Can a $40 Washing Machine Really Bring Families Out of Poverty?

Yes, yes it can.

GiraDora is a blue bucket that conceals a spinning mechanism that washes clothes and then partially dries them. It’s operated by a foot pedal, while the user sits on the lid to stabilize the rapidly churning contents. Sitting alleviates lower-back pain associated with hand-washing clothes, and frees up the washer to pursue other tasks. It’s portable, so it can be placed nearby a water source, or even inside on a rainy day. It reduces health risks like joint problems, skin irritation, and mold inhalation. Most importantly, it uses far less water and cleans clothes faster than conventional hand-washing. This equates to more free time…and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.

What will they do with that time? Who knows. Possibilities include receiving microloans to buy one and provide laundry service to your neighbors who will then compensate you. When we trade we no longer have to do lots of tasks to keep going, we can trade our labor in one thing for others’ labors in other thing. It is trade that makes us richer. Self-sufficiency is poverty.

Time: that is the true measure of something’s worth. If you have to acquire it for yourself, it usually takes longer than if you get it ready-made by other people. And if you can get it made efficiently by others, then you can afford more of it. This is what prosperity is: the increase in the amount of goods or services you can earn with the same amount of work. – Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist, How Prosperity Evolves

The longer version:

Post to Twitter

Genetically engineering microbes to work for us

Interesting video from the Open University.

Genetically engineered (GE) E. coli bacteria produce much of today’s insulin supply. By using GE, we are turning microbes into “tiny factories” that happily churn out what they get re-programmed to do.

Post to Twitter

Weekend Postcard: Gads Zeus…Hops

In the middle of the month of May I posted a weekend postcard of my Zeus hop bines in a half barrel container. The juvenile growth looked more like blackberry (Rubus spp.) vines than hops, which are a cousin of nettles and hemp (now you have an idea of why hops smell as they do).

Now, two months later the hops have grown 10 or 12 feet and are winding around our deck railings. They have begun flowering, so hop cones may not be far behind.

Post to Twitter