Category Archives: GREEN LIVING

When the world is facing the danger of global warming we can bring changes in our lifestyle to contribute to a greener and cleaner environment.

What happened when fashionable footwear became common in Kerala?

I don’t know when footwear became so common in Kerala. Because if you google ‘Kerala 1970’ or ‘Kerala 1975’ you will see that there are very few images of people in footwear. But one thing is sure that before the 90’s Keralites used to buy only water resistant rubber or plastic footwear.

In Kerala rain is unpredictable and in the bygone days, people had to walk a lot. There was no way to protect the shoes from getting wet. So in earlier days, people used to buy, water-resistant, rubber or plastic chappals.

And there was no compulsion for children to wear shoes to school because rain is unpredictable in Kerala.

When we went for the vacation during our childhood, to Kerala, we used to carry clothes that dry fast, and water-resistant footwear.

In the 1980’s, for instance, there were fewer private transports. People had to walk for 15-20 minutes, mostly on unpaved roads, to reach the bus stops. On rainy days there were potholes and puddles. That required durable footwear rather than fashionable footwear.

fashionable footwear

Since water resistance and design does not go together it was hard to find fashionable footwear in Kerala. If someone wore a fashionable shoe all eyes would be on those shoes.

From the 90’s there was an emerging fashion sense of footwear. Pointed and flat heals have become common. Sneakers and leather shoes are used as daily wears in the rain prone Kerala

Nowadays, everyone has a collection of shoes for various occasions. Yes, they own a pair of shoe for the rain too. But not the lacklustre plastic or rubber chappals of the yonder years. Now there are fashionable rainy shoes. And durability is not the issue.  What is more important is the good looks.

The 90’s is an important time period because it was in 1989 that an ad company gave Kerala the tile of ‘God’s own country’. The title changed the image of Kerala. And slowly Kerala became one of the sought after tourist destinations in the world. 1990 was also the beginning of globalisation and privatization.

A large number of Keralites started travelling aboard for work. People started getting exposed to other culture and there was more income. Also, a growing number of Indian and foreign tourists were visiting Kerala.

Keralites whether they were in Kerala or abroad, got exposed to other cultures. Cultural shock was reduced. The quality of life improved for Keralites. There were changes in the dressing also. Half sarees and sarees were replaced by salwar kameez. Rubber and water resistant plastic footwear were replaced by leather and designer footwear.

Own vehicles to travel

When you wear costly leather shoes, that can get spoiled in rain. Naturally, your concentration will be towards protecting the shoes from the rain. Most Keralites own vehicles like a car or a two-wheeler. Now there is no need to walk to the bus stands.

Front  yards paved with tiles

And the front yards are decorated with paved tiles. So there are no more puddles in front of the house. You can walk on the tiled pavements which are attractive and prevent the shoes from getting soiled.

fashionable footwear

Waterproof Houses

The houses and public buildings are now built rainproof. Not a single drop of rainwater enters the houses.  And the car parking is covered. you can get into the car without the shoes and clothes getting wet in the rain.

No space for rainwater to penetrate underground

The worrying factor is that when you cover the ground in front of your house with tiles, you are not allowing the rainwater to penetrated underground. When we use engineering and design to beautify the surrounding and protect ourselves from rain, do we play a role in the flood that hit Kerala?

Watching rain without getting wet

Before 1990’s people did not like to visit Kerala during the rainy season. Because the rain hampered the tour programme. But now people enjoy coming to Kerala because they can watch the rain, without getting wet, by sitting in the balcony or while travelling in an Airconditioned Car.

We think of rain as a spoiler when we visit Kerala to enjoy the lush green landscape. We forget that rain is responsible for the lush green landscape.

Building boundary walls, blocking rainwater

We build boundary walls around our property without leaving an outlet for the flood water to drain. In this way, we are preventing the rainwater from flowing and draining into the rivers.

Building houses inspired by the West

When we model our houses like those in Western countries, we must understand that those countries do not get rainfall like Kerala. When we build houses and public buildings, we must take into consideration the geography of the area.

What are the possible solutions?

Do not build houses on paddy fields

During this flood, many people were complaining, in television interviews, that the flood water cannot drain into the rivers or seas because their route is blocked by the manmade constructions. Some houses are built on the paddy fields, whereby the flood water cannot go underground in those places.

Do not block the route of the rainwater

There is a saying in Hindi “Paani apna rastha nahi bhoolta”. Which means water does not forget its route. If the water knows the way, the human being in the area also must be knowing the way the rainwater flows to drain in the river or sea.

