Winter..

The temperature in Tokyo has dropped considerably since yesterday. Autumn morphing into winter. With adequate warm clothing one can enjoy the weather better. Reminds me that there’s no such thing as bad weather…only inappropriate clothing.

The past several days have inspired a lot of thoughts and reflections on society , what constitutes progress , the role of the individual and collective..More on those in subsequent posts.

Triple gift

Can you remember the gifts (including cards) you gave in the past year . Or the gifts received in the past year . A few perhaps. One possible reason is that the process of buying the gift was one of the countless trips to retail stores. Contrast that with the experience of a gift you made or the gift someone specially made for you. Doesn’t that bring back a huge smile and plenty of memories ?

Birthday coming up ? Search stores for some cool cards . Larger , pop up type cards stand a good chance of being purchased. Or search the net for some equally impressive online cards complete with animation , music. In all of this the best you feel you can do is to make a trade off among available options based on -

- What you feel the recipient would appreciate

- What you find acceptable to give

- Price of the product

In the modern day urban world most things are bought (v/s created yourself). Most things have gotten complex (some unnecessarily so). Ads pop up everywhere we go creating expectations and aesthetic standards that need a whole eco system of companies to create.

Now , let’s explore creativity. Many people still associate and confuse creativity with the ability to draw. If you did not do well in art class you probably labelled youself as ‘not creative’. Nothing could be further from the truth. You ARE creative.

Time constraints coupled with unrealistic aesthetic standards can cause most of us to shy away from expressing their creativity and love by way of hand-crafted gifts.

The next time you want to give a gift consider making something. Build up muscle . If the idea of making a gift sounds daunting start with a card and the packaging. You’ll enjoy making it. The persons you give it to will LOVE it.

A gift you make would be a gift thrice over – it’s a gift to be recipient , a gift to yourself and a gift to the planet.

The peace of wild things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

- Wendell Berry

Daily Awesome feedback

We loved the awesome feedback campaign. It was wonderful to open up email and facebook to see the truly awesome feedback.

Let’s dissect what happens when awesome feedback is given – the recipient is touched , inspired , energized , feels acknowledged/loved. The person giving the feedback feels upbeat. The positive energy of the person giving the feedback and that of the person receiving it set ripples of joy into motion making for a more joyous universe.

So , here’s the awesome feedback campaign in a new form. Resolve to give awesome feedback to at least 2 people daily. Your parent, spouse ,child, grand parent , colleague , friend , neighbor , cab driver, fruit vendor , competitor , someone you come across online doing awesome work , boss, teacher – everyone is included. Do this for a while and you’ll start to wonder if you have moved to another universe. People suddenly look happier, confident.

Now, the guidelines of the awesome feedback campaign -

- Keep it genuine.

- Acknowledge/Celebrate what might otherwise be taken for granted ( e.g my sister is always helpful. Acknowledge/celebrate her for being so)

- Look at unexplored facets of the person.

- Share the feedback with enthusiasm , joy and humility

- Don’t expect the person to visibly melt or display gratitude. This is not a quid pro quo.

- Share your feedback creatively – speak , write , do something .

Now, let’s do the math…

365 x 2 (minimum) = 730  This is the Minimum number of times in a year you’ll give awesome feedback.

730 + 730 = 1460 smiles and sparks of joy – within you and the recipient.  1460 is a very conservative estimate. Our experience shows that the smiles tend to be way more frequent.

Will the people whose day you make with your feedback stay passively quiet even if you don’t tell them about the awesome feedback resolve ? Very , very unlikely . Joy is infectious.

Let’s assume for a moment that you gave awesome feedback to 730 different people and each one of them in turn consciously or otherwise spread the cheer . 730 x 730 = 532,900 sparks of joy.

(imagine what will happen when you extend awesome feedback to more than 2 persons daily )

A happy person is creative , kind , generous and content.

Many happy persons = more joyous , humane , creative , equitable, meaningful world.

It can all start with your awesome feedback.

Get started .

The Wise Quest

Clean Planet and KeyBunch are rewarding wisdom nuggets with a  Clean Planet Wise Tote.

The KeyBunch is the result of two delightful design devotees Sharon and Rekha who decided to turn their passion for interiors and design into a blog.

Head to the KeyBunch to know more about the Wise Quest..

p.s – do bookmark KeyBunch for an eclectic and inspiring dose on decor , products , people and spaces.


The starfish and you

One morning an elderly man was walking on a nearly deserted beach. He came upon a boy surrounded by thousands and thousands of starfish. As eagerly as he could, the youngster was picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean.

Puzzled, the older man looked at the young boy and asked, “Little boy, what are you doing?”

The youth responded without looking up, “I’m trying to save these starfish, sir.”

The old man chuckled aloud, and queried, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

Holding a starfish in his hand, the boy turned to the man and, gently tossing the starfish into the water, said, “It will make a difference to that one!”

It makes a difference that you carry a reusable bag daily and thereby reduce usage of plastic bags.

It makes a difference that you smile and and add to the joy quotient of the universe.

Your star fishes are waiting for you..

Green Roofs in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is now the first Scandinavian city to put a mandatory green roof policy into action. The new policy requires vegetation and soil to be a mandatory part in architectural planning; in particular, it covers all roofs with a slope less than 30 degrees, plus the refurbishment of older roofs. By putting this new green roof policy into action, it pushes the great Danish city one step closer to reaching their carbon neutral goal by 2025.

