Take it to Zero

Announcing the all new Take it to Zero initiative that’s starting right now!

Take it to Zero is a grassroots movement to make world changing ideas available for free on a massive scale. There are thousands of amazing world changing ideas, but all too often these ideas suffer from obscurity, lack of funding, or fail to materialize due to some weakness in our economic system. These things hinder their rapid, wide scale proliferation. Take it to Zero is a movement of dedicated volunteers that aims to overcome these barriers and help bring incredible ideas into fruition.

Basic concepts of Take it to Zero:
– Focus on ideas that produce significant, tangible results for the poor, promote self-sufficiency and help protect the environment. This includes such things as restoring degraded land back into productive agricultural land, providing clean drinking water and fuel efficient stoves.
– Good ideas are often lost among billions of websites. Those who need these ideas most often have little or no access to the Internet.
– Anyone can submit recommendations for world changing ideas.
– A committee of volunteer reviewers choose the most promising ideas to pursue.
– A separate committee of volunteers that includes key stakeholders work together to bring the cost of each idea down to zero in a reasonable time frame.
– Possible solutions to bridge the gap between struggling idea to successful large scale implementation are many: crowdfunding, major donations from philanthropists, grants, microfinance, donation of intellectual property by the inventor, backing by NGOs, increased media coverage including popular websites and celebrity endorsements, pro bono work by experts and other volunteers, education campaigns, new business startups. There’s even a chance of gaining government support, especially on community projects. Why not? The economy in these areas could be greatly improved with this process.

Examples of world changing ideas that are currently ‘stalled’ and not fully available to those in need:
– Paul Stramets natural fungi pest control could annually save billions of dollars in damages from termites, carpenter ants and similar pests. (Challenge: has to compete against giant pesticide companies.)
– AMF-PGPR, a natural fungi inoculum, can boost plant growth by 80%. Just imagine what would happen with the world’s food supply if people could grow their own fungi solution starting with small samples from agricultural extension services. (Challenge: lack of detailed information and awareness.)
Bhaskar Save the Gandhi of natural farming has one of the most productive farms in the world. His farm is a net supplier of food, water, energy and topsoil. (Challenge: uphill battle against Big Agriculture, and needs to convince the masses who are trapped in poverty to take a risk and switch to natural farming.)
– Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, the largest most comprehensive human nutrition study ever done, and Plant-Based Nutrition, the most popular online course at Cornell University. (Challenge: the nutrition course could save countless lives if taught in every city and village around the world, however it is not affordable to the poor.)
Sand dams and earthen check dams are cost effective solutions to water shortage problems in arid and semi-arid areas. (Challenge: lacks public awareness and financing.)
Back to Eden organic gardening method produces amazing results even in compacted clay and gravelly soils. Challenge: no book available with complete details despite tens of millions of views on YouTube.)
– Dr. Elaine Ingham at SoilFoodWeb.com Her natural soil building methods are proven to regenerate degraded land, including deserts and hard pan clay soils by proliferating beneficial soil microorganisms. (Challenge: the online courses are not affordable to those in developing countries.)
– Aprovecho Research Center rocket stoves are very low cost and extremely fuel efficient. These stoves would slow the deforestation of marginal lands in poor areas because they can operate on just twigs and agricultural wastes, and only require a fraction of the fuel of typical stoves. (Challenge: need to get the basic information with detailed plans and make it freely available to those in poor regions.)
– Filmmaker John D. Liu documents how large scale degraded ecosystems can be turned into highly productive land with sufficient focus and cooperation. See his documentary on restoring the Loess Plateau of China. (Challenge: lack of publicly available detailed information, awareness, government support and organization to do similar restoration work in lots of other areas.)
– Ginger Krieg Dosier microbial-induced eco bricks made of sand, common bacteria, calcium chloride and urea. Challenge: lack of detailed information so this idea can be applied worldwide by owner-builders on tight budgets.)

Good example of what to work towards: Joseph Jenkins humanure composting toilets. He provides free online plans and a free download of his book, but he also makes money by selling physical copies of his book and pre-made composting toilets for those who don’t want to make their own.

Another good example: Authors Mats Myhrman and S.O. McDonald sold their Build it With Bales book for a number of years and just recently made it available for free on the Internet. What a bargain! It just so happens this is one of the best books ever written on the subject for those who are building in non-code areas.

Example of what to avoid: Poured earth is a proprietary earth building system made with soil and magnesium oxide. Poured earth is a viable replacement in many cases for Portland cement – the largest carbon producer of any building material. After following this story for about 15 years, it’s shocking to learn only a handful of buildings have been constructed to date. Just imagine if this simple building system could be made freely available to the masses.

Conclusion: Take it to Zero is a brand new idea. Please leave a comment or email me if you have useful suggestions or would like to get involved.

19 thoughts on “Take it to Zero”

  1. Hi to all of you, Planet Lovers!

    Just you to know that there is such a site that collects right-now solutions from around the world to fix, heal and improve our Planet Earth!

    Here is the link: http://theplanetfixer.org

    As the editor, I invite anybody that would like to contribute either by:

    1) becoming a “collector” of eco-friendly solutions, like an eco-investigator: find a solution…you email it to me!

    2) becoming an active writer for The Planet Fixer Digest

    3) or simply by making a contribution

    It is a 100% NON profit site, one person operated site…for now!

    I have many solutions sleeping in my files ready to be posted and share with the world. It is just a matter of finding the time. Any help to publish them would be more than welcome!

    Our Mother Earth would really appreciate it!

