Monday, 24 October 2011

Consider sustainability with every new purchase

Sustainability will impact all aspects of our lives as awareness increases and as the bad effects of our current lifestyles become more obvious. Here are a few items to think about that don't require any sacrifice but can have a large impact:
  1. Look for products with a minimal amount of packaging.
  2. When considering moving look at what is within walking distance. If you see 2 homes that are otherwise relatively equal, try picking the one that has more close-by.
  3. Paying slightly more for a very efficient appliance now will likely save you money in the long-term.
  4. If you have a choice of 2 products (most obvious for fresh fruits and vegetables) where one is local and the other isn't, choose the local one.
  5. Look for the most fuel-efficient vehicle within the class you want. Any extra cost would likely be paid back within a few years due to gas savings, but calculate the difference to be sure.
  6. Bottled water really is very unsustainable, a huge waste of energy, and possibly the most brilliant marketing scam ever. When else would you ever consider paying a lot of money for something you can get for free at home already? Consider using a filter at home instead.

A garden by children changing the face of the village

Baliaghati of West Medinipur is a tribal village inhabited by people belonging to very low income group with lack of basic facilities like health and nutrition. NPMS, a local organization has been fighting for long to change the scenario. Since 2006, DRCSC started working with NPMS involving children in the age group of 12~15 on Ecology and Natural Resource related learning and experimentation activities.
Baliaghati is an area, where flood and drought, the two most destructive and atrocious forms of nature, are a common factor and the poorest of people living here have no option but to accept these vagaries of nature as part and parcel of their lives. Vegetables have never been a part of their staple diet. In June 2008 about 200 packets of vegetable seeds were distributed among 30 children. 18 of them could raise garden within their homestead.
Initiatives of others in the group were washed out by the flood waters. The packets contained the seeds of swamp cabbage, snake gourd, ridged gourd, bottle gourd, sweet potato, cowpea, yam bean, soybean, cucumber, bitter gourd, okra, Indian spinach, tarukala etc. They were reluctant to eat some of these vegetables as they had never seen them before. Later, NPMS took the initiative to cook and serve these less known vegetables in a bid to popularize them. Compost and vermicompost prepared by the children themselves were used for enriching the soil. On an average each of them received about 150 kg of vegetable within 3~4 months. The children kept a detailed record of the activities undertaken, changes observed, processes undergone, incidence and nature of pest attack, lifecycle of the plants, rate of germination and the quantity & quality of produce. These records gave the children an idea of the science behind it. Parents also showed considerable interest in the entire activity.
Apart from the eco-group children and their parents, now the other villagers are also getting an opportunity to eat these vegetables as the children have shared the surplus with them as a part of their awareness campaign so that all villagers could know the benefits of raising a garden in their backyards.
The activity was supported by Indienhilfe.
Source : DRCSC news, Issue No. 3

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Going green means......

Going green does not only involve recycling. Going green involves much more.
Basically, going green means to live life, as an individual as well as a community, in a way that is friendly to the natural environmental and is sustainable for the earth.
It means contributing towards maintaining the natural ecological balance in the environment, and preserving the planet and its natural systems and resources.
It also means taking steps, whether big or small, to minimize the harm you do to the environment (including the carbon footprints you leave behind), as a result of inhabiting this planet.
In practice, going green means adopting five basic principles in your daily life:

