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Shipping Containers to Help Haiti?


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Designers from Clemson University started the SEED project to reuse excess shipping containers found around the world.  They take these cargo containers, designed to withstand extreme weather at sea and made of steel, and rethink their purpose.  Why not use the 304 square feet of floor space in these things as housing?  What was once an obsolete hunk of metal is now an extremely solid, weatherproof, insect-resistant, fire proof home.

But wait, you’re thinking, those things are UGLY!  True, in their original form they certainly are, but designers at SEED have set their minds to transforming these giant hunks of metal into light, livable spaces arranged like apartment buildings.

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The men and women working at Clemson University have wasted no time in finding practical applications.  They have proposed these SEED containers as a cost effective and sustainable strategy for rebuilding Haiti.  Their design images seem almost surrealist, but it’s just crazy enough that it just might work.

In light of the Haiti earthquake there are tons of ways you can be green and help out.  Donate your cell phones, clothes, and money.  But don’t stop there, educate yourself about the issues in Haiti, why the earthquake was so disastrous, and what the US has done to cause the abject poverty we’re seeing in photographs.  To rebuild Haiti sustainably we have to know what caused the destruction in the first place – only a part of it was the earthquake.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kallari Chocolate – raising the organic chocolate bar


Today’s Tried and True Green Product Review spotlights Kallari Chocolate Company.  Many thanks to Carol for providing us with complimentary samples of Kallari’s 70%, 75% and 85% cacao content bars for our much anticipated taste test.

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This is a story of extraordinary taste and solid sustainability… and I think I just discovered a new bff… If love is a drug, let mine be chocolate — Kallari Chocolate, a producer of single-source organic chocolate that’s unlike any other –not only in terms of taste, but also its triple bottom line — people, planet and profit.

  • taste

You know how some chocolate can give you “cotton mouth,” whereby the chocolate seems to suck all the moisture out of your mouth and you need to immediately gulp down some water after swallowing?  Not so with Kallari.

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This is a chocolate bar as lush and intense as the ground upon which it was grown.  Enjoyed best by placing a piece squarely on your tongue, and savoring the flavor by rolling it around, almost letting it melt…no need to bite and chew.  It’s a real sensory treat — not too sweet. Just totally satisfying.

Here’s the skinny… 3 of us each tasted 3 different bars, and we all agreed that Kallari may very well be the best tasting organic chocolate bar brand on the market today.  And, being the admitted chocoholics we are, we’ve probably tasted nearly all of them.  Even though we enjoyed all 3 Kallari bars, if we had to pick our favorites, here’s how they placed: 1st Place: 75% cacao, 2nd place: 70% and 3rd place: 85% cacao.

The outer paper packaging unfolds and the story of Kallari is revealed — on recycled paper with 50% post-consumer waste and soy inks and resins; and it is here that one learns that KALLARI is pronounced: (kahl YA di) and signifies past, present and (hope for) the future.

A little more about how this delicious flavor comes to be, (it’s almost like describing a fine wine):  Kallari’s fresh, unadulterated taste and absence of bitterness is derived from its field blending of single-source noble varietal beans, primarily the rare and much esteemed Cacao Nacional with hints of Criollo, Trinitano Venezuelan and Blonde Cacao.

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  • people, profit and planet

Socially responsible, Kallari is the first 100 percent co-op owned chocolate maker.  One hundred percent of profits from bar sales are returned to the Kallari Association, with self reliant governance and an innovative economic model — which is revolutionary in the global chocolate industry. (btw, $5.99/bar)
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850 indigenous Kichwa families produce this chocolate.  The cacao production provides the Kichwa people, located deep (more…)

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donating time while enjoying travel… a win/win


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The concept of “volunTourism” (part travel, part volunteer work) has swept the nation, and the travel industry, in the past year.  And with the current devastation in Haiti, it’s a topic on the minds of many.  As you begin to plan your annual vacation, why not take a closer look at the hands-on volunteer opportunities that exist–pumping hard work and much-needed funds into at-risk communities worldwide.

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Biosphere Expeditions is one example of a non-profit group dedicated to conservation travel.  For 10 years the organization has worked within local communities to protect their ecosystems, investing more than 100,000 hours and over one million dollars in the process.  Choose from a one-week project or a two-week expedition and devote your time to worthwhile causes like safeguarding the coral reefs in Honduras or partnering with scientists to track wolf and lynx populations in the Tatra mountains of Slovakia.

Or, if you’re looking for a more specific cause, check out www.voluntourism.org.  The site offers a wealth of information on organizations, trips and the preparation process.

Related:  previously on altCon
(2.2.07) Sierra Club – Outings with a Cause

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WePOWER Falcon – vertical axis wind turbine


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Our never ending search for innovative residential wind turbine designs has led us to the Falcon VAWT series from California-based, WePOWER.  The Falcon series, which is approved for sale in California and is eligible for the 30% federal tax credit, is available in 5 models ranging in size from 600 watts to 12kW.

The company has models suitable for residential and commercial installations.  Some features: low noise and vibration; captures wind from any direction; is said to be ‘bird safe;’ produces power at wind speeds as low as 6mph; and is engineered to last for 20 years with low, or no, maintenance.

Rotor diameter ranges from 5’5″ for the 600 watt model to a massive 19’8″ for the 12kW bad boy.

WePOWER recently signed a merger agreement with fellow VAWT producer, Cleanfield Alternative Energy to create a global distribution system and expand  product offerings.

Relateda new player in small wind – Windtamer

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