Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two minutes

I love books. I am a member of Central Library, Panjim and belonged to several libraries in Calangute until they shut down.

Recently, scanning the shelves at CL, I spotted a title that intrigued me- 'Two Minutes a day for a greener planet' by Marjorie Lamb, published in 1991 by Harper Collins. The lettering on the front has a toxic green hue. But you should never judge a book by its cover! The publishers said they would ‘facilitate planting two trees for every one used in the manufacturing of this book’. How cool is that? I hope they kept that promise.

As I read the book I realized that, in my family, we already practise many of Ms. Lamb's suggestions. They are easy to follow, easy on the environment, and easy on the wallet. For example-we use a rag and a bucket of soapy water to wash our car instead of a hose. We leave her dirty for as long as is socially acceptable to cut down on the resources used (and because we don’t have the time to clean her). We have tried different methods of rain water harvesting-buckets and tanks, pits and stone barriers. We close the tap when we don’t need running water. We switch off the lights and fans in a room when we aren’t in it.

Maybe we live this way because our parents and grandparents lived in a time of economy, of drawing water from the well, reading by kerosene lamps, making sure that everything that could be used was used efficiently and sparingly. Perhaps we should return to those economical ways. Don’t get me wrong- I am not against ‘progressive’ modern technology. I am against needless destruction and waste.

Let’s save our resources-and the planet.

Green tips - Use paper on both sides when possible. Cut up envelopes, flyers, receipts, cards and make little notepads to keep on your desk, near the phone or stuck with a magnet to the fridge.

When shopping, choose items that have the least amount of packaging. And always carry your own bag (preferably cloth). In case you buy one or two items, don’t take a bag for them- unless they are really bulky and you can’t carry them easily.

Reduce your use of air conditioning in the car. I know people who keep the AC on in winter, which doesn’t really make sense. Hello? The AC consumes extra fuel.

Use a battery charger and rechargeable batteries. Think about the number of batteries that you use on a daily basis- watch, cell phone, remote, clock. Cut down the number you throw out by buying rechargeable ones.

Simple enough, right?

It’s the little things that matter. It’s the individuals who make a difference.

Friday, June 12, 2009

We are the ones who make a brighter day

Can an individual make a difference? It’s a question that has plagued me off and on for years. I am consumed by doubt, misery, despair, because no one seems to care. But just when it seems like all hope is lost, confidence returns on gossamer wings,

Every great movement, every revolution started at the level of the individual. Someone thought ‘Something is not right’, and then set about looking to make a change, alone or in the company of like-minded individuals. Today it is our turn to be the change. It doesn’t need to be drastic- no one said go back to the Stone Age. Even small tweaks make a difference.

People all over the world are trying to reduce their carbon footprint (carbon emissions created by them). I watched a show on BBC last night, Ethical Man (9 pm IST), that is about the efforts of one journalist and his family to reduce their carbon footprint. He tries various forms of transport- public, cycle, rented car (a quarter of the emissions created by a car are released when it is being manufactured, so sharing the initial cost works out economically and ecologically), shared car, walking ( he walked with his wife to the hospital when she went into labor). He test drives a diesel car that runs mainly on vegetable oil(apparently it doesn't effect . He tries to get a wind turbine installed on his house (unsuccessful because the wind speed in his area isn’t high enough).

While it is nice to experiment, using the old saving methods works too.

  • The public transport system in Goa isn’t that good, but it is better than having nothing. Use it as often as possible.
  • Segregate your garbage-if there is a recycling program in Goa, I bet dry, clean stuff is easier to handle.
  • Try to compost all organic rubbish.
  • Switch off electrical appliances when they aren’t in use, including lights and fans.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle-YOU can do (almost all of) it at home.

I always got the clothes my sister grew out of and, as a kid, hated the hand-me-downs. Now I wear them with something approaching pride. When they are too ragged and worn, they get downgraded to rags. That is an example of reducing and reusing.

