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Zero Waste Tips

A Brief Look at the SDGs and the Circular Economy (in India): Goal 4

A Brief Look at the SDGs and the Circular Economy (in India): Goal 4

Fourth in Bare Necessities- Zero Waste India’s series on SDGs in relation to zero waste, circular economy methodology and sustainability is Goal 4: Quality Education.

 

There is no substitute for good quality education no matter who you are or where you are situated in the world. There have been substantial improvements in education in the recent past, especially for girls, which has fantastic benefits for global society including the environment that we all live in. In 2018, this situation was recognised and actioned at the highest level, the UN Secretary General launched the UN Youth Strategy as a platform to promote young people across the globe to actively create a peaceful, just and sustainable world. This key focus on the youth of today, in regards to creating a sustainable world, is paramount to our ability to live cohesively with the environment. This is in part because the youth of today are often provided with the most up to date information, whereas individuals who are a long way removed from school can become complacent in renewing their own knowledge base.

 

There are numerous organisations around the world such as Vietnamese Greenhub who are valuing insights from young minds. While in India there are NGOs and CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) combating waste through education for both young and old. There are positive initiatives such as #FridaysForFuture, a call to action run by students supporting climate action, and large campaigns such as the Run For The Oceans event, which was recently completed for World Oceans Day (in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore) that aims to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the oceans. All of these organisations, events and calls to action aim to educate people in order to improve current knowledge about waste, the circular economy and sustainability in a variety of ways. Without this knowledge being passed around the inherent risks of the situation could be undervalued.

 

A wide range of educational information is now ‘open source’ such as The Guide To Going Circular from Auckland City Council in New Zealand, and Plastic Free July has a dedicated information deck for everyone to learn. Similarly Save Philippines Seas provides open source material for all. The more accurate information available, the more people all around the world can learn about key current issues impacting upon our lives everyday and the reasons why moving toward a system that functions within a circular economy is pivotal to our long term sustainability.

 

The solution to these global problems need to be found. While we know that education is vital for everyone, updating one’s knowledge is just as important and can sometimes be undervalued, which is where accurate and verified (through up to date facts and figures) open source material, for example, is vital. Learning about new thoughts and ideas, refined and updated ideas, can provide a different perspective that may give a profound insight, potentially the seed of a sustainable solution.

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Signs of a New Wave

Signs of a New Wave

Looking at plastic wrappers on the ground walking around Indian streets or noticing the little non recyclable packets of household products that hang from a string near the ceiling of corner stores across any city, town or village in this country can be disheartening. This is a simplistic view of the entire situation that only focuses on the negative, though. These methods of consumerism have not been used here for very long at all. Milk for instance, stored in a sealed plastic bag these days, can be remembered as being a recent change by many. From a milk delivery service or a milk station in the past couple of decades to what it is today.


And, hasn’t it caught on? Now you can get milk in bags everywhere! Small packets of detergent, chewing tobacco, chips and many more items too, from a system that is so wonderfully convenient! Never before has it been like this, so, so, so…


We all know the inherent damage to people, animals and the environment that these processes cause, I’m not going to assume that you, dear reader, do not. Instead, I’d like you to come with me on a journey to a part of the city I am living and visit a store with me.


It’s a new store, one that only opened in the last year. It is part of a chain. It was not the first one to open, nor is it the last. There is a sign there on the glass that highlights that three new stores are opening in nearby suburbs in the near future. I have also been informed that there are many, many more expected to be opened across the state within the coming years. It has been a huge success, I’m basing this on the fact that they are expanding at a monumental rate, while the stores that have been open for longer are passed the danger point for new businesses- they are not going to fail. There is a huge, untapped market for this.


The first thing that you and I notice walking through the doors of the store are the composters and copper bottles to the right. On our left a little further in are organic vegetables and fruits. There are health care and beauty products in some of the five aisles to our right while we stand next to the produce. Each aisle has products from a range of vendors. Not just one. There is a sustainable fashion rack a little way passed the root vegetables. While beside them is an aisle dedicated to gardening. Next to it a section with a range of teas and coffee, and herbal remedies. Then, my friend, we reach the back of the store. We turn around, we smile at the clerks and walk out.


