When most people think of IKEA , they most likely think of affordable furniture and trendy home accessories. But many people are unaware of the company’s lofty social goals. In addition to their efforts to promote sustainability , it turns out IKEA is also working on a plan to alleviate poverty for Syrian refugees and other disadvantaged people around the globe. IKEA recently announced it’s building new production centers in Jordan this summer, as part of a plan to create employment for 200,000 disadvantaged people around the world. The facilities will be open and running by August, and will provide jobs to refugees producing rugs, cushions, bedspreads, and other handmade woven items. These particular facilities are the result of a partnership with the Jordan River Foundation , a non-governmental organization founded by Jordan’s Queen Rania. To start out, these particular plants will only employ 100 people, rising to 400 within two years. About half will be local workers and the other half will be Syrian refugees . Related: IKEA’s Lena Pripp-Kovac talks to Inhabitat about their sustainability program The new production centers are just one of many projects the furniture giant is working to establish around the world. Already, they’ve launched programs to help Indian women and Sweden’s immigrant population, which employ about 2,000 people collectively. The ultimate goal is to eventually employ about 200,000 people around the world through these initiatives. Rather than lead the projects themselves, IKEA is teaming up with local social entrepreneurs – organizations that help use business solutions to alleviate poverty, rather than simply distributing aid. Not only does this help provide jobs for people who desperately need them, it also helps organizations that would normally be too small to meet IKEA’s supplier guidelines to get their work into stores around the globe. Related: IKEA is launching a whole range of “no waste” products made from recycled materials This isn’t the first time IKEA has used its clout for social good. The company also recently established the IKEA Foundation to help children in poor communities, and unveiled an award-winning flat-pack refugee shelter design . So the next time you buy a new bookshelf or visit just to sample the Swedish fare at the restaurant, you can feel good knowing your purchase is helping others around the world. Via Dezeen Images via YouTube/Screenshot
The robotically 3D-printed Voxel Chair 1.0 looks like it came straight out of a science fiction film. The futuristic mesh-like prototype was designed by Manuel Jimenez Garcia and Gilles Retsin , and manufactured using extruded PLA plastic through Robotic Additive Manufacturing Platform (RAMP), an innovative process that enables 3D printing of large-scale products with stunning detail and durability. The Voxel Chair, whose shape is inspired by the Panton chair design, is the first prototype of its kind using new software that is specifically developed for robotic 3D printing. Unlike most 3D printing processes that use pre-defined forms, this innovative software – based on research by Manuel Jimenez Garcia and Gilles Retsin – allows for optimal control of thousands of line fragments. Related: Lilian van Daal creates a Biomimicry-inspired, 3D-printed chair Designed in collaboration with fabrication firms Nagami.Design and Vicente Soler, the chair was built out of transparent PLA, a non-toxic, biodegradable plastic that can be made out of various renewable resources like corn starch. Cyan-colored particles were mixed into the plastic to give the chair its unique glass-like appearance. The unique chair is just one example of how the RAMP process can be used to build stronger 3D-printed products . Considering the breakneck speed of advances in the field, unprecedented large-scale 3D objects are only a matter of time. The Voxel Chair 1.0 is currently on display at the Imprimer Le Monde in Centre Pompidou Paris. + Manuel Jimenez Garcia + Gilles Retsin Via Ignant Images via Manuel Jimenez Garcia, Gilles Retsin and Nagami.Design
This spellbinding icy blue throne was 3D-printed by robots
Only in Texas, people. This whimsical boot-shaped home may look like a quirky roadside stop, but it’s actually a fully functioning home available for rent . Designed and built by Dan Phillips of Phoenix Commotion – a firm that specializes in building affordable homes using reclaimed materials – the unique 2 bedroom, 1 bath home comes with custom features, a nice yard, and even a stunning rooftop deck “to boot”! The cowboy boot home, which is located in Huntsville, Texas, looks solitary from most angles, but it’s actually connected to a small tin-roofed bungalow with a wrap-around porch. The addition was added on to increase the total floorspace to a compact, but livable 711 square feet . Related: Beekeeper built dream hexagonal house without ‘hateful’ right angles Things are just as curious on the interior as they are outside. Dan Phillips has made a name for himself for building with whatever reclaimed materials he can find, and the cowboy boot house is no different. Throughout the home, the walls are clad in various wood pieces collected from other building sites. Shards of tiles make up the mosaic flooring, and parts of the ceiling are plastered in vintage record covers. The home has two bedrooms (one of which is accessed by ladder,) a single bathroom, and a kitchen clad in undulating metal sheets. A red spiral staircase leads to a rooftop deck located on the highest level of the boot. Although the boot home does have its roadside quality, the people behind the design, Phoenix Commotion, have more than just quirky homes in their portfolio. Since 1997, the company has constructed over 20 eco-friendly, affordable homes using reclaimed materials in the Huntsville area. All of their projects are built with help from future tenants, who tend to be low-income families. + Phoenix Commotion Via New Atlas Images via Har.com
