Tag Archives: Environment

Plant them quick and soon

Plant them quick and soonIt was a rare outing for students of Government Higher Primary School at Kanminike to the south of Bangalore. Accompanied by five teachers, over 100 students walked into the Global Eco Club (GEC) farm on Mysore Road. They went around in a line, enjoying the fresh air on a sunny day. Some of them chased butterflies, while others curiously watched honeybees at work.

Finally, they assembled at a place where they were told that each of them could pick up a plant of their choice. Their faces lit up, as their eyes reached for their favourite ones. As they walked away with their favourite pick, after a refreshment of biscuits and water, Arun Kumar, who runs GEC, broke into a broad grin.

Nurturing love for the environment in young ones is one of the many activities of GEC, which is striving for a greener Bangalore. Arun gave up his eight-year franchise of Reliance Infocomm to pursue his passion. “I felt I should do something on the green front,” says Arun, who came up with the idea of Project Gandhadagudi to plant sandalwood saplings in educational institutions. He first approached the management of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and planted medicinal and sandalwood saplings on its sprawling campus.

“In one year, I planted over 2,000 saplings across Bangalore. PES University gave me a 20-acre land where I grew saplings of medicinal, fruit and flowering plants, besides vegetables,” says Arun.Arun says he was inspired by SalumaradaThimmakka [Thimmakka of the saal trees], the environmentalist who planted and tended to nearly 300 trees along a 4-km road in Magadi taluk of Ramanagaram district. “If you have the passion and idea to do some service, support will come your way,” he feels. “My policy is to sell and serve. Initially, I executed all works of GEC with my personal savings. Now I sell saplings to corporates, estates and other individuals to raise funds for initiatives like planting saplings in educational institutions and giving saplings for free to school students. My aim is a garden in every house of the city. I want to build a strong community to protect the environment,” he adds.

The farm is also a model of how rainwater can be properly utilized. It is sustained by just one borewell, which is recharged with rainwater collected in pits dug at four different spots. The farm, with around 20 fruit and several medicinal trees, has a separate section for indoor plants apart from special species to attract butterflies and bees. “I’m aiming to make Karnataka the fruit capital of India,” adds Arun, who helps out farmers in association with the Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR). “GEC exists because this fragile earth deserves a voice. It needs action and support,” he signs off.

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Bhaskar Save : “Gandhi of Natural Farming”

Bhaskar Save, acclaimed as “Gandhi of Natural Farming”, is a 92 year old man who has redefined the principles of natural farming incorporating Gandhian philosophy into the agricultural practices. He owns a 14 acre orchard farm, with 10 acres covered by a mixed crop of coconut and chikoo (sapota) and a few tree species. Another 2 acres is used for cultivating seasonal field crops in an organically sustainable manner. And the rest 2 acres is a nursery for coconut saplings that grow well in the coastal region of the location.

“Coooperation is the fundamental Law of nature”, reads the sign at Bhaskar Save’s farm, Kalpavruksha, located on the Coastal Highway near village Dehri, District Valsad, in southernmost coastal Gujarat, a few km north of the Maharashtra-Gujarat border.

Bhaskar supports the theory that nature is only creator. He says that there are six factors of nature that interact with sunlight and maintain a balance in Nature’s grand symphony. These are air, water and soil along with the three orders of life – vanaspatisrushti (plant kingdom), jeevsrushti (insects and smaller organisms) and pranisrushti (animal kingdom).

Today’s farming practices are more economy centric as opposed to sustainable farming. The pressure on farmers for increase in yield has led them to resort to measures that are unhealthy for the soil and the organisms in them. Excessive uses of pesticides and chemical fertilizers have direct effect on soil organisms and on us when we consume this infected harvest. Later these pollute the water bodies and aquifers.

Save adds,” Trying to increase Nature’s ‘productivity,’ is the fundamental blunder that highlights the arrogant ignorance of agricultural scientists.  Nature, unspoiled by man, is already most abundant in her yield. When a grain of rice can reproduce a thousand-fold within months, where is the need to increase its productivity! What is required at most is to help ensure the necessary natural conditions for optimal, wholesome yield.”

Eight years ago, Save wrote an open letter plea to M.S. Swaminathan, then chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, highlighting the issue of farmer committing suicide across the nation. His letter presented a devastating critique of the government’s agricultural policies favoring chemical farming and made a plea for fundamental reorientation.

