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Brilliant Eco Inventions: Big Ideas, Small Packages

 

Designers have always dreamed up innovative goods for those who could afford such things: New offerings include solar roof tiles, electric motorcycles, and more. Now, sparked by special programs, some are taking a look in developing countries as well.

Keeping local culture in mind designers are creating products to meet communities' needs. It turns out that even the most pressing problems, from health care to potable water, can have affordable -and beautifully designed- solutions.

Infant Warmer

Around 19 million low-birth-weight babies are born every year in developing countries. Unable to regulate their body temperatures, many die. The embrace helps to warm vulnerable infants (a special pouch slips into the back of the bag to provide hours of safe heat) while allowing for nursing and cuddling.

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Website: embraceglobal.org

Purifying Straw

Some 900 million people lack access to safe drinking water. Sipping through the LifeStraw filters surface water on-site, reducing the transmission of bacteria and viruses. Each filters about 160 gallons (around 600 litres).

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Website: lifestraw.com

Water Container

In impoverished rural areas, clean water is often miles away from the people who need it, leaving them susceptible to waterborne diseases. The sturdy Q drum holds 13 gallons (around 50 litres) in a rolling container that eases the burden of transporting safe, potable water -a tasks that falls mostly to woman and children.

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Website: qdrum.co.za

Portable Clay Cooler

Built upon an ancient food-storage technique, the pot-in-pot system uses evaporation from a layer of wet sand between two nesting pots to help extend the life of farmers' goods. Tomatoes can last weeks instead of just days, meaning more fresh produce at the market and more income for farmers.

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Sugarcane Charcoal

Burning wood and dung, the main fuel sources for many in the developing world, has contributed to deforestation and respiratory ailments. Not only do briquettes made from crushed sugarcane stalks make use of an abundant local resource, they burn more cleanly and allow residents to start start a charcoal business for less than U$S50.

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Website: d-lab.mit.edu/resources

Affordable Laptops

The one laptop per child project aims to educate children in remote parts of the world. Governments purchase the computers, each equipped with Wi-Fi "rabbit-ears" and e-book mode, for schools. Uruguay has already distributed some 400,000 laptops, with another 90,000 on order. A tablet version is due in 2012.

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Website: laptop.org

Via: National Geographic Magazine