With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.
Sometimes we make things damn difficult. In the Western world, we shake our heads at "smart" electronics no one asked for (electronic egg monitors, anyone?). But in the developing world, over-thinking things -- and funneling millions of dollars into over-designed (and ultimately fruitless) concepts -- can be far more costly.
When it comes to life-changing solutions -- and life in general, if you ask us -- it's often the simple things that make the biggest impact. This week we tip our hats to seven simple ideas that save lives.
Moser came up with the idea when his neighborhood in Sao Paolo, Brazil, experienced a long cut in electric power. After learning of the concept, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and MyShelter Foundation set about scaling it up, launching pilot programs in the Philippines, Pakistan and beyond through the Liter of Light Project.
Enter the solution: The Embrace Warmer, which looks like a tiny sleeping bag, is as effective as an infant incubator at less than 2 percent of the cost ($300 compared to around $20,000). The company has reached 150,000 infants so far and is seeking new ways to scale up faster.
Would you drink water from a toilet? It may sound a little strange, but this life-saving product makes it possible. The Lifestraw water filter, from Swiss company Vestergaard Frandsen, can remove remove 99.9999 percent of all waterborne bacteria and 99.99 percent of parasites.
The Lifestraw is available in a single-user straw that suits its namesake, as well as a portable water bottle and a family-sized jug that can filter more than 4,700 gallons of water. As well as saving lives in the developing world, the Lifestraw has become a favorite of campers and backpackers. In response, Vestergaard launched Follow the Liters: a one-for-one giving program that gives a child safe drinking water for an entire school year for every Lifestraw product purchased.
The organization is challenging designers, tinkerers and do-gooders the world over to develop "Wearables for Good." These simple designs transform wearable fitness trackers into devices that improve health, disaster response and more. Do you have what it takes?
These small but mighty lights can provide up to 100 hours of light on a single day's solar charge (from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.). The lights are available in various sizes -- to suit everyone from a child trying to read at night to a small business looking to stay open after sundown -- and many are water, dust and insect resistant making them virtually indestructible.
Founded by a former Peace Corps volunteer and a Stanford student, the company has provided light to 50 million people since launching in 2008. D.light also allows people to donate light to those in need. Click here to provide light in Nepal.
The moringa tree, native to parts of Africa and Asia, provides a crazy amount of nutritional benefits. Each leaf contains seven times the vitamin C of oranges, four times the vitamin A of carrots, four times the calcium of milk, three times the potassium of bananas, and twice the protein of yogurt. And that's not all: According to the ancient Indian medicinal tradition of ayurveda, the leaves of the moringa tree can prevent 300 diseases – and modern science confirms these claims have credence.
The trees grow quickly and are resistant to drought -- meaning they're perfect for cultivation in regions where traditional agriculture is difficult, if not impossible. Social enterprise Kuli Kuli harnesses the power of moringa by training communities in the developing world to cultivate and harvest the plant for nutrition -- and make a living by selling some of their product for fancy protein bars here in the states.
For this reason, several multinational companies -- including Unilever and Dow Chemical -- have set out to teach healthy habits and save lives in the process. Unilever's Lifebuoy handwashing programs have reached 257 million people in 24 countries over the past six years. Dow joined forces with Unilever in 2011, when the two companies came up with a soap that people in developing countries could afford and would last longer than other soaps.
But there is good news: It turns out preventing iron deficiency and anemia isn't that hard. At least that's what Gavin Armstrong, president and CEO of Lucky Iron Fish, and his team are out to prove. Inspired by Cambodian culture that considers the fish lucky, Armstrong devised a simple, affordable and fun concept to boost people's iron levels: Dropping the Lucky Iron Fish into a cooking pot for 10 minutes provides diners with 75 percent of their daily iron intake.
Hand-crafted at local production sites, the "lucky" fish is affordable and lasts for five years. The concept is already making a difference for thousands of people in Cambodia. Check out the Lucky Iron Fish website to buy a fish for yourself or give one to a person in need.
Image credits: Lifestraw, Embrace Innovations
Mary Mazzoni, Senior Editor, has written for TriplePundit since 2013. She is also Managing Editor of CR Magazine and the Editor of 3p’s Sponsored Series. Mazzoni’s recent work can be found in Conscious Company, AlterNet and VICE’s Motherboard. She is based in Philadelphia.