Creating awareness ~ in style

(click on the pic for a larger version)

source: link

This amazing picture is a view of the swimming pool at Bhakti Par in Mumbai, India. The eye-catching
swimming pool has been built to raise awareness about the threat of sea level rises as a result of global warming. It was constructed by attaching a giant aerial photograph of the New York City skyline to the floor of the pool.

Conceived by: Ogilvy & Mather
Commissioned by: HSBC to promote its £50million project tackling climate change.
How they did it
O&G team used an aerial shot of a city to the base of a swimming pool.The pool gives a shocking view of a city submerged in water. A sunken city view was to drive home the impact of global warming, and how it could destroy our world someday soon.

What better way to create awareness about rising sea levels and the imapct of global warming. Melting glaciers and north pole issues are not only a threat to polar bears but will take us down too

Guest Post ~ Second To None ~ Anu Gummaraju’s green initiative :)

I am glad I met Anu Gummaraju on the blogosphere. A genuinely warm lady who blogs over at scatter the batter and A fleeting Glimpse. Her blogs being one of the reasons for my admiration, another is her initiative in Banglore – An initiative called Second to None. (I had the privilege of doing one of the initial posts for the blog :). India has very few flea markets worth mention. More about the initiative and the flea market in Anu’s own words 🙂

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Armchair enviornment-activism is all very good, but there comes a time in all our lives, I presume, when it just isn’t enough. We may be thinking constantly of how much plastic the world is generating and consuming and discarding in dangerous ways, we see signs to keep our city clean and think yes! I will do it, we know we have to conserve water and electricity and do a little bit in that direction in our homes. But is that all?

This became a big, big question for me around mid last year. It wasn’t enough. Could there be some way of first, practicing and then nudging the change on a broader scale? Prodded by this, I was looking for avenues in Bangalore by which reuse and recycling could be promoted.There were a few fora for giving away unused goods, but they were voluntary and not very wide spread. Craig’s list was just too anonymous and scam-ridden too, at times. There was no physical space for such activity, apart from the really old Bangalore markets which are very congested today!

The Market
Flea markets have always been a favourite concept of mine, and the idea of a local market in Bangalore, which could serve as a promoter of recycling and conservation and at the same time, provide a fun atmosphere for people to congregate and exchange ideas and learn about going green, suddenly appealed big time.

Speaking to friends and fellow passionate green-people, Reena Chengappa and Shilpa Kamath, about the idea, their enthusiasm and willingness to be a part of this movement sealed it. And Second to None was kicked off in June 2011.

Initial days
We started first with an online group (an online flea market of sorts), on Facebook, to provide a platform for people in the city to interact and exchange reuse ideas and to buy and sell used goods online. A group with people who either knew each other or were added by friends seemed to be a reliable platform. The online group took off, with members selling anything from curtains to post and pans, to furniture, and exchanging reuse ideas. At the same time, we were also planning the first physical flea market, and scouting for an ideal location, a space which would support and nurture such an initiative and Jaaga (which means Space in Kannada) lent itself brilliantly to the cause. Read about Jaaga here (http://www.jaaga.in/).

With Jaaga booked for July of 2011, we were all set to kick off the flea  market experiment over two days of a weekend. The only publicity we had at the this time was the Facebook group network and two local news dailies who figured this was new enough in Bangalore to be talked about. And what a fun weekend that was! The two days of the market came quite abuzz with activity, where like minded folk came together to buy and sell used goods from their homes, gardens, and more. We had resourceful members well versed in waste management, composting at home, effort-free drip gardening, and so on talking to visitors and helping them start similar ventures on their own. We had sellers exhibiting papier mache lamps, paper bead jewellery, recycled paper products, knick knacks from homes, decor, books, movies and more. And everyone wanted more.

So the flea markets have become a regular event now, we had one more market in Nov 2011, and the 3rd market is happening in Feb 2012. Between markets, the Facebook group has grown to 1260+ members and everyone is sharing and talking about how we can make simple changes in our daily lives, which can cumulatively make a big impact.

The idea of a local market, which happens regularly, is what I think appeals to people and encourages thinking and participation. It has provided a fillip for people to come participate and be a very physical part of the reuse concept, making us believe that local groups, events and happenings is the way to go to spread the word and get people involved. And the involvement here isn’t just with the facilitators (us and Jaaga). It is everyone who comes in to sell or buy.

The sellers make the space what it is, it is they who can make an event exciting and spread the word. When each one of them gives away, sells or makes new things out of old stuff, they are sending out a message. A message that says old does not mean useless, that we can use objects for more than their perceived shelf lives, that the more we reuse the less garbage we burden the earth with. Such a place is also a great place for bargains.

