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How innovative global hotels are using renewable energy

Guest post by Sam Marquit of Fair Marquit Value

Renewable energy is fast becoming a highly desired type of energy. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable energy will be the second most used source of electricity in the United States by as early as 2016. But this should not come as a surprise. After all, renewable energy includes renewable sources and renewable power, it is clean and fast becoming more affordable as the cost of non-renewable energy rises. This essentially predicts the increased use of renewable energy, across various industries. One industry that has embraced renewable energy and the latest renewable energy innovations, is the travel and tourism industry. Here are some examples:

Wind energy in Fort Lauderdale

Provided that geographical location is favorable, wind energy is an excellent source of energy that hotels can apply to reduce their carbon footprint. There are a number of hotels in the United States that are using wind energy effectively. The Fort Lauderdale serves as an industry example where the Hilton has installed wind turbines to harness the wind. A total of six turbines have been installed on the roof of the hotel facility, with a generating capacity of 24,000 kWh. One clear benefit of adopting wind energy is that it has reduced the hotel’s operating costs – more specifically – the hotel’s running energy costs.

Solar energy at Carr Manor

Solar energy has increased over the past few years and hotels are embracing this form of energy especially as the costs of solar energy has decreased sevenfold over the last two decades. Usually it is the large and prominent hotels with their greening efforts that grab our attention most, but there are several smaller hotels that are making effective use of solar energy, while living up to greener ideals. Carr Manor, which features 16 rooms, invested $80,000 in solar panels. The result is that the hotel saves $1,000 a month and has reduced various energy bills by as much as 60%.

Biogas at the Hilton Stockhold Slussen

By adopting biofuel technology, hotels can reduce their waste and disposal costs. This is another way not only to apply renewable energy but to save on otherwise wasted costs. The Hilton Stockholm Slussen sends their organic waste to a specific biogas plant, created clean energy from waste products. By making use of this biogas energy system, this hotel has not reduced their waste volumes but are now also able to run company vehicles on biogas.

Geothermal in Switzerland

As the world of renewable energy exploded, geothermal energy has showed itself as an effective way to heat and cool a building. Many hotels are recognizing this and are converting their heating systems to geothermal energy. A great example of this is Switzerland’s Romantik Hotel. A few years ago, the hotel went through various changes in the facility to the end that it has reduced the amount of energy that it uses by 64%. The numbers are eye-opening when seeing that the Romantik Hotel went from 436,000 kWh to 157,400 kWh in terms of energy reduction each year. A total of 16 geothermal loops were installed and have provided the electricity that the facility needs. Romantik Hotel was given recognition of their renewable energy transformation. The PlusEnergieBau Solar Award was given to this hotel during 2011, recognizing that this hotel generates more energy than want they need to completely run the facility.

Geothermal energy - harnessing the earth's temperature to heat and cool our built environment.

Geothermal energy – harnessing the earth’s temperature to heat and cool our built environment.

Grecotel’s reusing in catering

Reusing materials can do wonders in terms of helping the environment and keeping down costs, and this is certainly true in the realm of catering. In Greece, the Grecotel hotel chain has gone to great efforts to eliminate packaging waste. Furthermore, it has eliminated plastic water bottles and replaced them with glass bottles, which are a hundred percent reusable.

Hotels and hotel chains around the world are making a strong efforts to go green. From the desert climate of the Las Vegas strip where millions of people visit each year to the mountains of Switzerland, facilities are finding new innovative ways to go green, and ultimately, sustainable. As the renewable energy industry continues to develop, improve and unfold, we can be sure to see many more hotels and other tourism industry leaders adopting innovative ways of living within the resource limitations of one single planet.


Writer bio:  I am an entrepreneurial independent contractor and home renovation/remodeling expert in New York. I’ve made it a point to share with my readers a day in the life of sustainable building. Forecasting the possible application and implementation of new green building materials and technologies is just one small part of my effort to reduce everyone’s carbon footprint. 


Thank you Sam for your guest post, and for more info, follow Fair Marquit Value here!

Photo credits: some rights reserved by Argonne National Laboratory.


