Tag Archives: Sustainable Lifestyle

How to save for posterity?

In the 21st century, when predominantly nuclear family prevails, there is a rising tendency among parents asking why to save for posterity. We earn and we burn, why save for the posterity?

Rise of Nuclear families

Yes, you are right; we were born in nuclear families, with just enough to eat, wear and enjoy a little bit. Also, our parents managed to give us a good education.

And on that firm footing, we built a career and became financially secure. We bought one or two houses, one or two cars, saved for the children’s higher education and have a decent bank balance.

Does that mean that we secured our children’s future and we did enough for the posterity? No, we haven’t?

Being in the ’40s and my parents in their 70’s, what my parents did to secure my future was right. But I being in the ’40s and my children in their teens, I need to think of a few more criteria to secure the future of my posterity.

Carbon footprints and food miles

I have to think in terms of Carbon footprints and food miles; also about Sustainable clothing and Sustainable farming. To secure my children’s future I need to give them not just a decent education, but also handover a liveable planet to them.

Save for posterity

Large families and joint families of yesteryears

My parents grew up in large families with many siblings. They were well to do families with land holdings. They had enough to fill eat but not to splurge. Things were like the first come first basis. The fittest could survive. The smartest and the strongest get the lion share. It was the duty of the mother to ensure that every member of the family got their proper share of food and clothing.

The first generation nuclear families

However, when my parents began a family, a nuclear one, they wanted to give the kids every happiness in life. They gave the kids the best food and clothing. As they were conditioned in childhood to share with others and eat home-cooked food, they never took any interest in the processed food available in the market. But they bought readymade chocolates, cookies and chips for their kids. And thus we were conditioned on plentiful.

Pampered kids of today

Being conditioned in the plentiful, we made our kids self-sufficient. Giving them their own unique choice of food, clothes and gadgets. At least we had common bathrooms, common phone and television. Now there is hardly any common factor among the parents and children. 

Kids Environment Activist

Kids like Greta Thunberg understood the danger of plentiful parents and self-sufficient kids. They urged their parents to own just one house, to reduce the carbon footprints, which is the measure of the greenhouse gases generated during production.

Greta also refuses to travel by air, to reduce the carbon footprints.

We must think like our grandparents and live like our parents.

We need to live our life from the scratch.

Because transporting food items from far away generates footprints, we must become self-reliant thereby reducing food miles. We must try to be self-reliant by growing vegeables in whichever way possible- terrace garden, kitchen garden and indoor plantation.

Gold treasure discovered hidden by ancestors

Several stories that appeared online give an insight into how we survive because of our forefathers saved for us. And why we must save for the posterity.

Roman age gold coins were discovered from the Como, city in Italy, which is worth millions of Euros. Possibly a wealthy person buried the coins in the beginning of 2000 AD fearing some invasion. Now the coin has become the wealth of a nation.

Air and water measurable

Who though that one day the amount of water used to wash the grapes for wines will be counted. And who thought the water used for manufacturing and washing jean will be considered as huge water consumption. Until now we thought air and water were free to be used by every living being.

We have an even bigger responsibility for the posterity. We need to save the environment for posterity. We need to be on an austerity drive. Instead of being on use and throw culture, we need to adopt use and reuse culture. A gist of how we can save for the posterity is being taught by the pandemic because we have learned to live a minimalistic life. We must continue our austere habits even after the pandemic and save for the posterity so that they can enjoy, breath and live freely on earth like we did in our childhood.

man undergoes brain surgery while watching Bigg Boss, lifestyle today news, Nov 23…

Man undergoes brain surgery while watching Bigg Boss; Melting ice sheets of Greenland; Mega flood on Mars 4 billion years ago; Jaan Kumar Sanu gets evicted from Bigg Boss

A man undergoes brain surgery while watching Bigg Boss

A 33-year-old man in Andhra Pradesh watched Bigg Boss, as doctors performed critical brain surgery. The surgery was performed to remove a recurrent glioma in the left premotor area. Prasad was required to stay awake during the surgery.  It is not clear from the reports about the number of hours taken for the surgery, however, he watched Bigg Boss Season 14 and the super hit Sci-Fi Hollywood movie Avatar as three doctors performed the surgery.  He had undergone a surgery in 2014 also but did not recover completely. He was discharged from the hospital in Guntur on Saturday.