We stop off at a cafe on our way to my home and you order a cold drink while I order a coffee. The straw you are sipping from is made of metal, you were offered a choice, a straight metal straw, a bent metal straw, or a bamboo straw! You made your choice and slurp it down to the bottom. I sip my coffee until the end. We pay and walk out to the road again.


It is your first time in the city and you are amazed that there is so much traffic, then you see the corner store with the hanging packets and the bags of milk as we walk passed. You have not tried a coconut since you arrived in the city I live in and although we have recently stopped for a drink we buy a coconut each from a street side vendor next to the corner store who offers us a plastic straw with it. We refuse and instead drink straight from the hole as the liquid cascades down our chins. We smirk as we wash our faces. We talk about a new leaf straw that we have recently seen that could have been very useful. We hand the empty coconuts back to the vendor and to our surprise he hands a coconut each back to us with a small plant inside. We say thanks and walk off with a wave.

 

                                                                                                                                  

It’s not going to happen overnight but it is happening. Organic stores are no longer seen as a ‘hippie fad’ they can sustain a profit and live perfectly inside of this economically driven world of ours. Eventually, providing there is a demand from us, the consumers, the little packets at the corner store will change too and the coconut vendor will provide a leaf straw to drink from.


Sustainable solutions are all around us that should provide us with an optimistic view of our world. It is far too easy at times to walk into a store and notice that half of the products in that store are wrapped in plastic instead of understanding that only a few years ago this type of store was all but unheard of, or, that the other half of the products in the store are not wrapped in a damaging material.


Change happens faster than we realise at times, the trick is to not focus on the doom and gloom that is often portrayed. We need to be aware of it of course, but the truth is that there are already signs that we are moving away from systems that do damage to us, to animals and to the environment, toward methods that are designed by people and organisations that realise that the way forward is within a circular economy.

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A Brief Look at the SDGs and the Circular Economy (in India): Goal 3

A Brief Look at the SDGs and the Circular Economy (in India): Goal 3

Third in Bare Necessities- Zero Waste India’s series on SDGs in relation to zero waste, circular economy methodology and sustainability is Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being.

 

Air pollution is waste that seeps into all of us- quite literally- every time we take a breath. As populations grow in size more people are inhaling particles that are causing us harm. UNDP estimates that 7 million people die each year from fine air particles being inhaled from polluted air (1.2 million in India in 2017 alone, according to WWF). It’s time to embrace this as a  challenge and find simple, everyday solutions to combat it. This is a situation that can- and needs to be- addressed by people who are a long way removed from day to day poverty. Similarly to the food waste conversation, discussed last week for SDG 2, the majority of waste (be that physical waste or emitted matter into the air) comes from people who live each day comfortably. This means that people living in this ‘comfortable’ position are capable of making a difference!

 

The situation, simply, is this: as the population living in cities increases and more and more people improve their livelihoods the dependence on cars and other forms of transport that pollute the air is increasing (in part because people are aspiring to use vehicles when their livelihood improves). Studies have highlighted that the way individuals travel needs to be changed to limit air pollution, the findings suggest that more sustainable solutions need to not only be found but utilised.

 

Positively, there are numerous examples of solutions being implemented around the world. For example, Melbourne in Australia is creating ‘20 minute neighbourhoods’ according to the World Economic Forum, which are designed to limit long commutes by car. This solution advocates that people live within 20 minutes of their workplace, medical facilities and schools, which means that people can easily commute by foot, bike or public transport. Other locations around the world, such as New York, Barcelona and Hamburg, are also implementing systems that work for their location in order to limit air pollution.