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This crazy boot-shaped tiny house could only exist in Texas
If you’re in the market for a unique, mobile tiny house to call home, check out this quirky 1997 Thomas Built school-bus-to-mobile-home conversion. The 203 square foot cozy cabin on wheels is topped with solar panels, and it can be yours for a cool 24,900 . The old school bus was renovated in 2016 and it comes complete with a bedroom large enough for a queen sized bed and a comfortable living space that runs the length of the bus. We’re particularly impressed with the interior design. The interior is clad in beautiful cedar panels with a stain-resistant, heavy duty faux wood flooring. For the traveling foodie, the 6-foot kitchen countertop allows for plenty of cooking space. Floor-to-ceiling shelving in the bathroom and closet provide plenty of storage. Related: Traveling family renovates old school bus as both solar-powered home and hostel The bus is able to operate 100% off-grid thanks to its rooftop solar array . LED rope lights were installed throughout the space, and the bathroom has a composting toilet with diverter. A cast iron stove set on a brick hearth keeps the interior toasty in the winter months with additional help from custom-made insulated curtains that can be velcroed in place. The walls, ceiling and floor are also fully insulated, making it suitable for extreme cold or hot weather. Photos via Tiny House Listings
Comments Off on Matali Crasset Works With Zimbabwean Weavers to Craft Organic Vessels With Drooping Udders
Read the rest of Matali Crasset Works With Zimbabwean Weavers to Craft Organic Vessels With Drooping Udders Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “natural materials” , Basket Case II , biodegradable containers , Bulawayo , decorative items , Gourd’s Family , green interiors , Matali Crasset , social design , social entrepreneurship , weaved baskets , weaving , Zimbabwe , Zimbabwean women weavers
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Matali Crasset Works With Zimbabwean Weavers to Craft Organic Vessels With Drooping Udders
INTERVIEW: Kacie Meyers, the 22-Year-Old Who Turned Discarded Wood Pallets into a Commercial Flooring Business
Comments Off on INTERVIEW: Kacie Meyers, the 22-Year-Old Who Turned Discarded Wood Pallets into a Commercial Flooring Business
At a time when most college students are still trying to figure out how they want to make an impact on the world, 22-year-old Kacie Meyers is already building a business empire with Pal Hardwood , transforming discarded wooden pallets into well-designed products, and giving jobs to people with special needs. We recently had the privilege of chatting with the Johnson and Wales University graduate in Charlotte, North Carolina, during her public presentation as a college entrepreneur in ImpactU ‘s business accelerator program. Check out our interview with this young social entrepreneur who is finding ways to use design as a catalyst to do good for individuals in need, as well as for the planet. Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Read the rest of INTERVIEW: Kacie Meyers, the 22-Year-Old Who Turned Discarded Wood Pallets into a Commercial Flooring Business Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Green Building , green hardwood flooring , green house materials , kacie Meyers , Pal Hardwood , pallet , pallet wood , pallet wood flooring , recycled pallets , recycled wood pallets , social entrepreneurship , special needs , sustainable enterprise , sustainable hardwood flooring , sustainable wood , upcycled pallets , upcycling , upcycling home materials , wood pallets , wooden pallets
Comments Off on UK Building World’s Most Environmentally Friendly Solar Farm
UK -based solar farm operator Primrose Solar is teaming up with solar company Solarcentury to build a 48 MWp solar farm on the Southwick Estate in Fareham, Portsmouth. The farm will produce enough clean electricity to power 11,000 homes, but that’s not the whole of the good news story. The companies are taking a holistic approach to the project with the aim of making it the greenest ground-mounted solar farm in the world. They plan to achieve this by incorporating such environmentally friendly features as a full ecological site survey and using solar and biodiesel generators during construction. Read the rest of UK Building World’s Most Environmentally Friendly Solar Farm Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “clean energy” , Biodiversity , Primrose Solar , solar farm , Solar Power , solarcentury , UK
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UK Building World’s Most Environmentally Friendly Solar Farm
Comments Off on How do I make the move to social entrepreneurship?
