While I know that we all want to do something fantastic and BIG and say hey, I made an impact today! And I know that being carbon neutral is the biggest buzzword around. Rog. So the deal is, with global warming, the best, absolute best thing you can do?
It’s to STOP USING ALL THE THINGS.
And this, my friends, is so boring. And it’s also fairly annoying – because frankly, using all of the things is fun. Not only that, but it goes against literally every marketing message out there (and my extreme love of Target and Costco). Which means that it’s not fun, counter culture, and often frustrating.
Totally unsexy and boring. Great.
So, just how exactly does this work? Well, what this “reduce” part of the equation means is that each of us uses up less of the limited resources on Earth. And since there are more than 7 Billion of us, each of our individual actions add up to a lot. For example, the average American eats almost 1 ton of food each year, and consumes as much energy as 31 Chinese and 370 Ethiopians. Which means that, if we could take that down a notch, there would be much, much less carbon in the atmosphere. And that means a much more sustainable environment.
Dollar for dollar, conservation is the most effective way of saving our environment.
I know this because this is exactly what I did my undergrad thesis on. That is – I did a cost-benefit analysis of methods to reduce global warming (carbon tax, tariffs, regulations, and…conservation campaigns). And who was the winner?
Conservation, who knew? I so very, very expected one of the economic models to win out (economics is one of my degrees, I can’t help but love them). But nope. Not so much, It’s all about the reduction of each individual.
And why does this all matter…?
Because we all want to make that big splash, we all want to make a huge impact. And the hugest impact that YOU, you, you the individual and awesome world-changer that you can make is to USE LESS.
And that takes us to today’s project.
No, we’re not going to ask you to go off the grid, become a freegan, and throw away all devices (I just. I can’t). But we are asking you to do one project, at home, that will be a huge win for the world’s environment, for your own personal green space, and for the carbon neutral movement as a whole.
We call that living The Spark Life.
And now you get to be a part of it.
One of our core principles here at Aina is that we don’t just talk about issues, we give you meaningful, hands-on action you can take to change the world, today. We’re giving you this fantastic project to help environmental conservation with one of Aina’s Accredited Nonprofits. And if saving the environment isn’t your Spark (have you heard of the Spark Life?), or if this project doesn’t ring quite true to you, be sure to Contact Us! Because empowering women to change the world is what we do here at Aina, and we’re here to help you.
So today we’re giving you an easy, awesome, and ACTUALLY WORKING BIKE CELL PHONE CHARGER that you can make. At home. To charge your phone while you bike. Because that, my friends, is local action. Before we get to today’s project, let’s talk a few fast facts on being Carbon Neutral and Renewable Resources so you can wow your friends at the next dinner party – and understand why this project is so important.
YOUR ISSUE: CARBON NEUTRAL
Being carbon neutral means you put out as much carbon in your everyday activities as you take in. Renewable resources – and where we get our energy and fuel – are an integral part of being carbon neutral, so to help you have some facts on hand, here’s an easy infographic:
Ohhh, there are so many fun facts. Yep, renewable resources create FIVE TIMES more jobs than fossil fuels. So, us capitalists can still rejoice ;). Did you know that renewable energy now supplies a third of the UK’s energy? And I LOVE the fact that 1 wind turbine can create enough energy to power 1,400 homes – not to mention that one hour of sunlight could meet the world’s energy demands for a whole year. Of course, we are not there yet, people – we have a LONG way to go to make all of these renewable sources a reality. But if each of us took practical action at home to harness this? We’d be a lot farther down that path.
YOUR ORGANIZATION: Practical Action
Ok ladies, the fantastic news is that you can do something about it, right now, from home. Yep, you – because we are SO not fans of doom and gloom here at Aina.
We are women of action. And we’re out to save this world.
Enter this project – and the fantastic organization Practical Action.
Founded in 1966, Practical Action “is a global innovator, inspiring people to discover and adopt ingenious, practical ways to free themselves from poverty and disadvantage.” So. Amazing. And while their focus is on poverty, guess what? Access to energy is a huge equalizer in the economic game. And access to energy that’s cheap, sustainable – and doesn’t require huge investments in the fossil fuel industry? That’s what we call a game-changer. For this reason, one of Practical Action’s main areas of focus is on Energy Access.
In the Energy Access area Practical Action works with communities to develop renewable energy solutions. While all options are on the table, they focus mainly on water, wind, sun, and waste. In fact, in 2017 alone they helped 1.2 million people get access to sustainable, modern energy sources. Moreover, they have 104 projects around the world focusing on energy, sustainable agriculture, urban water, sanitation and waster services, and disaster risk reduction.
