Use What You Have

The commonplace and discarded hold the seeds of solutions.

Nature has a lovely balance to her, and part of that lies in the ways that simple solutions can break the backs of formerly intractable problems. Sometimes just one thing, no matter how small, can make all the difference.

The trick to making very limited resources stretch is to join the world of science, math, analysis and lateral thinking with the realities of on-the-ground hardships and limitations. When you join science with the street — when you combine sophisticated analyses with simple, low-tech solutions, you create appropriate technology — the best tool for the job, that fits the local resources and culture, and maximizes the positive while minimizing the pain.  And appropriate technology will change the world.

Appropriate Technology is when doctors attack the problem of hospital-borne infection with a Simple Paper Checklist. Or when researchers filter cholera pathogens from water using old saris. In the 19th century, when Ignaz Semmelweiss first prevented childbed fever with handwashing, he was using the same approach (although he was shunned by his peers and sent to a mental institution for his heretical statements. I never said it was going to be easy.)

For more examples of using what you have, view all related articles.

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