Ensure that rainwater is able to penetrate underground

When we construct roads and houses, or hardscape the front and back yards, we must ensure that the rainwater is given its due space to seep underground or flow into the river.

Do not ignore rain and rainwater

We cannot live in Kerala by ignoring the rain. If there is too much rain then there is the flood. If there is a scarcity of rain then there is drought. A few months ago Kerala government was planning to produce artificial rain by cloud seeding because of the scarcity of water in some regions.

The manmade constructions are one of the many reasons for the flood. If we make some correction in the constructions of houses and public building, and it’s surroundings, we can prevent flood to some extent.

There is a saying in Malayalam, “Annaan kunjum thannaal aayathu.” which means “every little help”.  The proverb comes from the story of the little squirrel that helped Lord Rama in building the bridge. Lord Rama blessed the squirrel by stroking on the back. Which caused three striped to form on the squirrel. And Lord Rama said that the service of the small one also matters in the completion of a big project.

I feel that our houses are the smallest block of development in Kerala. We must provide options in our homes for rainwater harvesting and also for the excess water to flow into the river. Our small action helps in increasing the water table levels in our area.

In television interviews, you can see the flood victims blaming the government. We forget that we are also part of the Government. Some things we can also do. Instead of waiting for the Government to do something, we must take ownership of developing our village in an environment-friendly manner.

We are indebted to nature. In a State like Kerala, which is Nature’s bounty,  you cannot ignore Nature and her fury and carry on development.

In this flood, the water was around 5 ft high. A bigger flood had happened in 1924. The flood which is known as the great flood of 99 Malayalam Era (ME) is said to have risen to 12 ft. The flood killed thousands and washed away a rail line. Even in that flood the reason for the flood was said to a manmade construction – the breaches in the Mulleperiyar dam.

Find a rain friendly fashion

Nowadays we wear leather chappals that get spoiled in rain. And jeans that take a long time to dry. We must find an alternative fashion which is rain friendly. The design of our homes and garments must be rain friendly. We must enjoy getting wet and dirty in the rain.

fashionable footwear

When in Kerala blend with rain

When you are in Kerala, instead of finding methods to protect yourself from rain, blend with nature. Give rain the utmost priority in all your activities.

 

 

 

 

Solar Power: A wonderful boon

The survival of life, human culture and the very existence of our planet Earth largely depend on developing and using renewable and nonconventional sources of energy. The first source of such a form of energy that comes to people in their right minds is solar energy. There are a wide variety of reasons why solar power is most beneficial to humankind. The Sun’s light and heat make life possible on the Earth. As such, energy from the Sun is the only source of every other form of energy including nuclear power. Read about a Weird Museum which has a rare collection of toilets included solar powered commodes.

solar power

Solar energy is green energy. It is virtually free from pollution. The use of solar power does not result in the emission of gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide which are deleterious to humans and other living beings in several ways. Moreover, solar power causes no noise pollution since solar panels and other devices have no moving components.

Solar energy is perennial albeit variations. On cloudy and winter days solar energy is a less efficient form of power. However, the emergence of photo voltaic technology means that we are not solely dependent on heat from the Sun. Even on cloudy and winter days we get light from the Sun. Photo voltaic technology is capable of converting solar radiation into electricity.

Solar power is useful in operating several devices such as heaters, cookers, lamps and calculators. Manufacturers of mobile phones, laptop computers and other gadgets are exploring how solar energy can be used for the functioning of these tools.

Using solar energy for cooking is advantageous. Depending on firewood will result in the destruction of forests, food chain and biodiversity. Besides, the development of technology to improve the quality of wood means that we can use rubber trees and pine trees as good sources for the construction of buildings and the manufacture of furniture.

The successful use of solar energy for street lighting in several parts of Africa deserves attention. This is possible by the use of solar batteries. By using solar batteries we are able to enjoy the benefit of solar technology at night. Even though these batteries are heavy and need to be replaced at present; scientists are working for the development of better battery technology.

The use of solar energy gives people energy independence. Setting up of solar panels on rooftops of houses and offices will make people energy independent. Putting solar panels on rooftops is expensive. Nevertheless, thanks to constant efforts to improve solar devices, it is coming down considerably. After establishing solar devices; people do not have to bother about paying electricity bills. In addition, solar technology needs little or no maintenance. Solar panels will continue to supply electricity for thirty plus years. Undoubtedly, the technology will become better in the days to come.

Solar power is capable of serving energy needs of people living in remote areas. People in several parts of the world have no access to power grids. The need not to depend on power cables is a major advantage of solar energy.