It all depends on you. Stop cribbing about how no one else is doing anything (trust me-it takes more out of you than you would imagine) and start doing something yourself.

My mum, sister and I make paper bags for our chapel’s food stall. It doesn’t take a lot of time, we reduce the amount of plastic needed in the form of carry bags and we are reusing old paper. We’re looking to expand this wholly voluntary, non-profit venture. Any takers?

Green tip: Close the tap when you don't need running water, for example when actually brushing your teeth, lathering your face, body or hair. Think of the water you waste when it runs down the drain unused and the energy wasted in pumping it up to the tank.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Happy World Environment Day!

Happy World Environment Day!

Here's something I read in the Times of India on the 30th of May this year:

Help us to harness the wind,
the water, the sun,
and all the ready and renewable
sources of power.
Teach us to conserve, preserve,
use wisely the blessed treasures
of our wealth-stored earth.
Help us to share your bounty,
not waste it, or pervert it into peril
for our children or our neighbours
in other nations.
You, who are life and energy and blessing,
teach us to revere and respect
your tender world.
Thomas J Carlisle

The perfect prayer on this day, don't you think?
Let's be the change, fight the good fight, make the world a better place.

Green Quip
(also from the ToI)
I have no doubt that we will be successful in harnessing the sun's energy... If sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago.
George Porter

Thursday, June 4, 2009

under the leaf ...:)

Don’t you love the monsoons? With the first of the pre-monsoon showers, the lilies under our evergreen tree begin to grow and bloom. The creatures I love most, which I associate with the rains, are the frogs. My sister tells me I kissed one when I was a wee child. He didn’t turn into a prince. He probably thought I would eat him. But I would never eat a frog.

Watching tadpoles mature is one of the greatest joys of childhood. Running after frogs and holding them in your hand (don’t tell Ma, she worries they will piss on me!) while others squeal in disgust or delight-now that’s fun! Those little brown frogs with pointed noses love coming into the house, tree frogs too. There a couple of large warty toads hopping about the place throughout the year. The loud croaking of bullfrogs has been a pleasant lullaby at the start of the rains.

I wonder how long these simple pleasures will last. The number of frogs is decreasing. People are filling in the water bodies that are the frogs’ homes. Some squish them because they dislike them. Others eat them. Now, I am aware frog legs are considered a delicacy but the practice is rather cruel, don’t you think? It is like shark fin soup-you want just the fin, so you drag the thrashing, gnashing shark on board, cut off the fin and dump the doomed wounded creature back into the sea.

The legs of frogs are cut off and the frog bleeds to death. Someone enjoys a plate of ‘jumping chicken’ without realizing the impact of his indulgence- fewer frogs means fewer natural controllers of the mosquito population. It also means more snakes going hungry, searching for food in areas inhabited by humans. Frogs also control pests like spiders and flies. And they are cute!

Don’t eat frog meat. Persuade others who do to give it up. Here are the reasons why:

  1. Frogs eat mosquitoes (no one loves them). Snakes eat frogs (no one wants to be bitten by them). Some birds eat frogs too; don’t deprive them of their prey.
  2. “Massive toxic recalcitrant residues from agrochemicals biomagnified in the food chain get accumulated in the fat deposits of the frog.” (from the flyer issued by the Chief Wildlife Warden, Government of Goa) Translation- Who knows what you are ingesting when you eat frog meat?
  3. “Consumption of frogs over a period of time could trigger paralytic strokes, cancers, kidney failures and other deformities” (same source as above)
  4. Last, but not least: the Government of India has banned catching, killing, selling, exporting frog meat under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. The punishment? A fine of Rs. 25000 and 3 years imprisonment.

I think locally reared, organic chicken is better for everyone.

Green Tip: Save money, time and yourself- say no to frog meat.

About Me

Greetings, citizens of the world! We are united by planet and species, so what say we do our best to look after our handfuls of earth?