Beyond Plastic Bags ~ a thought about our clothes

While the crusade is on about plastic bags and other non bio degradables around us, one most important thing we forget about is the footprint of our clothes. I had this post in mind for a really long time now. However, I could not sum up my thoughts to speak about our clothing choices.

Even the green crusade brigade gives very little thought to the earth friendly-ness of the clothes worn. Little do we realize that all the polymer based products – Rayon, Nylon, Terricot, chiffon, synthetic crape (crepe), spandex, Acrylic etc are all non bio-degradable.

I have seen women in my family and around me wear Nylon Sarees (Nylex) and it hit me a few years ago, that the whole wardrobe is an eventual toxic landfill. That is just a part of the whole deal. Clothes for men and children fall under this category as well. The issue includes every easy to maintain fabric we find on shelves.

I go blank as to how this silent, most ignored and most dangerous plastic contribution may be stopped…If we all were to shift to cotton, hemp, jute or wool, the demand for these natural fiber would explode and lead to issues associated with over consumption and over production, processing and what not…I would appreciate your thoughts.

Note:  And another point to note here is that routing non biodegradable junk/garbage to landfill is not a sensible solution. It is as bad as dumping our trash into the nearest water source (lakes, rivers, oceans). We need to understand the impact of leeching, plastic breakdown and the resulting impact on the fertility of the land (the landfill and a few kilometers around it), safety of water sources (running and ground), and the air near the landfill.

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Repurposed and Upcycled ~ Car tires

I came across a Melbourne, Australia based company, called Ruba Designs

Ruba designs upcycles used car tires into amazing designer table mats, desk mats and coasters. If we were to ignore the enery and effort which goes into this process, and the consequent recycling process footprint, this is a cool concept…a lot better than directing used rubber tires into landfill and also reducing the need to chop trees, produce more cotton, bamboo, jute etc or produce more plastic for mats and coasters. 








all images courtesy: Ruba

The Placemats and coasters, which won’t bend out of shape, are warm and inviting to touch, waterproof, heat resistant,  dishwasher safe, and non-slip. They are available in 6 different designs to cater for different tastes.  Also included in the collection are 4 styles of mouse pads and 3 styles of desk sets for the office. Ruba designers Sonia Attard and Lisa Vincitorio share their views in an interview on a fellow Green blog >>Link


If you are interested in updates about Ruba and its products…do click on their Facebook LIKE button  :)..cheers to more such ventures..yay!! 

On Avoiding Plastic Produce bags

Big Box stores and grocery chains liberally hand out polythene bags at the billing counter. Plastic bags have become so cheap to produce, that stores no longer consider them an overhead. The 80’s and 90’s shopper stopped taking totes to the store, and was asked to choose between paper or plastic. (Most of them seem to have gone for plastic. (not that paper would have made sense).

In the late 60’s and the early 70’s, invention of plastic was said to be a great boon for mankind. Extensive and short sighted choices made over the last few decades have ended up as a decent sized plastic patch floating around in the ocean(s). We hear a lot about the Great Garbage patches in the oceans. Pacific plastic patch is just one of them and has only grown over the last few year.

Shoppers never seem to stop and think if they really need to pack fruits and vegetables- first in a flimsy 9 micron bag at the produce section
and then bag it at the billing counter in another 9 or 20 micron bag.
Plastic Bags: Environmental Impact and Recycling Issues
Sheer waste of resource and such a heavy penalty on the environment. Avoiding those two bags may not seem to make a difference, but spreading the thought definitely helps – exponentially speaking.

Pass the spinach….er…..diazinon please! ~ Guest post ~ Kamini Raghavan

Access to organic food without the hassle of plastic packaging means a lot. I came across a post by a fellow blogger, the very talented Kamini (of Saffron and Silk and Zingara Girl) and requested her to share her (and her husband’s) experience with Hydroponics…..What to know more …read on…:)

Over to Kamini….

Food! We all love food, some of us live to eat, some of us eat to live. But either way, we all have a love/hate relationship with food.

I am not a huge foodie and I am not at all fussy, give me my roti/dal, a couple of veggie dishes (especially if spinach is one of them) and I’m happy. All I ask is that the veggies be organic and fresh! But where I live getting my hand on organic vegetables is almost impossible, so I have been settling for the next best thing – fresh vegetables from the local vendor around the corner. I make sure I buy them when his truckload arrives around 9am in the morning, so at least if not organic, its fresh! So imagine my horror when I found out that the vegetables in the local market are grown with 700 times the allowed pesticides that can be used. 700!!! Not 5 or 10, but 700!!!

Yes, so along with my cauliflower curry I have been eating Cypermethrin, the okra fry I love is laced with Monocrotophos, Palak Panir is accompanied by Malathion and Diazinon…..apples, oranges and grapes are not exempt either and are known to have residues of Aldrin and Chlordane, 2 deadly pesticides! There is irrefutable evidence to show that these residual pesticides can lead  to all kinds of health problems including cancer, kidney and neurological diseases.

