Monday, October 28, 2013

Pedal-Powered GiraDora Washer Needs No Electricity

giradora, washing machine, human power, foot pedal, portable, affordable, electricity, dryer, spin
In developing countries (such as my country,  Haiti) that lack electricity or the funds to buy expensive machines, taking care of laundry the old-fashioned way requires an enormous amount of time and effort.  That’s why Alex Cabunoc and Ji A You created the GiraDora – a combination washer and spin-dryer that is powered by a foot pedal.  At only $40, this ingenious contraption is an inexpensive way to help break the cycle of poverty in many disadvantaged communities.

giradora, washing machine, human power, foot pedal, portable, affordable, electricity, dryer, spin
Designed specifically for those with the least income living in the poorest nations, the GiraDora hopes to ease the burden of washing clothes – a chore that can take nearly 6 hours a day, 3-5 days a week.  The portable plastic tub can be filled with soap and water before a lid is placed on top, acting as a seat.  Then, all the user needs to do is rest on the washer, and pump the spring-loaded foot pedal.
This ergonomic design alleviates back pain and chronic wrist strain from scrubbing and wringing clothes and leaves the hands free for other tasks.  Loads of clothing can also be washed at one time instead of having to scrub individual articles, which uses less water and overall effort.  In addition to avoiding health problems associated with physical stress and mold growing on wet fabric, the GiraDora can also help generate income through providing laundry services, rentals, and direct sales.

The GiraDora is currently being field-tested in Peru, and there are plans to introduce it more widely into South America and India.  The project has been recognized by both the Dell Social Innovation Challenge, and the International Design Excellence Awards.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Recycle Your Bra to Support Breast Cancer Awareness!

Breast cancer, a ravaged disease among us and our biggest enemy.
What can we do to help and how? There are different ways we can help and here, this one is the easiest and simplest one to do so.


We all have them: ill-fitting, uncomfortable, or just plain unflattering bras that sit in the back of our drawer collecting lint. Instead of keeping those over-the-shoulder boulder holders mothballed, or worse, consigning them to the dumpster, consider “recycling” them to raise money for breast cancer research. In conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, several nonprofits around the world are collecting your unwanted underwires to sell or donate to women in need. Millions of women across the globe are going commando not by choice but because they can’t afford proper support garments, so consider this a two-for-one opportunity—you help a well-endowed sister feel her best and you give the search for a cure a much-needed boost.
In the U.S., you can donate your unwanted bras to The Bra Recyclers, a division of Bosom Buddy Recycling, based out of Arizona. The charity collects and sorts the bras, then ships them off to partner locations nationwide in support of breast cancer survivors and women in transitional shelters. Since October 2008, The Bra Recyclers has collected tens of thousands of bras, backing 23 organizations across the country. And when you donate your unmentionables this month, you’ll be automatically entered to win great prizes, including gift cards from American Express and intimate-apparel companies.

Millions of women across the globe go commando not by choice but because they can’t afford proper support garments.

For would-be bra donors in the U.K. and Australia, a number of retailers and organizations have partnered with BCR Global Textiles, a family-run outfit that recycles and reuses textiles. BreastTalk, Butterfly Bras, Curves of Ireland, and Down Under-based Berlei are all collecting your unwanted bras and funneling them through a BCR Textiles program.
For every kilo of skivvies collected, BCR donates money to breast cancer charities like the Breast Cancer Campaign. The bras are then sold to small independent retailers in third-world countries to shore up the economy while providing low-cost foundation wear.
If you’re planing on organizing a clothing-swap party this month, ask your girlfriends to bring their clean, good-condition bras so you can make a joint donation. Bra recyclers are looking for all manner of bra sizes and shapes, including maternity, nursing, post-surgery, sports, and plus sizes.

Please contact the bra recycling by visiting their site:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bamboo Textile Clothes, How Green are they?