All five principles are important in protecting the environment from harm, as well as helping to ensure that living (for humans and other creatures) on earth is sustainable.
So in your daily life, do adopt green practices under all principles, to make a difference.
What does going green mean: Reduce pollution
What does going green mean in practice is to reduce pollution, or the release of toxic substances into the environment.
In our day-to-day activities, we actually release substantial amount of toxic substances into the environment.
Think about the shampoo, soap and cleaning detergent that you use. Many of them contain chemicals that are washed down the sinks and pipes, into drains, rivers, reservoirs or even the sea.
Think about the fast-food lunch you had. In the process of producing the bread, meat patty and salad for the burger, chemicals in the form of pesticides, man-made fertilizers and even hormones are released into the lands, water and air. The wrappers used in packaging the meal is bound for the landfills and incinerators (because it is very hard to recycle them). In turn, harmful gases are released when the wrappers (as well as other waste) are buried or burnt.
Think about the car that you drive to work, or even the bus or cab that you take to your office. These vehicles emit greenhouse gases (contributing to global warming) and toxic substances like lead (harmful to living things, including the human body) into the atmosphere.
And we have yet to reach the part on the amount of chemicals and poisonous gases produced by factories and industries, in the process of manufacturing the various items we use (eg. electronics, clothes, paper and plastic products, furniture, packaged food etc), or extracting energy resources (eg. oil, coal, etc) from the earth.
In our modern day life, it may be hard to leave zero trace of toxic substances, or create zero pollution in our activities. So many of the things that we use on a daily basis contain some form of chemicals, or are produced through the use of some chemicals. Despite the pollution caused, we would still need to travel to work, whether by private or public transport. And we definitely need to consume food!
Nevertheless, what does going green mean is that we do something about this situation. Indeed, there are things we can do to reduce the impact of our daily activities on this earth.
Consider switching to more natural cleaners and personal products, such asnatural detergents, or organic detergents, as well as organic shampoos and lotions. Made of natural substances instead of man-made chemicals, minimal harmful chemicals are used in the process of their production. At the same time, these natural products are ready bio-degradable and do little harm even when released into the environment, because they are found in the natural environment in the first place.
Switch to organically grown food if you can. Organically grown food is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that would harm the environment, as well as hormones or genetic reengineering. What’s more, organically grown food are so much healthier, because they are free of carcinogens and heavy metals (as a result of the synthetic chemicals), as well as more nutritious. And keep away from fast-food!
Also, what does going green mean in practice is to drive less, and use the public transport instead. Automobiles are one of the single largest sources of air pollution on earth today, and the harmful gases released contribute to global warming and climate changes. By taking public transport (such as buses and trains), you are actually helping to reduce the number of automobiles on this earth, and hence the amount of air pollution produced by these vehicles.
Better still, don’t drive, or even buy a car! Imagine the amount of metal required to manufacture your car. Definitely, in the process of manufacture, much toxic chemicals and substances would have been used, produced and released into the environment.
But if you must drive, do use an eco-friendly car and adopt green driving practices.
What does going green mean: Conserve resources
What does going green mean in practice also includes conserving resources.
The earth’s resources are limited.
As the human population continues to grow and technological advancements (eg. mass production, transportation) help make more material goods more readily available to people all over the world, we consume more and more natural resources. This rate of consumption is especially apparent in developed countries.
More and more trees are cut down to produce more and more paper for the growing number of offices worldwide. More oil, coal and other natural fuels are extracted from the earth to drive our factory machineries, our automobiles (including our airplanes) and our homes. However, the world’s supplies of oil and coal will not last forever, and our use of these fuels is contributing to polluted air, acid rain and global warming.
Some precious gems, such as Tanzanite, have been mined to the point there is little to nothing left in the Earth to mine. We are farming our land more intensively as well, to produce more food to feed our exploding population (and these are just some ways that we are rapidly depleting our earth’s resources).
If we do not take the effort to conserve our finite resources now, soon there would be none left.
In fact, according to a World Wildlife Fund report, humans are using more than 20% more natural resources than the Earth can produce. And between 1970 and 2000, the populations of land, freshwater and marine species have fallen by about 40%. At this rate, we would outstrip the earth’s capacity to support life very soon.
In turn, the pollution we create in the process of production and consumption further destroys the very valuable but scarce natural resources we have on earth.
With deforestation and fewer trees on earth, there are fewer plants to absorb excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, accelerating the impact of global warming. In turn, global warming worldwide have led to climate changes, and phenomenon such as serious flooding and drying up of originally forested land, leading to further loss of precious forests, and destruction of habitat for more plant and animal species.
Over-fishing have almost wiped out some fish populations in the waters, and reduced the number of fishes in the ocean significantly. While the reduction in certain predator fish species may lead to the proliferation of other fish species temporarily, nevertheless the upset to the marine ecosystem has eventually led to the destruction of the natural reefs completely. In the process, more marine species are lost.
At this rate, the earth would not be able to sustain life (including ours) on this planet for long.
Ultimately, all these boil down to the rate that we humans, as a single species (amongst the millions other species on this earth), are consuming the earth’s natural resources. It is time we reflect on the situation and put a halt to the situation.
What does going green mean is that we need to evaluate what we really need, as opposed to what we want. Is the new car really what we need? If not, then don’t buy it.
We need to learn to consume only what we need, and be considerate in our consumption. In other words, remember that we are not the only ones that the earth has to provide for.