BRAIN SURGERY

Melting ice sheets of Greenland

The largest island on earth, Greenland, is the benchmark to decide the intensity of climate change. Various researches are being done to evaluate how far global warming results in the melting of the ice sheets in Greenland. In one such study researchers climbed down the moulins that drain meltwater coming from the ice sheet. The researcher found that the moulins are larger than previously thought. And they say that the volume of meltwater in the Moulin will affect the stability of the Greenland ice sheet and also how fast they move towards the sea.

A mega flood on Mars 4 billion years ago

Once upon a time, 4 billion years ago, there was a megaflood on Mars, so says the scientists. Before the flood Mars could sustain life. The analysis is done from sedimentological data from the NASA Curiosity rover. There are geological feature that was formed by water and wind, and frozen four billion years ago. The ‘Anitdunes’ and ‘Megaripple’ features on the Gale crater are an indication that a megaflood occurred on the red planet.

Jaan Kumar Sanu gets evicted from Bigg Boss

Jaan Kumar Sanu was the latest contestant to get evicted from Bigg Boss Season 14. Son of Kumar Sanu, he was the fresh face entrant to the reality show. He entertained the audience through Bigg Boss with his singing and other skills. He has been voted out on a thin margin from the nearest contestants.

News Courtesy Google News

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Jeff Bezos announces first recepients of $10 billion fund to fight climate change lifestyle today news snippets nov 17

Jeff Bezos announces first recepients of $10 billion fund to fight climate change; Not just vaccine is enough to fight Covid-19 say WHO Chief; Environmentalist Sunita Narain to receive prestigious Edinburgh Medal; Boris Johnson Once again Quarantined; Ritesh Deshmukh sets a new sustainbale fashion trend during Diwali

JEFF BEZOS ANNOUNCES FIRST RECEPIENTS OF $10 BILLION FUND TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

Founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, announced the first recipients of the $10 billion Earth Fund to fight climate change. The recipients include 16 scientists, NGOs and others who are “working on innovative, ambitious, and needle-moving solutions.” In his Instagram post, Bezos says that he has been learning for several months, “from a group of incredibly smart people who’ve made it their life’s work to fight climate change and its impact on communities around the world. I’m inspired by what they’re doing, and excited to help them scale.” The $791 million funds announced today is the first part of the $10 billion set aside by the world richest man to “protect Earth’s future by taking bold action now.”

FUND TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

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Not just vaccine is enough to fight Covid-19 say WHO Chief

The vaccine alone is not enough to overcome the virus say the WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus. The number of cases are increasing at an alarming rate since the pandemic first broke out. The latest figure registered in WHO on Friday was 645,410. Tedros says along with the vaccine, tests, surveillance, isolations and care are to continue. “That will still leave the virus with a lot of room to move. Surveillance will need to continue, people will still need to be tested, isolated and cared for, contacts will still need to be traced… and individuals will still need to be cared for.” He said.

Environmentalist Sunita Narain to receive prestigious Edinburgh Medal

Well-known environmentalist, writer and activist Sunita Narain is the recipient of Edinburgh Medal for her work on climate justice. The ceremony will be held virtually on November 18th, this Wednesday. Sunita Narain is the Director of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and editor of Down to Earth Magazine. She was honoured with Padma Shri in 2005. She is active both in India and internationally in formulating policies related to environmental issues.  

Boris Johnson Once again Quarantined

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who was in the Intensive Care Unit ealier this year due to Covid-19. Once again in two-week self-isolation as one of his contacts was confirmed to be covid positive. “Today I was notified by NHS Test and Trace that I must self-isolate as I have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. I have no symptoms, but am following the rules and will be working from No10 as I continue to lead the government’s pandemic response.” he tweeted.

