Howtogogreen’s Weblog

A giant solution to a giant problem


It absorbs water faster than most plants and is used in some parts of the world for cleaning sewage. Even more important, it soaks up heavy metals. It is a potential answer to polluted waters. It is nature’s fastest growing woody plant, with some species achieving the phenomenal growth rate of one metre a day! Its culms (poles) are the strongest, lightest natural material known to humankind. A square metre of flooring derived from this “wonder plant” will sell for as much as US$ 100, while in Southern Asia it is used for reinforcing concrete and for scaffolding on skyscrapers. No other woody plant matches bamboo’s versatility in environmental conservation and commerce. It is a viable replacement for both hardwoods and softwoods. Its growth rate is three times that of eucalyptus, and it matures in just three years. Thereafter harvests are possible every second year for up to one hundred and twenty years. India has some twenty million acres of commercial bamboo that account for 60% of the country’s massive paper requirements and much of its commercial timber needs. Over two million tons of edible bamboo shoots – rich in vitamins and low in carbohydrates, fats and proteins – are consumed around the world every year, mostly in Asia. However, bamboo remains an untapped resource in Africa, a state of affairs that the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) hopes to help remedy through a pilot project in Kenya and Tanzania, in collaboration with the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. The project aims to create awareness on the environmental and economic benefits of bamboo in the Lake Victoria basin, and hopefully popularise it throughout the region. Lake Victoria is the world’s second-largest fresh water lake. Its shores are dotted with large urban centres that discharge domestic and industrial waste into its waters. Interestingly, this member of the grass family is not new in Kenya. “Kenya’s water catchments were once covered in bamboo,” says Prof Chin Ong, a hydrologist with ICRAF. “However, most of these forests have since been cleared”. ICRAF has taken a first step towards the revival of the plant by introducing the giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus giganteus) into selected pilot sites in Kenya (Nairobi, Western Kenya) and Tanzania (Musoma). This commercially attractive species can grow in areas traditionally used for sugar cane and coffee cultivation, thus providing an alternative or additional cash crop. Arundinaria alpina, a species of bamboo native to Kenya, will yield as many as 20,000 culms per hectare per year, with each culm growing to a height of 12 metres (40 feet). Most species in fact grow to over 30 metres (90 feet) at full maturity. Kenya has 


Giant bamboo at a farm in Thika, Kenya (about 40 km from Nairobi).

few privately owned commercial timber plantations. Most of the country’s timber comes from government forests managed by the Forest Department. However, these forests have been severely over-exploited with only limited replanting. Timber firms are now reportedly forced to import the product from the Congo and Tanzania to manufacture hard and soft board. The country’s leading paper manufacturer, PanPaper of Webuye, is also reportedly using plantation softwoods to fuel its boilers and make paper pulp. With its rapid growth and high woody fibre production, bamboo would supply both industrial needs. At the household level, bamboo would be a valuable source of firewood and charcoal. It yields more than 7,000 kilocalories per kilogram, equivalent to half the yield from an equivalent amount of petroleum. Some species of the plant have large thorns, making them ideal for security hedges. Others grow tall straight culms that form ideal windbreaks that can be sustainably harvested annually. And of course edible bamboo shoots would be a nutritious addition the family table. These shoots, mild and very crunchy, can be eaten raw or cooked. KEFRI already grows several high quality edible varieties. Bamboo rhizomes anchor topsoil along steep slopes and riverbanks, very effectively controlling erosion. Bamboo leaves, sheaves and old culms that die and fall to the ground decompose and create a thick humus layer that enriches the soil. Studies in South East Asia and Kenya have also shown that natural bamboo forests have excellent hydrological functions that promote soil health.  Some species of bamboo absorb as much 12 tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide per hectare, a valuable asset to deploy against global warming. But bamboo is vulnerable to insects and fungi and its service life can be as low as one year when in direct contact with the ground. However, this can be remedied by appropriate design and cautious use of environmentally friendly preservatives such as boron, according to TRADA (Timber Research and Development Association). In April 2004, fears were also expressed that flowering bamboo would trigger famine in Northeast India, arising from an upsurge in rat populations. Bamboo can be propagated from seeds, though most species flower just once every fifteen to one hundred and twenty years. More viable mass propagation techniques include tissue culture, rhizome cuttings and vegetative cuttings.  