But if we really need to make purchases, consider buying eco-friendly products instead. The use of such environmentally friendly products helps you reduce your carbon footprints, and even allow you to contribute to a greener planet.
What does going green mean: Conserve energy
Another aspect of what does going green mean in practice is to conserve energy.
As with the earth’s resources, the sources of energy (in the form of oil, coal, natural gas, etc) on earth are currently finite.
While humans have started exploring other sources of “sustainable energy”, such as palm oil, there are inherent environmental problems with the cultivation of some of these energy sources.
For other infinite and green sources of energy available (eg. solar energy), there are currently still some difficulties in harnessing these potential sources.
Until the day the human population is able to effectively make use of the infinite, sustainable, and green sources of energy available to us, it is important that we conserve our energy resources.
To put what does going green mean in practice, there are many energy saving tips for the home, the office, when driving, and in fact, wherever we go. Adopt them now before it is too late.
Saving energy also means less pollution.
The extraction of energy producing materials such as oil and coal from the earth generates substantial pollution. In turn, the use of these energy materials in driving our power stations, factories and automobiles produces large amounts of pollution and contributes in large ways to global warming.
So the less energy we use, the less pollution we create!
What does going green mean: Reduce consumption and waste
Another important aspect of what does going green mean in practice is to reduce consumption and waste.
The principle of Reduce Reuse Recycle cannot be over-emphasized.
As we reduce our consumption (especially of goods), the world would have less need for energy and resources (especially raw materials), and in the process produce less pollution (whether via the manufacturing industries, or the disposal of waste created through consumption).
As we reduce our waste, we would need to use less energy and resources for handling our unwanted waste. There would be less pollution arising from the landfills and the incinerators.
Reusing helps us to reduce our consumption of new materials, as well as help to reduce the waste that we create as an entire population.
Recycling allows us to reuse the materials in unwanted items to make new items. In this way, valuable resources that would otherwise contribute to pollution (eg. non-biodegradable materials or materials that release harmful substances when burnt) can be diverted away from landfills and incinerators and given a new lease of life in new products. Beyondenvironmental benefits of recycling, recycling also benefits the human economy and can be political.
Put into practice what does going green mean now. Reduce, reuse and recycle!
What does going green mean: Protect the earth’s ecological balance
What does going green mean in practice is also to protect the earth’s ecological balance.
The earth’s ecological balance refers to the equilibrium formed as a result of the harmonious co-existence of living organisms, including plants, animals and man, on this planet. Should the balance of this equilibrium tip in any direction, all the organisms involved would be adversely impacted.
So when you seek to protect the earth’s ecological balance, you (as an individual and as a race) actually seek to achieve a harmonious co-existence with other living creatures on this planet.
If you think about it, the human race is but only one of the living species on this earth. In fact, co-existing with us on this planet are millions of other plant and animal species.
Yet for a long time, we humans have lived our lives on this planet as if we own the Earth.
To make way for societal developments, we have destroyed many natural habitats to many plant and animal species. We have been carrying out deforestation and clearing of natural glasslands at alarming rates, for reasons such as to extract resources (eg. paper, tin, etc) from the earth, or simply to get more land for developments (eg. farming, building of cities, landfills).
In the process, we have striped other creatures of their habitats and even lives. With the destruction of forests, we are also hindering the earth’s ability to clean itself of excessive pollutants and carbon dioxide (which contributes to global warming), resulting in a less ideal climate for both ourselves and other living organisms.
To feed our increasing population, we have been stretching the earth beyond its limits, through activities such as over-farming and over-fishing. Unrelenting, we continue to seek to challenge these limits, through inventing new ways of producing more for our greedy species. We introduced the use of man-made chemical fertilizers, artificial hormonal injection in farm animals, and genetic engineering.
In the process, we have introduced many man-made and harmful substances into other species, the environment and ourselves (unwittingly, we have also tainted the quality of our food supplies, and bring harm to our bodies). And many of these substances have impact still beyond our full comprehension.
The ecological balance we have with other living organisms has been greatly upset. Many plant and animal species have gone extinct as a result of man’s actions. And this is even before we have even discovered their existence!
The loss of the numerous plant species also mean goodbye to important sources of medicinal plants and herbs that could potentially be cures to deadly diseases plaguing mankind today.
Whether it is for ethical reasons (ie. taking responsibility for the harm we have), or for selfish reasons (ie. to ensure the continued health of our human species and the earth we live in for our future generations), we need to do something today, before it is too late.
What does going green mean as a race is that we need to be more responsible and proactive in protecting the earth’s ecological balance. This environmental consciousness should be present, whether we are dealing with government policies, or industrial and economic activities, or in our daily living.
It should not be a matter of convenience, or doing whatever we can within the limits of our societal or economic constraints. In fact, considerations for the environment should come first! For without a planet to live in, there would be no room for societal or economic life!
What does going green mean as an individual is you should not over-consume (not just food, but other goods and services as well).In addition, you should also encourage those around you to do the same. By consuming just what we need, we reduce the strain we place on the earth as a source of our resources.
Keep an organic garden, or even start an organic farm, and help reintroduce more life (beyond humans and our needs) on this planet. Useorganic products instead of products that release harmful chemicals into the environment. Donate regularly to forest or wildlife conservation efforts. Or better still, protect a piece of forest land under your name. Respect the lives of other living creatures (plants and animals alike, not just your cute pet dog or cat), and also educate your kids on the importance of doing so. In this way, you would have built the foundations for a more environmentally-conscious generation.
All these efforts will contribute now and in the long run to keeping this earth sustainable.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