Ritesh Deshmukh sets a new sustainbale fashion trend during Diwali

Bollywood actor Ritesh Deshmukh set a sustainable fashion trend of sought when he recycled an old saree of his mother to Diwali outfits. He posted a video on Twitter where his mother is seen waving a blue turquoise sari followed by Ritesh and sons Riaan and Rahyl wearing Kurti made from the sari. Many applauded the actor for the initiative on Twitter. We need to wait and see if the actor will repeat the outfit in future events as part of sustainable living.

News Courtesy Google News

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Meet the Bean to bar chocolatier couple in India

Apart from the milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or homemade chocolate, another range of chocolate is slowly gaining a loyal group of customers in India. Know as the bean-to-bar chocolate you might have seen them displayed at events, fairs and malls.

Coincidentally, two weeks ago I came in touch with a chocolatier couple based in Chennai, L Nitin Chordia, and Poonam Chordia. They started Kocoatrait the only zero waste and sustainable bean to bar chocolate brand in the world.

They are the first certified male and female chocolate tasters in India. In addition, they own Cocoatrait, a consultancy firm for chocolates, and Cocoashala, an education, and training institute for chocolates.

Nitin and Poonam are part of the bean to bar revolution that is happening world over and particularly in India. In a bean to bar chocolate making the entire process from procuring the cocoa seed onwards is done by the same manufacturer in small batches.

In a bean to bar chocolate we know exactly where the seeds come from. For Kocoatrait, they procure cocao seeds from Kerala and Karnataka.

Like in wine making, the terroir of the chocolate is important. Climate, soil, terrain, of planting Theobroma Cocao influences the flavour of the chocolates.

Poonam the creator of Kocoatrait brand incorporated a number of local and indigenous ingredients in the 12 vegan chocolate varieties. Lemongrass, sukku coffee, lavender, coconut, banana, masala chai and red rose are some of the exclusive chocolate flavours. The rose petals are sourced from Rajasthan, Jaggery from UP thus keeping the production of the chocolates local and sustainable.

Kocoatrait chocolates are all vegan and free of vegetable fat or oil. And to keep the chocolates sugar-free natural sweeteners like Jaggery and coconut sugar are used.

The cocao seed processing to the final packaging iof the chocoate is done in small batches with lots of dedication, hardwork and passion. Every process is ensured to be sustainable, local causing the least harm to the environment.

The couple run the wet table top grinder for 24 hours continuously to bring out the natural flavour of the cocoa. And the chocolates are wrapped using packaging materials made from reclaimed cotton and coconut husk.

I had a online interview with Nitin Chordia who talked about their brand of bean to bar chocolates and about the benefits of consuming chocolates. The interview was an eye opener about the benefits of consuming dark chocolates. Nitin also tells how to develop a taste for dark chocolates which is good for health.

About Bean to Bar Chocolates

What is bean to bar chocolate making? How prevalent it is in India?

Bean to bar chocolate making involves making pure chocolate starting from cocoa beans without substituting the fat, which is cocoa butter in this case. This is a new wave globally in chocolate making and India is not left behind.

It involves making specialized and pure chocolate in small batches. We have 5 successful Bean to bar chocolate makers in India and I had earlier predicted 40 such Bean to bar makers by the end of 2020. 

Bean to bar chocolate is seldom imported.

Milk vs Dark Chocolates

What is the difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate?

As the name suggests if there is milk in a chocolate recipe, then it is referred to as milk chocolate. Milk chocolate usually has a very less percentage (less than 20%) of cocoa and is dominated by sugar and milk.

When chocolate is made without milk and has a higher cocoa percentage it is called dark chocolate. One must be very careful and note that the milk should not be substituted by sugar and hence of 50%, dark chocolate makes no sense. Most of the balance of 50% is sugar! 

Comparing Bean to bar chocolates with dark or milk chocolate categories is like comparing oranges and apples. They are not the same.

What is the rate of consumption of milk and dark chocolates in India?

As of today, predictably so, milk chocolates form most the market. Dark chocolate is a category that is currently very small but promising huge growth opportunities.

Particularly after the pandemic, we have noticed more people understand the benefits of dark chocolates. We are in no way implying that the entire country will start consuming dark chocolates going forward. 

