Thursday, September 27, 2012

Renewing the faith, keeping the energy

I'm in the middle of a job search, which means I'm at home of an  afternoon. I spend the less active days sending out applications, watching tv, writing, and listening to the radio.
I'd mentioned this earlier: Dubai Eye 103.8 and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce have initiated an Ecopreneur award. People nominated businesses through September and four finalists were chosen from the nominees. From this week on, the finalists get to come on the show to make their case. The audience votes for whomever they think should win
the title and a year's worth of advertising on the channel.
On Tuesday, Mr Prabissh Thomas of PTL Solar Systems answered a few questions about his business on Siobhan Live.
Solar. That brings me to a new #shadeofgreen: Renewable energy. My family uses solar panels to heat water in Goa. Some hotels do too (Good on them!)  I don't need a solar panel in the ME.  Metal pipes conduct heat quite well, and keep water warm. Wait- did I say warm? Try having a bath at 3 in the afternoon and HOT won't describe it. Can you incorporate renewable energy into your life in some way?
Water, Wind, Sun- acceptable. I don't fully support raising crops to produce biodiesel, because I think hungry people would be better served by access to food than my car would by virgin whatever-plant-oil

More news regarding renewable energy in the Middle East: from Green Prophet  
And this is an interesting piece about India from Green Techling. Maybe Modi gets some things right? (I'm too far away for there to be any repercussions for that statement/question! HA HA!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Revelling in the world we live in

I'm not a fast food junkie. I'm more of a junk food fastie (ha ha?)
Having said that, and having tried to inject some humour into this post, I would like to introduce today's shade. But first, a little background so that you see why I mentioned junk/fast food: I chanced upon an advertisement that spoke of our reliance on-nay, our addiction to technology. This ad called for A Day Offline on September 28th. It's an initiative by McDonald's Arabia. I like the message. And yes, I am aware of the irony of the fact that I saw an online ad recommending time offline.
So that is the background. (As the sister of a Comp Sc grad, I should lay this out logically. Train of thought: fast food-> McDonald's-> A Day Offline -> today's shadeofgreen)
Now that I have explained that, flowchart -errr- line and all, I present shade #6: Spend an hour in and with Nature everyday. The Day Offline is a nice idea, but I highly doubt many of us would be able to disconnect entirely for the rest of our lives. One hour a day though- that's manageable. It's proven that time spent in a natural environment is beneficial to your health. Plus you remind yourself what it is that you are trying to save, to safeguard.
a hoopoe I saw near The Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa, on the lawn at Emaar Square
And by switching off and logging out for an hour, we are saving at least a small amount of energy. Hoorah!
For people in South Goa: Shree Damodar College of Commerce & Economics is launching an e-waste collection drive from  today to September 28th, 2012 from 8 am to 12 noon. It's in collaboration with Group Ten Plus.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekend wis wover (for some of us)

Translation of the title: The weekend is over.
It was quite an interesting weekend, what with the winter equinox and World Car Free Day (a misleading name if ever there was one. It makes you think you'll get a car free. Tsk.)
Unfortunately, I was not one of the millions on public transport. And, judging by the traffic and trouble getting parking, neither were the majority of people in the city I currently live in.
Ah well- almost every day besides yesterday is a car-free day for me.
        Do you ever feel like owning a car is a waste? I sometimes think it is. But then I don't actually own one, having not made enough money to achieve that consumerist dream.
Some people have no choice but to use cars. I know-gasp, shock, horror! When we first arrived in Goa, the public transport system was rather bad- it's not much better now. Mum had no choice but to buy a car.
Until mass transit gets better, here's what you can do to make sure you use your car efficiently.
You could carry your cycles with you...
Buy/rent a light-coloured car. (I can't help it if this sounds racist!) It will not heat up as much as a dark car, which means you don't need to crank the AC up as high to cool it down. Definitely important in the Middle East.
Check the pressure of your tyres on a regular basis. Too low and you'll be filling the tank way more frequently than you should.
I've saved the most difficult for last: Drive a small car. The less the mass of the vehicle, the better its fuel efficiency. And anyway, size does not matter. In a world obsessed with grandstanding, we forget that cliche that figures in so many jokes. I'd rather ride in a wee Beemer than a humungous Hummer.

For more information, go here (Wiki) or here (howstuffworks)

Over and out!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On the auspicious day that is today

I can't believe I'm missing Ganesh Chaturthi this year! No modaks (yummy envelopes of rice flour shaped like Hershey's kisses, filled with coconut and jaggery), no fruit, no shankar pali! Nahiiiiiin, cries the Bollywood heroine inside me.
I've read in a number of articles that the festival is an eco-friendly one. Well, I suppose it used to be.  I know it encourages people to be, what with Shravan coming before it. Back in Goa, it was only recently decided to ban Plaster of Paris (PoP) statues. Why? Because clay is so much more environmentally-friendly. For those of you who don't know, the idol of Ganesh is immersed in a pond, river, or the sea at the end of the festival period (anywhere from a day and a half to 21 days). Clay disintegrates in water, but PoP does not. One year, the capital city, Panjim, had pots to drop garlands into so that they wouldn't litter the beach etc and could be disposed of properly. I hope they take the same measures this year too.