Our advice columnist counsels a global strategy consultant on the steps necessary to launch a social enterprise startup.
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How do I make the move to social entrepreneurship?
Comments Off on NURU Energy Provides Cheap, Efficient Night Lighting to Rwanda and Promotes Social Entrepreneurs
NURUÂ Energy is replacing expensive, dangerous, and unhealthy kerosene in rural Rwandan households by introducing a cheap, safe, and clean night lighting solution, known as the NURUÂ Light. The for-profit social enterprise believes that the solution to the developing worldâ€™s lighting crisis must be market-based with the mission of creating an affordable light that the worldâ€™s poor not only want, but can afford. Why does Rwanda Need An Efficient Night Lighting System? Most of Rwanda’s rural population uses kerosene for their lighting needs. Kerosene is hazardous for human healthÂ and the environment. I t is a fossil fuel that burns with noxious fumes and according to the World Bank, 780 million women and children breathing kerosene fumes inhale the equivalent smoke from two packs of cigarettes per day. To make matters worse, in NURUâ€™s countries of operations, kerosene-based lighting systems result in over 25 million tons of carbon dioxide every year.Â The Poor Man’s Energy Paradox The kerosene lantern is not only inefficient, it is also EXPENSIVE! Get this! According to NURU, “The amount of light from the lamp is only about 1% of what the people in industrialized countries have for the same price and is only 0.2% as strong as a 60 watt light bulb.” In the words of C.K. Prahalad, University of Michigan professor and author ofÂ The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: â€œ[the poorâ€™s] sources of energy are dirty and inefficient, and on a per-kilowatt basis they cost anywhere from 5-100 times more than modern fuels and electricity.Â The paradox is that the poor are spending a disproportionate share of their income on a product that richer people can get cheaper and of high qualityâ€. The NURUÂ Light is a Market-Based Solution to a Lighting Problem NURU Bottle Mounted Light The NURU light takes into account the different needs of the rural households it serves, creating a useful product that is: Multifunctional: Â The NURU light is very versatile and can be positioned in a number of ways according to the need; It can go from free-standing to being strapped around the neck or head. It can be mounted or hung or even connected with more units to form a room light. It has aÂ 4 position switch for high, medium, low, and off. Efficient:Â Rechargeable NiMH battery which when fully recharged produces 25 hours of light (low), 18 hours of light (medium), or 9 hours of light (high) â€“ about 3-7 days of light â€“ in just 20 minutes of charging!Â The result is a 375:1 use to charging ratio, compared to just 1:1 with solar. It is bright (uses white LED lights), affordable, modular (the user can use them separately or connect them together to create a brighter light)Â and durable. How Can AÂ NURUÂ Light beÂ Recharged? Depending on the situation and electricity availability, the light can be charged in three ways – Pedal Power to Recharge Light POWERcycle – NURU Light has developed the worldâ€™s first commercially available pedal generator . Unlike wind and solar, the pedal ensures that power is always available .Â The POWERCycle can charge up to five lights at once in just twenty minutes of pedaling. Because the POWERCycle is easy to operate, even children can use it. POWERgrid – Almost two billion people have access to electricity for only a few hours a day. With the POWERGrid, a plug-in charging system, customers can charge five lights at once when they have access to electricity and use the NURU Lights when the power is out. POWERsolar-Â NURU Light has also developed a solar panel that can charge up to five lights at once.Â This clean and efficient lighting system allows customers to charge their lights during the day and use them at night. NURU Light Encourages Social-Entrepreneurs and Makes Lighting Cheap Sameer Hajee co-founder and CEO of NURU Energy says, â€œWe are setting up a network of rural lighting entrepreneurs who sell or rent out NURU lights and then recharge customerâ€™s lights for a small fee using the worldâ€™s first commercially available pedal generatorâ€ The distribution model is based on helping local residents to start small businesses that rent out and recharge lights. NURUâ€™s practice is to partner with micro lenders â€” financial institutions that make small loans to citizensâ€” in order to teach and help would-be entrepreneurs become NURU franchisees. NURU Energy is a great example of a for-profit social enterprise, who view the whole picture, thus creating effective, market-based solution s to help communities in dire need. Their innovative ideas are improving the lives of thousands, sustainably, while lowering their footprint. What do you think? Aren’t stories like these truly inspiring? Image credit: NURU Light