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Earthships – turning environmental consciousness and sustainability into a home (Part 1)

In South Africa’s arid Northern Cape Province, more specifically the Orania District, a sustainability and self-sufficiency housing project has firmly established itself as a true representative of environmental consciousness and sustainability.  Project Aardskip is concerned with environmental awareness, autarkic and sustainable living, community development and the careful use of resources.  The outcome is small earthships, ready for occupation and environmental promotion.  The founder of Project Aardskip South Africa, Ludwig Everson, tells more:

“People do not know what to do with their so-called waste”

The idea behind earthships originated from the architect Mike Reynold’s observation that people do not know what to do with their waste, or so-called waste.  Reynolds, or “Garbage Warrior” as he is more commonly known, is an architect from New Mexico, USA.  Combining this wasting of still usable material with his architectural interests, Reynolds started to build dwellings from cans, tyres and other recycled material.  Reynold’s first dwelling was completed in the 80s, and his wife appropriately named it an earthship.  Ludwig explained that the concepts behind earthships are not new and has gained popularity, which brought further design improvements.

Earthship construction in progress.

Earthship construction in progress.

Thermal mass – acting as a thermal battery

In asking Ludwig whether earthships are suitable for all climate types, he explained that earthships cleverly combine both insulation and thermal mass.  In fact, thermal mass is one of the baseline principles of these housing units.  Whereas conventional housing merely uses insulation as a temperature buffer, earthships make use of natural thermal mass, offering a moderate indoor temperature throughout the year.  In this sense, earthships are compared to caves – which also benefit from mild temperatures regardless of climate.  And by using this principle, earthships are customised for almost any climate.

Orania earthship features

The Northern Cape is warm and dry, throughout the year.  Bearing this location specific climate in mind, Project Aardskip has designed their earthships accordingly.  The earthships face north and have a small overhang, which allows the sun to shine indoors up to 4.6 metres deep during winter time.  However, with this clever positioning, no sun reaches indoors between November and March, their peak summer period.  Roof insulation wool, polystyrene, recycled polystyrene, plastic soda bottles and glass are used to insulate the entire earthship.  Sandbags serve as building material for both the earthship’s back and side wall.  Ludwig specifically pointed out the importance of these sandbags.  These sandbags act as thermal mass containers.  A specific mixture of soil, sand and clay is used, offering the best properties for construction and long-term maintenance.  Now, bearing in mind that earthships are planned with both insulation and thermal mass in mind, earthships can be compared to an insulated cooler.  The cooler is surrounded by insulation which offers thermal resistance, while the ice is the thermal mass acting as a thermal battery.  The earthship functions similarly.

The mindful design of an earthship speaks of its almost zero environmental impact.

The mindful design of an earthship speaks of its almost zero environmental impact.

The last construction feature of these earthships is the use of ventilation.  The dwelling’s ceiling is three metres high, the hallway ceiling even higher.  A window is placed down the hall in the front (northern) section of the dwelling, and a high window is placed where the hot air escapes.  This cleverly creates a vacuum in the dwelling and a flow of air to replace and regulate indoor air.  Earthships make use of an underground air vent to replace the indoor air.  An underground vent is specifically used because air moving through the subsurface cools naturally before enters the dwelling.  And this is highly appreciated in the arid and hot Northern Cape.  In event that the air is too cold, closing the ventilation is possible, and a second surface ventilation hole can be opened, allowing warmer air inside.

A zero carbon footprint home

Not only are earthship homes autarkic and self-sustainable homes, but their carbon footprint is literally zero.  Not many people can say this about their homes!  Ludwig explained, “a low environmental impact is basically built into each part and feature of an earthship home.”  In asking Ludwig what they consider as the earthship’s greatest environmental flagship, it became clear that the earthship in its entirety is greater than a single environmental flagship feature. Earthships are more than merely environmentally friendly features; “all six earthship founding principles are in fact environmental principles and hence why earthships have a zero carbon footprint” explained Ludwig.  These six principles include: ecological and recyclable building material, natural climate control, sustainable energy, rainwater harvesting, and sustainable and home-scale sewage treatment as well as food production.

The next and final article in this series will discuss these environmental principles of earthships in greater detail, along with the socio-economic benefits of these dwellings.  Ludwig will also share more information about the practical implications for an earthship owner – how regularly maintenance is required, and what indoor finishing Project Aardskip have found to be successful.  Be sure to learn more about these unique homes, because in a world where resource scarcity and environmental impact are becoming great threats, seeking new and innovative ways to satisfy basic human needs are more important than ever before!

Colourful & functional green: the earthship has built-in plant containers, serving a myriad of green functions - read Part 2 to learn more!

Colourful & functional green: the earthship has built-in plant containers, serving a myriad of green functions – read Part 2 to learn more!


