In spite of the increase in visibility over recent years, the “Green” movement has been chugging along for decades. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s environmental classic, “Silent Spring,” in which Carson raised consciousness about the detrimental environmental and health effects of the use of chemical pesticides. People are beginning to pay more and more attention to what the “Green” movement has to offer as we witness increasing gas prices and the increasing impact of non-renewable fuel consumption on our environment and ourselves.

Modern day solutions to decreasing power consumption have as much of a leg in the past as they do in the present. In searching for this week’s “pet project” for our household, I’ve come across cutting-edge concepts that have a firm basis in yesterday’s necessity. Ever since we lost power for two and a half days when Hurricane Ike blew all the way up the midwest’s skirt to here in Ohio, we’ve had half a brain-cell cocked towards what would happen if we lost power again. While the neighbors all made a run on gas generators at Home Depot, we started thinking the opposite way and we’ve settled on researching family projects that are more sustainable.

Camp stoves have been around far longer than the green movement. Many of the plans for homegrown, won’t-explode-your-house cooking stoves that you can build yourself come from the early part of the 20th century, when the scouting movement collected old military and work-camp technologies and converted them for young people to use when camping. If you’ve got a coffee can, you’ve got a hobo stove. Backpackers use them now as lighweight, packable camp gear. Versions are even included in disaster relief kits because the technology is sound, it’s cheap, and it’s simple to use.

The “make-do” philosophy drives these simple necessity inventions. The limitations of the Depression era prevented many people from buying fabulous manufactured time-saving and work-saving appliances, but it didn’t stop them from understanding how they worked, and building something of their own.

As gasoline prices re-inflate, more and more people are remembering or discovering Europe’s make-do solutions for coping with wartime gas shortages. Modern research is being done on wood gas burners and conversion kits that can be built with common hardware store items and assembled in your garage with common tools.

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