Rain Collection

Rainwater harvesting is a common practice in areas that receive a lot of rain. The water collected can be used to save money on water bills with its multiple applications. It can used to flush your toilet for example which is used for roughly 35% of most households’ water usage. Most the rain water is collected through gutter systems in which rain is funneled into a barrel of some type. Rain barrels can also be installed underground so that it’s more hidden. Though untreated rain water cannot be used for drinking and cooking, it can be used for watering the garden and washing machines as well. Of source being able to use the rain water for pluming use would be more expensive than using it for watering the garden as you would have to set up the pipes that run to your bathrooms. Good thing about rain water collection is that it is relatively low maintenance to upkeep once installed. With saving money on the water bill it also comes to reduce the pressure on the city’s main water supply. If the we give enough space to the main source then we don’t have to build more sites to receive and store water for the cities usage relatively.

Solar Panels in Rainy Weather

Use of solar panels in rainy areas can be seen as a bad idea as people think it would not work as well. While this may be true that the weather can affect its sunlight absorption; however, what is not as widely known is that rain can be good for your solar panels. The rain that hits the solar panel helps keep dirt and debris off the lenses as it rinses them off. What is also important is the type of solar panel set up that you have. For instance, what is not known is have the correct power optimizer for maximum power point tracking. This can be set up to where each individual solar panel can absorb and produce its own output instead of having it all configured into one. This can be more efficient as sunlight might not be on all of the solar panels. Solar panel also does not need direct sunlight in order to absorb power. Indirect sunlight can also be used and is still worth the investment.


The Last Straw

Image result for drinking straw
The next time you reach for a straw to indulge in your midnight mint mocha, you should do Mother Nature a favor and say “No”. As harmful as a straw may appear, the amount of danger it bestows on our wildlife is tremendous. Americans use about 500 million straws every day and these straws make it to the top 10 debris found at beaches. Among the sun kissed beaches, all debris is caused by humans! The straws that we use daily attract hungry and curious marine life. Despite being a frail, thin and harmful appearance, plastic wastes contribute to the death of about 100,000 animals.

This viral video surfaced varying social platforms and it is a strong reminder to how much danger a plastic straw can do to an innocent reptile. The turtle was rescued off the coast of Costa Rica and the rescuers helped remove the straw from its nose.

As helpful as a straw may be to help us consume beverages, straws may unintentionally enter the food chain of innocent creatures. A problem caused by humans can only be solved by us especially if we all work together.

  • The first solution would be to “Say No to Straws”. When given a straw, you can simply deny it. As hard as it may seem, we don’t really need to use straws for every beverage. So you can still enjoy your Frappuccino without missing out on all the straw action.
Image result for say no to straws

  • You can sign a pledge for the “One Less Straw” campaign. This campaign reminds users that plastic straws are composed of petroleum which remains stagnant on our planet even after disposal. With a couple clicks, you can support a world that denies the use of plastic straws. Click on the logo now to sign the pledge! 

  • If you really cannot live without straws, there are alternatives you can use! Stainless steel, glass and titanium straws can be easily purchased through Amazon. These reusable straws are dishwasher safe and they're small enough to carry everywhere in your bags/backpacks. 


  • Green Empowerment is also reaching out to countries such as Ecuador that focuses primarily on energy drinking water and sanitation projects. Check out their efforts here
 Together we can put an end to plastic straws and start a new one that helps other communities worldwide.

A Story of Trees: Вода жизни

          Think about what influences water preservation in the world? I mean, really think about what that looks like. OK, you have it? Now, tell me, what kind of tree did you imagine? I am going to take a wild guess and presume that a tree did not come to mind. I don’t blame you, a lot of other things come to mind when we consider what it takes to save water. However, trees play an integral role in the water preservation effort. So, what exactly do trees do for the water I drink? As it turns out, trees play a pivotal role in the hydrologic cycle which filters water, prevents floods, keeps a constant water supply and even keeps our soil from eroding [3]. Further, watersheds depend on the forest to maintain a homeostatic value of the surrounding ecosystem by providing soil stabilization and shelter for native fauna. While it is clear that forests provide important services for humans and animals, there have been dramatic deforestations events in the past few years. You could possibly imagine that we could simply create systems that could accomplish the aforementioned tasks, but this could prove to be incredibly more costly than simply investing in the existing natural infrastructure [3].
           Alright, so if this is the case who is the most affected? I had always imagined that Brazil (with the amazon forest) was facing these challenges most presently. According to the most present data from the World Forest Watch (the diagram below), Russia actually is the hardest hit from deforestation challenges [1]. While forestry provides only 0.8% of the country's GPD, the potential cost associated with deforestation could prove to be catastrophic [1]. Maybe, you're thinking, well that's Russia, how does that effect me? As you can see in the rankings, we don't fall that far behind. In fact, Russia, China, and the United States are all within the top ten countries who are experiencing significant forest degradation. This is all to say that as Russia loses Switzerland's worth of forest (about 40.9 million hectares), they could be potentially facing serious and preventable problems that are expressed economically and environmentally. The effects that deforestation will have on water and the global climate are already taking shape in the form of droughts and increasingly hotter fires [2]. It is then our responsibility to consider serious policy change when it comes the way we think about trees. We can have a real impact in shaping this global conversation with your vote. While politicized, water should be a fundamental right for every human being. Trees are in effect the source of life around the world, so what will you do? 