Credits: photos supply by Projek Aardskip.  Thank you to Ludwig Everson of Projek Aardskip for interview & information.

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The role of community assessments in safe water projects

Working towards long-term safe water solutions requires a deep consideration for the local community.  With this in mind, certain factors can be identified as playing an important role in determining whether a community is firstly in need and secondly ready to accept, a long-term safe water solution.  Unless dealing with an emergency situation, Water Missions International’s (WMI) first point of call is the collection of basic water and community data.  This is a key step in preparing the groundwork for the safe water solution implementation.  This article will explore the importance of community assessments as part of preparing for a safe water solution, and specifically how community assessments contribute to the success of the project in the long run.

Describing the community

 Describing the community is an important start to the safe water solution project design.  WMI characterizes communities in terms of population size, population density and the average household water consumption and demand.  This data forms WMI’s design basis for a water solution.  With the data, WMI can work alongside the community’s specific needs.  Physical parameters also need to be taken into account.  Parameters such as community water consumption will for instance determine the storage units needed for the project.

Data collection is launched through WMI’s “Safe Water Project Request” – a simple administration form.  This administrative exercise allows WMI to gain an understanding of the community’s technical and financial circumstances – something which greatly determines how the project should be implemented, ultimately contributing to the sustainability of the project. At this early phase of the community assessment, technical data is the everyday information about the community.  What is needed at this early phase is the population size, community security, existing infrastructure, and where water is currently sourced from. As part of the community assessment, it is of critical importance to gain an understanding of the community’s abilities and willingness to participate in the project over the long run.  What can the community contribute in terms of time, resources or even expertise?   Once this data has been secured, WMI evaluates the information to determine the feasibility of the community for successful long term water solutions.  This is followed by a detailed community assessment led by WMI in-country staff.

Community members can contribute to water solution projects by helping with labor.

Community members can contribute to water solution projects by helping with labor.

As we’ve noted before, the need for safe water solutions is huge.  With such a significant need, one cannot otherwise but wonder how to select communities for project implementation.  WMI’s priority is to provide lasting water solutions – projects that can secure safe water supply for a community for many years to come.   As such, WMI’s careful assessment of communities and their needs help determine whether lasting success with the intended project and technology is within the community’s reach.

Community involvement

Emphasis is placed on community involvement – from the earliest possible phase.  It is therefore WMI’s priority to determine to what extent the selected community can be involved: what financial support is available, what labor opportunities are available, the extent of natural resources that the community can contribute to the project for building materials (rock, sand, concrete), and how community members can assist with WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) promotion.  Once this has been determined, WMI enters discussions with the community on the establishment of a Safe Water Committee.  This committee has a very important role to play in the operation management and financial management of the planned water solution. Community involvement is a critical part of projects like WMI’s safe water solutions which work towards achieving socio-economic goals in economically depressed communities.  Considering this, it is clear how thorough community assessments play such an important role in the overall success of implementing safe water solutions.

Community mapping, as part of community assessments, involve the local community and identify its specific needs.

Community mapping, as part of community assessments, involve the local community and identify its specific needs.

No infrastructure to support the water project?

WMI realizes the need for safe water solutions extends well beyond the availability of infrastructure or business experience within a community to properly manage the project long-term.  To provide for these situations, a new management model, TradeWaterTM, has been developed.  In these cases, WMI maintains a very close management and operational role.

Evaluating current water sources

Once the available water sources have been identified, WMI needs to evaluate the water sources in terms of quality, quantity, accessibility as well as ownership.  Water sources and characteristics are unique and different for each community depending on where the water is sourced from (water may be sourced from rivers, lakes, groundwater or rainwater), geographical location, climate and other bio-physical attributes.  The distance between the community and its main water source is another important factor to consider in the design phase.  How is the community currently reaching their daily water and what distribution system will best serve WMI’s water solution?  As WMI is concerned with safe water, a basic water quality assessment is needed to determine which treatment options will be necessary for the planned water solution.  By applying Hach water quality tests, WMI obtains a basic assessment of the type of contamination that need to be dealt with.

WMI’s experience and successes in implementing lasting water solutions are evidences of their understanding that each community’s situation is different, and that water solution projects need to be tailored according to community circumstances and alongside community input.  WMI’s success also lies in their multidisciplinary team of community development practitioners, including skilled social workers and technicians.  WMI’s teams are in-country teams, meaning they nationals working on the ground alongside local communities for dedicated solutions.  And with WMI’s emphasis on lasting, sustainable safe water solutions, their detailed community assessments are part of their formula for success.



