Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

15 OCTOBER, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010: Water

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What conversationality has to do with dirt-digging and twenty years of good life.

Okay, here’s the deal. Today is Blog Action Day 2010 — an annual effort to start a global conversation around a specific issue that affects us all, focusing on water this year — and we’re in. Are you? We hope so. Because, at this very moment, a nearly billion people on the planet can’t do what you can: Get up and get a glass of clean, safe drinking water. That’s one in eight of us. Add to that the 38 million children that die from waterborne disease every week, and it becomes apparent a mere “conversation” won’t solve the problem.

So what can you do? We suggest three main courses of action: Building awareness, supporting the right causes, and changing your personal habits. So let’s tackle these one by one.

VIRTUAL WATER

Virtual Water will tell you the footprint of water. (Did you know that it takes 24 liters of water to produce a single hamburger?).

It comes as a gorgeous poster and an iPhone app.

CHARITY: WATER

Here are three smart water-related projects we stand behind. Topping our list is charity:water, which brings clean drinking water to people in the developing world by building freshwater wells, rainwater catchments and sand filters. You can support them by making a donation ($20 can buy one person clean drinking water for 20 years — think about that for a moment) or getting involved by volunteering or fundraising.

GET OFF THE BOTTLE

Last but not least, walk the walk. We’ve been off the bottle since 2003 and we strongly encourage you to try the plastic-free life.

Our weapons of choice: A sleek, colorful Klean Kanteen steel bottle and a space-saving PUR water pitcher, complete with an LED lamp that tells you when to change the filter.

So go ahead and have that conversation about water with someone today, but don’t stop there.

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06 OCTOBER, 2010

PICKED: Hello Rewind

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Social enterprise Hello Rewind is the beautiful marriage of sustainability and human rights activism, addressing two eco-social challenges — the 16,000 tons of textiles thrown away each day in the U.S. and the 100,000 women being sex-trafficked — with one brilliant proposition: Recycle your old t-shirts into custom laptop sleeves, supporting sex-trafficking survivors.

Starting a self-sustaining business supporting sex trafficking survivors is almost unheard of in the United States. In fact, many people don’t even understand the extent of sex trafficking taking place.” ~ co-founder Jess Lin

Here’s how it works: You order a laptop sleeve in your desired size and they mail you a prepaid-postage envelope in which to send your used t-shirt. Hello Rewind then sews your custom sleeve and ships it back to you in 2-4 weeks.

What’s not to love?

via TBD

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05 OCTOBER, 2010

BBC’s 60-Second Ideas to Improve the World

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From BBC World Service comes 60 Second Idea to Improve the World — a wonderful podcast inviting global thought leaders to propose simple, radical ideas for the betterment of humanity, followed by a short discussion in a forum of equally esteemed guests.

Part microincubator for innovation, part peek inside the minds of mavericks, the series is a lovely reminder that big ideas can indeed come in small packages.

From Clay Shirky‘s call for nudity as an environmental measure to philosopher Roman Frigg‘s push for a national Break The Routine day, the 60-second ideas burst onto your mental space as cheeky pranksters, only to peel away the layers and reveal the thoughtfulness of post-modern pragmatist-philosophers.

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24 SEPTEMBER, 2010

Through the Eyes of the Vikings: The Aerial Arctic

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From fjords to humpbacks, or what 11th-century nostalgia has to do with polar bears.

We’re big fans of aerial photography and it hardly gets any better than that of National Geographic photographer Robert B. Haas.

After stunning the world with Through the Eyes of the Gods: An Aerial Vision of Africa in 2005 and Through The Eyes Of The Condor: An Aerial Vision of Latin America in 2007, Haas is now back with his coolest project yet, literally: Through the Eyes of the Vikings: An Aerial Vision of Arctic Lands — an ambitious and visually gripping exploration of the Arctic.

Bay of Bothnia, Sweden

Recycling pools beside a lumber facility near the port city of Karlsborg pock the landscape like shots through tempered glass.

Langøya Island, Norway

Industrial byproducts form a swirling palette at a waste-treatment facility on this island south of Oslo.

Manitoba, Canada

A polar bear pauses on a bed of kelp on Cape Churchill.

Lynn Canal, Alaska

Tributaries of the spectacularly deep fjord wind across a muddy plain to empty into a blue-green bay.

Whether in myth or in fact, the Vikings call to mind a hardy and adventurous spirit of exploration and enterprise. The cool stare of a Viking in the slit beneath fur-lined headgear and above a craggy length of beard betrayed a willingness to face risk, eyeball-to-eyeball, to witness sights that others had not seen before and capture bounty that might one day become the stuff of legend.” ~ Robert Haas in the book’s introduction

Clam Gulch, Alaska

A clam digger pokes around Cook Inlet.

Kiruna, Sweden

Snowmobile tracks crisscross the surface of a melting pond.

Red Glacier, Alaska

Bergs and boulders form islands of ice and rock in the basin of the glacier.

What makes the book particularly captivating is the subtle bittersweet undertone of reconciling the breathtaking romance of the Arctic with our lurking awareness of its slow demise in the grip of climate change, with a breath of irony as we come to realize these magnificent landscapes are already dramatically different from what the Vikings saw centuries ago.

Iniskin Bay, Alaska

The Iniskin River resembles a reflective ribbon of glass as it flows into its namesake bay.

Disko Bay, Greenland

Mother and calf humpback whales breach the electric-blue surface on the west coast of Greenland.

Like an ephemeral memento, Through the Eyes of the Vikings hangs in our collective conscience with equal parts retrograde nostalgia and alive appreciation, encapsulating a moment in time and space slowly severed from existence by the axe of an invisible Viking.

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