 

The high levels of energy and carbon pollution created in cities needs to be addressed within India and many other countries throughout Asia too as income levels of the average person in each country reaches par with countries such as Australia, the USA and many across Europe. Cities are, and need to be, leading the way especially in locations across Europe, the USA and Australia, yet, countries such as India are in a unique position. By implementing simple steps such as utilising public transport or creating 20 minute neighbourhoods, where possible, India can show themselves and the world what can be achieved by a maturing nation. Significantly, the Indian city of Pune already is providing a leading example.

 

To combat air pollution Pune is promoting the use of public transport, cycling or walking to work/ school. The city aims to make 80% of commutes sustainable by implementing simple steps such as creating new bike lanes and improving public transport options. Currently, India has 9 out of 10 cities in the top 10 most polluted cities in the world, according to WWF, Pune is showing already what can be achieved by finding simple, everyday sustainable solutions that value good health and well being of every individual within the city.

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How Should We Measure the Impact of Human Interference on Individuals and the Environment?

How Should We Measure the Impact of Human Interference on Individuals and the Environment?

The question of ‘how do we judge human interference?’ came to me as I spent the past weekend away in a hill region known for coffee growing in Southern India. The host at the homestay where I stayed with a friend was telling a story about how people had interfered with nature and how it could be seen in his hometown. I had, to that point, only been focused on his property- it was an amazingly beautiful little place with organic coffee, pepper, avocados, chillies (that could blow your socks off) and many other products that smelt wonderful- but his statement made me suddenly look further afield.


At the time we were standing on a rooftop terrace and his words tore my eyes from the greenery to look at a landslide that had washed down the entire side of a hill due to heavy rains (not usually found in such ferocity in the town due to a mountain range separating it from the monsoon hit coast to the west) the year before. He said that the reason the landslide had occurred is because of a service road that had been built for a high end hotel that was located further along the ridge than we could see. The service road is no longer used, but it had the effect of limiting the resistance to a landslide that the trees, that had been cut down to make way for the road, could have had.


Similarly, along the valley there were other resorts and hotels that had been built with limited consultation about the after effects of an environmental nature. A money grabbing exercise, he said. I’ve seen and heard reports of similar instances, not only across India, but in many other countries as well. I don’t have the facts to say whether my host for the weekend was accurate or whether he was only partly true, I’m not trying to make that argument here. Instead, I’m wanting to look at the cause and effect, the interplay, between us and nature. I don’t intend to fall on any definite answers, I’d rather I left you with a number of questions.


Some observations and assumptions from my visit to begin:


  • The base level impact caused by the changes to the town, in the past decade or so when tourism increased to its current level, can be seen with waste in the river and on the streets- the amount of waste that is there was not there before the tourist boom that led to the service road being built on the ridge.
  • Increased tourism led to more stores being opened in town to such an extent that the once tiny town now resembles, in some parts of the centre, a large city of complex winding streets.
  • On each of these streets there are new shops selling large and small quantities of coffee, spices, beauty products, homemade wine and many other items. The stores have to keep up with the increase in tourism, don’t they?
  • Each bag of coffee, spices etc. is packaged in plastic because it is the most accessible product for them to package products in.
  • The tourists buy the products (or don’t buy like I did until I found items in recyclable bags- it was an effort! The tourists are often left with no choice because an alternate option is not available. I’m sure some want an alternate bag but the alternate is not there without making an effort) and take them home where waste ends up in their local environment or consume them in the town where waste ends up in the river, farms and forests.  
  • The tourists keep coming to see what the fuss and excitement of the coffee region is all about. New resorts open.
  • The tourists are happy because they have places to stay, does anyone ask how or where the new hotels or resorts were opened? Does it lead to more soil erosion? The tourists are not there for long enough to find out. Are the majority or minority of people who live there thinking about these questions?
  • The local resident has seen his/ her neighbour making extra money and improving his/ her livelihood, so in turn follows the crowd and builds a hotel, thinking about the money made tomorrow not the potential of a landslide in a year.