Are dark chocolates healthy?

Not all dark chocolates are equal. Dark chocolates above 65% are considered healthier when they are made without adding any other vegetable oils or milk.

When milk is added to chocolate, our body’s ability to absorb the antioxidants that exist in cocoa is nullified. In my opinion, a freshly made Indian sweet is better to consume than 50% dark chocolate.

In our earlier research, we figured out that any Indian sweet has a maximum of 36% sugar content whereas a 50% dark chocolate would mean 50% sugar content! This is alarming! Hence we cannot say that all dark chocolates are healthy. 

We Indians have a sweet tooth, how do we eat dark chocolate which is bitter?

While Indians have a sweet tooth, we also like beverages like beer wine and coffee. We must also note that in India we do not know to differentiate between a sugar craving and chocolate craving.

Also, it is a myth that all dark chocolates are bitter. The bitterness depends on the quality of cocoa beans used while making chocolate. Lower quality cocoa beans are usually bitter and hence are cheaper.

During my early days as a chocolate taster, I have tasted and enjoyed 100% dark chocolate made without any sugar and was still able to quite easily enjoy it. I enjoy 100% dark chocolate quite regularly these days.

We must also note that much like wine beer and espresso coffee one needs to develop a taste for dark chocolates also. With more education, people will start appreciating the flavour nuances in dark chocolate just like how they do in the case of wine and coffee.

Is there difference between Indian and international dark chocolates?

This is not a straight forward question to answer. However to put it simply most of the international dark chocolates being imported are commercially made and mass-produced chocolates.

Most of the available dark chocolates in India are also mass-produced.

However, if you have to choose between mass-produced Indian and imported dark chocolates, I would have to say that imported dark chocolates are perhaps a better buy (produce wise and not necessarily value-wise) simply because of the strict Ingredient laws that govern chocolate production internationally.

We must also remember that we are paying a much higher price for imported chocolate (3 times more than the price it is sold in retail in the country of production) simply because a majority of the price constitutes import duties and transportation costs. Hence you are not actually paying the entire price for the product. 

Sustainable Chocolate Making

What is sustainable or zero waste chocolate making? 

Chocolate making where, every aspect of a business including sourcing of raw materials, use and reuse of existing resources and packaging material which is safe and good for the environment Give while taking and not to create landfills is our definition of sustainable and zero waste.

How you have made your brand Indian, traditional and eco friendly?

Almost all the ingredients that we use in our products are made in India and are organic. We use traditional stone grinding to refine our chocolates which help us retain flavour.

We use the most energy-efficient machinery to produce Kocoatrait chocolates. They may not be cost-efficient processes and equipment but the intention is to be eco-friendly and hence we make our choices a specific way. Last but not the least, our packaging is zero waste and that completes our offering.

What is the cocoa husk packaging that you use to wrap the chocolates?

While creating Kocoatrait as the world’s 1st truly zero-waste, sustainable, and eco-friendly chocolate, we were clear that we have to start from the outside. The wrapper needed the most attention because, like potato crisps, the packaging of chocolates have always been seen in a negative light towards the impact of it on the landfills and oceans.

What we decided to do was to work with reclaimed waste cotton from garment factories and Cocoa husks that we generate during a roasting process. We put them together and make a material that is upcycled, completely paper-free, plastic-free, tree-free, compostable, biodegradable, and recyclable.

This is the first and only such wrapping material used by a chocolate brand. Until March 2020 we have helped save 50 kgs of single-use plastic chocolate wrappers from entering landfills and the ocean. 

How lucrative is chocolate making business in India?

The mass-produced chocolate business will continue to behave like an FMCG offering with pressures on sourcing and margins. As far as Bean to bar chocolate industry is concerned, we see very high profitability, the ability to start small and very attractive ROI

Can a rubber or coffee planter make more income from cocoa plantation?

An existing rubber or coffee planter can usually add cocoa as an additional crop within the same farm. However, we must remember that cocoa has a long gestation period.