Not only that, but they are scrappy and get the work done with the fewest resources (one of our big requirements for our partner organizations). Even more – they use only 1% of their funds on governance. Talk about scrappy and hard-working. They are so very awesome – and you can be awesome with them too. Keep reading for one way to get involved, and find more ways to support Practical Action here.
- Retro-Style Bike Headlight Generator
- Adaptaplug Socket Cable
- 1/4″ Grommets
- Small Bicycle Saddle Bag
- Micro USB Adaptaplug
- Medium Grip Clip
- 1000uF 35V Radial Lead Electrolytic Capacitor
- Silicon Bridge Rectifier, 400V 1.5A
- Waterproof Project Box
- +5V Fixed-Voltage Regulator
- Cable Ties
- Insulated Ring Tongue Lugs
- Screws, Bolts, Washers, Nuts
- Non-Insulated Ring Tongue Lugs
- Hookup Wire
- Wire Stripper
- Soldering Iron and Solder
- Drill and Bits
- Note: Some of these links may include affiliate links 🙂
Given that 81% of all power in the U.S. comes from fossil fuels, each and every time we turn on a light or plug in our phones we are throwing more carbon into the atmosphere. For those of us trying to live the carbon neutral life, that makes our cell phone love hard. So, my fellow crafty warriors, let’s pull out our toolkit and find a better way to power those phones.
Step 1: Human Powered Phone Charger
Yep, that’s right – use the above materials, push up those Rosie the Riveter sleeves, and make your bike into a climate change champion fighter. This project is SO COOL, it’s completely doable by the average crafty person (and even non-crafters – honestly, you can DO this!), and it has awesome output.
Follow along on the complete video tutorial for this project – and if you’re a reader, get the full step-by-step instructions here. We think that it’s even better that this project comes from Make Magazine. If you’re a maker or creator or crafter, you need to be following this youtube channel and magazine – they are fantastic!
Step 2: Raise Biking Bucks for Practical Action
Not only can you go carbon neutral – but you can also support your favorite organization. Go biking, get some exercise, be carbon neutral, and save the world. Not bad ;). Practical Action has put together a fantastic, easy-to-use Fundraising Guide so you can get all of the details and resources on how to bike for bucks (and charge your phone at the same time).
Step 3: Get Connected
Whenever a woman asks us how they can start helping the world in their specific issue of interest, we always tell them to start with a known organization. Practical Action is a great, Aina-Accredited organization to start with if you are interested in conservation. Read up on what they do and see if they fit you. Find out who is on Their Board of Directors, and check them out on Linkedin. Do you have any kind of connection to them? If so, reach out. If not, reach out! Open that dialogue, you’d be surprised to see where it takes you. If Practical Action isn’t your cup of tea or you don’t know where to start, contact us!! We are here to help, and we know how to get you where you want to go.
Step 4: Get Involved
Practical Action not only helps save our environment, but they also care SO MUCH about the community that supports them. Because we know that the world only changes in community, this ability to get involved is one of our must-haves for accredited partner organizations. This is just one of the reasons we love them.
You can see some of our other projects with them – like Poetry Slam! – or you can check out the whole gamut of Aina’s involvement projects here. No matter what, you should contact Practical Action and let them know that you want to be more involved with what they’re doing – they are worth your world-changing time!
Step 5: Step Up Your Game
Is all of this slightly intimidating? If so, contact us at Aina and we’ll help you down this path! As we’ve worked in this field for over 15 years, we know how daunting it can be. Believe us, we have few tricks up our sleeves to get you, as we like to call it, Living the Spark Life. We don’t want you to have to reinvent the wheel, because we’ve made all of the mistakes out there. We’d love to chat and shine light onto Your Spark.
Do you love this renewable resources project and want to take more action to save the environment? We have more fantastic environmental projects for you!
→Conservation Composter is the perfect project for all of your veggie scraps!
→Breathing Forests is a fantastic project for to help stop global warming. This is perfect for those with younger children and green thumbs.
→Meatless Mondays is a fantastic conservation project that also helps you go carbon neutral a little bit at a time!
GET CONNECTED TO AINA
Carmen Westbrook is the CEO and co-founder of Aina Giving, a female-led company that transforms women into world changers. Join the movement of DIY World Change and get our accredited projects, leadership coaching, and nonprofit consulting – Contact Us and tell us how you want to change the world. We’ll help you get there.