Sources: Water Missions International (2013).

Photo credits: supplied by Water Missions International (2013).

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Safe water: A closer look

In the introductory article of this series, we’ve learnt that one out of every nine people lack access to a safe water source; unsafe water is the silent killer of this world.  But what does the term “safe water” mean?  Where or how is safe water secured?  This article will consider what safe water sources represent and what treatment options are available to ensure safe water.


Water safe for consumption - a basic human need, yet absent for many

Water safe for consumption – a basic human need, yet absent for many


For many African, Asian and Latin American countries, water of low and unsafe quality is often the status quo.  For water to be considered as safe, it needs to be microbiologically safe and free of chemical contaminants, only then is water suitable for human consumption without health consequences.  Consuming water that is not microbiologically safe poses severe threats to human health and is the  leading cause of many pandemic waterborne disease outbreaks with high mortalities.  But what are the reasons for the significant portion of the world population without access to safe water supply?  The answer lies in poor infrastructure development, the lack of financial capital for such developments, lack of human resources, harsh environmental conditions as well as environmental disasters causing immediate water safety crisis situations.  For many of the developing countries suffering from this dilemma, a combination of water treatment options can be designed for implementation – bringing immediate and lasting relief from unsafe water and all its cumulative health, environmental and economic impacts. 

The core function of water treatment is to  suspend and dissolve contaminant, which can include particulate matter, microbes and chemicals. Three basic water treatment options that can be implemented to secure safe water supply include sedimentation, filtration and disinfection.  These are simplistic treatment options – but that’s why these treatment options are successful throughout the developing world.  The treatment options are robust, low-cost, and environmentally acceptable while being easy to maintain and operate.


Sedimentation treatment is based on the physics principle of particles in fluids settling due to gravity.  In nature, the sedimentation process is observed in calm lakes, ponds or oceans where particles settle to the bottom of the lake, pond or ocean.  In treating water, this physical separation of particles and water enables for the suspended solids to be removed from or taken out the water.  But free settling of particles is not always the quickest and most effective sedimentation process.  For this reason, water treatment through sedimentation often involves the adding of chemicals – and specifically chemicals with positive electrical charges.  These chemicals are described as coagulant chemicals.  A typical example of a coagulant chemical is Aluminum sulfate, although a number of salts can be used as coagulant chemicals.  By adding coagulation chemicals to the water, the opposing charges of the chemical and particles attract one another, resulting in heavier clumps or floc being formed.  With the particles now trapped in heavier clumps, the sedimentation process is guaranteed to be more effective.  Following the sedimentation process, the improvement in water quality can be seen with the naked eye.  The turbidity or cloudiness of the water is now accumulated in the floc.  This leaves the water with improved clarity and suspended articles collecting at the bottom of the water.


Once the heavier clumps of particles have settled to the bottom of the water, it is necessary to filter the water.  Filtering separates the purified water from the floc and particle clumps.  Rural communities often rely on mechanical filters such as sand or other granular materials.  The filter medium retains the solid particles as the fluid passes through the filter medium.  Filtration can be applied at either community or household level.  For community filtration, a larger filtration system making use of storage tanks and a collection of filters can be used whereas individual households can benefit from smaller filtration units using locally available material.  It is however very important to realize that although sediments are removed from unsafe water through the filtration process, the water may still be subject to chemical contaminants and pathogens such as E.coli and therefore, continued disinfection is necessary.

Water disinfection

Physical separation (or filtration) is not always effective at removing disease-causing pathogens such as protozoa, bacteria and viruses from water. However, appropriately-designed disinfection processes can inactivate these microorganisms and  render water safe for human consumption.  Two disinfectants commonly used to purify water are chlorine and monochloramine.  The process of disinfecting water serves a further purpose namely the elimination of organic contaminants.

Being the pathogens’ food sources, organic contaminants play a key role in the pathogen’s lifecycle.  For this reason, the effective removal of organic contaminants through disinfection means that pathogens can no longer survive in the water.  Although disinfection effectively sterilizes the water, pathogenic activity can quickly return if the disinfectant used does not remain in the water source in some residual amounts.  But with the use of chlorine, this hindrance is defeated as chlorine remains in residual amounts in the water source allowing for safe water for a longer period of time.  Chlorine is also widely available through the developing world which makes it an even more suitable option for water treatment.  Water disinfection should be carefully pared with the type of water source and community conditions.  But at its baseline, water disinfection remains a cost-effective treatment option.