Let us face it, everyone is aspirational and there will always be people who want to own the next best thing, even in plastic, if they have not had it before. And what better than to get it at a good price? So the market has seen some barely used and vintage stuff going at incredible prices, which makes both buyer and seller happy.

Second to None began with a core principal of consuming less and reusing more, and making healthy choices for ourselves and for the planet. But we did not start with a blueprint, we have grown and learnt and accommodated new ideas along the way. We support home kitchens making organic food, and NGOs who empower people with training to earn a lving. Their products get exhibited and sold at the markets.

What is most exciting for us is that people from across the cHide allountry have joined the group and have started similar ventures in their own cities, citing Second to None as their inspiration. We are so happy about that! There is Reduse in Hyderabad, by Ipshita Roychowdhury and Rashmi, The Best and The Rest in Ahmedabad by Saurabh Pacheriwala and Anushree Poddar (https://www.facebook.com/groups/225422360867287/), BombayB by Joanna Lobo and Yoshita Sengupta (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BombayB/).

As we set up the 3rd market in Feb 2012, we are seeing so much enthusiasm and sincerity in people who really want to make an effort in reusing and recycling. Everything under the sun that has a use and a purpose is being sold online and at the markets today, and here are just some of the repurpose ideas shared by the group:
Painting, decorating used bulbs as decor items or plant hangers.
Bags from denim pants.
Fashioning anything from bangle stands to soft boards with salvaged wood pieces.
Runners, table cloths and more from wasted pieces of fabric from tailors.
Candle holders with used bulbs.
Waste toilet seats refashioned into mirror frames, pieces of art.
Etching and art on used wine bottles.
Jewellery and accessories with used buttons.
Old photographs, prints from magazines into wall art.
Decoupage old boxes and containers with used newspaper, other prints.
Bags, pouches and more made from tetra pack paper, jute rice bags, etc.
Side tables with cable spools.

The list is quite long and growing every day! Check into the FB page or blog to stay updated on all the cool ideas that are out there!

Thank you Sudha, for asking me to write in A Green Crusader @ Work. Many of your posts on the environment and green choices are inspirational!
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Thank you Anu…people like you give me hope and will to continue what I do 🙂

New beginnings for the better at University of California

I got this message in my email and had to share it here. 

For Immediate Release:
Student groups at the University of California Santa Barbara, including the Associated Students Coastal Fund, Environmental Affairs Board, Isla Vista Surfrider Foundation and CalPirg, have banded together with campus administration and the Plastic Pollution Coalition to make a profound impact on the campus community and the City of Santa Barbara. 
Compelled by the goal to ban single use plastic bags and raise awareness of the detrimental affects of plastics on our environment, the students have created a new partnership on campus named the UCSB-Plastic Pollution Coalition (UCSB-PPC).
The global Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) is an alliance of individuals, organizations and businesses working together to stop plastic pollution and reduce its toxic impacts on humans,animals and the environment. The UCSB-PPC is participating in the global PPC’s “Plastic-Free Campuses” project as the pilot school. The goal of the project is to encourage more universities to reduce their plastic consumption by educating their fellow students, raising awareness in the campus community and actively engaging students in campus policy.
Alyssa Hall, a core member of the UCSB-PPC, described the importance of the campaign that “We live in one of the most exceptional places in the world. We go to one of the most exceptional schools in the world. Shouldn’t our policies around single use plastic be exceptional as well? We can do better than single use plastics and the UCSB – Plastic Pollution Coalition has unified our campus around eliminating this wasteful practice.”
The week of January 9 – January 13 marks the kickoff of the campaign and will include such displays as dumping a single days worth of plastic collected in the center of campus, the installation of a sculpture made completely of plastic found on local beaches, and a press conference.
In conjunction with UCSB-PPC’s campaign, UCSB Reads, which hands out over 3,000 free books to students every year, has chosen a book focused on the theme of marine plastic pollution. Moby Duck, by Donovan Hohn, discusses a spill of plastic ducks into the Pacific Ocean in the 1990s and the hunt to find them on local beaches. These organizations have joined forces to bring even more campus support to the campaign.
Upcoming events for the UCSB-PPC include the author Donovan Hohn coming to campus to discuss his book, “a day without a bag” where they will be giving out free re-usable bags, a re-usable item vendor faire on the UCSB campus. Students organizers will continue to collect signatures on campus with the goal to make an impact to City Council and the campus to be plastic bag free!
For more information on the PPC and upcoming events, email ucsbppc@gmail.com.
Pic courtesy: UCSB-Plastic Pollution Coalition (UCSB-PPC).

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