When the planter starts selling cocoa, it certainly gives him the luxury of a balanced income. Every crop whether it is rubber, coffee, or cocoa behaves like a commodity and has the same uncertainty. 

Ferro Rocher, Toblerone, a box of Quality Street Chocolate, Snickers, Galaxy, and Mars are some of my favourite imported chocolates. Are they milk or dark chocolates? Should I eat or not eat them?

All the above-listed products are milk chocolates. whether you should eat them or not depends on the purpose or intent of the value to be derived.

Broadly speaking, if you are up for some indulgence and a sugar rush, all the above will fit your bill and you could consume them. People usually consume dark chocolates with the aim of lower sugar intake and the health aspects (antioxidants) which they could benefit from. 

Meet women fashion entrepreneurs in India

The Indian fashion industry is one place where you can find several women entrepreneurs. Through their creations, they nurture some of the subtle aspects of nature, culture, tradition, and environment. A woman knows best how to bring out the best in her creations. She knows how to protect and give a breath of new life to those things from the bosom of mother nature that are on the verge of extinction.

Sustainability is the watchword these days. Creating sustainable products is not just trendy; it is the need of the hour. Climate change and the environment depletion make us all sit up and think about what we can do to save mother earth as we know her. These women fashion entrepreneurs are on the path of sustainability.

Here are interviews with a few women fashion entrepreneurs in India, who have carved a niche for themselves in the field of fashion and sustainability.

Rebecca Reubens

Rebecca Reubens

Dr. Rebecca Reubens core expertise is for bamboo and rattan. She is the founder of Rhizome, a multidisciplinary sustainability design studio. She is a world bamboo ambassador for the World Bamboo Organization. A trained industrial designer from the National Institute of Design, India, she focuses her creations on design, craft, and sustainability. She is associates with multi-governmental institutions, governments, NGOs, SMEs, and communities in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Rebecca is the author of the book, ‘Bamboo: From Green Design to Sustainable Design.’

Here is an interview with her, where she talks about sustainability, her journey so far, and her experience of being a woman entrepreneur:

About her enterprise

Tell us something about Rhizome, India’s first multidisciplinary sustainability studio?

Design impacts sustainability because it orchestrates how materials are harvested, produced, used, and discarded. The question is whether you want to take accountability for these design decisions and their impact on sustainability. Rhizome, since its inception in 2009, does commit to doing this. We go beyond the environmental aspects and also consider the social, economic, and cultural elements which influence sustainability.

What can we expect to gain by visiting your studio?

Bright minds hard at work and sound design! 

Who can visit?

Anyone and everyone

Journey So far

From your student days at NIFT, how has your journey been so far?

Exciting and always growing larger and yet quieter. Moreover, the scope and understanding of things that impact design required consideration while designing expanded exponentially. Whereas, the ego has become smaller.

About Sustainability

Why have you chosen bamboo and sustainability?

I chose bamboo because of sustainability. Bamboo is one of the most sustainable materials known to man and needs leveraging for sustainability. While I don’t only work with bamboo – I work with other sustainable materials as well.

Bamboo is my material of choice because I have been working with it for almost two decades now. I began my bamboo journey as a student at NID, then as a part of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, and finally through my practice.

What are your future ventures, especially at this time when a sustainable lifestyle is become a necessity due to compelling environmental reasons?

We have a new brand of sustainable jewelry called Baka. We are also moving into the fashion space. 

Fashion Tips

How can the college-going youngster and the young office going population adapt bamboos and sustainability in their lifestyle?

Buy less, and what you buy, buy sustainably. Read and keep yourself informed. Check up on tall claims and beware of greenwashing. Pick the real ones – we all know who they are – and buy things that are classic and will last you longer. Buy into experiences rather than ‘stuff.’ Look at alternate service models rather than ‘stuff.’ – take public transport or an Ola instead of buying a car.

How can the common man, especially the college-going and the office going people make the best use of your creative collection?

Our collections are convenient and competitive in terms of price and performance. They are a good design. So it is simple – buy them, use them, don’t throw them away. Get a piece customized from us – we want you to love what you own and keep it forever.

