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mixing vision and voluntourism @ machu picchu

A trip to Machu Picchu, the stone-stacked “Lost City of the Incas” that towers 8,000 feet above sea level in Peru, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience within itself.


A 13-day tour that traverses Lima to Cuzco (with plenty of archeological site visits peppered throughout), coupled with a heavy dose of voluntourism, makes it truly unforgettable.

This year, the non-profit Planeterra Foundation is offering just that. The hands-on venture, launched in July of this year, is the latest community development project allowing travelers the opportunity to pitch in during their visit to the Sacred Valley. Dole out $1,820 per person (departures are available each month, year-round) and you can lend a hand constructing adobe stoves the Ccaccaccollo community—modeled with innovative piping that will lessen the high percentage of upper respiratory health problems and eye infections common to remote Andean village.


Early this month, the first smoke-free stoves were built for the extended project, including the training of 10 community members who will in turn, oversee the “Project Machu Picchu” construction. For all the details on this and other voluntour programs, visit or call 416.260.0999.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

lighting up the night


When I think of the programmable light timers of yesteryear, I’m reminded of my parent’s house and the constant hassle to find a reading lamp that easily switches on and off. For that reason—and the fact that I switch lights off when I leave a room—I’ve never had a need (or want) for those types of electrical socket-crowding contraptions.

uTimer_Image_1.jpgWith the late lit, dog days of summer winding down, however, I wouldn’t mind the greeting of a soft glow when coming home to my empty apartment. To best balance the energy suck, I’m using the new Sentina uTimer, a LED nightlight and dusk-sensing lamp timer that automatically turns on when the sun goes down.

Plug the device into an outlet in a naturally-lit room, connect your energy-efficient fluorescent bulb or LED lamp, choose an automatic turn off time of four, eight, or 12 hours, and you’re good to go. The security of lit abode and the efficiency and cost savings of one smart little timer. (I’m also a fan of the flip top LED, which sheds more or less light when desired.) Price: $30 (with free shipping) @

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9 signs you’ve really gone green


  • You dumped your last two girlfriends because they couldn’t spell ‘sustainability’.
  • You actually enjoy eating quinoa.
  • The only ‘hemp’ in your underwear draw…is, well….underwear.
  • You spend so much time shopping at your local Whole Foods that your mother thinks you work there.
  • You check the recycled number on yogurt containers before you look at the flavor.
  • You traded in your Escalade for two SmartCars and an e-bike.
  • Your only house pets are the earth worms in your composter.
  • You won’t watch a television show or movie unless Ed Begley, Jr. or Darryl Hannah is a guest star.
  • You think your friend’s Prius is ‘sexy’.
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an energy-efficient pile of green news


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