Now, as far as the green roofs go, there is a list of specific requirements to consider. Buildings with green roofs must be able to meet at least 2 of the following requirements:

  • The roof must absorb 50-80% of the precipitation that falls on the roof.
  • The roof must provide a cooling and insulating effect of the building and reduce reflection.
  • The roof must help make the city greener, reducing the urban heat island effect, counteracting the increased temperatures in the city.
  • The roof must contribute to a visual and aesthetic architectural variation that has a positive effect on the quality of life.
  • The roof must double the roof life of the roofing membrane by protecting it against UV rays, etc.

Superb initiative by Copenhagen. The green consequences of this requirement are several..

- Architects will have to learn about green roofs to incorporate them in their plans. The knowledge base in green roofing will shoot up.

- Innovation in green roofing (in Copenhagen to begin with ) will increase

- It would inspire architects and city planners in other parts of the planet to look at green roofs and other innovative eco ideas.

Thank You

A heart-felt Thank You to everyone who participated in the ‘Awesome Feedback‘ campaign . It was beautiful to see Clean Planet through your perspective. We’re delighted, impressed, inspired by the breadth and depth of the feedback received.We loved several of the suggestions. It catalyzed a whole lot of discussion which will soon be presented as new initiatives.

Clean Planet is a labor of love . To stay true to our vision we’ve made tough choices – big and small . Several of which will probably never be visible (or at least discussed by us ) or so we thought. We were quite amazed by some of the feedback.

Clean Planet is about enabling an inspired community that takes consistent action towards a more sustainable , equitable and joyous world. It’s our way of honoring and giving back to the world we are privileged to be a part of.

The planet needs consistent , thoughtful action – small and big. While no one can do everything . Everyone can do something.Let’s also remember that this is our home. Your voice – more importantly – your action matters.

Going forward you will see a whole range of initiatives ranging from new products to change-inspiring campaigns. Do participate,reflect , share , spread the word , take action.

Thank you for being part of the Clean Planet Community.

p.s – 15 of you have won a Clean Planet Tote. We’re certain it will be your companion in the journey to making a Clean(er) Planet. Each bag comes fitted with some special attachment that will keep reminding you to use it !

p.s – all the winners have been notified via email.

Awesome totes for awesome feedback

Wise folk counseled (euphemism for insisted ) that since this is the first time you guys are offering bags you must extend the opportunity. And we happily did..The offer is now extended to the 15th of Sep 2010 . By the stroke of midnight 15 stylish Clean Planet bags will be destined to the 15 lucky winners.

p.s – we’ve love the feedback that’s been pouring in. It’s such a delight to open the mail box every morning and see the wonderful mails. We run the risk of being addicted to doing this more often.

Share your feedback in words , images , sing a song , make a video . We’d love to hear what you have to say about Clean Planet.

And hey , join the Clean Planet Community on Face Book.

Nutrition is a bigger problem than hunger

Incisive article by Swaminathan Aiyer.

…The big problem is malnutrition, not hunger. A recent survey revealed anaemia rates of 51-74% in women and small children. Of children under three, 47% were underweight and 45% stunted by global standards. Protein deficiency is a culprit.

How do we focus on nutrition rather than presumed hunger? Not through ever-rising subsidies on food. Sonia Gandhi wants subsidized grain even for better-off folk. This aims to provide electoral security for Sonia. Don’t confuse it with food security..

..Ajai Shankar, former industry secretary, has an excellent suggestion for self-targeting in food — mix wheat flour (atta) with soya flour, raising its protein content but making it less palatable. Richer folk will not eat this, but poor people will. Such protein fortification of atta could help reduce protein deficiency in pregnant women and children. Ajai Shankar also suggests offering brown, unpolished rice, which has more nutrition but is less palatable than white rice, and so will be self-targeted at the poor.

I would fortify atta with not only soya but iron (to combat anaemia), iodine (to combat goitre) and Vitamin A (to combat night blindness). This will cost very little extra, yet combat serious nutritional deficiencies. It’s not a silver bullet: other nutritional programmes need overhaul and strengthening too.

Brown rice has two drawbacks. First, it can be resold by shopkeepers to mills at a huge profit, so the PDS incentive for massive diversion will remain. Atta mixed with soya cannot be unmixed, and so eliminates diversion.

A bigger objection should be to rice in any form. Rice is the most expensive cereal, and guzzles the most water. It requires 22 irrigations per crop against eight for wheat. Rice cultivation is sustainable in high rainfall areas, but is environmentally disastrous in moderate-rainfall areas (Punjab, Haryana). It lowers the water table precipitously, so drinking-water wells and shallow tubewells of small farmers run dry, and some of them commit suicide.

Any food entitlements should be for basic food, not for the most expensive cereal. A right to rice is conceptually like Marie Antoinette’s right to cake. For centuries, poor Indians have eaten coarse grain (bajra, jowar) costing half as much as rice. If necessary, India can export rice to finance imports of twice as much coarse grain, which can then be fortified with nutritional supplements for the PDS. It will be self-targeting: richer folk will not buy it..

Sound suggestions . Will a govt that allows millions of tonnes of food grains to rot have the will to do something meaningful for the poor ?