As a successful woman entrepreneur, how was your journey so far?

It was possible only because of support from my family and friends. Cultivate a strong network – this is what will catch you when you jump into the universe with eyes wide open. 

Women’s Day Message

It would be super if there were no women’s day – because gender equality existed. Unfortunately, it does not. Some of us are more privileged than others – we need to speak up and be the voices of those who cannot speak for themselves. Fight for equality – quietly and loudly – make sure you are heard and seen if you are privileged. Be the change you want to see.

Rebecca Reubens

Medha Khosla

Medha Khosla

Medha is the founder of the designer brand Anomaly that focuses on workwear wardrobes. The clothes are designed for Indian professionals and created using natural Indian textiles. She completed her academic studies at the prestigious Pratt Institute of Brooklyn, New York. Armed with the skills, expertise, and exposure of working and studying in New York for ten years, she returned to India. Anomaly has become well-known within a span of four years since its inception.

About her enterprise

Tell us something about your brand, “Anomaly’?

ANOMALY is a premium clothing brand specializing in high-quality essentials for men and women. Since we are a brand born out of dislike for excess, desire for subtle detail, and clean design, we create classic, everyday staples crafted from natural, Indian textiles.

Journey So far

Tell us about your journey till now?

It’s been a rewarding and challenging journey at the same time. Being a first-generation entrepreneur and never having worked in India before, I’ve faced many difficulties in setting up our studio and workshop. Finding the right team is an ongoing work in progress. I have had to fight many battles to execute my vision and goals for Anomaly. But, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else as I continue to grow and meet incredible people along the way!

As a successful woman entrepreneur, how was your journey so far?

The journey was exacting, rewarding, full of hurdles, and excellent opportunities at the same time. At the same time, it is no doubt challenging to navigate a man’s world in business. It is inspiring to build a business from the ground up and enrich the lives of our workers and karigars with relevant skills. I have decided to keep going no matter the challenges because resilience and perseverance are essential to continuous success.

About Sustainability

How are your creations sustainable?

We holistically approach sustainability from designing smaller collections, using ethical and lean production methods to manufacture based on need/orders.

We use only natural textiles like cotton, linens, and silks to ensure each textile scrap gets upcycled into trimmings, home accessories, and fabrics. Our philosophy is ‘less is more,’ and we believe in practicing sustainability in every aspect of the design, sourcing, and manufacturing process.

What are your future ventures, especially in providing sustainable products?

We are working on building our accessories range into an exclusively sustainable collection of upcycled home goods. Strengthening our business as an ethical production house for other brands and startups is very important to me as I firmly believe our studio has the right skill set for helping other like-minded brands grow. We would like to tie up with more prominent companies/corporates to develop a line of sustainable clothing or accessories for them – this would be an incredible step forward for us to execute a shared vision on a larger scale. 

Will sustainable fashion become affordable to the larger population?

First, we need to identify what affordability means to the average Indian buyer and educate them on why it is better to choose a sustainable garment or textile over synthetics and cheap mass fashion.

There is a lack of awareness amongst the average consumer, and so they decide to opt for inexpensive clothing over a well-made, ethically produced, and beautifully designed apparel.

Sustainable fashion cannot be cheap because a lot goes into the development and creation of a garment from the design to sourcing to execution. We need to stop comparing everything to mass fashion instead of focusing on why sustainability is more valuable and imperative in today’s world.

Fashion Tips

How relevant and affordable it is to the college-going and the young office going population?

We focus on elevating classic silhouettes into contemporary garments relevant to a broad audience from 25-65 years. Our styles are not trend-based but designed for everyday wear and all seasons.

Our price points are very accessible, primarily since we only use 100% natural, high-quality textiles to create a superior quality product. We don’t compromise on either and keep our prices very competitive at the same time.

Now slow fashion and repeating garments are becoming a trend, can you give some fashion tips to the young generation about what factors they have to take into account to look trendy and presentable every day?

Taking care of one’s garments is essential. We recommend choosing the right detergents and hand washing whenever possible for longevity in one’s wardrobe. I recommend finding unique ways to style one’s staples to feel and look presentable. The more we care for our garments, the longer they last and stay relevant. 

