Take it to Zero

Announcing the all new Take it to Zero initiative that’s starting right now!

Take it to Zero is a grassroots movement to make world changing ideas available for free on a massive scale. There are thousands of amazing world changing ideas, but all too often these ideas suffer from obscurity, lack of funding, or fail to materialize due to some weakness in our economic system. These things hinder their rapid, wide scale proliferation. Take it to Zero is a movement of dedicated volunteers that aims to overcome these barriers and help bring incredible ideas into fruition.

Basic concepts of Take it to Zero:
– Focus on ideas that produce significant, tangible results for the poor, promote self-sufficiency and help protect the environment. This includes such things as restoring degraded land back into productive agricultural land, providing clean drinking water and fuel efficient stoves.
– Good ideas are often lost among billions of websites. Those who need these ideas most often have little or no access to the Internet.
– Anyone can submit recommendations for world changing ideas.
– A committee of volunteer reviewers choose the most promising ideas to pursue.
– A separate committee of volunteers that includes key stakeholders work together to bring the cost of each idea down to zero in a reasonable time frame.
– Possible solutions to bridge the gap between struggling idea to successful large scale implementation are many: crowdfunding, major donations from philanthropists, grants, microfinance, donation of intellectual property by the inventor, backing by NGOs, increased media coverage including popular websites and celebrity endorsements, pro bono work by experts and other volunteers, education campaigns, new business startups. There’s even a chance of gaining government support, especially on community projects. Why not? The economy in these areas could be greatly improved with this process.

Examples of world changing ideas that are currently ‘stalled’ and not fully available to those in need:
– Paul Stramets natural fungi pest control could annually save billions of dollars in damages from termites, carpenter ants and similar pests. (Challenge: has to compete against giant pesticide companies.)
– AMF-PGPR, a natural fungi inoculum, can boost plant growth by 80%. Just imagine what would happen with the world’s food supply if people could grow their own fungi solution starting with small samples from agricultural extension services. (Challenge: lack of detailed information and awareness.)
Bhaskar Save the Gandhi of natural farming has one of the most productive farms in the world. His farm is a net supplier of food, water, energy and topsoil. (Challenge: uphill battle against Big Agriculture, and needs to convince the masses who are trapped in poverty to take a risk and switch to natural farming.)
– Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, the largest most comprehensive human nutrition study ever done, and Plant-Based Nutrition, the most popular online course at Cornell University. (Challenge: the nutrition course could save countless lives if taught in every city and village around the world, however it is not affordable to the poor.)
Sand dams and earthen check dams are cost effective solutions to water shortage problems in arid and semi-arid areas. (Challenge: lacks public awareness and financing.)
Back to Eden organic gardening method produces amazing results even in compacted clay and gravelly soils. Challenge: no book available with complete details despite tens of millions of views on YouTube.)
– Dr. Elaine Ingham at SoilFoodWeb.com Her natural soil building methods are proven to regenerate degraded land, including deserts and hard pan clay soils by proliferating beneficial soil microorganisms. (Challenge: the online courses are not affordable to those in developing countries.)
– Aprovecho Research Center rocket stoves are very low cost and extremely fuel efficient. These stoves would slow the deforestation of marginal lands in poor areas because they can operate on just twigs and agricultural wastes, and only require a fraction of the fuel of typical stoves. (Challenge: need to get the basic information with detailed plans and make it freely available to those in poor regions.)
– Filmmaker John D. Liu documents how large scale degraded ecosystems can be turned into highly productive land with sufficient focus and cooperation. See his documentary on restoring the Loess Plateau of China. (Challenge: lack of publicly available detailed information, awareness, government support and organization to do similar restoration work in lots of other areas.)
– Ginger Krieg Dosier microbial-induced eco bricks made of sand, common bacteria, calcium chloride and urea. Challenge: lack of detailed information so this idea can be applied worldwide by owner-builders on tight budgets.)

Good example of what to work towards: Joseph Jenkins humanure composting toilets. He provides free online plans and a free download of his book, but he also makes money by selling physical copies of his book and pre-made composting toilets for those who don’t want to make their own.

Another good example: Authors Mats Myhrman and S.O. McDonald sold their Build it With Bales book for a number of years and just recently made it available for free on the Internet. What a bargain! It just so happens this is one of the best books ever written on the subject for those who are building in non-code areas.

Example of what to avoid: Poured earth is a proprietary earth building system made with soil and magnesium oxide. Poured earth is a viable replacement in many cases for Portland cement – the largest carbon producer of any building material. After following this story for about 15 years, it’s shocking to learn only a handful of buildings have been constructed to date. Just imagine if this simple building system could be made freely available to the masses.

Conclusion: Take it to Zero is a brand new idea. Please leave a comment or email me if you have useful suggestions or would like to get involved.

Take it to Zero is a post from: Natural Building Blog

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A House Made Entirely From Plastic Bottles? You Bet!

“In rural Nigeria, a few creative visionaries have created something called bottle brick technology that allows them to build strong structures using water bottles and soil. After sourcing plastic water bottles from nearby streets and dumps, the builders pack them with soil. By stacking the bottles on top of one another and binding with mud and string, they’re able to create a functional house. Not convinced? The developers say, “Once filled, the bottles are eighteen times stronger than regular bricks, and can withstand earthquakes and bullets.” It takes about 14,000 plastic bottles to build the incredible house featured in the video above.

These bottle brick houses could potentially provide a solution for the housing problem currently happening in rural Nigeria. Traditional houses have become too expensive for many people. On the other hand, bottle brick houses cost about a third of the price of traditional housing (since their raw material is virtually free), offering an eco-friendly and price-sensitive alternative to the local community. The developers of bottle brick technology hope that it will catch on in other communities within the country — and beyond.”

More at the source: Ignite

A House Made Entirely From Plastic Bottles? You Bet! is a post from: Natural Building Blog

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Humus – the essential ingredient: Graeme Sait at TEDxNoosa – YouTube

Humus – the essential ingredient: Graeme Sait at TEDxNoosa – YouTube.

As Graeme Sait explains in this must-see Tedx talk, we all need to protect and increase our healthy soils, which have been devastated through conventional farming and other means. The humus in soil is what traps carbon, holds moisture and contains the minerals needed for healthy plants and food crops.

Graeme talks about one way we can all help keep our planet habitable for future generations, by simply making sure our towns and cities are collecting food waste and turning it in to compost, which is then put back into the soil to feed it.

The Architecture of Mud

Excellent documentary of adobe houses in Yemen. Highly recommended. This could be considered a must see video for serious natural builders and architects. The next time somebody asks me “Can you build more than one story with earthbags?” I should send them this link.


The Architecture of Mud is a post from: Natural Building Blog

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More Natural Building Books

Commonsense Architecture
Natural Building: Creating Communities Through Cooperation
Sticks Stones Mud Homes
The Natural Builder, Volume 1
Designing Your Natural Home
The Sheltermaker’s Manual
Natural Building Methods – Best of Mother Earth News
Building with Straw Bales – A Practical Manual for Self-builders and Architects

More Natural Building Books is a post from: Natural Building Blog

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