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NURU Energy Provides Cheap, Efficient Night Lighting to Rwanda and Promotes Social Entrepreneurs
Comments Off on The method method: A Cleaner Clean, Design + Innovation and Just Plain Weird
Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, method co-founders, Image courtesy: method Flashback to the year 2000: Â Â Ericâ€™s wondering why cleaning products are so poorly designed, and Adamâ€™s dreaming of green cleaners that actually work and arenâ€™t stinky. Together, these two childhood friends come up with an idea to revolutionize the cleaning world with stylish, eco-friendly products made with non-toxic ingredients that clean like heck and smell like heaven. 2001: method is born, and the Eric and Adam we are talking about are Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, childhood friends and co-founders of method. Fast forward to 2011: In 10 years, method has grown into a $150 million brand â€” a brandÂ synonymous with green, good and successful. ItÂ was ranked the 7th fastest growing company in America by Inc. Magazine in 2006 and the 16th most innovative company in the world by Fast Company. How did method, in 10 years, turn the cleaning business industry upside down, redefine cleaners and set new standards for cleaning supplies? Eric and Adam reveal their successes are tied to their 7 obsessions! They talk about the method story in a book they released this week called ‘The method method’ (an excellent read that is both humorous and gripping). They call these core strategies “obsessions” because they realize that unless you are obsessed about your business values and practices, they could fade away as your business grows. Eric spoke exclusively to Ecopreneurist on the book and these obsessions that make method. Why did they get into the cleaning products business?Â Eric says “In advertising, I was always trained to look at cultural-shifts in consumer behavior where larger brands are not delivering and we realized this was the right place to be. We asked ourselves, what we could do differently and saw tremendous opportunity in this industry”. Tip: There is wonderful opportunity in well-established industry sectors, where environmental aspects or as Eric says, “cultural shifts” in consumer behavior are not addressed by larger establishments. This is a place small business owners can make a difference. Eric then spoke about partnerships and how the diversity in education and work between the co-founders actually laid a strong foundation for their business model. Eric’s background in advertising and design coupled with Adam’s experience with sustainability and engineering helped method become method. Eric says this partnership was “essential”. He goes on to add, “Our backgrounds were so different, that it helped us find new ways of collaborating, bring about a combination of design + function, that is unique to method. Without Adam, method would have been all life-style design and not much green. Without me, method would have been another drab green cleaner.” Tip: Collaborating with diverse professionals may actually add a unique USP to your product or service, especially in green business where many symbiotic relationships already exist and thrive. As Eric looks back on the 10 years, he says, “Locking down our obsessions and making them integral to our company was very important. As a company grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to adhere to these values.” One of method’s “obsessions” was to create a “culture club” or “branding from the inside out”. Eric says, “Creating and maintaining cultures continues to be the hardest value to upkeep. It’s always in motion and changing. Our goal is to create a culture that would inspire us to do our best work while enriching our lives.” He also has two pieces of advice for budding eco-entrepreneurs. One: Starting out a company that is just “green” is not enough these days. Take a product or service and add “green” to it by “disrupting the world of business as-usual.” Two: Emphasize the human connection associated with your product or service. “It’s hard to encourage people to adopt good only on the basis that its good for the planet. To make a lasting impression, bring out the connection that benefits their home, health and daily lives.” So after a glorious 10 years, what is in store for the next decade at method?Â Eric is thrilled with the excellent foundation that has been created. He says, “The cleaning industry is very dirty- so there is still lots to clean up. We want to continue to grow into newer markets and countries while educating consumers. And of course continue to innovate to stay ahead.” Ahem to that and an even more glorious decade ahead.