In today’s world, we are dependent on fossil fuels for our energy needs. These sources are dwindling rapidly. We are unable to get energy from these conventional sources of energy for another century. A conscious consideration of this reality will make us come to the right conclusion that solar power is the most dependable source of energy for the sustenance of our planet and life on it in the days and years to come.

About the Author:  
swami  sirSwaminathan Pillai is A senior academic and Journalist with specialties in history, politics, current affairs, health, disability and social issues. Well developed multi-media skills & experience in Broadcast Journalism. He is congenitally blind who with his wealth of knowledge has enlightened many.

 DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

Celebrate eco friendly holi with toxic-free holi colours

holi colours

Holi means the festival of colours, so there is no use preaching to stay away from the colours. It is a well-known fact that the colours of Holi stay on for more than a day, which means some of the colours are getting absorbed into the body. Hence opt for eco friendly Holi colours. Read this post to find out the benefits of vertical farming.

We see a large number of Holi colours in the market which may be toxic in nature, but we are unable to verify if the colours are toxic. So the best option is to buy branded, packed colours like Rangeela that mentions toxic-free colours on the packing.  However, we tend to buy the unbranded colours because they are cheaper and brighter in colours

As the saying goes, ‘look can be deceptive’ – the brighter the colour, the greater the chances of presence of Lead which is a toxic element. There is a number of toxic element that is added to make the colours darker. 

TOXIC ELEMENTS USED IN COLOURS AND HEALTH HAZARDS

“Green colour is obtained from copper sulphate -which may cause allergies in the eye or even temporary blindness.

Purple is obtained from chromium iodide – which may cause bronchial asthma or other forms of allergy.

Silver is obtained from aluminium bromide – a known carcinogenic.

Black is obtained from lead oxide – may cause renal failures or learning disability.

Red is obtained from mercury sulphite – may cause skin cancer or Minamata disease (mental retardation, paralysis, impaired vision…)

Shiny Colours are a result of powdered glass being added to the colours.” – holifestival.org

Not only are the colours harmful to human skins, but also the environment. When the colours go down the drain, the toxic elements mix with the soil, the river and the air polluting the environment, endangering the flora and fauna, and adding toxic content in the vegetables.

Get the colours tested 

If you are unsure of the toxicity of the colours and still want to buy them, test the product in some reputed institutions. One such institution that conducts toxicity tests for colours is NRCLPI (National Referral Centre for Lead Projects in India) in Banglore. “You can courier the sample,” says Mr. Vinay Kumar of NRCLPI. The test will ensure the eco-friendliness of the Holi colour powders.

Holi colours - NRCLPI

 How to prepare Holi colours at home 

Always homemade eco friendly holi colours are the best choices to stay from any kind of malpractices and health hazards. Traditionally many families prepare organic colours at home using kitchen ingredients, leaves, tree barks and flowers that are available around the house. Not only are the raw materials eco-friendly, they have many health benefits too.

  • The yellow colour is naturally available in turmeric to which you can add gramflour to increase the volume.  You can also dry and powder chrysanthemums for the yellow hue.
  • Dried and powdered Henna, Palak and leaves of Gulmohar can give green colour.
  • Rose petals, red hibiscus flower, kumkum can be dried and powdered to get a red colour. Also, redcolour can be obtained from grated and boiled beetroot.
  • Buy dried flowers from the market, soak them overnight to get a saffron colour.
  • The brown colour is found in tea leaves.

Nowadays herbal colours made from extracts of flowers, tree barks and leaves are available in the market. As they do not cause health hazard they are in high demand. Sometimes the herbal holi colours are also scented using essential oils like lemongrass and orange.

Solar Power Plant to reduce a hospitals Electricity Bill

In a first of it’s kind, a missionary hospital in Delhi will generate 30% of the electricity with solar energy, saving Rs 3-5 lakh on monthly energy bill. The effort of the hospital management and staff has been appreciated by the Green peace. Mr.Sunny George , of the hospital, shares with lifestyletodaynews the story of the installation of solar power plant  and how other institutions can follow the example for a Cleaner, Greener and Sustainable Environment:

Why did the institution decide for an alternative source of energy?

The rising cost of energy was a big concern to a charitable organization like Holy Family Hospital. It’s been great to see a lot of technological makeover, in recent times which has cut down the cost of manufacturing of the solar panels. Thus making it more acceptable as an alternative and cost efficient means of generating power. To know more about the boon solar power read this post.