Women’s Day Message

Keep breaking barriers and follow your passions. Don’t stop trying and be prepared for failure. Women hold this world together, and this is the time for us to push ourselves to the forefront – be seen and heard.

Medha Khosla

Image Courtesy: Rebecca Reubens and Medha Khosla

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.

 

 

 

 

5 ways for #CuttingPaani usage at home

Every Mumbaikar knows the meaning of, ‘Cutting Chai’. For the rest of the world, cutting chai means half a cup of tea that is cheaper than a full cup’ yet enough to get refreshed.

Now Livpure has started a campaign #CuttingPaani to spread awareness about the rising shortage of potable water globally. CuttingPaani means – drink as much you thrist. If thirst is little, then drink only half a glass of water.

A small but impactful campaign to make each person responsible to take steps to preserve drinking water.

When one hears of the water crisis, the first picture that comes to mind is of the viral news of the water shortage in Cape Town. A city with 4 million people provides just 50-litre water per day for a person.

In the US a person gets 350 litres of water per day. And very soon, a ‘zero-day’ will arrive in Cape Town when one million households in the city will not get any running water.

What is happening in Cape Town, is a bleak story of what every city in the world can expect. Interestingly, one reason for the water crisis according to reports is ‘poor water management’ and ‘insufficient preparation’.

We fear there will be Zero-day in Bengaluru. According to reports if the rainwater is harvested properly, the water crisis in Bengaluru can be managed. Which means if we manage our water we can avoid the zero-day.

Cuttingpaani is the first initiative in the direction of saving water. We can save water by #cuttingpaani in a number of our activities at home.

Drink less water in the night

#Cuttingpaani

One must drink 3 to 4 litres of water in a day. But the majority should be consumed in the daytime. Having more water in the night may lead to kidney and other ailments.

No water-thirsty plants at home

cuttingpaani

You might have indoor plants, outdoor plants and kitchen gardens at home. Some plants like Cactus family and aloe vera require very little water. Some plants and soils require water only to be sprayed. Keep only those plants at home that requires hardly any water.

Avoid using tap water directly

#Cuttingpaani

For bathing use bucket and mug. For brushing and shaving use water in a mug. Wash dishes by taking water in a small basin. Avoiding tap water usage directly saves a lot of water.

Handwash some clothes

cuttingpaani

Handwashing requires only that much water as is required in the first round of washing in a washing machine. For a washing machine, at least 12 to 15 buckets of water is for three rounds – one washing and two rinsing sessions. Whereas in hand wash the whole activity will be over in 3 buckets of water.

Mop the veranda floor, do not wash

cuttingpaani

A common view in Indian cities is to see hose pipe with running water being used to clean veranda. Mostly maids just waist the water pouring the water on all the vehicles, plants, gates and so on. Using a hosepipe to clean is an easy but water-wasting method of cleaning. Mop the veranda floor to save water.

If we use our resources more reasonably and collectively we can avoid a zero-day.

Also, sing the petition for CuttingPaani to spread the awareness to fill the glass with only as much water as you have thirst. Watch the video to know more about the campaign.

How to celebrate Eco-friendly Holi

In an ideal world, the joyous festival of Holi is meant to celebrate the arrival of Spring while the colours used in Holi are to reflect of the various hues of spring season. But unfortunately, in modern times Holi does not stand for all things beautiful. Like various other festivals, Holi too has become ruthlessly commercialized, boisterous and yet another source of environmental degradation and health problem. Hence many consumers are on the look out for Holi Colours made from natural materials and safe for health and environment.

Toxic Elements/Chemical in Holi Colours

According to many research and previous studies related to Holi colour products, the pastes contain very toxic chemicals/elements that can have severe health effects.You can also get tested your holi colour products at NRCLPI ( National Referral Centre for Lead Projects in India) , St John’s Medical College, Kormanagala , Bengaluru.

