Posts Tagged ‘sustainable’

Nutrition is a bigger problem than hunger

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

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 ?

Tote Pal

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010


We’re delighted to share the launch of Clean Planet -  Tote Pal .

Tote Pal is perfect for all the wonderful folks out there with a youthful perspective (youth included !) . 2 distinctive silhouettes – Slim Fit and Roomy which are contemporary , fun , functional and inspiring.

A bag that’s lightweight , super stylish , comes with a band to hold a water bottle . It has all the usual Clean Planet ingredients of neat stitching , attention to detail . 7 inspiring prints which make your bag more than a bag . Carry a Tote Pal to brighten your day and of those around you..

Cool Chair hangers

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Cool hangers from chairs . Currently on sale at Resign .

Stuff like this sparks off ideas for recycling objects creatively .

Share your ideas with us.

Vote with your money

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

I want to introduce you to the wall. The wall holds up a raging dam of human potential. It’s held together with money – the money the same people spend. Change how you spend money and the wall collapses, and the world changes. Drastically. Forever.

If you think that soda is bad for people (which it sure as hell is), never, ever, ever, buy soda. That’s a vote in the ballot box. Same goes for meat, alcohol and other plagues on humanity. Want more organic food? Bite the bullet and buy organic. That’s a vote for the organic industry and more power to them.
Every dollar in your pocket is a vote. Don’t forget it. Every single one is counted. It’s a failsafe system. It’s perfect democracy.

Ali Dark

Fruit trees and the girl child

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

A completely amazing aspect of tree plantation by connecting it to the birth of a girl child .

In many parts of India, where traditionally boys have been preferred over girls, a village in Bihar state has been setting an example by planting trees to celebrate the birth of a girl child.

In Dharhara village, Bhagalpur district, families plant a minimum of 10 trees whenever a girl child is born.

And this practice is paying off.

Nikah Kumari, 19, is all set to get married in early June. The would-be groom is a state school teacher chosen by her father, Subhas Singh.

Mr Singh is a small-scale farmer with a meagre income, but he is not worried about the high expenses needed for the marriage ceremony.

For, in keeping with the village tradition, he had planted 10 mango trees the day Nikah was born.

The girl – and the trees – were nurtured over the years and today both are grown up.

“Today that day has come for which we had planted the trees. We’ve sold off the fruits of the trees for three years in advance and got the money to pay for my daughter’s wedding,” Mr Singh told the BBC.

“The trees are our fixed deposits,” he said.

In Bihar, payment of dowry by the bride’s family is a common practice. The price tag of the bridegroom often depends on his caste, social status and job profile.

The state is also infamous for the maximum number of dowry deaths in the country.

But the mango trees have freed Nikah’s parents of undue worries. And their story is not unique in Dharhara village.

With a population of a little over 7,000, the village has more than 100,000 fully grown trees, mostly of mango and lychee.

From a distance, the village looks like a forest or a dense green patch amidst the parched and arid cluster of villages in the area.

One hopes that this tradition of tree plantation will spread . And that it will not be limited to the birth of a girl child alone.

Green(er) fast food

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

A Japanese Subway sandwich shop has started growing hydroponic lettuce right in the middle of the store ! Not only is this hyper-local lettuce healthy, it’s a great visual centerpiece for the space.

The Japanese are very inventive when it comes to being space efficient . This is an eco-idea that many hotels , restaurants, canteens , communities across the world can adopt. It is understandably impossible to grow all ingredients locally . But , every bit counts.

(via Inhabitat )

Stylishly green restaurant

Friday, July 16th, 2010

“A kitchen surrounded  by fertile soil where vegetables and herbs thrive … Where daylight shines in from all sides and where the chefs are free to express their creativity daily using the best the season has to offer. It seems an obvious concept, but I spent twenty years surrounded by white tiles under fluorescent lighting before I came up with it.” – chef Gert Jan Hageman

Restaurant De Kas has its own greenhouse and garden near the restaurant, where they grow Mediterranean vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. They also have a large field about  10 kilometres from Amsterdam in the Purmer Polder, where they  grow seasonal vegetables.

In the world teeming with McDonalds , Pizza Hut and other industrial food serving outlets it’s wonderful to see a restaurant that is built around fresh food grown and harvested by the restaurant team.

De Kas is more an exception because of the sheer space needed for such an initiative . Yet , that are restaurants with the luxury of space who choose to adopt the beaten bath. Increasingly hotels are beginning to grow some herbs / vegetables in their gardens (hotels tend to have more space than a restaurant ).

What’s striking about De Kas is the combination of eco friendliness and style that makes it so distinctive.

Stylishly green hotel

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

An Indonesian businessman contributes to environmental wellness on a bike connected to a generator inside the “100 percent green” Crowne Plaza Hotel in Copenhagen. The energy produced by pedaling guests is stocked in a battery before being injected into the hotel’s power supply.

The Crowne Plaza’s concrete and steel tower is covered in some 1,500 that produce 170,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is enough to power 55 households. In the basement of the 86-meter (232-feet) skyscraper there is a geothermal well which covers the hotel’s heating and needs, slashing its energy bill by about 90 percent.

And in each of the 366 rooms, personal care accessories are biodegradable, taps are equipped with water-saving devices and all light bulbs are low-energy.

