Eco decor

This afternoon we dressed up an indoor plant in the office with a piece of fabric . Cool way to enliven home and office decor. Besides being eco friendly this is incredibly versatile . The look of a space can be wonderfully altered just by the choice of fabric .

Try out your combinations and mail us pics.

Organic state

The Indian state of Sikkim is working towards the goal of  100% organic agriculture by 2015 .

Silently, this ecological hotspot of the eastern Himalayas has moved towards sustainable agriculture in a big way, covering almost 90% of its agricultural land. Use of chemical pesticide, insecticide or chemical inputs was slowed down as early as 2003 but what was awaited was blanket certification. Now, even that seems to be on the fast track. Of 70,000 hectares of arable land in Sikkim, 6000 hectares is already organic-certified. By 2015, Sikkim aims to be completely organic certified.

Organic farming combines ecologically-sound modern technology with traditional agricultural practices including crop rotation, green manure and biological pest control to ensure reduction or total elimination of chemical inputs. In several parts of Sikkim, farmers have succeeded in growing completely organic maize, paddy, ginger, cardamom and turmeric while expanding the practices to other horticultural crops.

The first step came in May 2003, when the state government withdrew the subsidy on fertilizers. From 2006-07 onwards, the transport and handling subsidy and commission to the retailer was also withdrawn. Alongside, the government also adopted a seven-year plan to phase out use of chemical fertilizers, by gradually replacing these with organic sources.

“The government had taken the decision because it had seen the adverse impact of chemical fertilizers on our soil, water and on human health, considering ours is a biodiversity hotspot,” says S K Gautam, secretary in the department of food security and agriculture.

Wonderful to see the concerted , sustained , planned efforts to make an entire state organic . Yet another reason to visit this beautiful spot of the pale blue dot we inhabit.

Supply as part of the solution..

Received yet another plastic enclosed mailer from the credit card company . This one I opened . A letter to say they have expanded the list of partner airlines etc . An email would have sufficed to communicate this information instead of the multi-color print on glossy paper and envelope covered in plastic.

I’m starting to suspect that the plastic industry is home to marketing geniuses. Think about it . They have managed to convince magazines that they need to cover every single copy in plastic . They managed to sell the idea that a sturdy envelope needs a plastic cover. They undoubtedly have the advantage of a product whose per unit cost is negligible in monetary terms when produced at a mass scale.

The interesting thing here is – one plastic company possibly paves the way by convincing a magazine to use plastic.Which opens the doors for other plastic companies to approach similar companies because the product (i.e plastic bag for these purposes ) is a commodity item.

The focus is largely on the demand side of the equation – inspire users to shift to alternatives to plastic bags , get retailers to make a shift to biodegradable bags. But , part of the solution can come from the supply side – the folks who make the plastic bags .

Plastic bag manufacturers are well poised to make the shift to bio-degradable materials – paper , bio plastic , cloth etc. They have the client base , they understand the economics of the biz and will focus on getting options that are cost effective (in monetary terms) alternatives to plastic.

Instead of a plastic v/s non-plastic face-off the situation can be altered by plastic manufacturers switching to earth friendly materials..to begin with progressively even if not completely.

* monetary – cost is mostly understood in monetary terms . A plastic bag is cheap in terms of money , expensive in terms of planetary impact. Most bio degradable alternatives today are relatively ‘costly’ in monetary terms while being cost-effective in terms of planetary impact

Rethinking hydration..


THINK OUTSIDE THE box BOTTLE

Save 1095 litres of water

These days many cities and neighborhoods face water shortage . Even those that are lucky to get 24 hour water supply must be prudent with water consumption.

Water used to wash vegetables , rice , dal etc can be stored in a bucket / watering can. This water can be used to tend to home gardens. This change on an average will reduce the otherwise fresh water needed to water plants by 3-4 liters daily . Multiply this over millions of households. That’s millions of liters of water that would otherwise be poured down the drain.

A single household with a home garden that consistently uses kitchen water for the home garden will save a minimum of 1095 liters per year.

If you don’t have a home garden pl make a start . It’s possible to nurture plants in a small balcony / window sill . Use wall space . The joy of seeing plants grow and blossom is indescribable.  In a world where most things are marketed as ‘instant’ – from noodles to weight loss – gardening connects us with the rhythm of life that can’t be hurried. We may think we nurture the plants. The plants nurture us with their presence.

How not to send a mailer

Got this mailer yesterday from a credit card company . The envelope paper was thick and sturdy enough for it to survive a round-the-world trip . It was however covered in a plastic bag and stapled .The plastic would be discarded by the recipient. The mailer was sent by courier . Which means it got collected , transported and delivered in fairly safe condition.

Mailer in plastic bag x several thousand mailers = sheer , avoidable , pointless waste

And this equation pertains to one marketing initiative of one company . When extended to various companies and industries the resulting number would be mind boggling .

If you are a marketer or your company sends such mailers – pl STOP . There are more effective , intelligent , earth friendly ways to reach out to your customers and prospects.

If you receive such mailers from companies – pl take a few mins to send an email asking them to stop using plastic pointlessly like this.

I’ll sign off now…to send an email to the credit card company.

Ecofont

Print minimally . If you need to print  consider Ecofont . The free version can be downloaded from Ecofont’s site .

The font basically has dots . At a document level print they are practically impossible to distinguish from the normal print. The dots ensure that lesser ink is needed for the printing . Thereby extending the life of the cartridge .

Useful in all work that requires printing – banks , offices . Airlines and Railways can use it to print tickets. At Clean Planet we have now installed this as the default font for documents that need to be printed. We’ve also become a lot more conscious of paper usage . Both factors put together we are refilling cartridges less frequently than before.

More than the font per se what we really like is the approach of finding creative solutions that extend the life of products , solutions for everyday tasks. Imagine the benefits of extending this approach to re-designing products , processes , packaging to make them more resource efficient..

Garbage Island

It appears that the planet’s landfill is not on land . It’s the oceans.

The Great Pacific Garbage patch stretches for hundreds of miles across the North Pacific Ocean, forming a nebulous, floating junk yard on the high seas. It’s the poster child for a worldwide problem: plastic that begins in human hands yet ends up in the ocean, often inside animals’ stomachs or around their necks. It is outrageous that other species suffer the consequences of human choices.

Phenomena like the Garbage Patch cannot be the fate of the Pacific alone . Possibly the Pacific Ocean is studied more intensively and frequently resulting in ‘sea’ of information.

World over plastic is used widely . Very little of it is recycled . No one is holding on to plastic objects like heirlooms . It’s therefore ending up on land fills or in water.

The planet is a closed system . What we do stays on the planet and it’s atmosphere .The plastic in the land fills and in circulation is going to hang around for hundreds of years . Our best bet at not turning the entire planet into a junk yard is to radically increase creation and usage of biodegradable objects.

The problem is global and local . The solutions have to be local and consistent for it to cascade to a global level.

Pl choose to make a difference.

A planet money can't buy

Make the most of your newspaper

What do you do after you have read the newspaper ?

1. Wrap gifts – no more hunting for gift wrapping paper . Neatly pack gifts in newspaper . Make a card with left over regular paper and pieces of cloth / use a flamboyant fabric to tie the unusual ensemble

2. Make envelopes from newspaper . Splash a bit of color . And voila – you have  envelopes that make you feel like writing letters.

3. Pens from newspaper (not possible perhaps to make at home )

4. Newspaper bags – use fabric strips to make the handles , color the bag , stencil messages on the bag

5. On days when you can’t get dried leaves – add newspaper shreds to your composting bin.