Posts Tagged ‘sustainable’

Join the buzz

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Most of us possibly don’t have even a passing thought about bees . Much less ponder on the connection between human beings and bees. Yet , there is a connection . Bees don’t just make honey, they are a giant, humble workforce, pollinating 90% of the plants we grow.

Bees are vital to life on earth — every year pollinating plants and crops with an estimated $40bn value, over one third of the food supply in many countries. Without immediate action to save bees we could end up with serious disruption in food supply.

This is just the impact on human lives . There is a wider role that pollinating bees play in nature which possibly is not understood completely.

Recent years have seen a steep and disturbing global decline in bee populations — some bee species are now extinct and others are at just 4% of their previous numbers. Scientists have been scrambling for answers. Some studies claim the decline may be due to a combination of factors including disease, habitat loss and toxic chemicals. But new leading independent research has produced strong evidence blaming neonicotinoid pesticides. France, Italy, Slovenia and even Germany, where the main manufacturer Bayer is based, have banned one of these bee killers.

A world without bees is not necessarily a world that is completely devoid of life. Much of human existence is presently dependent on honey bees because they are currently the main pollinators. However, penguins and fish don’t need bees to sustain their diet. The human race is not likely to become extinct as a result of the bees becoming extinct. Instead, there would be massive deaths until the humans can evolve to eat foods that bees do not pollinate. Food production would decline as a result of the bees’ extinction but would never disappear entirely. Some type/quantity of crops can still be grown without the intervention of bees. The labor-intensive hand pollinating process would raise the price of food.

Life on Earth would survive without bees, but it would be a much different Earth. Most plants depend on insects like bees to pollinate them. Unless some other animal inserted themselves into that biological niche, most of our plants would disappear along with the bees. One source of photosynthesis that is independent of insects is in our water supply. Algae has a tremendous influence on the world’s oxygen production, so oxygen would not disappear. Because many trees and flowering plants depend on bees for their reproductive cycle, they would be highly stressed.

Avaaz is campaigning for a ban of neonicotinoid pesticides to stop the decline of bees . Pl click here to support the campaign.

Re-think badges

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

There is no doubt that single use , disposable plastic products need to be done away with. Replaced instead with reusable , biodegradable materials . In daily life products like plastic bags , cups , cutlery can and should be replaced.

Businesses can also do their bit to reduce consumption of single use disposable plastic . Most exhibitions hand out plastic badges with some printed material. Most cases the visitor’s name and company details are printed on the paper. The function can still be served by paper and the cord/tape . Why is a plastic cover needed ?

We suspect that one reason why this has not received much attention is that the product is low cost . It does not pinch the exhibiton organizer’s wallet to buy plastic badges. Plus , it’s not a daily use item for most people . One may visit 4-5 such events in a year.

Yet , given the number of exhibitions held across the world – doing away with plastic badges would make a definite and substantial reduction in the plastic that ends up in land-fills every year.

Do write in to share your views and ideas on how this can be re-designed for a less waste + better design /more sustainable world.

Bamboo grandeur

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Bamboo is the stuff of green dreams these days. Not only is it a winning combination of strong, lightweight and flexible; it also scores highly in the sustainable stakes, being super fast growing and easy to harvest locally in many parts of the world. What’s more, it is increasingly being lauded for its aesthetic qualities. None of this is news to any architect worth their salt – but one in particular, Vietnamese virtuoso Vo Trong Nghia, stands out for his exceptional bamboo designs.

The cafe’s frame measures 30 feet high and features an opening at the very top of the dome that allows daylight to stream inside. Like many other Vietnamese structures, it is covered in a local bush plant, which evokes an African-esque aesthetic. And contrary to what you might think about building with natural, local materials, the end result is not “homemade” looking at all and is actually rather streamlined and majestic.

This is a trail blazer in several ways-

- It’s possible to design large structures with natural , renewable , biodegradable materials

- It is possible to design something this huge without a nail

- The structure built can look awesome and inspiring

- The wisdom of a culture can find new and beautiful expression while creating a sustainable world

Each industry is plagued with self and world limiting beliefs . Creations such as these jolt , delight , inspire us to look afresh and create anew.

You can help design a more sustainable world.

Friday, November 26th, 2010

As designers, we influence both business strategy and consumer emotion, and this gives us a great opportunity to lead the movement away from a throwaway culture. We’re at the epicenter, where our leadership is not only appreciated but has become expected as a moral responsibility – both for ecology and economy. Though leading this change in mentality and behavior will take effort, it will not be difficult..

Thought inspiring article by Ravi Sawhney .

The opportunity for and responsibility of designers (and companies) to use design meaningfully to catalyze a cultural shift to a more sustainable world exists across industries – whether furniture , clothing , vehicles and bags !

At Clean Planet when we create bag styles – a key criterion for taking a style forward is whether the design has the potential to be enduring. Can this fit into a wearer’s attire and help him or her look stylish 2 , 3 or more years into the future ? The styles in our core ranges are evaluated rigorously for this aspect. In that sense , we see design as part of quality.

While designers have the responsibility and opportunity to lead us away from a throwaway culture – really speaking that opportunity and responsibility rests equally with every citizen of the planet. As citizens and customers we can choose to value enduring style and quality. And to reflect that in everyday choices. Don’t change the mobile phone every year , extend the life of your garments , furniture , gadgets by using them carefully ,maintaining them well , repair when necessary. When you finally decide to replace a product which is still usable – give it to someone instead of throwing it away or stashing it in the attic.

You can help design a more sustainable world.

Green School

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

John Hardy says that he was inspired to create the Green School after he watched ‘An Inconvenient Truth‘. It’s amazing what you can create and catalyze when you allow yourself to be inspired and follow it up with substantive action. Contrast that with watching something , getting all fired up for a while and then going back to life as usual.

It’s an interesting model that can be adapted in creative forms by educational institutes , communities and companies across the world – adapted for local environment , needs and culture.

Gift Green

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

GIFTS now have a new color – GREEN !

At Clean Planet we are committed to creative solutions for a joyous , sustainable world. A step in that direction is GIFT GREEN - fun , green gifting ideas. A space where you can get inspired and inspire others with your ideas for cool , green gifts.

The joy of creating something yourself is indescribable. In that sense a green gift is first and foremost a gift you give to yourself. To the recipient it’s an honor that you took the time and effort to create something. Besides the joy it brings – a green gift is planet friendly.

Welcome to Gift Green.

The pursuit of convenience

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

The Japanese take convenience very seriously. A lot of things are structured to be ‘convenient’. Tea bags are individually packed in plastic sachets , likewise wet-tissues. Some brands even offer cookie packs where each cookie is packed individually. Most restaurants will offer wet tissues or towels individually packed in plastic. Vending machines are located in most streets/buildings dispensing the beverage of your choice in a variety of sizes. When it rains every mall/hotel/store sets up a stand in which your umbrella can get a plastic cover (to prevent water dripping inside the establishment ). Naturally (when it rains) you use a plastic bag for every such establishment you step into. The list can go on.

Multiply this activity a few million times just in Tokyo city and you can daily create a Mount Fuji of plastic.

Japan is by no means isolated in it’s pursuit of convenience and the consequent unnecessary damage to the planet. Most countries are on the same pursuit – faring better in some aspects and worse in others.

It would require (enormous) conviction , courage and creativity for businesses to create alternative ways to sell. The choice for a consumer is relatively easier – choose to buy products that don’t entail unnecessary packaging , carry your own water etc.

As consumers and businesses unless we choose to make a difference – this pursuit of convenience will make for an even more inconvenient future.

Green Roofs in Copenhagen

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

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

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

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.

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 ?