractor bat- had to convince villagers to use the Upadhyay and Shanker since haveteries to power lamps. He designed circuit. Many villagers were wor- incorporated their idea into a largera circuit board that channels ener- ried that taking power from a bat- project called Stitches, which aimsgy from tractor batteries into com- tery would lessen its life. However, to improve the socio-economicpact fluorescent lamps, which are they were surprised to learn that the welfare of farmers. So far, theymore energy-efficient than regular circuit could actually extend battery have helped more than 200 peoplelight bulbs. life when used regularly. Villagers across rural India. Their work has feared they would get a shock when also helped Shanker obtain a fel- lowship to study for a master’s Courtesy of Stitches degree at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. Shanker will be the first person from Gurera to study in the United States. n Kathryn McConnell is a staff writer with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs. Watch Shailesh and Ujala explain their project! http://goo.gl/KzImA Return to eJournal USA 15 Table of Contents
Team Belgium: Solar Can Be Affordable By Karin Rives S tudents at Belgium’s Ghent University de- high-tech solutions for modern, zero-carbon living. “At-Photos: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Dept. of Energy cided to do some homework before they tractive,” recalled 24-year-old Ghent University student designed their solar house for competition Michael Arens, but were they built for a mass market? in 2011. In September 2009, they traveled “The thing that got us all thinking was, ‘OK, this is the to Washington to see for themselves what most energy-efficient house, but who can afford it? So the Solar Decathlon was all about. As one what’s the use then?’” Arens said. “Our goal became to student put it, they went to “learn some prove that it’s possible to make a house that is energy tips and tricks.” efficient and accessible for all kinds of people — as long The 2011 Solar Decathlon was sponsored by the U.S. as they’re willing to live a little differently.” Department of Energy. It brought together university The students had intense brainstorming sessions where teams from around the world in a competition to de- they developed four alternative designs. They finally sign, build and operate the most cost-effective, energy- settled on the E-Cube, which is a factory-built, “do-it- efficient, and attractive solar-powered house. yourself ” kit of a house that meets basic living needs. The houses, displayed at Washington’s National Mall, It does not require expensive materials or finishes. The were beautifully designed. They were equipped with sleek, Ghent University students estimate that their house, eJournal USA 16
appliances included, will cost a homebuyer about$268,000 — roughly one-half of what winning Solar “Our goal became to proveDecathlon houses have been priced in the past. that it’s possible to makeArens and the three other students on the projectmerged features from each of their four alternative de- a house that is energy signs into one. The process was chal- lenging at times. The core team is efficient and accessible for made up of seven students, and is all kinds of people — as long called Team Belgium. The team has learned the hard way that Belgian as they’re willing to live a building codes don’t always accom- little differently.” modate unconventional home de- sign. They’re also finding that red tape goal was to prove that it’s possible to live in a sustainable, can slow down students eager to get a energy-efficient house that is affordable — even if you project done. have to live a little differently. I’m really glad that thisIn the end, they were thrilled with the outcome. is the house we ended up with. And in the end, it’s theThe two-story E-Cube (short for Energy Cube) is shaped basic, simple design that makes it beautiful.” nexactly as it sounds. It measures 8 meters by 8 meters Karin Rives is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.and provides a total living area of exactly 93 square me-ters — the maximum floor space allowed in the SolarDecathlon. It’s a basic, functional two-bedroom housewith an open, high ceiling in the central living area thatmakes the space look bigger than it is. Watch this video toThe cube shape makes the house compact, reducing the learn more about thesurface area exposed to the elements. These efficiencies, 2011 Solar Decathlon! http://goo.gl/6pxHKtogether with the lack of “extras” such as wall paint anddecorations, help keep it affordable. By mixing “warm” Facing page: Shine on: Light from Team Belgium’s solar house il-material (wood) with “cold” material (steel), members luminates the night sky in Washington, DC. Belgium’s 2011 Solarof Team Belgium say they have given the house a unique Decathlon entry proves that energy efficiency can be beautiful.and appealing look. Inset: Lounging in the solar house: Visitors relax and chat with the E-Cube’s designers. Below: It takes a village: University teams from“We didn’t want to make something that looked really all over the world converge to construct energy-efficient home Return to beautiful or like a traditional house,” Arens said. “Our models for the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon. Table of Contents eJournal USA 17
By Mark Trainer estation is thought to be a major contributor to climate change. In addition, the fumes from primitive home ovens are a major cause of respiratory disease in the developing world. The Kyoto Box, on the other hand, produces no carbon emissions. Bøhmer is a Norwegian who lives and runs his com- pany in Kenya. He had been researching solar-cooking solutions for a decade, but the first Kyoto cooker came together much more quickly. “This took me about a weekend, and it worked on the first try,” Bøhmer told CNN. “It’s mind-boggling how simple it is.” The Kyoto Box won $75,000 in the 2009 FT Climate Change Challenge award, which is run by Forum for the Future and the Financial Times newspaper. The simplicity of the Kyoto Box’s design (which has been refined and is now made from recycled plastic) makes it possible to produce each box for just $5. “We’re saving lives and saving trees,” Bøhmer told Lon- don’s The Telegraph newspaper. “I doubt if there is any other technology that can make so much impact for so little money.” n Mark Trainer is a staff writer with the U.S. State Depart- The Kyoto Box, which can boil water and bake food without burning wood, benefits people like these Masai women from Kenya while also ment’s Bureau of International Information Programs. reducing deforestation. What’s in the box? The latest version of the Kyoto Box is J made from polypropylene and acryl glass. Bøhmer’s origi- Photos: Courtesy of Kyoto Energy Ltd. on Bøhmer’s Kyoto Box started out as a sci- nal solar cooker was created with plexi- glass, cardboard, foil and black paint. ence project with his two young daughters, but it soon turned out to be a major benefit to 3 billion people who struggle to cook their food with clean, renewable energy. The original Kyoto Box was made with plexiglass and Watch a video about two cardboard boxes. One box was covered with foil the benefits of solar and the other was painted black inside. It is capable of cookers! boiling water and baking food without the need for fire- http://goo.gl/XwhXw wood. This solar cooker uses the sun, which is a clean and accessible energy source. The Kyoto Box is a major advance in safe, healthy cooking for those who lack ac- cess to clean water or firewood. The use of wood fires for cooking has led to extensive deforestation in many parts of the world — and defor- Return toTable of Contents eJournal USA 18
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on! n g s oA o m i urnal USc Jo in e Sports Strengthen Communities Check out the upcoming issue of eJournal USA devoted entirely to sports! Many young athletes dream of becoming superstars in their sport, but making big bucks in the big leagues is not what sports are all about. In the United States, sports play a major role in community life and teach valuable lessons such as discipline, teamwork and tolerance that help players succeed on and off the field.