Bhaskar Save’s farm yield is superior to any farm using chemicals. This is true in all aspects of total quantity, nutritional quality, taste, biological diversity, ecological sustainability, water conservation, energy efficiency, and economic profitability. The costs (mainly labor for harvesting) are minimal and external inputs almost zero.

The farm will soon launch an in-house training program at the farm to educate farmers on natural and organic farming practices.

This will change the way we grow our food, the way we enjoy the fruits Mother Nature has to offer in its purest and sweetest form.

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IS YOUR FURNITURE SPREADING POISON IN YOUR HOME?

DSCN3746Formaldehyde is a chemical that can cause serious health damage. It is present in disguise within our homes and usually goes unnoticed. The most significant source of formaldehyde is the pressed wood products that use urea and formaldehyde resins as adhesives. These products generally include particleboard, hardwood-plywood and fiberboard.

Particleboard is used for sub-flooring and shelving in cabinets and furniture.  Hardwood-plywood is used for decorative wall coverings and fiberboard is used for drawer fronts and furniture tops. Fiberboards are significantly higher in formaldehyde emissions than particleboard or hardwood.

This toxic chemical is generally used as a preservative in labs and can lead to serious health problems especially for kids. Cribs, cots and other furniture can release up to 40 parts per billion of formaldehyde per day — enough to cause illnesses like asthma, allergies and even increase the risk of cancer.

People move to greener spaces with a notion of providing healthy living conditions to their families but fail to take care of the smaller aspects, such as formaldehyde emissions, that can pose larger health hazards.

A study shows that formaldehyde emissions in a newly constructed apartment had as much as 23 parts per billion per day of formaldehyde even before the furnishings were installed. This is a staggering 8395 x 10-9 part per billion per year. Imagine that amount of toxicity in your house which is a large part of your indoor environment.

So how do we overcome this? The answer to this lies in the use of furnishings that are free of such toxic chemicals and made with recycled materials that require little or no formaldehyde-based adhesives. Manufacturers like ZED have brought in a range of furniture that is forest-free and use no formaldehyde and so offer zero emission furniture.

Who doesn’t want a healthy life? But how many of us do what it takes to ensure such well-being, for not just one but many generations to come?

It is time now to adopt a chemical-free, toxin-free lifestyle before it is too late to realize.

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We’d be better off not planting trees-III: The reasons for resistance

English: An emerging Tamarind tree seedling. T...

Image via Wikipedia

I think it is a combination of resistance from managers and a lack of certainty on what it can mean if a manager lower down the hierarchy took that decision to make the change at one hotel, when the company’s HQ is based elsewhere in India or the world. Now who would want to incur the wrath of senior management at the corporate headquarters with a decision taken locally? Continue reading

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Power & water crisis-II: Get your home in order, will you?

English: Sameura dam, Kochi Prefecture, Japan ...

Image via Wikipedia

Pause and think for a while

Most of us can say, “How can what I use at my house make such a big difference to the government or whoever supplies me power and water?” Another legitimate response could be, “I pay my taxes anyway – income tax, property tax, development cess, and other such levies. I should be entitled to these things from the government.” Continue reading

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Save water, at home and outside

Water ripples

When in hotels, ensure that you use the same towel over your two- or three-day stay. That will help the hotel save water.

Each day, hotel guests use more than double the water they use at home. Why do we behave differently when outside and use much more water than when at home?

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Talk to your kids about global warming

Global Warming 2/2

They are the future. The problem is kids learn from your behavior including when and how much to freak out. If you are constantly fretting over global warming, how can you keep them positive about their future? Continue reading

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How companies can become energy-efficient

English: Plymouth : Plymouth Water Treatment P...

Plymouth Water Treatment Plant. A view which greets people as they enter the city.

At the wind- and methane-powered Belgium Brewery in Colorado, the water used to process beer is run through ponds where bacteria eat the organic waste, reducing strain on the city’s water treatment plant. Continue reading

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One reason to love nature

View of western ghats section in Karnataka.

View of Western Ghats section in Karnataka, India.

It’s one of the best carbon sinks we have. Forests in the US, Europe, and Russia socked away more than 700 million tons of carbon a year during the 1980s and 1990s. Continue reading

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Don’t pay a sin tax

English: Clean Energy Bike Français : Vélo Cle...

Have you heard of carbon credits? People call it a sin tax. You pay extra money and keep driving your SUV. That is not on. It abuses the global ecosystem. Continue reading

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