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Dew Harvesting as a means to get clean drinking water

Papa Earth and Rangi Sky created the trees and the shrubs, the plants and the flowers, the birds and the butterflies and all other animals in the sky, on the earth and in the sea. It was very crowded and a tight place to be, and Papa’s en Rangi’s children were desperate to get more breathing space.
After many of them tried and failed, their child Tane, God of the forests, succeeded to part Heaven from Earth, and ever since Rangi and Papa grieve ceaselessly for each other. Papa’s sighs form the soft mists that rise from the earth, Rangi’s tears are the source of the morning dew.

- Maori Myth

In arid areas, where rain is rare and every drop of water is precious, many plants and animals have become highly specialized in capturing moisture from the sky.

The Welwitschia can survive rainless years using its long leaves to gather dew and fog and channel it to its root system. The Thorny Devil, who lives in the central Australian desert and thanks his name to his impressive thorn-covered skin, also found a way to quench his thirst. Dew condenses on the thorns and is drawn by capillary action along the thorn’s grooves to eventually end in this prickly creature’s mouth. But there’s not only passive ways of collecting and distributing water. The Australian mouse covers a large area around its burrow with pebbles, apparently for the sole purpose to harvest dew as water supply.

alchemists
illustration from Mutus Liber, an alchemical work published in France 1677

Humans also have a history collecting dew. The alchemists for example attributed high importance to dew and used it in many experiments in search of the philosopher’s stone. An example of its use can be found in the alchemical work Mutus Liber, where one of the illustrations shows some dew collectors (cloths stretched among four stakes) and a couple wringing the dew water out of a cloth.

There can be several reasons to start dew harvesting. Maybe you just like the idea and love to experiment, or you would like to use rain for irrigation, showering and doing laundry, and think it’s a nice idea to get your drinking water from dew. Maybe you live in an area where water is scarce and you want to use everything you can get. Or you think bigger and you are looking for ways to bring water to villages that are threatened by drought. There could even be some among you that think money can be made out of everything, and selling dew water might be big business (crazy enough, you won’t be the first!)

Whatever reasons you may have, there are many ways to harvest dew. Some collecting methods have questionable results, but you might find ways to improve them.

You can choose to use only natural or recycled materials or to get some stuff from your local store. Of course you can also choose to buy a ready made device like an atmospheric water generator that can run directly from a solar panel or from your home electricity.

what will be covered in this article:

What is dew? Some facts to help you understand the principles behind dew harvesting.

Ways of harvesting and creating dew collectors, advantages and disadvantages of different systems. The focus will be on clean drinking water. Dew harvesting for agricultural purposes will be covered in a future article.

Dew water quality.

click here to read more

Shit Paper

pooppaperRecycling enthusiasts from around the world prove that you can do much more with the feces of herbivores than to fertilize the field: They turn elephant, cow and sheep dung into lovely paper.
Which naturally raises a question: How does it smell?

“Neutral”, assures Michael Flancman. The Canadian lives for around 10 years in Thailand where he founded the company “Alternative Pulp & Paper“. Since 2005 he produces “Poopoopaper”. “Most of our first time customers typically pick up our products immediately and smell them. After their initial sniff they wonder why the paper doesn’t smell bad. The explanation is simple: Feces of animals that eat plants smell anyway much less than the dung of carnivores. And the fibres generated from the dung have been processed (cleaned and boiled) into a pulpy cellulose material.”

The fact that the poo-poo of some animal species is suitable for paper production, is due to their feeding behaviour and metabolism. Elephants, horses, kangaroos, moose, reindeer and other four-legged vegetarians consume daily large amounts fibrous plant material such as grass, herbs and leaves. Since their digestive system is relatively inefficient a large part of the fibres is excreted undigested.

How much “raw material” an animal provides in this way depends of course mainly on its size. An elephant that eats around 200 kilograms of plants per day produces around 50 kilograms of manure – enough to make about 115 sheets of paper.
“We wash and boil the dung into a pulp. Then we reinforce it with about 15 percent of other plant fibres from the region, e.g. the non-edible parts of banana trees. If we colour the paper we use natural food colours. Then the paper is skimmed off and processed further”, explains Flancman. His company collects most of the animal dung from elephant conservation parks and farms in the surrounding countryside.

Flancman is not alone with his business idea. The American company ” Dung and Dunger ” processes bison dung, “Creative Papers” in Tasmania works with kangaroo shit. In Sweden some small manufacturers turn moose dropping into paper. “Sheep Poo Paper” in Wales brings sheep dung from the pastures in the paper mill. In England “The Exotic Paper Company” sells reindeer and rhino – paper. In addition to writing paper, greeting cards and photo albums some companies offer already paper that can be used in a normal printer.

Hopefully the concept finds several more imitators. Making paper from animal dung is original and environmentally sound business idea that could prevent some trees from being cut down for the paper industry and at the same time help zoos, farms and equestrian facilities to get rid of large amounts of animal manure.

Guerrilla Gardening

Guerrilla Gardening is gardening against all odds. It is illegal (in most cases the police turns a blind eye to it though) and often it is not easy. But the mission is lovely and worth some hassle: To make our cities greener and better places to be.
The motives of people that go out at night to change weary wastelands, traffic islands and parking lanes into lovely gardens can vary from environmental concern to artistic merits and political protest. Their „weapons“ are always the same: Spade and shovel, offshoots, seeds and sometimes also flower powered seed bombs.
„Guerrilla Gardening“ started in New York in the Seventies when Liz Christy and some friends threw seed bombs onto empty lots. Around 30 years later Richard Reynolds revived the concept in London, when he found his district too grey and too ugly. And Reynolds wanted far more than improving his own neighbourhood. The advertising expert went online with guerrillagardening.org

On his website he spreads the message „Lets fight the filth with forks and flowers“ and gives some advice – or as he puts it: „some lessons from war“ – for new flower power pirates. Reynolds succeeded. By now the online community has more than 40,000 members from around 40 countries.
Guerrilla Gardening can be a sweet and powerful protest and a quick and practical way to improve a city. But it has to be done right. That means mainly to plant only native flowers, bushes and trees and taking care for them in an environmental friendly way. Read More: How to make a seed bomb