There are a lot of benefits of green sustainable living which will have a great benefit on all the communities. If we turn to organic foods and start walking in place of using our cars for short distances, it will lead to good health and save doctor visits plus fuel saving, carbon emissions and our monies too. And also we would be more fit and happy.

Connect with nature by doing gardening at home. Take your children for morning walks on Sundays and see the calming effects of birds chirping, whispering air through the trees and a complete flow of nature. You will feel the difference as this becomes a ritual in life, children will themselves detach themselves with video games and TV and you will detach from your unwanted shopping.

Eco-green living means slowing our fast pace of today and aligning it with the cool pace of nature, living in the moment with awareness to our surrounding. 

All this will lead to a peaceful life with almost no health concerns like diabetes, heart disorder or blood pressure.

Wishing you all a healthy green life !

Friday, 7 October 2011

Top 10 Small Changes With Big Environmental Impacts

There is growing pressure for every person to pull up their sleeves and do our bit to help the environment. However, when you start trying to do your bit you quickly realize that pretty much every activity you do can be made a little more ‘green’.
However, there is simply no way you can address every issue you are presented with in the greenest possible way. We would all like too, but the realities of most people’s daily lives mean it simply isn’t possible to make the big changes like spend three hours walking to work instead of driving!
Small Changes, Big Impact!
Small Changes, Big Impact!
We have tried to outline ten small changes, which can really help make a big difference to the environment:
1. Drink filtered water
Not only do countries spend millions every year on bottled water, but the sheer amount of plastic needed to hold the liquid reached 1.5 million tonnes in 2005. By using a refillable water bottle and filtering your water it will save you a lot of money and greatly reduce your waste.
2. Turn off electronic equipment
There is simply no need for your electric equipment to be on standby. You may think that your impact is tiny in the whole scheme of things, which is exactly what the rest of the nation thinks too – and why the US wastes $100 million worth of energy each year.
3. Insulate your home
Homes which have insulated walls and ceilings save an estimated 2000lbs of CO2 every year, that equates to roughly 25% of an average family’s monthly bills.
4. Keep your car tires properly inflated
It really is worth checking your tire pressure every day. The average person who drives 12,000 miles annually on under-inflated tires uses roughly 144 extra gallons of fuel ($300-$500 a year). This equates to 1.5 extra tons of greenhouse gas.
5. Use organic fertilizers
Most of us use fertilizers on our gardens. Making a conscious switch to organic fertilizers will notably improve the taste of your fruit and veggies. It will also have a positive impact on your contribution to the water table.
6. Use 100% post consumer recycled printer paper
According to friends of the earth in the UK over 6 million tonnes of paper and board is used only once despite the capacity for recycling. Using 100% post consumer recycled printer paper will save you 5lbs of CO2 per ream.
7. Ride or walk
There are obviously situations when these won’t be an option. But if you can, put that little extra effort in and make sure you do. You will be saving energy, reducing air pollutants and hopefully getting fit at the same time.
8. Use rechargeable batteries
It seems pretty obvious, but non-rechargeable batteries are expensive and very wasteful.  Rechargeable batteries have up to 23 times less impact on non-renewable natural resources. Putting this into perspective; if you used rechargeable batteries to produce 1kWh of energy the impact on non-renewable natural resources is comparable to extracting 1kg of petroleum. Using disposable batteries is comparable to extracting 19kg of petroleum.
9. Buy unbleached coffee filters
I might be going mad, but aren’t they going to turn brown anyway?
10. Donate
There are plenty of charities which dedicate 100% of their efforts to the pursuit of creating a greener environment. Why not invest in one; it does not have to break the bank.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Britain’s First Planned Solar Powered Town Should Inspire Communities Worldwide