[1] Institute, W. (2017). Russia | Global Forest Watch. Globalforestwatch.org. Retrieved 15 May 2017, from http://www.globalforestwatch.org/country/RUS

[2] Russia Lost Forest The Size Of Switzerland Three Years In A Row. (2015). ThinkProgress. Retrieved 10 May 2017, from https://thinkprogress.org/russia-lost-forest-the-size-of-switzerland-three-years-in-a-row-2d542972109a

[3] Watersheds Lost Up to 22% of Their Forests in 14 Years. Here’s How it Affects Your Water Supply « Global Forest Watch. (2016). Blog.globalforestwatch.org. Retrieved 14 May 2017, from http://blog.globalforestwatch.org/data/watersheds-lost-up-to-22-of-their-forests-in-14-years-heres-how-it-affects-your-water-supply.html

Plastic Water Bottle

Plastic Water Bottle affects the Environment, plastic bottles were created with a petroleum production are known as polyethylene terephthalate and the usage of the requirement of amount of fossil fuels is the creation of transportation for them. In the late 1900's the United States of America held the title of the worlds largest exporter for oil, but as time goes on we are the largest importer.  A plastic bottle is filled up with liquid so it is nearly 25% of 100 full of oil to create the bottle. It is more difficult to recycle plastic bottle than people give the idea. The alarming amount of massage numbers of last bottle is nearly consumed through the entire world, and nearly almost all of them are not recycled due to the fact of the plastic bottles that are being recycled.

The blame of the reason of the plastic bottle is the United States Of America, is the largest consumer market for bottled plastic water in the entire world, second place is Mexico, third place Brazil and fourth place is China.

How much water do we waste per day?

How much does a human individual waste water per day? A leaky water faucet will lose a little bit more than 10 gallons of water. We human use an alarming amount of water, for watering our yard, taking long showers, doing chores like dishes, and flushing toilet also including drinking water! It has been research has proven from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) water leaking may cause to waste over 10,000 water per year! The way to fix this problem is the easiest problem less use of water  a reduction.
For example, drinkable water is used to wash down for toilet water. Reducing the water use from 3 gallons per day to less uses, that 3 gallons of water is being used just to flush down a toilet. Replacement of older toilets for new and improved toilets, that being said newer toilets use about 1 gallon of water improving from 3 gallons. This is just one example, if we take into account, hand/face washing, teeth brushing, laundry taking into examples.

Peru: Just a Vacation Destination?

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu - Facts

Peru is one of the most popular travel destinations featuring the beauties of Machu Picchu. Though it beams gorgeous scenery, Peru is not just a vacation destination. Rural Peru is in desperate need for clean water and basic sanitation needs such as toilets. Imagine life without a toilet? 

Rural PeruWater Crisis

In the world today, 2.5 billion people are without an adequate toilet and rural areas account for 80% of those lacking access to clean water. Proper sewage systems are necessary for preventing communicable disease, clean drinking water, and access to sanitation. 10% of the global disease burden could be reduced with improved sanitation.

Rose George expresses the global scarcity of sanitation and the need for toilets in her soft-humored Ted Talks:

To learn more about Peru and how you can help, click HERE and don’t forget to check out the latest water sanitation devices HERE.

Stop Plastic Water Bottle Production? Yes!

Ooho: portable drinking water...without the plastic bottle!

Skipping Rock Slab, an award-winning London-based laboratory has responsible for creating the seaweed-derived packaging for Ooho portable water. BTW: Not only can Ooho house water, but can contain soda and other drinks as well. This is innovation of the highest degree, and it holds enormous promise: if drink containers become edible and quickly biodegradable, the face of both recycling and plastic waste will most certainly and dramatically change. For anyone who consumes drinks or food that has been sitting in a plastic container and is concerned about the health implications, this cutting edge technology--an edible, sea plant-based container that breaks down in the environment as quickly as a piece of fruit, and can be just as easily digested. It is tasteless, odorless, and costs less to produce than plastic.

Skipping Rock Slab’s goal is to keep 1 billion plastic bottles from reaching our oceans annually. Their product isn’t yet being marketed, but is still in its demo stage at events and conferences. 

