'Green Kits' an idea that might just save the world

the key here is encouraging open-source intellectual exchange of "green" technologies - and finding ways of translating this knowledge into easy implementation and accessibility (think the DIY movement, except at a larger scale). This would require a changing of green tech patents to allow for open-source individual and public usage - something which is somewhat antithetical to how our current system operates. We also need to include the home-brewers and garage-tinkerers - not just academics and industry - someone needs to invent "green kits."

just think, if DIY computer kits didn't exist, and some kids from California weren't messing around with them in a parent's garage in the 70s, we wouldn't be sitting in our offices or living rooms or coffee shops exchanging these ideas.

The revolution will not start at the infrastructure scale - it will start in some guy's basement.
Posted by: toasteroven on Oct 18, 08 | 9:26 am

posted as a response to my op-ed

this is such a brilliant idea that is worth pondering. So what goes into such a kit?

A PV cell test stand?
A bioreactors to brew biofuels?
a gene splicing kit?
an ultra-capacitor?

is there a need for different kits, one for energy, another for transportation, and maybe one for carbon sequestration?

Oct 18, 08 10:52 pm

I'm working on it, all right?!? If you could just give me a few months, I will have something for you...I'm working as fast as I can!

(I'm kind of serious...)

Oct 18, 08 11:39 pm

i had a bunch of science (chem, biology) kits when i was little. also transistor radio kits, alarm-making kits, engine models, rocket kits. so why am i so ambivalent about science now?

Oct 19, 08 9:36 am

Hey, I've been saying for years that anyone who can put out an inexpensive gasoline-to-electric car conversion kit will quickly become a very rich person.

Oct 19, 08 2:27 pm

But don't that allready exist? I would say that the person that can put out an inexpensive electric to gasoline car conversion kit will quickly become a very rich person ;))

Oct 20, 08 6:55 am
vado retro

i'm workin on a dwell worthy sustainable meth lab. oh and biofuels ain't necessarily a good thing as it drives up the cost of food, reallocates farmland to produce energy etc. and unless you're spreading your chicken's coos fertilizer on the biofuel, almost as much fossil fuel is required to produce just as much biofuel...

Oct 20, 08 6:58 pm

barry - thanks for the plug.

the idea isn't mine, btw... There are students at MIT that develop such kits - one example I can think of was this project a few years back that provided sanitation technologies using easily obtained materials to developing countries. there is a lot of very interesting work going on at the Media Lab (and other departments) that aim to develop easily utilized and adaptable green technologies.

steven: these kinds of kits are mainly for those really geeky people who never outgrew that sort of stuff - the people who now read "make magazine." for kids, it helps plant a spark of interest that might stick with them to adulthood. People at the media lab still play with legos, for goodness sake - they used toy construction equipment to understand the stacking mechanisms in the citycar project. just because we are adults doesn't mean we have to only look at trade magazines and fancy architecture porn for inspiration. there is wonderful stuff everywhere.

Oct 20, 08 11:39 pm

alright - I'm going to start dumping articles here.

interesting article from wired: can open source hardware work?

Oct 23, 08 6:23 pm

Yeah that was a very interesting article i actually did a post on my blog about it.

Oct 23, 08 7:49 pm

here's more: build your own vertical axis wind turbine. there's a whole "green" section at

nam - I remember a debate about "open source architecture" a while back (it seems to have fizzled out over the past couple years, though). I think the wired article touches upon some of the public safety issues that arise in areas like automotive design... the thing with architecture is that it is too specific...

Oct 25, 08 1:41 pm

tk and others, I think you are on the money with this.

But additional to an open source of green technology would be an after market addition, similar to car parts, to make your house greener. Fast and the Furious meets Bob Vila but for real though. Spend an afternoon and $100 to change out a few roof tiles to ones that are actually solar cells and make your money back in a month.

Oct 25, 08 7:00 pm

architechnophilia - I think I saw something in Make a while back about a DIY solar cell project - replete with warnings about "electrocution could result in serious injury or death." they also have "brew your own biodiesel" in one of their podcasts.

this reminds me of something Steven Ward mentioned in another thread about public safety in terms of DIY architecture - which is definitely a valid concern. is the general public going to be as careful as us professionals? I would argue that we as a society have lost some of our common sense abilities, and perhaps allowing a little more risk in our environments will help make people wise up (the theory behind "shared streets," which seems to work fairly well)... but people are always going to do stupid things - attempt something they really have no business doing in the first place. so... maybe there needs to be a balance.


a lot of this stuff is definitely within reach of anyone with a little time on their hands and a little knowledge... one of the big challenges is that some things that could really help are still socially taboo (viewed as unsanitary). How many of us would poop in a bucket and use our own waste to fertilize our own food that we grow in our yards? I know people who are pretty radical in their greenness, but even they wouldn't touch something like that.

Oct 28, 08 5:17 pm

hi - here's more:

lamp that runs on dirt

and more proselytizing from make:

the DIY mindset must again become an essential life skill

maybe we should set up a website - let me know if anyone is interested in helping out.

Nov 13, 08 12:38 am

sounds like the Pirate party Platform i like it.

Green Pirates in a battle to save the world and implement never been seen before levels of human rights.

Nov 13, 08 11:14 am

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