Going green is one of the ways that we can do to help save our planet from total destruction in the years to come. Though we might not be able to stop its destruction fully, we might be able to prolong its life by making ways to conserve water and energy. But did you know that conserving these resources is not the only way to go green? These days, eco-friendly individuals are rooting for eco-friendly clothing like bamboo clothes. Bamboos are no doubt a renewable and sustainable resource that requires very little to zero pesticide to grown. It does not also require too much water and sunlight to stand tall. While its growth process is very green, the way it is transformed from a plant to a fabric is quite baffling, especially that there’s not a single manufacturer that divulges the detailed process yet. And the sad thing is a lot of experts claim that the processes done to turn bamboos into fabric are unhealthy and not so very green. Can you actually imagine how this green grass turns into a wearable fabric?
The sustainability and greenness of the bamboo comes from the fact that it can grow at least a foot per day without the need of any pesticides and lots of water to survive. Unlike cotton, it needs very little to zero pesticide to grow thickly. If it needs fertilizers, organic fertilizers are always welcome, making it very eco-friendly indeed. Apart from that, bamboo plants don’t die easily. When you cut its culms, it shoots new culms again, thereby, continuing its life cycle. By the way, its culm is the wooden part that, when cut and trimmed, is made into bamboo poles. Apart from its benefits on the fabric industry, bamboo can also be used to replace conventional wood when building a structure. Woods grow after about 10 years while bamboos almost always reach its tallest size potential after a year. This explains why bamboos need to be trimmed in a year or two. Plus, trimming bamboo can motivate its growth, too, making it even more renewable than ever. Bamboos also keep the surrounding air clean and fresh as it absorbs tons of carbon dioxide and produce tons of oxygen while growing, leaving humans with clean breeze all the time. Because of its natural characteristics, a lot of people make use of it in various ways, including its processing into fabric. Surely, growing bamboo has always been an eco-friendly practice, but making fabric out of bamboo is still questionable and its safety and eco-friendliness are still debatable.
One of the many non-eco-friendly practices that people do to keep up with the growing demands of bamboo is by illegally cutting other trees in the forests or in barren lands to make way for bamboo plantations. Illegal logging can cause erosion, which is something that bamboos might not be able to put off since they are grasses and not as sturdy as trees. Cutting these trees can cause imbalance to the environment and mono-cropping or planting bamboos solely in one place can lose biodiversity. Diverse plants should be grown in vast lands in order to keep pests and plant diseases at bay, which may not happen anymore if these lands are only planted with bamboos.
Another thing that raises concerns these days is the process of making textile out of bamboo plants. Researches show that most clothing companies that use bamboo fabric obtain the raw material from a sole processing plant in China in which its products are all patented. Clothing companies get to have the processed fabric already without any ideas on how these fabrics are actually processed. Reports show that manufacturers use certain chemicals to turn bamboo plants into viscose material and these certain chemicals include sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide**, which are mainly used to soak, crush, grind, and press bamboo fiber to turn them into cellulose fiber. Once it has turned into a cellulose fiber, it is then readied for weaving and be made into yarn for fabric.
Both chemicals, on one hand, are the growing concern of the people who take turns in claiming about the damaging effects of turning bamboo into fabric. These are known to contribute a range of health issues including headache, psychoses, and loss of appetite, impaired vision, sexual dysfunction, weight loss, gastrointestinal woes, and many others.  Workers who have been in the textile and rubber manufacturing industry, particularly those working in the rayon niche often experience the said health issues because it is in these work fields where the concentration of carbon disulfide** is high. Furthermore, carbon disulfide** is not only harmful to the human health, but is also harmful to the environment. Improper disposal of strong chemicals like this can cause death to tons of marine species and land species.

(**Carbon disulfide is a colorless volatile liquid with the formula CS2. The compound is used frequently as a building block in organic chemistry as well as an industrial and chemical non-polar solvent. It has an "ether-like" odor, but commercial samples are typically contaminated with foul-smelling impurities, such as carbonyl sulfide)

Despite all the negativities that surround the manufacture of bamboos into textile, experts still applaud its existence, citing that its damages are far less harmful compared to production of cotton. From the production up to the processes that turn cotton into textiles, chemicals are always introduced since cotton needs much water, nitrogen-rich fertilizers, and pesticides to grow well. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers are one of the most common causes of the deaths of aquatic species living in bodies of water that are situated nearby cotton plantations. The chemicals used to develop cotton into clothing are known to be carcinogens and contributors of lung ailments. On the one hand, synthetic fibers like polyester-synthetics can also bring about health issues as its processes can release carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and sulfur oxides into the air. These are contributors to global warming and a long list of lung-related diseases. Because of these, eco-friendly individuals would still claim that bamboo-made clothing is still eco-friendly compared to its other counterparts.
Let also add that it won’t hurt to patronize designers that use bamboo because their products are extremely as stylish as those made from designers who are not into bamboo. You can find knits, flair pants and skirts, pencil skirts, cardigans, peplums, tunic tops, and many others.

Finally, if you are still concerned with the production of bamboo clothing, there are still other eco-friendly fibers out there.  Hemp fabrics, organic cotton, tencel fabric, and soy fabric. All of these are produced in ways that are less damaging compared to bamboo clothing, but the downsides are the production of these substances and the prices, too, so think about it.

Thank you Rob for a great article and the possibility to share it with my readers.
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