Living WaterTM Treatment System

The Living WaterTM Treatment System (LWTSTM) is a safe water solution developed by Water Missions International and is specifically aimed at securing safe water through water purification.  WMI has been implementing this system in both developing and disaster areas suffering from unsafe water for more than ten years, continuing to incorporate new and innovative technology along the way past.    This purification system operates on a similar basis as a small municipal treatment system and uses a combination of filtration and chemical disinfection to secure safe water.  The system’s success is evident in WMI’s decades of serving communities plagued by poor water quality.

The LWTSTM incorporates a number of innovative features which makes it well-suited for the often harsh environments where safe water sources are desperately needed.  A single LWTSTM can treat up to 10 gallons (approximately 37.8 liters) of water per minute.  Recall from the previous article that between five and 13 US gallons of water are necessary to meet daily basic human needs.  When one considers the amount of water the LWTSTM can purify per day, and the amount of water needed per person for basic needs, the feasibility of the LWTSTM becomes clear.  One of these water treatment systems can continuously support a community of up to 3,000 individuals – a major improvement from unsafe water to a community now provided with access to safe water. In disaster situations, a single LWTS™ can serve up to 5,000 people.  Multiple LWTS™ systems can also be used to adequately serve larger populations.     

Active LWTS in Sri Lanka

Active LWTS in Sri Lanka


Management & operation

The best-suited water treatment option depends on the community’s local circumstances, infrastructure available and the available water sources and the water quality.  But regardless of which treatment option or combination of treatment options is implemented, management and operation always remain central in securing safe water supply.  The design of Water Mission International’s LWTSTM has taken this into account.  The LWTSTM design allows for simple operation and easy management.  The LWTSTM is usually implemented in rural areas where technical expertise and specialized training are often lacking.  The system is so uncomplicated that it can be set up in less than an hour, delivering safe and treated water within three hours.  For this reason, the LWTSTM treatment option with its features for easy operation and management, serves a great purpose.  Operational energy requirements are another critical factor that needs to be considered when recommending water treatment options for developing countries.  Often in rural areas, a constant and reliable source of electricity may be lacking.  Similarly, a reliable source of affordable fuel may are also lacking in many instances.  As an alternative for this situation, water treatment options that rely on renewable energy (solar, wind, biomass) are highly recommended.  Recognizing this potential operational pitfall, the LWTSTM operates with solar energy as sole energy source.  By making use of renewable energy, the cost of operation is also significantly reduced, from $3.00 per 1,000 gallons to $0.75 per 1,000 gallons!

With this background on safe water sources and how water can be treated to secure adequate quality, the next article in this series will focus on the process of implementing safe water solutions.

Safe water: a reason to smile

Safe water: a reason to smile


Photo credits: all rights reserved by Water Missions International (2013) and some rights reserved by Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Photos via flickr [Creative Commons].


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013).

Engineering for Change 

Reiff F., Roses M., Venczel L., Quick R., Will V. (1996) Low cost safe water for the world: a practical interim solution. Health Policy; 17: 389-408.

Safe Drinking Water is Essential (2008). Global Health & Education Foundation.  National Academy of Sciences.

Water Missions International 

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Permaculture: the link between sustainable living and environmental conservation – Part 4

The goal of permaculture science has always involved global application. The applicability of this science, and the ability of anyone anywhere to truly bring permaculture design principles home, is some of its greatest success factors. In bringing everything we’ve learnt about permaculture in this series together, let us consider how you can apply permaculture principles, whether you live in the suburbs or rural surrounds.

Many people today realize that our habits of yesteryear’s abundance need to change. No longer can we afford to use our natural resources without sparing a thought for resource conservation. Our modern day water and energy consumption levels are proving to be unsustainable. To satisfy the world’s growing food demand, high yielding agricultural practices, with intensive water and energy consumption, are the norm. These practices are major causes of environmental pollution and degradation. Our environment and own health are protesting against our modern, chemical based ways, but thankfully we have the basis of twelve permaculture principles to guide us to a new way of living!

Not everyone can start designing and building permaculture villages or restore ecosystems, but a good place to start applying permaculture design principles is in your garden or yard. Here are some practical tips!