But that doesn’t mean the Intercontinental chain’s first “all-eco” hotel has clients roughing it.

“Everything was thought out with technologies respectful of the environment, without sacrificing quality, comfort, and the feeling of being at a four-star hotel,” spokeswoman Toemmergaard insists.

Wall coverings, carpeting, and even the feet on the design furniture are made from recycled materials and are guaranteed not to contain chemical products, while the computers have power-saving screens.

And the guests who redeem their electricity-production vouchers dine on organic food, and the high-tech kitchen grinds all its garbage and sends it to a local  biogass central to be transformed into fuel.

Brilliant idea .  It would taken the hotel meticulous effort to plan , create and source all the materials. The end result is an eco-hotel that’s an inspiring example to all businesses to think non-linearly and holistically about sustainability.

The eco-paradise wasn’t an easy sell to the slightly sceptical Intercontinental chain, Toemmergaard concedes.

“Often, when people think environmentally friendly, they think of smaller organic products that are less appealing than traditional offerings,” she says, adding that there had been a real fight “to convince the chain we had made the right choice.”

In the end, the franchises’s owners agreed to carry the project through because they believed Copenhagen needed a hotel that reflected its green ambitions, Toemmergaard says.

The bicycle-filled capital, which is “one of the world’s showcases for the environment and quality of life, which wants to become the first emission-free capital in 2025, should have a hotel that fits that image,” she says.

The carbon-dioxide neutral hotel cost some 125 million euros (156 million dollars) to build and is about five percent more expensive to run than a normal hotel, but the owners expect to make up the difference.

“In five or six years we will have a return on our investment that shows that it pays to make an effort for the environment,” Toemmergaard says.

( via physorg.com )

If the ocean ain't happy..

Monday, July 12th, 2010

There’s a tight and surprising link between the ocean’s health and ours, says marine biologist Stephen Palumbi. He shows how toxins at the bottom of the ocean food chain find their way into our bodies, with a shocking story of toxic contamination from a Japanese fish market. His work points a way forward for saving the oceans’ health — and humanity’s.

It seems that since we human beings live on land we take the oceans lightly. Not that we have demonstrated exceptional care of the land and it’s inhabitants.

Pl view the video . Share with friends .It’s appalling that dolphins in some parts of the world lose their first born to an unnecessarily pre-mature death due to the toxins in the female dolphin’s milk courtesy pollution. Would we human beings be ok to have such a fate thrust upon us due to the thoughtless actions of another species ?

As Stephen aptly summarises..the ocean pyramid connects to our own pyramid of life. It’s an ocean planet, and we think of ourselves terrestrial species. But the pyramid of life in the ocean and our own lives on land are intricately connected. And it’s only through having the ocean being healthy that we can remain healthy ourselves..

Pl resolve to make a contribution towards a cleaner planet which nurtures life of all species.

Share your ideas and resolutions with us at Clean Planet World .

A bandh of your own

Monday, July 5th, 2010

A nation wide bandh has been thrust upon India today. Ostensibly to protest against rising prices. But , really an opportunity for opposition parties to assume few days of spot light. A bandh of this type seldom accomplishes anything . Establishments close – not because they support this form of protest – but because they fear violence. People are against rising prices . But they do not necessarily support protest in this form since :

- it accomplishes very little
- comes at enormous inconvenience and cost

The rising prices affect different sections of society differently . There is a large section on whom the impact of rising prices is very severe – affecting nutrition , education , health care ( even their interests are not served by this 1 day drama ). The impact varies at different levels of the socio economic ladder.

Possibly the time has arrived for everyone to do a bandh of their own – ongoingly.

Reduce non-essentials :
Most of us can relate with the ‘ why did I buy that ? ‘ feeling at sometime or the other. It could be after a heavy meal at a restaurant or after opening the latest product you purchased . Take a few mins to list the stuff you purchased that you wished you had refrained from . Carry that list around with you esp when you go shopping.

An even more radical exercise : visualize that you have a brand new house . What from your existing possessions would you like to put into it ? This exercise can be scaled to any level – kitchen , living room , bed room , study , cupboard..

Reduce intake of processed foods :

Or as Michael Pollan would say ‘industrial novelties’ . We’ll be healthier and richer for having done so.

Grow your own food :

To the extent possible grow herbs , prices , veggies , fruits n your home and community . Besides the cost savings joy it brings is immense . We need to recreate our relationship with food.

Repair / reuse / recycle :

Repair , reuse , recycle the stuff you have. Throwing out stuff that can be repaired adds to the environmental waste and to your cost (of purchasing a new item ).

No , you do not need the mixer with the sole feature of a new blade and fancy shape . Your existing mobile looks great , has more features than you use.

Gratitude outlook :

We notice and mull over stuff that’s amiss . In the process ignoring all the things that are so wonderfully right . Family , friends , joy , opportunity , beauty…Gratitude is more about an attitude rather than an occasional response. Thankfulness can enhance our satisfaction with lives in ways that the next consumer product never will.

If this sounds like the recipe for an ascetic life – it’s not . It’s about reclaiming your life in a consumerist world.

This is not an exhaustive list . Make your own list . Live it .

Try it .

(via SoulQuest )