    Roger Pilon, Editor
    The Planet Fixer Digest

    NOTE: you can also contact me by using the form on the site

  2. Communications is extremely important in these types of endeavors. This is especially true in disaster areas where commuinications systems are often wiped out.

    There are already millions of ham radio operators all around the world, most are more than willing to lend a hand with communications into and out of very difficult to reach areas. It’s just a matter of letting them know of the needs.

    Once a a radio operator has his license, and has acquired or built his own equipment, ham radio is free for the rest of his life. I wish more NGO’s would incorporate ham radio into their plans. Never worry about whether phone lines are down, or cell service being spotty again. Ham radio digital communications modes can relay most files, database, images, etc all around the globe into the most hard to reach places where there isn’t a cell tower for hundreds and hundreds of miles.

    Imagine someone like Dr. Geiger being able to have Ham Radio communications directly to builders in Nepal right now? Computer files of building plans could be transferred over Ham Radio with recommendations for appropriate buttressing, window reinforcements, barbed wire placement, you name it.

    This type of communication becomes revolutionary when the worlds poorest people can rely on the world’s best experts on a topic to advise them in their time of greatest need.

    Ham Radio has been around for well over 100 years doing these kinds of communications, and sadly a very tiny percentage of people are even aware that the capability exists and how powerful it can be.

    I bet I could teach Kelly Hart and Owen Geiger everything they need to know to pass a Ham Radio license exam over the internet.

    If they were interested.

  3. Hi! I’ve been following the blog for a while now and I’m very excited about this campaign.

    I suggest getting a twitter hashtag and account started as soon as possible so people can easily communicate ideas, projects, progress, etc.
    Maybe a Facebook too, just to have presence there? Social media is hugely important now. I’m willing to help out in any way I can.


    • Good ideas, thanks. First we’re going to build forum as the main discuccsion platform to keep everything organized. After it’s done then maybe you could help with the twitter and facebook page. I’ll email you later when we’re ready.

  4. Another idea is to offer information online in a format that fits on handheld electronic devices. Smart phones and tablet PCs are much more widely available than desktop PCs.

  5. Owen,

    Great concept and would like to get involved. Maggi’s efforts are just what I am looking for here in Panama because I am planning to use the rice hulled bag system for a house here soon.

    Have join the association and wondering if a newsletter is in the plans?

    Let me know how I can help.



    • Right now it’s just a seed of an idea. The next step is probably making a blog similar to this one. WordPress blogs are free and easy to set up. In the meanwhile, you could contact Maggi through her website: https://maggimck.wordpress.com/

      Be sure to read the previous rice hull articles posted here on our site.

      Any other ideas? A forum could be very effective. That way people could choose a topic they’re interested in and have focused discussions with others. Do readers know how to set up free MyBB software? http://www.mybb.com/ I would need an administrator to help out.

  6. My plan is to start a new blog for Take it to Zero if there’s sufficient interest. Basically, our world is falling apart, but at the same time there are thousands and thousands of incredible ideas that can halt and reverse the damage. Often times there’s some missing piece that hinders wider use of this information and so this project seems very worthwhile.

    • That’s another good idea. It reminds me of using black soldier fly larvae: http://blacksoldierflyblog.com/bioconversion-dr_paul_olivier/

      You’re already headed down this path with your website, making free instructables, writing an ebook, etc. You’re already doing what I’m talking about. But maybe you can think of ways to spread this information faster. Video clips? Social media? Networking? Workshops? Getting published in magazines? You may be doing all these things already. I’m just throwing out ideas for other readers.

      • yes, BSF are another similar tool, as are earthworms and a number of insects.

        We are starting to make some videos, hope to improve that in the coming months. But you are right, we need to get this information in as many places and formats as possible.

  7. I think this is a fantastic idea, and would love to see it take off like wildfire. Let me know if I can contribute in some way. I’m currently researching human-powered vehicles, both for able-bodied and handicapped people.

    • Good, thanks. One way to help: Pick a topic that you’re really passionate about such as human-powered vehicles and think of ways to make them more accessible to those who need them. This would likely include doing lots of research to see what’s already available and then identifying ‘gaps’ or weaknesses in how things are currently being done. Example: maybe certain machines are only available pre-built in one country. How could you get free plans and put them on the Internet? Is there a good website where plans like this would fit right in so they’re easy to find. Start with a machine that you’d like to have and also of interest to lots of other people. Doing it this way maintains your interest so it’s not work in the normal sense of the word. You’re just following your passion. As you gain some success you could start a blog to attract other human-powered vehicle plans. You might have better ideas.

  8. Not sure what you have in mind here Owen. Are you thinking of a book, DVD, group of some kind… Would be happy to get involved taking rice husk bag building to anyone that wants to do it.

    • Thanks Maggi. I see you as a key stakeholder since you have in-depth information and building experience with rice hulls. I would ask you to think carefully about the best way to share this information. One possibility is to create a sustainable building wiki. This is a free online site where authors can publish information. Appropedia would be a good choice: http://www.appropedia.org/Rice_hulls_in_construction This link is to Paul Olivier’s rice hull construction wiki. You could create a similar wiki to explain your building method. Another option is to call for volunteers to help write the wiki. You could be the team leader to organize the project. We could promote the effort here at Natural Building Blog. Ekopedia is another good wiki: http://en.ekopedia.org/Portal:Lodging

      In summary, rice hull building is a good example of sustainable building. With a bit of improved organization the building details could be more readily accessible.

  9. Hi, would like to get involved, at the moment I would like to just stay in contact, and see if I can help.


    Keep un contact



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