Not everyone can start designing and building permaculture villages or restore ecosystems, but a good place to start applying permaculture design principles is in your garden or yard. Here are some practical tips!

Continue reading this article on What’s Your Impact.


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Water Missions International: Quenching physical and spiritual thirst

Globally, one out of every nine people lack access to a safe water source. Water Missions International (WMI) believes that this crisis is much greater than merely the lack of safe water. This lack of safe water is the cornerstone of an endless poverty cycle, one that can hardly be escaped from unless lasting safe water solutions are available.

For is reason, Water Missions International, a Christian non-profit engineering organization, believes in transforming lives and improving life quality through long-term, sustainable solutions. Water Missions International tackles the lack of safe drinking water across the globe and what has already been achieved since the organization’s establishment in 2001 is no small achievement. They have provided safe drinking water that is free of microbiological contaminants to more than 2.4 million people in developing countries and disaster areas. In total, WMI has served 49 countries across the world, focusing on Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Water Missions International serve in African countries such as Uganda, Kenya and Malawi

Water Missions International serves in African countries including Uganda, Kenya and Malawi

Meeting daily water needs does not require large volumes of water. In fact, much less water is required than what the average American or European citizen is used to. The average US citizen’s water consumption amounts to between 80 and 100 gallons per day, but according to the World Health Organization, five gallons can meet basic daily water needs in developing countries. Those of us with Western lifestyles use water indoors and outdoors, for basic needs and pure luxuries without a second thought. Sanitation goes without saying. However, this crisis steals the lives of thousands of people each day – more than war, natural disasters, AIDS or hunger, yet it rarely makes headlines. It is today’s silent killer.

So, how is WMI responding to the global water and sanitation crisis? Firstly, WMI acknowledges the individual communities they are working with. Through assessing the community’s specific needs, views and traditions, individual solutions are developed, customized and tailored to ensure lasting success. Two of WMI’s reliable and excellent technological solutions include The Healthy Latrine for proper sanitation and the Living WaterTM Treatment System for filtration and disinfection. Their work also relies on programs that engage community residents in promotion of healthy water, sanitation and hygiene behavior. These programs particularly focus on children and young adults, teaching the basic yet critical information on hygiene and health and how safe water and proper sanitation can improve lives.

Community involvement and ownership has proven to be a key success factor contributing to long term water and sanitation solutions. Water Missions International provides operational and administrative support to local water committees for at least one year after the water system is commissioned. When a community is ready to completely take ownership of their safe water solution, WMI transfers the project to their management; however they are always available as a resource.

Long term community support is part of WMI's safe water solution implementation programmes

Long term community support is part of WMI’s safe water solution implementation programmes

Driven by the desire to see an end to the global water crises, WMI’s transformational water solutions bring hope, health and happiness to millions. Being a non-profit organization, the selfless dedication of volunteers helps ensure that the organization’s goals are met. Water Missions International and all the people involved in this mission to end the world’s water crises is driven by another, even greater, goal: actively and purposefully serving in response to God’s desires for us – looking after the physical and spiritual well-being of others, providing the life-saving blessing of safe water while not neglecting the source of Living Water.


Photo credits & source: Water Missions International

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Permaculture: the link between sustainable living and environmental conservation – Part 3

As knowledge and understanding of permaculture spread across the globe, communities in far off corners of the world adopted and developed permaculture projects, each complying with the permaculture founding principles in its own right. These projects may seem small but are reaching huge impacts, many of which will last well into the future generations. One such permaculture project is the Klein Karoo Sustainable Drylands Permaculture Project, found on the outskirts of the small rural Little Karoo town of Ladismith.

Continue reading about this permaculture establishment here on What’s Your Impact.


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Permaculture: the link between sustainable living and environmental conservation – Part 2

permacultureNature, in all its facets, is central to permaculture. This nature-centered focus includes taking care of nature, nurturing it in all its forms, learning from nature and very importantly, giving back to nature. Considering the guiding principles of permaculture as described in the introductory article of this series, it is noted that the natural environment is the basis of the twelve guiding principles of permaculture. Since the natural environment is such a central point in permaculture design it necessitates special focus – this article will focus on how permaculture can achieve environmental restoration, balance and rehabilitation.

Continue reading this article here, on’s website.