The foremost advantage of solar energy is that we can generate electricity with no emission of green houses gases. It is produced by conducting the sun’s radiation without any smoke, gas or any chemical by- product. Another added advantage is that beyond initial installation, maintenance and solar energy is low. Life expectancy of panel are 25-30 years. Due to the above, solar power is getting more and more acceptable as an alternative and cost efficient means of generating power.

How is solar power generated?

We have installed a 300 KW rooftop solar panels in our hospital roof. Electricity is directly fed into our Electrical panels in synchrozation with the grid power supplied by BSES. Our average daytime consumption is 8000 units and in peak summer it touches 10000 units. We are expecting generation of 1800 to 2000 units per day thru these panels.This is the first solar installation in a hospital in Delhi in a PPA model. On our second phase we would like to cover 50% of the total electrical load.

If excess power is generated how will it be utilized?

BSES is coming up with Net Metering. In this, we are allowed  to export the power, back to the grid and it get adjusted in the future electricity bills. Even in our future expansion in solar power,the excess or the unused power in our lean period,won’t get wasted or needed to be stored in the batteries.Avoiding the batteries for the storage in the solar PV system,it cut down the cost by 30% and help us from the harmful effects of the batteries.Batteries are made of variety of chemicals to power their reaction,which are are extremely toxic in nature and can cause damage to human and environment.

Is solar power energy a viable option for all institutions?

Solar power energy has a high capital cost,so it is not within the capacity  of most. The Hospital, instead of spending on the solar power had a agreement with a German company to provide solar energy in PPA model(Power purchase agreement), for 20 years. The company has provided with the funds and their expertise in the solar power plant.

DSC_9135 copy
Solar panel

Finally, some of the readers would like to know the technical aspect, how does solar panel work?

Solar panels used are of polycrystalline modules.Silicon wafers with impurities are made to form the semi-conductor which convert the sunlight into electrical current. The array of solar modules connected electrically form the panel. To make the proper use of the terrace space , solar panels of 300 watts was used instead of 250 watt,which is more prevalent in the market.

In the grid connected solar power system,energy generated from the sunlight through the panels are fed into the solar inverters, which in turn converts the DC into AC, similar to the grid supply with three phase,415 volt and 50Hz. This is then, fed directly into the main LT panels,which consume the power drawn from the solar inverter and the left-over electricity from the grid.

About Sunny George
SunnySunny is the Engineering Head, of the Mission Hospital. Connect with him on google+ 

 

 

Vertical Farming for Fresh Vegtables

Dickson Despommier, a professor of public health and microbiology once challenged his student to feed 50,000 manhattans with the farming on 15 acres of roof top gardening. After much of intelligent calculation, the student concluded that they couldn’t feed more than 2,500. The professor suggested them, “why not cultivate indoors, vertically?” The idea got instant response and from then on the theory, has been taken up by many journals and other professionals. Find out the strategies used by foreign brands to woo Indian consumers
 
Vertical farming techniques are quite familiar as we are now aware of the cultivation of tomatoes in hot houses. vertical farming building will be a high-tech building with fully automated systems for watering the farms, providing the lights etc. The existing successfully used technologies like drip irrigation, aeroponics and hydroponics can provide the basis for the vertical farming.
 
vertical farming
The Oasis Tower for Zabeel Park, Dubai is an answer to the rise in population and the dearth in the amount of land available for farming. The tower would provide a solution for urban farming and sustainable housing and may be able to provide food enough to feed 40,000 people each year. For more pictures of vertical farming world over visit the site:  http://www3.jjc.edu/ftp/wdc12/jjurkiewicz/vfconceptualdesign.html
Vertical farming provides a solution for some of the prevailing concerns like pollutions from the traditional farming methods; high cost of food, and doing harm to the nature. Since the farming is done inside a closed environment, there is little threat of pesticides, and, therefore, no pesticides are required. And the food that is produced in the city itself can be availed at cheaper rates, by the city dwellers. Presently in US, it is said that fast and unhealthy food are available at cheap rates, whereby increasing risks of obesity, heart diseases and diabetes.  
 
By the mid of this century, it is predicted that the world population will increase by 3 billion, and 80% of the population will be residing in cities, therefore, farming land area as huge as Brazil will be required to feed the world.  The present availability of land is insufficient, which can lead to an impending food crisis in future.  As the famous American humorist Mark Twain says, “Buy land. They’re not making it any more.”  Despommier estimates that a 30 storey block on a square block of land in a city is sufficient to feed 50,000, and he says that we have the technology to start a farm.
 