Few examples of colour and the chemical content with their few health effects on human and environment:

Eco-friendly Holi COlours
Table 1: Holi Colours and their chemical content

Harmful Chemicals in Gulal & Harms of Wet Holi Colours
The dry colours, commonly known as gulals, have two components a colorant that is toxic and a base which could be either asbestos or silica, both of which cause health problems. Heavy metals contained in the colorants can cause asthma, skin diseases and adversely affect the eyes.

Wet colours, mostly use Gentian violet as a colour concentrate which can cause skin discoloration and dermatitis.

These days, Holi colours sell loose, in the market and traders are also unaware about the source of the holi colour products as it comes from a group of networked people/sellers exchanging hand to hand from different parts of the country. In few instants, the colours come wrapped that specifically say for industrial purpose/use or without any origin/manufacture details.

Make your own Eco-friendly Holi colours

Holi festival lovers will be thrilled to know that it is possible to make simple, natural colours in one’s own home. Here are some very simple recipes to make natural colours:

eco-friendly holi colour
Table:2 Ingredients to prepare eco-friendly holi colours

Safeguarding Water

Just on 22 March we all observed World Water Day, across the Globe. In the current scenario, when India and the rest of the world is facing acute water shortage, the water wastage in the name of Holi in the extreme, is also being unjusticable. It is usual or general using buckets of water during Holi but please keep in mind that you are not only wasting water resource, but also polluting it with harmful and toxic chemicals. If a single person uses 2 liter of water on Holi on splashing/playing just imagine the number of liters of water used across India with a billion+ population .

So, make sure we don’t waste and pollute water, which is most needed for our coming generations too.

Tips to celebrate a safe Holi

  • Use homemade natural and safe colours-Learn the art of preparing the colours yourself and enjoy teaching your younger’s and your neighbors too.
  • Use natural, skin-friendly and herbal colours are the ones made by reputed companies using natural products.
  • If you opt to buy/purchase colours, commercially be sure to purchase naturally made products from reputed companies also ensure about the source.
  • Apply a nice layer of oil to your hair before playing Holi so that residue from the dyes does not get stuck to your hair and scalp.
  • Ensure that your eyes remain protected at all times. Wash with plenty of clean water should any colour get into your eyes accidentally. See a doctor if the irritation still persists.
  • If you are playing Holi, apply a thick layer of coconut or any oil on your body and hair until they glisten and you become slippery.
  • Wear dental caps if possible to protect your teeth.
  • Avoid flashing on the face and as well protect your face from the Holi colours.
  • Wear clothes at the maximum to cover your body.
  • Apply an oil/cream of good quality to protect your skin.

Traditional Background

The Holi is an ancient Indian festival of colours symbolizing signs of happiness, joy and growth engaging all ages of people. The celebrations in India cut across section and religious conviction. This festival, now also draws a world attention and many countries are also celebrating the festival of colours and enjoying with sharing of sweets.., love.., peace and brotherly hood.

Holi is celebrated with enthusiasm and gaiety on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun which is the month of March as per the Gregorian calendar. Holi festival may be celebrated known by different names among people of various states and would be following different rituals & traditions. But, what makes Holi so unique and special is the spirit and enthusiasm of it which remains the same throughout the country and even across the globe, wherever it is celebrated.

This festival celebrates the arrival of spring on Fagun Sud Purnima. Also known as Falgunika, people celebrate the changing season and the beauty associated with spring blossoms by spraying colour.

In the Gita (10/35), Shri Krishna proclaims spring as the foremost season and one of his Vibhutis -forms: Rutunaam kusumaakaraha

The ritual of offering roasted grain to Agni – fire-deity is known as Navaanineshti. In Sanskrit, roasted grain is Holaakaa, from which the Hindi ‘Holi’ is derived. Since Vedic times people availed the newly harvested grain only after offering to the devas. This offering of new grain is Holi.

The Bhavishyottara Puran associates Holi both with man and Yagna. Therefore the Yagna performed for man’s salvation is Holi.

About the Author:  
vinay kumarVinay Kumar. C is an Environmental Researcher at NRCLPI – The National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India. He is a multi-skilled professional having an excellent track record of managing complex functional projects in various environments.  

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

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.