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Earth Day 2013: hope in the midst of threats

ID-10074290As global citizens, we are nothing short of being threatened by the natural environment.  If not bombarded by politicians, media and activists on climate change, global warming, food shortages, environmental pollution, biodiversity loss, sea level rise, water wells running dry and scary ocean waves, then at least by our own inner voices telling us about dire days to come on this fragile earth. But on Earth Day 2013, let us look at the positive side, success stories in the midst of threats: undertakings of environmental restoration, ecosystem preservation and communities finding ways to live in perfect harmony with the natural environment. And indeed, there are hundreds of stories of environmental hope and success.

Rwanda’s Great Lake Restoration

Rwanda is taking back its wetlands, one at a time. Cash crop production, unsustainable agriculture, over-harvesting and careless drainage left the Great Lakes are in Rwanda in poor aquatic and environmental shape. But through the dedicated work of the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority, the country’s wetlands are one by one returned to prime nature spots, serving many ecological and economic functions. Local and international threatened species are finding their way to the safer Rwanda wetlands. One individual’s dedication, Dr Rose Mukankomeje, necessitates special mention – her environmental efforts and successes are widely recognised and no small achievement.

Organics and sustainability on the outskirts of Havana

Organopnico Vivero Alamar (OVA) is found outside the city borders of Havana, Cuba. Here, something great has been happening.  Organic livestock and crop production including fruits and medicinal plants, with careful integration and sustainable waste management, delivers a promise.  Food supply is secured for the local community, and with ample choice of fresh or preserved organic food. Local community involved, job creation and crop and livestock genetic stock are no small securities.

New beginnings

Following extensive restoration of the battered Baltra Island, September 2012 brought success.  A blue footed booby colony established naturally on this Galapagos Island, marking the first blue footed colony here in recent history. The 300-odd birds are said to have found their way back to Baltra after the extensive eradication of alien predators.

Talking no rubbish

Five European countries already achieved a 50% household waste recycling rate. Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland are almost a decade ahead in their EU recycling targets, and serves as a perfect example to the rest of the globe.

Like these stories of environmental success and promise, there are hundreds more! Look around you, we guarantee you will find a story of environmental improvement, no matter how small. People in all corners of the earth are stepping up to the challenge of restoring the earth, inspiring the rest to do the same.

Please feel free to share your environmental success story below!


Photos: some rights reserved by TeddyBear[Picnic] and xedos4 via

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One oxygen and two hydrogen atoms

One oxygen and two hydrogen atoms. Water. The 21st century was met with the concept of water stress, in stark contrast to the traditional outlook that water was an infinite resource which will be available for time eternal.  But looking at the current world population, water volumes and environmental changes facts, pictures nothing short of a desperate situation.  The crises of water stress is unfolding dramatically, and every second counts towards either securing solutions, or a global state of water crises.

ID-10051181Today, we know that only 2.5% of the world’s water resources are freshwater.  Of this 2.5%, 70% is in the form of permanent snow or ice cover, such as the Arctic region ice.  But apart from the 70% of freshwater capped in ice and snow, the rest is available for the world’s population?  Well, strictly speaking not.  The remaining 30% of the world’s freshwater is almost completely classified as groundwater.  Of the available 30%, a mere 0.3% is the water that we see in rivers in lakes.  The final amount readily available for our use is this: 0.3% of the world’s total water volumes.  Nature is sure taking its share!

Water is what makes the earth a habitable zone for living organisms – including humans.  Yet us humans have polluted the planet’s water from the one corner of the planet to the other, polluting the very critical freshwater resources that has the huge task of sustaining a global population of 7 billion people.   Our wealth has increased to a level where our agricultural production and industrial activities are water intensive and we are no longer satisfied with the basics.  We live in cities expanding by two people every second, people who are completely dependent on water and food resources from outside of the city’s boundaries.  All of these activities are directly linked to massive global water consumption and unsustainable water resource management.  Our global population is expanding beyond the supply thresholds of the earth’s supply.  And this is the point where water stress, turns into water crises.

ID-10032687Although at a quick glance there may be a difference between the people of the waterless Sahara and the urbanite opening a shiny tap for drinking water, the facts on world water tell us that urbanites may very well be closer to water scarcity than they thought.  Every year, 22 March marks World Day for Water.  Through this initiative, the public is urged to get informed on the world’s looming water crises, and take the simple advice on saving water to heart.  Are you accepting the challenge of working towards global water conservation?

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Sources: UN Water

Photo credits: some rights reserved by wwarby via flickr and dan and africa via

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