Does that increased tourist crowd lead to the service road on the ridge? Does it lead to the waste on the streets and rivers? Does it lead to the landslide? And, even broader still, was the dramatic change of weather pattern due to piles of waste (now created by the growing tourism industry) being burnt just outside the field of vision of all those people visiting the area?


Where this all starts and where this all ends can sometimes be extraordinarily difficult to see. Whether people made good or bad deals to build new resorts and hotels and service roads in the region- forever changing the look of the valleys- or not does not quite mean that the landslide occurred or that waste is floating in the river. Yet, it could just as easily.


Let’s think about this from a couple of sides:


Most of this comes down to people either being or not being educated about how intrinsically linked we are to the environment. While I was there, the same host told a story (he liked to talk!) about his bees he kept on his property. Summarising his view, if bees die out in the region there were local residents who (more or less) shrugged their shoulders and said they can still eat rice if other things can’t be pollinated! Now surely this suggests a lack of understanding about how fundamentally important every part of life in both that town and all places around the globe are to one another.


On another side, people in the town need to make a livelihood. By limiting their costs, be that by building a service road or by packaging coffee and spices in plastic, they make more profit on a daily basis. If they’re not looking longer term, they will not provide alternative packaging, such as a paper bag for coffee. How do you educate people on environmental degradation if they are not looking further into the future than being able to ensure that there is food on the table for their family the next day?


I don’t have an answer to whether the host was right about the landslide or not. Nor do I have more than reports from a few other people I spoke to in the town to know how much life has changed with the tourist boom. All I can say for sure is that we all need to continue to find out how we are all linked with our surroundings through accurate facts that everyone can understand. There has to be a way to ensure that families in that region have the chance to improve their livelihood while maintaining some type of equilibrium with our surrounding environment.


A landslide or waste in the water are easy to be seen, the challenge is to highlight how much damage that does to ourselves and every living creature if we don’t move forward sustainably by learning from visible signs that we have, truly, interfered with nature in a profoundly negative way. If there are simple alternatives, such as a paper bag for coffee or a different way to build a service road, isn’t that a better alternative than having a family’s livelihood improve in a shorter period of time by using (currently) cheaper materials and methods? How would you or I explain this to a family who needs to live a poorer life for longer to guarantee that the environment is not damaged beyond repair?





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A Brief Look At The SDGs and the Circular Economy (in India): Goal 2

A Brief Look At The SDGs and the Circular Economy (in India): Goal 2

Second in Bare Necessities- Zero Waste India series on SDGs in relation to zero waste, circular economy methodology and sustainability is Goal 2: Zero Hunger.

 

Composting is a wonderful thing, it reduces waste and can provide nutrients back to the earth where the products came from in the first place. It also makes us think about what we are eating all the time, whether that is the type of food or the quantity.

 

If we’re placing large quantities of cooked food into a compost bin daily, we know that we are cooking too much and will reduce the amount and buy less at the shop (we should be doing this if we’re placing waste into a bin too!). This simple process of raising our own awareness can have a much broader effect.

 

Step by step: by limiting the amount of food wasted at your home there will be less food brought in by shopkeepers because they know how much will be sold, in turn limiting their waste and improving the quality of products that only have a limited life at a store front (this improves the quality of products you as a consumer is buying!) and saves costs for the shop keeper because no unsaleable stock is thrown away.

 

Further down the steps the farmers will need to produce less produce, releasing a lot of stress on the livelihoods of everyone working on the farm. They similarly will have less waste because they will be working within the means of the land and the people managing it instead of following unsustainable practices that are pursued because you (the end consumer) keep asking for food to cook each night from the shopkeeper while throwing what you do not eat away (the key is to simply not waste at any step).

 

Summarising, by reducing the waste you have produced in your household (by becoming aware of the exact quantities that are needed for your family on a daily basis) you have helped people at the other end of the process. Prices will adjust accordingly. Quality will improve. And, most importantly there will be less wasted all through the process, which means that people who would generally go hungry because too much food is being sent elsewhere will have access to food- there is enough to go around if we decide to value what we eat on a daily basis.

