After Smart Grids, Smart Sewage?
Urine-Separating NoMix Toilet Gets Thumbs-Up in 7 European Countries

Michael Graham Richard, Treehugger
Being green is all about solving problems and grabbing overlooked opportunities. It turns out that there’s such a double-win in most bathrooms around the world; if we had “NoMix” toilets that separate urine from solid waste, municipal wastewater plants would have a significantly easier task (and produce more methane to generate electricity), and we could much more easily extract precious nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen for use as fertilizer (instead of using fossil fuels). So what’s stopping us from going NoMix?

According to a pretty extensive review based on surveys from 7 European countries with NoMix pilot projects, “NoMix-technology is well accepted; around 80% of users liked the idea, 75−85% were satisfied with design, hygiene, smell, and seating comfort of NoMix-toilets, 85% regarded urine-fertilizers as good idea (50% of farmers), and 70% would purchase such food.” Though as usual, not everybody is ready to pay more for the greener product: “Only 57% (±29%) are willing-to-pay more for a NoMix- than conventional toilet or purchase NoMix-toilets without subsidies.”
(11 March 2010)

A real bottler

Catherine McAloon, ABC Gippsland
Summer is over and that means the days of enjoying summer fruits are numbered. Unless, that is, you’ve been busy over the summer preserving the fruit from your trees and vines in bottles to enjoy over the cooler months.

That’s what a group of ladies from the East Gippsland township of Nowa Nowa have been doing. The ladies have been getting together regularly over the summer months, pooling resources and supplies of fresh local produce and turning them into “little globes of sunshine” – jars of preserved plums, peaches, apricots and apples, that have been put in the pantry, ready to be enjoyed for the rest of the year.

One of the group, Josie, says that the art of preserving is enjoying a resurgence.

“I think it went into a slight slump and now I think there is a massive revival going on. I think people are looking at food with much more interest than they did in the past. And to be able to grow it yourself and preserve it, it seems like you are doing something for the planet and for each other, and for community. It’s really good.”
(4 March 2010)
sent in by EB reader ilan, who says:
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Lexicon of Change: The Rise of Transition Culture
Judith D. Schwartz, Miller-McCune
A movement aimed at tackling the energy crisis with aplomb has been stepping on the gas since its formation.

You may or may not have heard of the Transition movement — described by its founder, Rob Hopkins, as “an exercise in engaged optimism”— yet Transition’s ideas are informing and even guiding the conversation of how communities confront the twin crises of peak oil and climate change.

The movement is driven by one simple idea: Rather than hand-wringing and lamenting dwindling energy reserves and climate change, Transition wants people to envision and create models for that future — and find much to be cheerful about.

A variety of activities take place under the Transition banner. Scroll around — the movement has had a strong Web presence from the start — and you’ll find numerous farm and food events, tree-planting get-togethers, launching a local currency, campaigns to install Smart Meters (through British Gas’ Green Streets Energy Challenge), and a program in which teenagers interview elderly people to learn about daily life before the era of cheap oil.

“Transition is often seen as an environmental movement, but ultimately it’s about cultural change: enabling the shift from what’s appropriate for the upward net energy curve to what’s appropriate for the downward curve,” says Hopkins, who had been a teacher of permaculture — a holistic design system rooted in ecology — the principles of which underlie Transition…

Judith D. Schwartz is a Southern Vermont author and journalist with wide-ranging interests and credits. Her latest book is The Therapist’s New Clothes
(12 March 2010)