This is when my husband and I decided to take matters into our own hands and grow our own vegetables. We researched soil, we learned about pest free gardening, we went into the backyard and peered at the ground to see what creepy crawlies were living there, we poked, we prodded, we bought fertilizer, we bought manure, we bought organic pesticides, we got rid of our gardener whose mantra was spray, spray, spray…..and while we were in the midst of all this we chanced upon the whole concept of HYDROPONICS! I won’t go into too much detail, you can read about it here, but basically it is growing vegetables without soil, but only in water, where the plants are anchored in vermiculite or rock wool. Pests live in soil, so by default no soil = no pests! Pretty simple.

Of course, reading about it was one thing, actually starting our own hydroponic garden was quite another. No one had heard of it here in Hyderabad. So some more reading and googling and we found a vendor in Tamil Nadu who was selling bags of coco peat. Coco peat is just pure and simple ground up coconut husks and have the appearance and texture of soil, but none of the mineral content. So it mimics all the characteristics of soil without the problems associated with soil. (A little side note here about my husband…..he’s the left brained engineer type, so nothing he does is ever without a whole lot of research and study and discussion and total concentration…and then he jumps into the project headlong and gives it his all!! No multi tasking like us women!!). So it would only be fair to say that this gardening project is entirely his baby, my only contribution was suggestions as to what vegetables to plant.

Hydroponics can be as simple as growing a single plant in hand watered bucket or as high tech as being fully automated, monitored and controlled with your cell phone!!! The average home hydroponic set up has a growing medium in trays, a reservoir/tank to hold the nutrients, a submersible pump and drip irrigation tubing for ease of watering, a simple timer and an air pump to oxygenate the nutrient solution. Of course light, natural or artificial is also required.

Since we were almost out of space in the backyard, we decided to set up shop on our rooftop terrace. So this is basically our set-up! The 4′ long x 8″ wide bags of coco peat came in flat bales which swelled up once we wet them with water. Each bag went from being an inch high to 8″ high. Then 3 or 4 “X’s” are slit on top of each, into which the seedling is planted. If you are scattering seeds for veggies like spinach and lettuce, you can make a long rectangular cut out and scatter the seeds. Once the little veggie saplings are planted, they need nutrients. The nutrient/fertilizer is concocted according to a very specific formula…..NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), magnesium and calcium and a host of trace elements, are mixed together in water. (A small note here: even so called “organic veggies” in US markets, have NPK in their soil). A huge plastic container holds this nutrient mixture, and the pump and timer feed it to the plants via the drip irrigation system at specific intervals.

Here are some pics so you can understand better….

Little seedings getting watered by the drip
 The timer
 The reservoir holding the nutrient mixture
Tomato plants
Tomatoes getting bigger
and bigger…..
 Green leaf lettuce
 Tomatoes and okra harvested today
 Green peppers
 Cauliflower
 Greens – lettuce, fenugreek and spinach
 Cabbage – yet to be harvested
Chili peppers
Of course, as with any new venture, we had successes and we had mishaps! My husband totally overestimated how many tomato plants we would need, so now we get about 2 kilos a day!!! I have been doling out to all and sundry, I have juiced and souped and jammed and jellied, my next step will be taking it to the veggie shop and selling it!!! We planted too few lettuce plants, we should have staggered them, so now we have run out! The cauliflower got waterlogged and rotted! We only have one good okra plant so I get 2 or 3 okras a week!! By the time I cut them and make okra fry, we get a mouthful each!! 
But nothing can beat the thrill of picking your own freshly grown veggies however tiny or measly it is. Its an indescribable feeling. Every morning I head upstairs and see what is ready to harvest – all I need is a straw hat and I’ll be like Ina Garten.. 🙂 We have a long long way to go before we are completely self sufficient, but its good to know that at least part of what I am putting in my mouth is organic and pesticide free! The last time I made this salad – pic below – it took less than 5 minutes for the lettuce to get from plant to table and the taste was amazingly fresh!
I hope I have inspired you all to go organic! If you are lucky enough to live in Chennai or Bangalore or any other big city, you can get organic at the market. But if you still want to experience the thrill of growing your own vegetables hydroponically, e mail me (Kaminiandraga@gmail.com) and my husband and I will happily share info with you! And for those really interested, here is an inspiring read!
Bon Appetit!
Thank you Kamini, for sharing such an informative post on the Green Crusader.

GiveaCar ~ Guest Post

As mentioned in my previous post, here is the guest post from Daniel, of Giveacar, UK.