Life Saving Drones

Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAV), also known as drones, have developed a reputation for being associated with war. Military forces have used them to spy on their enemies and even drop bombs on them. But drones are a tool that can be used for much more that just military applications. They can also save lives instead of taking them.

Drones are now being used to transport medical supplies to locations that are very difficult or impossible to deliver to by traditional means. There are some areas that have weather patterns that wash out roads for extended periods, making ground vehicle transportation problematic. These are the kind of situations drones specialize in. Since they are well designed aerial vehicles, they can fly over impassable terrain in virtually the same kinds of weather commercial airlines can. This is good news for parts of the world that do not have efficient supply chains, since a successful delivery of life-saving blood to a clinic in need could mean the difference between life or death for their patients. 

The following video shows how this is already taking place in Rwanda. The company Zipline has established a supply chain for blood deliveries to health institutions in Rwanda. They are working towards the ability to transport other supplies as well.

This is a statement from the Zipline website: Partnering with the Government of Rwanda, Zipline serves 21 hospitals nation-wide. We provide instant access to lifesaving blood products for 8 million Rwandans.

Matternet is another company with a similar mission -- to deliver medical supplies to areas with limited access to roads. But they have a slightly different approach to this task. They want to create a delivery network that uses a leap frog approach similar to traditional shipping companies such as FedEx and UPS. These networks could be set up by the people who need it since they are decentralized.

Regardless of the approach used for delivery, those who benefit from drone technology will receive life-saving treatment they may not have been able to get otherwise. It seems likely that the trend of using drones to save lives will continue in the future.





Water Crisis

After the snowstorm in January and record rain for months, the sun finally shines bright in Portland in the last couple of days. While the weather is looking absolutely gorgeous, I begins to notice the increasingly amount of water that I have been drinking over the last few days. Up to 60% of the human adult body is water. That percentage is even higher for newborns. Approximately, 78% of their bodies are water.

PC: USGS Water Science School 

Water is vital to life and is an essential nutrient. 
Water can be found in our heart and brain (73%), lungs (83%), skins (64%), muscles and kidneys (79%) and even in our bones (31%). 

To stay healthy, you and I must maintain water balance, which means the amount of water intake need to be equivalent or close to water losses. Failing to do so may result in headache, muscle cramps or delirium and lose consciousness in a severe situation. 

The diagram on the left is taken from USGS Water Science School website to briefly go over multiple functions of water in the human body. 

Not many people have the luxury to drink clean water. There has been a water and sanitation crisis in the Phillipines for years now. Statistically, eighteen Fillipinos die daily from diarrhea and other water-related diseases. Most of the time, the burden of getting water for the family fall under the shoulder of children and women of that family. Below is the picture of Aileen, 8 years old, getting water for her family from a well. 

©2015 Children International
Unfortunately, Phillipines is not the only country to face with water crisis. To learn more about this global issue and the works around this, be sure to check out Phillipines at Green Empowerment Website

Rewriting Toilet Hygiene

After doing our “business” in the porcelain throne (also known as the toilet), we would reach the majestic handle to flush our creation away. Then a majority of us would have to get up and walk over to the sink area.  Our hands would reach over and grasp the handles of the facet to unleash the waterfall of cool/warm water. Whilst the water continues to run, we would entrust our memory to compress the spout of the detergent contraption. After lathering our phalanges, we will thrust our hands through the continuous cycle of water. Penultimately, we would reach for the facet handle again to disable the water. Finally, a towel is used to dry any soapy evidence to end the routine.

As romantically comedic as washing our hands may be, the entire process itself can be unsanitary. After doing our business, we would touch other objects in the bathroom as we head to the sink. This will potentially cause contamination which may spread gut, lung or viral infections for the next party. While the next party may not be using the toilet, they could touch the sink facet handle, table, and door knob which may be contaminated due to your poor toilet hygiene.

Globally, rural communities suffer from high mortality rates from inadequate sanitation such as diarrhea (gut infection). Therefore countries such as Japan have embedded the sink and toilet into one apparatus to lower the risk of contamination. This innovation not only saves water but it enforces hand washing without the turning of a facet handle. When the handle of the toilet is pulled down, clean water goes through the facet for you to wash your hands. The grey water that results from the hand washing fills the toilet basin for the next visitor.  Also it is common to find toilets in their own separate room in a home.