For more information, contact


“A man can sit in a bamboo house under a bamboo roof, on a bamboo chair at a bamboo table, with a bamboo hat on his head and bamboo sandals on his feet. He can at the same time hold in one hand a bamboo bowl, in the other hand bamboo chopsticks and eat bamboo sprouts. When through with his meal, which has been cooked over a bamboo fire, the table may be washed with a bamboo cloth, and he can fan himself with a bamboo fan, take a siesta on a bamboo bed, lying on a bamboo mat with his head resting on a bamboo pillow. His child might be lying in a bamboo cradle, playing with a bamboo toy. On rising he would smoke a bamboo pipe and taking a bamboo pen, write on a bamboo paper, or carry his articles in bamboo baskets suspended from a bamboo pole, with a bamboo umbrella over his head. He might then take a walk over a bamboo suspension bridge, drink water from a bamboo ladle, and scrape himself with a bamboo scraper (handkerchief)”.


Quoted from A Yankee on the Yangtze. William Edgar Geil. London: Hodder and Stoughton. 1904. In Yangtze Patrol. Kemp Tolley. Annapollis: U.S. Naval Institute Press. 1971. Page 268.


Contributed by Stella Muasya


Tim Hortons Should switch to Earth cups!!



    *  Earth Cup™ is made from renewable resources, is 100% compost able and petroleum free, all which make this cup very earth friendly.

    * Most hot cups are coated with Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), a petrochemical plastic. LDPE is non-renewable and non-compostable, making the only methods of disposal; litter, land fills or incineration. Earth Cup™ is coated with earth friendly bio based material that uses less energy and significantly less greenhouse gas footprint.

    * Earth Cup™ meets the ASTM 6400 composting standard and is acceptable at over 45 composting facilities in North America.

    * Earth Cup™ can be coated one side for hot cups and two sided for cold beverages.

          o Earth Cup™ hot cups are suitable for hot coffee, tea and other hot beverages.

          o Earth Cup™ 9 oz water cups are coated on both sides and are suitable for water, soda and other chilled beverages.

    * Earth Cup™ hot cups stock sizes are 10, 12, 16 and 20 oz.

          o all hot cups fit one size Tater Ware™ sippy lid

          o 24 oz cups will be available in December.

    * Custom print using either flexo or off set print is available hosting up to five colors using soy based inks (minimum order is 50,000 per size).


Sun Jar


The Sun Jar collects and stores sunshine so you can use it at night! Simply leave the Sun Jar in a sunny window during the day for about 5 hours of warm glowing light at night.


How does it work? An ingenious combination of old and new, the Sun Jar is made from a traditional Mason jar and high-tech, energy-efficient lighting. Captured inside the jar are a highly efficient solar cell, rechargeable battery and low energy LED lamps. When the jar is placed in sunlight the solar cell creates an electrical current that charges the battery over a few hours. This energy is then used at night to power the three LED lamps inside the jar.


There is no switch on the Sun Jar — no visible controls at all — instead, a clever light sensor inside automatically activates the light when it gets dark or the light turns out. Magical!


The beautiful frosted glass Mason jar is completely water tight — so the Sun Jar can happily be left outside in any weather conditions. A perfect garden light or night light for a child’s bedroom! Original design by Tobias Wong. As seen in DailyCandy.


“We are going to buy a box of these to use as patio lights at the Splitzville Farm” Will Engel


The green gift of the year!

Make this Handy Heater with an old Flower Pot

Written by Sarah Nagy

Kandle HeeterToday is a cold, wet dreary day. Which inspired me to dig the Kandle Heeter out of the garage.


Parked next to my mouse, this little device brings the temperature of my 8×12 office up from shivery to cozy – not quite enough to take my lovely handknit wool socks off, but a great antidote against a dreary January, and a definite cat magnet.

How it works: That top terracotta pot is actually a nest of several, spaced with metal bolts. Heat rises from the candle and then absorbs into the ceramic, which is a high ‘thermal lag’ material. High thermal lag materials are dense and heavy – tile, concrete, water – all of these store heat well. The pots won’t hold it forever, but they concentrate it, slowing down its exodus to the ceiling. They keep the heat near my mouse hand – which definitely increases my productivity!