 

By understanding the broader effects that occur if we use the exact quantities we need or if we don’t we can continue to reduce the amount of people who go to bed hungry each night. We need to be responsible with our consumption in order for the most vulnerable people to have enough to eat. Sounds simple right? Think about it tonight when you go to the store to cook a meal for your family. A simple choice can enhance the effectiveness of the entire system and ensure that a family somewhere else in the world is eating right there alongside you.

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Stories of Resilience for World Environment Day, a Wednesday in 2019

Stories of Resilience for World Environment Day, a Wednesday in 2019

You see, it was a Wednesday. Very similar to the previous Wednesday and would be very similar to the next. It was also very similar to the Tuesday and the Thursday that surrounded it on either side like a barrier of days set in time that at once duplicated, mirrored and were themselves as much as they were different creatures individually.


The family of eight walked down the village road. It was made of dirt and that morning mud sat at the sides and in one small oblong hole, from the rain that fell at dawn. That road was the same road that they had walked down on Tuesday and would walk down on Thursday. It was the only road in the village. It led the family of eight to the market. It was the main market in the district, people would travel for miles to sell and buy food on a daily basis. The two young boys in the family waved goodbye to their parents and walked to their morning class. The girls and mother laid out their stall of produce on their regularly used market table while the father returned to the small farm he ran with his brothers. The farm was the main farm in the village. There were trees all around it. There was a clean stream on one edge of the farm. The children would often swim in the cool water. There were birds and animal noises in the forests all around the wet banks.

                                                                                                                   

The family of eight no longer walked down the road. The road was no longer covered in dust. It was no longer made of dirt. It did have a number of oblong holes in though, from the heavy vehicles that weighed too much for the newly laid gravel to handle. The market had grown from an array of tables and chairs to a more permanent affair. There were two buildings in the centre of the market now. They had been built on a small, previously forested area where native birds had been known to chirp loudly each morning when the family of eight walked to the market each day many years before.


The family had been lucky. The father had grown his farm and could keep feeding his family. The two boys had grown up and now helped manage their farm. They had learnt many thoughts and ideas in their classrooms.


The farm now ran across the stream and over all the area where trees had once be en home to a number of small creatures.

                                                                                                                    

 

It was a Wednesday. It was no longer like the Tuesday. Nor would it be like the Thursday. The distribution schedule changed each day. One day the produce would go to two small towns. The next it would go to the big city by the sea. The day after the trucks would drive to the next state. The daughters no longer lived in the area. The father was too old to work. The mother was ill. The two boys had hired employees from outside of the village. The farm was now too large to run on their own.


The village no longer only had one road. The village no longer had an abundance of trees and not that the two boys would ever know while they tended the crops but the area they farmed was not as fertile as their father had once known. This knowledge would only be learnt many years later.


                                                                                                                    

It was a Wednesday. The sun beat down on the head of a grandchild. She had completed university. The first in her family. She had not seen her father for some time but knew what he would be doing at the farm. It was a Wednesday after all and she knew the distribution schedule. In fact, she could catch an autorickshaw to the large supermarket where the produce would arrive later that day if she really wanted. Instead she walked to her home.


The route she took she loved. It was next to the beach. She could feel the wind blowing through her long hair while she peered out at the glistening water. There were always seabirds around. They were always looking for their next meal in the piles that sat for the waste collectors or under items that lay abandoned on the sand. She pulled her shawl over her hair, it was a very hot day and there was very little shade along the route she loved to walk. She placed her left palm on a little bump on her stomach and then let her hand slide down to move methodically by her side for the remainder of the journey home.