solar powered home in the uk
Awareness about human caused environmental degradation, as well as our contribution to global climate change has put the environment in the spotlight in a very big way. As it should, this planet is our home and we need to learn to act in a way that has a more minimal impact on our environment. This has been coupled with the unstable and rapidly changing price of oil, causing consumers to wonder, every time they wait for their garage door to open and head out for the day, if the price at the pump went up or down, and by how much.
The price at the pump is hardly the only concern as our impact becomes more and more clear. Western and industrialized nations have, in addition to a dependency on massive quantities of oil, an ever-growing need for more and more electricity. Electricity from renewable and sustainable resources is very minimal, and almost negligible in most places, showing us that the problem is a lot bigger than many previously thought. How are we going to counteract, or handle the impact of ever-increasing non-renewable electrical power generation?
A small town in the UK called Wadebridge took a stand, as a community, and decided to do something about it, creating a plan to become the first solar powered city in the United Kingdom. Their first target goal is to have at least thirty percent of their power generation from renewable resources by 2015. While this may seem like a small occurrence, it is a sign of bigger things that could be to come. This plan limits uninhibited growth and certain technologies that might be cheaper than renewable resources. While the price differential of renewable energy and non-renewable energy is still there, the gap is quickly disappearing, making this a much more doable endeavor.
This sets a precedent that wasn’t previously there. A community, under their own power, decided that they wanted to do something to mitigate their impact on the environment, putting a plan into place so as to be able to do so. Other communities could take their lead and these small moves begin to add up to something pretty powerful and pretty big. Many of us feel powerless to actually do anything to make a difference, and what Wadebridge shows us is that, as a community, we can make a decision as to how we want to handle our affairs. We can act as role models and examples to other communities as to how to have prosperity, but not at the expensive of the planet.
Image credit: Fenton one/Shutterstock

Saturday, 1 October 2011


Going greener in the garden

Millions of tonnes of garden waste, such as grass cuttings, prunings and leaves, are sent to landfill sites each year – in fact it equates to filling the Royal Albert Hall with grass, twigs and leaves more than 70 times over!

Yet they’re a valuable source of nutrients which could be turned into something altogether more useful – COMPOST!

Things you can do

You could be...
  • setting up your new compost bin, or
  • breathing life into your borders with your own home-made compost, or
  • using peat-free compost containing recycled materials, or maybe
  • treating yourself to patio furniture made from recycled materials.
Whatever you are doing, you won't want to keep your garden a secret!

Start composting

A third of the average household bin can be composted.  This includes:
  • fruit and vegetable peelings;
  • teabags;
  • cardboard and newspaper; and
  • your garden waste.
Best of all, it’s easy to do it yourself in a home composting bin.

Visit the Home Composting area to find out how to get started and some top tips for getting the best results. Within 6-9 months you’ll have top quality compost to dig into your soil and give your borders a boost!
Watch Diarmuid Gavin's video on how you can combat climate change in your own garden.

Save water

We can all do our bit to reduce the amount of water we use in our homes and gardens, yet maintain moisture levels in our soil. 
  • Fit a nozzle on your hosepipe so you can control how much you use. 
  • Grey water (such as dishwater or water from washing vegetables) can be used to water plants as long as it’s allowed to cool, contains no chemicals and isn’t used on plants you intend to eat! 
  • Collect rainwater in a water butt. 
  • Use a soil conditioner or home made compost to aid moisture retention.
  • Choose plants which like dry conditions, such as grasses, herbs and succulents.

Get creative

There’s not much in our homes that can’t be put to a good use in the garden!
  • Empty plastic drinks bottles cut in half make great planters or bird feeders
  • Seedlings can be planted in empty yoghurt pots, egg cartons or cardboard toilet roll tubes. 
  • String old CD's or milk bottle tops together to scare the birds away.
  • Fill in gaps in your lawn by using grass seeds sowed on used tea-bags!

What shall I do next?

There are lots of different options for recycling in your garden.  Why not take a look at these: