We all know the benefits of sustainable and eco-friendly living but there are very few of us who try to adopt habits to help our environment. Most of us complain about the lack of time, so the least we can do is not to contribute to polluting the environment. The Alternative, a media platform for sustainable living, in association with Goethe Institute organized ‘Connect The Dots:Living Green’ to acknowledge Bangalore’s 3 green heroes, who are living sustainably.
Vani Murthy, Vallari Shah and GV Dasarathi shared their eco-friendly habits and practices and motivated others to adopt at least some of the very simple ones, DIYs and things that can be done at home, to make the city greener and cleaner.
Converting waste to resource
Vani Murthy, a very active waste management community campaigner and backyard composter in Bangalore, shared her ‘zero waste’ journey (contributing zero waste to environment) and the very simple steps which everyone can start taking on a daily basis for a cleaner city and a cleaner planet. She urged everyone to get out of the illusion and realize that – “We don’t inherit Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Here are some of the easiest things we all can do on a daily basis for the good of our next generation:
We start making recycling of waste difficult when we use the ‘big black garbage bags’ to dispose all our household waste material be it dry, wet, sanitary or chemical waste together. Simplest thing to do is to segregate the waste going out of our homes:
- dry waste – that can be recycled or reused
- wet waste – that can be composted
- sanitary waste – marking the disposal bag in a distinguishing way so that it can be disposed of hygienically for the environment
For trying to start the journey of a ‘zero waste’ life we all can:
- refuse accepting plastic bags. Carry a bag while going shopping and ask for recycled bags.
- Carry water with us all the time so we never end up buying a water bottle because the bottle becomes trash that contributes to plastic waste.
- Stop using plastic cups, plates and spoons and start having ‘no trash’ meetings/parties
The evolution pyramid to lead a zero waste life, as below, is needed. Unfortunately, most of us are in the bottom most phase where we are accumulating and generating waste. Quoting Captain Planet, Vani said , “The power is yours,” and you can start using it starting from today.
Building community around gardening
Vallari Shah learnt gardening from a gardening community in Oakland, California in 2000. When she moved to Bangalore, she had no idea how to continue her gardening as there was no land present on which she could start her gardening. So, she started her terrace garden for the first time. There were some empty plots inside the gated community she was living in. The residents of the community were planning on converting it to a parking lot but Vallari suggested otherwise.
She used the land to grow her meals on it. From starting gardening in just 100 sq feet by growing some vegetables, she has continued the journey of growing and has converted it to a 800 sq feet community garden today.
Now people actively volunteer to grow vegetables and take home the fresh produce. All the vegetables are 100% organic and are grown without any pesticides with the water reused for gardening and from rain water harvesting. Building a community around a garden, Vallari believes that gardening is very easy and anyone can start it by knowing just 6-7 basics of gardening which can be learnt online very easily today.
Live for oneself, not others, and help the environment
If anybody sees GV Dasarathi aka Das’s home, they will know how passionate and caring he is for the environment. Das’s home in Sadashivnagar is made out of 80% of material gotten from local scrap dealers and junkyards. Das shared his way of sustainable living and made some strong arguments with light and funny statements, but it definitely made everyone to think of the ways one can adopt to live a more eco-friendly life.
He believes that we unnecessarily spend extravagant amounts of money on constructing our houses. We construct houses of strength and then after a decade or two we pay a hefty demolishing cost to bring it down. “We build houses for 2500 years when we will just be living in it for 25years. We have to start building homes to impress ourselves and not our neighbors.” We construct houses with materials that trap all the heat and then we use air conditioners to get rid of the heat, emitting even more heat in the environment. We have got trapped in this vicious cycle and need to come out of it.
Das who cycles 26km a day to and fro work stated that 50% of children below 5 years of age have respiratory problems in Bangalore and there is nobody but us to blame for it. He advocated the use of public transport and urged everybody to walk just a km a week to start with.
He also joked about wearing clothes that do not need ironing to reduce the use of electricity and not to use detergent to wash clothes. But it became clear how serious he was when he circulated a t-shirt in the audience to smell and stated that he has not used detergent to wash it for more than 40-45 washes. It certainly didn’t smell at all. He continued by saying, “We are just obsessed with detergent. Plain water and sun can take care of everything. We just need to clear our minds.”
Das, who had built his ‘treehouse’ in 7 months and with just INR 17 lacs, maintains a blog called ‘low carbon life’ where he shares the methods to adopt for a sustainable living.
Even if we start picking and acting on some of the small steps from their larger framework of living green, we all can help in making our lives and our city much cleaner and greener.