                                                                                                                      

The child had only been to the village twice in his life since he had completed his schooling and all visits he had taken were with his mother, whose university certificate hung beside the television, and his two younger siblings. He was going there that day by himself. He collected the tiffin box, the same food container that he used everyday at his job. Many of his colleagues now did not use tiffin boxes like their parents had, but his mother and father had never earnt as much as their parents. In turn, he could not afford to order lunch from the new delivery service that had opened a few years before. He aspired to one day be able to. He did not like the tiffin box any more.


He walked out and caught a bus that ran alongside the beach. There was little sand that could be seen. He never went there. It was always covered by bags and other items that had carried the delivery companies’ lunch packages to his colleagues at the office where he worked.


The journey took six hours. He stepped out into the village that now had large concrete homes throughout the regional capital. If he tried he would not be able to judge which road was the main road his great grandparents walked down every Wednesday to the market. He did know where his family’s farm was. It was the one with the regional factory. The village had grown with the farm. It was now a large regional town, although his family continued to call it a village.


He walked down to the factory that belched out a thick plume of smoke, smiling at the progress that had been made.

                                                                                                                      

The delivery bags were handed to the receptionist. The receptionist carried them to the office. The receptionist handed each bag to each of her colleagues. Everyone now ordered from the delivery company.

                                                                                                                      

The beach could no longer be seen under the delivery bags and other items. The sea glistened still but was often interrupted by floating objects. The sun was sometimes obscured by the haze of a smoke plume from a regional centre’s factory, six hours drive away.

                                                                                                                      

You see, it was a Wednesday. Very similar to the previous Wednesday and would be very similar to the next. It was also very similar to the Tuesday and the Thursday that surrounded it on either side like a barrier of days set in time that at once duplicated, mirrored and were themselves as much as they were different creatures individually.


There were people on the beach near the bins with the large placards stating which material should be placed in each bin. The previous year the daughter of the man who no longer ate from the tiffin box had taken her sister to the beach and started to collect the delivery bags and other discarded items. Now, every day was the same. People came to the beach and ensured that the delivery bags were placed into the correct bin to be collected or took reusable containers back home with them after their visit to the sandy shore. There were newly planted trees there now too that had been planted along the path that had been a university graduates walk home at one point of time.

                                                                                                                      

You see, it was a Wednesday. Very similar to the previous Wednesday and would be very similar to the next. It was also very similar to the Tuesday and the Thursday that surrounded it on either side like a barrier of days set in time that at once duplicated, mirrored and were themselves as much as they were different creatures individually.


There had been a village once. It had one farm. It had one market. It had grown. It was now a regional centre. Two sisters visited a family factory that processed produce from the largest farm in the region. They had visited a stream that was filled with delivery bags and discarded items, nobody swam in it now and no animals could be heard. They had wandered around the farm that no longer yielded the quantities of crops as yesteryear. They spoke about what had happened on the beach and the rest of the city by the sea. They cared for the people in the village and developed a plan, sitting under a single tree next to the factory walls.

                                                                                                                       

You see, it was a Wednesday. Very similar to the previous Wednesday and would be very similar to the next. It was also very similar to the Tuesday and the Thursday that surrounded it on either side like a barrier of days set in time that at once duplicated, mirrored and were themselves as much as they were different creatures individually.


The memory of an eight member family walking along a dirt road with an oblong shaped puddle of water lingered like a fictional story instead of a matter of fact. Certainly not like the beginning of a story about a family that were the foundation of production and revenue for the regional centre.


The memory of the conversation under the single tree beside the factory resounded more resolutely as a factual event. Yet, it was often hard to tell. It had been a key event. In a key village. In a key region. One that was the same as other villages and cities that had had similar movements. Everyone was at once duplicated, mirrored and were themselves as much as they were different creatures individually. They fought their own battles against delivery bags and other adversaries. They found their own solutions.


That farm had a higher yield again. The stream no longer had delivery bags and discarded objects floating in the water or caught on the wet banks. The factory no longer belched smoke.