Over a period on 10,000 years, man has learned and invented new method of farming, which helps in cultivating high yields of crops and vegetables, on large stretch of horizontal farms. There are many drawbacks in importing or transporting vegetable from farms – many years of farming makes the soil infertile; the yield depends highly on natural elements like sunlight and rain fall, and high expense is incurred for transporting the fresh vegetables to cities. 
 
Though there are some concerns regarding the feasibility of vertical farming, and allegations that the advantages are exaggerated, there is more to gains from developing vertical farming.
 

Ancy Abraham

Say ‘No’ to pollution in delhi

pollution in delhi
 
Pollution in Delhi is not a new topic of discussion. According to World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer, air pollution is a major cause of cancer. Their studies show that pollution in Delhi has high level of life-threatening pollutants. More about lead pollution in Delhi in this post.
 
That Delhi is a highly polluted city, is well-known, you can know the difference by staying here for sometime. Due to pollution in Delhi people say their food intake is less than half of what they have in the village. Delhiites always say “Nothing is fresh here”. To gain something we should also lose something (Kuch Paane ke liye Kuch Khona Padta Ha). In the village you would not have the income to buy all the fresh things. 
 
The cheapest and the simplest method to gain resistance from pollution in delhi is early morning walk and exercise in the park. Walks will prepare the body and mind to resist the pollutants inhaled during the rest of the day.  
 
In the park there were a few volunteers of alternative medicines distributing flyers and telling walkers about how therapies can heal various diseases. The flyers contained names of diseases like arthritis, osteoporosis,  diabetes, BP, Amnesia,……….. These diseases can be summed up under one name – lifestyle diseases. There is no need of medication, these diseases can disappear by adopting corrective measures in lifestyle. We cannot stop pollution in Delhi until the people and authorities work towards the common goal of making Delhi pollution free.  Until the pollution in Delhi in eradicated we can remain well armed to fight the menace caused by pollution. 
 
I find no school going kids in the park. Half of the walkers are the elderly; and the rest youth and the middle aged. People become conscious of their health after they develop some kind of diseases. 
 
Many business that promise better health are mushrooming in and around the park. Yoga, pranic medicine, auyrveda, all claim that their treatments are good to gain resistance, and cure, from diseases. Tell the herbal juice wala what kind of disease you have and he makes the right concoction for you ‘a glass of juice for arthritis please’. As it was weekends there were also camps for free medical check up. 
 
It will be a great blessing for the health of the city, if children put in the habit of running and exercising in parks. They will benefit in two ways. Firstly children, who are the largest victims of air pollution diseases like asthma, will gain resistant.  Secondly, if children inculcate the habit of walking they will be conscious about their health for lifelong. 
 
For the health of the City – Say ‘No’ to pollution in delhi ! Say ‘Yes’ to walking and exercise!

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Walking boosts memory

 
Today I read an article in a Newspaper that the memory power of those who walk in park is 20% more than of those who walk on street lanes. Naturally, while walking in a green surrounding there is more intake of oxygen and that makes the brain-cells work better. Maybe this is the scientific explanation for the inspiration that writers get when they are in the midst of nature. Remember the famous poem of Robert Frost “Stopping by the woods” penned down after he travelled through the woods on a cold winter night. Read this post to know the advantage of using walking shoes.
I observed that most of the people who walked in the park did not have athletic figure, they were walking more for their mental than physical fitness. Nowadays you need to be young, physically and mentally, to remain fit in the job market. There is one fellow, whose self-styled exercise routine has made him  the butt of joke in the park. He runs fast and when he finds some other jogger in front of him, he will reduce the speed with a loud noise, as if applying sudden break in a car. He faces to the west and claps so loudly that the sound vibrates through the entire premise of the park. He ends his exercise routine by standing straight, looking up at the sky, as if to roar like a lion, and then he laughs at the top of his voice. He is a successful entrepreneur, and I am sure he follows the ‘I don’t care what others think’ attitude even in his office.(The secret of all successful people is their confidence to act differently in order to attain their goals).
My boss, in her seventies, is another example of how fitness is important to remain mentally fit. She does yoga and walks everyday in the morning. She drinks one glass of green juice, and another of fruit, before leaving for office. Ask her about the content of any magazine she published 20 years back and she promptly gives details about its date of publishing, the cover picture and so on.
In this age when Dementia and amnesia are becoming common, the time is never late to begin exercising and walking in the parks. An hour of activity in the park everyday will keep one fit, mentally and physically always. 
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