The developer says a 3″ dia. by 3″ ‘dollar store’ candle will yield about 50 BTUs an hour, for a total of 1000 BTU. I get about two days per candle, so that’s 0.50/day. If all my winter days were wet, cold, and in need of paraffin cheer (sum total of mid-Dec thru March = 105 days), that’s about $50 for a heating season. And it smells nice.

Granted, I live in mostly sunny Northwest Florida, so my heating bill is pretty small compared with snowy places. But this one with the silly name is one of those ‘value added’ ideas – if I’m going to burn a Christmas gift candle, I may as well get full value.

(Check out their other nifty ideas: using an incandescent light bulb instead of a candle, and other open-architecture common-sense energy concepts.

UPDATE: Here’s a podcast interview with inventor Doyle Doss. (Ed. note: Max tells us the podcast isn’t there anymore, but he’s reposted it at


NEW LED’s for Florescent Bulbs

t_8_rp_22 LEDs are now available to replace Incandescent, Fluorescent and Neon lighting

These LED tubes fit into a T8 fluorescent fixture. The brightness is similar to a 40W T8 bulb, but ours uses 14W of electricity. You save 26W per bulb. Now times that with every fluorescent light in your building and the KW savings is staggering.

We can offer a beautiful warm white color that will be almost the same as an incandescent (Edison) bulb. These tubes will last about 17 years if used 8 hours a day.


The savings is normally between 70-85% on electricity.

There is no hazardous waste.

No mercury.

No gases.

All environmentally friendly.

LED diodes quantity – 300 PCS (driverless)LED Wave – 3700k

LED Color – White = 5500

Kelvin – warm white = 3700Savings

Based on $0.06 kwh, 4-foot, 40W fluorescent tube x 80,000 hours/the lifespan of the LED light.1 small store with 60 lights would save over $10,000!

60 lights with $156.00/each = total savings = $9,360.00 .Technical Specifications

7.5W & 14W(no driver)

Tube working voltage

110V AC

The Return on Investment for either of these solutions is less than one year.

Evergreen goes NOT FOR PROFIT!!!

After watching the troubles that our friends on Roatan are facing, we have decided to conduct our business operation in a way that helps out in the best possible way. So we will quote all systems for Humanitarian organizations in the Bay Islands on a “Not for Profit” basis. This way we can help electrify all of the clinics on the island with solar power within five years. And we may be able to help more! based upon individual credentials, we can go to our suppliers and ask for further discounts on a case by case basis!    A cheaper system does not mean a “cheap” system, our humanitarian work gets even more closely looked at by our team of engineers on the “Solar Panel”    All of our other projects will receive the very best pricing, and design service possible.

This Week NBC Showcases Ecopreneurs Who Help You ‘Green Your Routine’


Written by Reenita Malhotra, Published on November 19th, 2008

For those of you who didn’t know already, this week is “Green Week” at NBC Universal. On Monday (till the end of the week) the network started broadcasting 150 hours of environment-themed programming on its various TV channels and other properties.

Green themed programming includes prime time shows such as “The Office” which will air an episode about the company considering recycled paper. And then local NBC stations are incorporating green-themed stories into their newscasts. As a Healthy Living Consultant, I spent this morning at the Farmer’s Market with NBC11 talking about “How to Have a Green Thanksgiving.” The segment will air on NBC11 this Thursday at 6.45pm so stay posted!

I think it’s a great opportunity for Ecopreneurists.  Both in terms of finding interesting eco businesses…as well as a tool for drawing visibility to your own eco business. Last year, the company launched its first Green Week and also a “Get On Board” program to encourage consumers to reduce greenhouse gases and raise awareness. This year’s theme is ‘Green Your Routine,’ the network will feature tips and resources that offer consumers advice on this area: green cleaning companies, sustainable food producers, greening your commute and so on. More information about the programing can be found here.


So Ecopreneurs, it is time to start creating you NBC pitch.  Your company or product might just be their next Green find!

Tags: ecopreneur, ecopreneurist, green cleaning companies, green find, green thanskgiving, green week, green your routine, greenhouse gases, healthy living consultant, NBC, NBC stations, NBC Universal, sustainable food producers, The Office