Although all of our homes may not be fortunate enough to have such a hygienic and sustainable apparatus, we can still take precautions and improve our toilet hygiene. While it may not seem like the most attractive idea, saving your flush for your next family member will conserve that water. Jackie Chan is an exemplifying example as he would let all members of the filming crew use the toilet before actually flushing it.  Of course you can also take smaller measures by:
  • Using toilet paper around the flush handle
  • Using your elbow/forearm to turn on the facet
  • Cover the toilet seat with a cover
  • Close the lid before you flush

Throughout the globe, Green Empowerment has integrated a WASH program which you can learn more about here: WASH

How Much Water Does An Average Person Use At Home Per Day?

According to data on water consumption in the world provided by the United Nation, there is 10% of freshwater dedicated for domestic use. On average, an American resident uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day, compare to a European resident who uses about 50 gallons of water per day, follow by a shocking 2 to 5 gallons of water per day for a resident of sub-Saharan Africa. United States is the country with the most water consumption in the world.

Below is an estimate of water used by an average American.

  • Bath - runs on the average of 36 gallons per full tub. 
  • Shower - old shower uses 5 gallons of water per minute use. With water-saving shower head, the number is approximately 2 gallons per minute. The average shower time in the US is 8.2 minutes. 
  • Teeth brushing - less than 1 gallon with newer faucets use 1 gallon per minute, compare to 2 gallons on older one. 
  • Hands/Face washing - 1 gallon 
  • Face/leg shaving - 1 gallon 
  • Dishwasher - 6 to 16 gallons depends on your dishwashers. Older model used 16 gallons per cycle wash. 
  • Dishwashing by hands - 8 to 27 gallons depends on how efficient you are and the kind of faucets you use. 
  • Clothes washer - 25 gallons per load for newer models. 40 gallons for older ones.
  • Toilet flush - average 3 gallons per flush. Most new ones use 1.6 per flush compare to 4 gallons for older toilets. 
  • Glasses of water you drank - recommended half a gallon per day, not counting your pets and water use for cooking. 
  • Outdoor watering - 2 gallons per minute. 
Do you agree with this list? If not, how much water do you think you use at home on a daily basis? Make your own list and compare it with your circle of friends! 

A visual image of how much water an average American use at home per day

Water for Good

Water for Good provides clean water for the Central African Republic. In the 10 years of operation, the organization have drilled 590 wells. According to the Water for Good, each well would service an average of 500 people. Once a well is drilled, the organization have maintenance teams visiting each of the wells on a regular basis to ensure access water is uninterrupted.

 The organization implements water projects through a procedure involving 5 steps. The first step is forming a well committee. This committee is chosen by the community and is responsible for overseeing the well usage in the village. The second step is drilling the well. Water for Good drilling teams will work with the village to locate a well location and begin the drilling process. The third step is community training. The community will work with the Water for Good teams to provide a variety of educational classes within the community. These includes classes on AIDS/HIV education, community health, sanitation, and nutrition. The fourth step is maintenance. Water for Good maintenance team will pay regular visits to each well in the system to ensure it the pumps are operating smoothly. The team will also be collecting payments for the program. The last step involves community development. In this step, Water for Good teams will plan future projects to further the development of the community.

How to Live Sustainably on a College Campus

If you have lived in an apartment shared with roommates or in a dorm, you know that it is not easy to balance a healthy, sustainable lifestyle while maintaining an efficient academic life at the same time. Don’t worry, there are many things you can do  in all aspects of your college life to reduce your impact on the environment, from from transportation, dining hall, to residence hall. Take these small steps in save our planet: 

Sustainability in campus transportation:

Bicycling uses no fuel, which is a good choice to save the environment. Take advantage of your college’s bike program. Different college may have different programs that encourage its students to bike to and from campus, especially those who cannot afford a bike or are not able to bring their bike from home. Not only does biking saves you a lot of money, it is also very good for your joints and keep your body active and in shape. 

Sustainability in residence hall:

Participate in the resale and reuse events/programs. For example, sell your used housewares and clothes that you don’t use anymore to other students, or donate to local organizations. College campus is a great place to hold resale programs because every year, there are new incoming students and students moving off campus, they tend to leave behind housewares, clothes, furniture, books that others might be interested in. These programs give students the opportunity to sell things that they no longer need and also they don’t have to go look in stores for items that are much more expensive.  
When you’re in the dorm, turn off electrical devices when they are not in use such as light bulbs, computers, and refrigerators over long breaks. Place your desk by the window so you can use natural light instead of electrical light whenever possible. 
When you notice your hall’s kitchen or bathroom has leaky faucet or showerhead, report to an administrator right away. 

Sustainability in dining hall:

Choose locally grown, farm raised food whenever possible. On some college campuses, there are farm markets that sell organic, locally grown vegetables on the weekends that is affordable and convenient for college students. If students consume local produce, the fossil fuels and the use of artificial fertilizers will be reduced. Not only does eating locally grown food good for you because it is fresh and cheap, but it is also sustainable and beneficial to the farmers and producers.