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Car donation: a great way to recycle your car
Recycling a car can be a difficult and daunting prospect. It’s not always easy to find someone who is willing to collect you vehicle and make sure it is thoroughly depolluted and reused. There are many people still out there who will simply harvest your cars easily resalable parts and leave the rest to rust.
If you’ve decided to purchase a more fuel efficient vehicle or have resolved to give up your car entirely for a greener mode of transport, car donation is one of the most environmentally friendly ways of getting rid of your old vehicle.
There are a wide range of car donation programs out there, supporting an array of different charitable causes. It is important to find one that will either scrap your vehicle in an environmentally friendly way or put it in to an auction to find a new owner. This ensures that the oldest cars, those with worst fuel consumption, are taken off the road, and newer ones are reused, reducing demand for new car production, which has a significant negative effect on the environment.

If you are in the UK, a great donation program to check out is Giveacar. They guarantee that at least 85% of the weight of your car will be recycled and reused. In addition, they only work with scrap yardHYPERLINK “http://www.giveacar.co.uk/scrap-yards”s that are affiliated to the UK Environment Agency, meaning that your car will be fully depolluted and not just left to drip its hazardous chemicals into the earth.

As well as the environmental benefits of their car HYPERLINK “http://www.giveacar.co.uk/car-scrappage”scrappage scheme, Giveacar promise to donate at least $100 to the donors chosen charity for each car donated. They are partnered with a variety of different causes including several charities tackling the effects of climate change.
Only a year old, they have already recycled more than 3,000 cars and have raised more than $300,000 for good causes.
If you would like to learn more about recycling your car or would like to donate a car, please visit the Giveacar website – www.giveacar.co.uk.
 PS: pictures courtesy: Giveacar 

Giveacar ~ Green Charity

Daniel from UK based company called Giveacar, a not-for-profit organisation, sent in a post to be featured on Green Crusader. 



About the company:
Giveacar is into collection and recycling of unwanted cars, with the proceeds of each vehicle going to charity.
They have imported the idea of car donation from the US to the UK, and work with over 250 charities and have raised over £200,000 in the past year through car donation. The company works with scrapyards and salvage operators to ensure cars are sold for their maximum value – thus providing the maximum donation to charity.

Daniel says “Giveacar has had a really positive response, with the service providing a serious financial boost to charities in this current climate, and Reuters have made a news video on the positive effects of social enterprises such as Giveacar. (http://www.reuters.com/news/video/story?videoId=180720019). We are an environmentally friendly operation, recommended by Keep Britain Tidy and recently covered by the Ecologist:
http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/out_and_about/687787/recycle_your_car_dont_scrap_it.html


Watch this space for the Guest post. 🙂

Green Garmento ~ Dry Cleaning gone Green (partly atleast!!) ~ Product Review

If you are into dry cleaning your clothes, then this post is definitely for you. Jennifer from the DMD Lab contacted me to write about – Green Garmento.



Whats Green Garmento!??

Every time you bring your dry cleaned clothes home.you walk away with your clothes wrapped in single use plastic bags. If you know me, you would know what I am thinking right now!! lol…

Statistics:

Each year in the US alone, 1.4 billion pieces of clothing are professionally cleaned and 300+ million pounds of single-use plastic drycleaning bags fill our landfills and waterways.

OK, now dont get into the “I recycle” argument with me….you too know that recycling every kind of plastic is not possible and also, the amount of time, energy and resources wasted due to the recycling effort is not worth the effort


An Alternative may be! How about Green Garmento…
The Green Garmento, a product developed by Rick Siegel,  is a 4-in-1 reusable garment bag – just like a reusable grocery tote for your clothes – that helps streamline and “green” your drycleaning/laundry routine.

Here’s how it works
At home your Green Garmento serves as a hanging or standard hamper

On your trip to the dry cleaner it functions as a duffel bag

And, most importantly, at pick-up, your dry cleaned clothes will be hanging and protected inside for the trip home – without a single-use plastic bag/twist ties to wrestle with!

It’s a simple and simplifying lifestyle change that’s practical, eco-friendly, stylish, and affordable ($9.99 retail)…. not to mention helping to cut down on the 300 million pounds of plastic drycleaning bags that end up in our landfills each year!

More about the bag

  • Made from breathable, water-resistant material. 
  • Wide gussets and a side zipper help to keep everything safely in place and allow you easy access.
  • Available in multiple sizes from 40 to 72 inches, and a variety of colors, there’s a Green Garmento to suit every need and lifestyle.
  • Like a reusable grocery tote for your clothes that is eco-friendly, stylish, practical, and affordable ($9.99 retail).
  • Apart from the fact that the bag can reduce use of plastic bags, I am sure clothes must be safer and well managed in this bag (while being brought home)

    How about a funny video 🙂

    My Take…
    I do not dry clean so I did not see the need to get this bag though. However, I have a small problem with the material used – Polypropylene. I personally would like a Sturdy Canvas or jute bag!! (Rick,  I hope you are listening). Sorry, thats the die hard Green Crusader speaking 🙂



    Disclaimer: Content source: http://thegreengarmento.com/
    Opinion is all mine….This is not a paid review.