At Mocha Mojo, Bandra
A shade inspired by Ganesh: Celebrate in as sustainable a manner as possible. Use old glass jars for beverages, eat off banana leaves (it's a custom that people return to especially at the time of festivals.) Get decorations that are made from recycled bits and bobs: a CD chandelier, perhaps? Eat off bagasse plates- Susty Party has sustainable party supplies. Regular plates are good too, but most of us baulk at the washing up after. I understand. Been there, baulked at that. FYI, Ganesh is considered the remover of obstacles. May he make dish washing post the party easy!
And in the shade of a coconut tree... Here's wishing AnnMarie a Happy Bday! I still have to make you something. Modaks?
The girl who took me to MM

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Baby, you can clean my car...

Don't we love it when things are clean? I know my dad does. And he hounds my sister and me to scrub, shine and polish. Needless to say, we are less than enthusiastic about that routine. We are more the leave-my-crap-where-it-is-so-I-can-find-it-later kind.
Dad has always looked after all his stuff. When they made him, he cleaned the mold. Ok, enough with the cleaning jibes. Dad and Mum are environmentalists without meaning to be.  In fact when I read this article from Huff Post, I thought of them.
One thing Dad has complete control over is how clean his car is. He gets it washed twice a week. No, this isn't your automatic, water-guzzling car wash. It's someone with a little soapy water wiping the dirt off the gleaming beauty my sister christened Noor, meaning light. (Note: our other cars have names too. Yes, carS. I'm not proud, but a girl's gotta drive if a girl's gotta drive. For the record, I use public transport more than a private vehicle.)
Here's the next of my #50shadesofgreen: When washing your car, use a bucket, not a hose. That way you see how much water you're using. (Just when you thought this was a paean to my parents...)
A tip I picked up from Two Minutes a Day for a Greener Planet- instead of washing your car every week, wash it every 8 days. That way, instead of washing it 52 times a year, you'll wash it just 45 times. It's a reduction that adds to your bottom line and the planet's.
Also, try and use an eco-friendly car shampoo. Or get your car washed by one of the guys in the parking lot of the mall you frequent. I've seen a lot of them with "ECO-FRIENDLY" painted across their barrows.
People in the UAE, beware: you aren't allowed to wash your car in front of your house in Abu Dhabi, probably because people are wasting water. No, I am not making this up. Read the article in Gulf News.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

#50shadesofgreen II

Carry a canvas bag if you can, cos they're strong.
I cannot tell you the number of times I've been told that Dubai is a good place to shop. So many people come here just for a little retail therapy. Those who come here on package tours (hello, fellow members of the middle class) feel compelled to shop because they must take home SOMETHING from dazzling Dubai.
It's kind of like people telling me that Goa is a party place.
How do I say this nicely- THERE'S SO MUCH MORE TO BOTH!!!
There. Now that that is out of the way, here's today's shade: Never go shopping without a bag. Canvas, Plastic, Paper- whatever the material, carry a few when you go shopping. And keep a plastic bag with you for spontaneous purchases.
Carrefour sells reusable bags at the checkout counter. Geant charges you for each bag you take, and refunds your money when you return them. Any market worth its salt in Goa has a row of bag vendors.
Step 1 : Make the investment. Or stuff a bag from last week's groceries in your bag, or car. Step 2: Remember to use it.
Don't you feel a shade greener already?
Heard about the Ecopreneur competition sponsored by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Dubai Eye. Here's the clip. More on that as I hear about it.

Friday, September 7, 2012


50 shades of green. (I love clovers!)
It seems to me that everybody is reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I've heard all kinds of reviews, all possible viewpoints. Not feminist enough! An expression of female fantasy! Pointless! Groundbreaking! Disgusting! Beautiful!
FSG started as Twilight fan fiction, and- to me- it always will be Twilight fan fiction, even if the names of the characters have been changed. And that is all I have to say about it.

Coming to the point of this post: have you noticed that in both series there is a mysterious male trying to 'save' a clumsy, diffident female?
Here's my analogy: WE are the (not-mysterious, not-necessarily-male) saviours of a force that has been considered female through most of history- our planet. She's not clumsy, and we aren't really saviours. But as far as analogies go, it'll do.
Do you see what I'm getting at? Let me spell it out. Every contribution counts. Every act makes a difference.Even when you don't believe it.

So here's what I'm going to do- I'm going to list 50 things that I personally have done. 50 things that can help our planet. I don't know if they'll be pointless or groundbreaking or cliches. Whatever they are, they'll make the planet a shade greener, I think.
I'll try to cover as broad a spectrum as possible. However, I haven't gone on a paint-splashing, whale-saving spree yet, so that end of the spectrum might not get covered.

The first thing you can do? Use public transport. I do. And so do millions, billions, of other people around the world. Try it for just two days a week. You'll enjoy the break. And so will Gaia. (Go Planet!)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

It's VII-ember!

Hello September!
May you be a month of fruitfulness.
I know that in some parts of the world you're bringing welcome change- short holidays back in western India, kids back in school in some parts of the world, and solar-generated power in Tokelau. Where's that? Close to New Zealand, I believe. In fact the Kiwi government has helped fund the program to turn the island nation into the first country in the world to run on solar power.  Hmm- the confusing bit is whether or not to call Tokelau a nation- its people are citizens of New Zealand, or something like that.
Another New Zealander coming out in support of the environment- Sam Neill. Remember him in Jurassic Park? Guess he knows better than most what can happen when you mess with Nature. (Cue feeble laughter as everyone flees from the T. Rex.)
By Qyd (talk · contribs) (Self-photographed) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
One change I'm happy about- it's getting cooler here. Today's high- I checked on BBC- was 36 degrees. That's quite good. It explains why I was able to spend the day without switching the AC on.
Bet that saved a lot of power!
Next time: The first of 50 shades of green

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?