                                                                                                                       

You see, it was a Wednesday. The child of one of the daughters who spoke under the single tree at the factory was born. The child was born in the city by the sea, in a building with trees all around it. There was a clean river that ran down to the beach along the nature corridor that had been created by the child’s mother with help from the organisation she ran that worked collaboratively with the local municipality and many businesses including the delivery company. There were birds and animal noises all around.


The day was very different than previous Wednesdays and would be different to the next. It was far removed from those Wednesdays in the village generations before. It was even further removed from the Wednesday where they had sat under a single tree next to the factory a few years before. Change happened quickly. Change happened everywhere.


                                                                                                                     

In a regional town that had once been a village there were trees all around. Birds and animals could be heard beside a stream that ran as a protected area through the centre of a large farm. Children swam in it daily after school, both boys and girls, with their laughter mixing in time with chirps of native birds and subtle grunts and clicks from a growing population of animals in the undergrowth. It is a Wednesday.

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A Brief Look At The SDGs and the Circular Economy (in India): Goal 1

A Brief Look At The SDGs and the Circular Economy (in India): Goal 1

  • First up in Bare Necessities- Zero Waste India series on SDGs in relation to zero waste, circular economy methodology and sustainability is Goal 1: No Poverty.

By formalising waste collecting networks and ensuring that segregation of household material occurs throughout India people on the lowest socioeconomic levels in this country (India) will be in a position to earn more in a structured environment in order to lift themselves out of poverty.


A simplified example of this is, if a middle income level family composted their organic waste from their meals the day before they could give their dry, recyclable waste to a waste collector who can take it to the dry waste centre for payment (sound familiar? The key is to segregate organic waste from dry materials, this ensures that the material retains its value. If it is contaminated the value decreases).


The dry waste centre that is well connected with businesses who can reuse the material will be able to send it off to that location having evaluated the quality of the material and selling it at that value (creating mutually beneficial partnerships between stages of this cycle is pivotal for the money to trickle down).


The business can then reuse the material to be sold back to that same middle income family when they next go to the market (reusing material, such as a glass milk bottle from a milkman, will eliminate the need for the business to spend money buying new material).


This process can allow the waste collector at the beginning of this loop to be paid more and know that he/ she can absorb external shocks that may harm his/ her family’s livelihood. These simple steps provide the tools that individuals across the country need to lift themselves out of poverty, but it requires all of us to do our part in the circle described above.

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'MASKED' - A SERIES OF INTERVIEWS WITH INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN. PART 3

'MASKED' - A SERIES OF INTERVIEWS WITH INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN. PART 3

Now here is a lady who has donned many hats when it came to expressing herself. Working as an architect in her initial years, she started to love volunteering more than her actual job. That’s when she quit architecture post working as a volunteer at an NGO called U&I. Then life was just a matter of consecutive happenings for her. A Masters in Special Education & Inclusion and thereafter acting, commercials, comedy sketches and the list goes on.

A bit more about her. Head over to her Instagram handle https://www.instagram.com/madhuri.official/

Meet Madhuri Braganza, our next inspirational woman of the ‘Masked’ series. Brave and outgoing, she is an amazingly helpful person. We met her when she supported one of our crowd funding campaigns. A proposal e-mail to her explaining our concept for the month was just enough to receive a yes from her end. She was equally excited to be a part of this series as we were to have her.

 

So, on 27 April at 1 pm, we were all set to continue our shoot with our third woman hustler. The chosen product was Terracotta with the goodness of Multani Mitti. Did we mention that we didn’t use even an inch of make-up for the shoots? The look and feel was completely kept natural from the scratch. 

Terracotta Body Scrub with the goodness of Multani Mitti

Excerpts from the Q&A session and from the shoot. 

Q:  Tell us a little about what you do, and how you got started? 

 Ans: I am a special educator, music therapist and an actor. I got started when I was working as an architect and started loving my volunteering more than my work. I used to volunteer at a govt. home for mentally challenged boys every Sunday with an NGO called U&I and then because of how much I loved it, I gave architecture a backseat and did my masters in Special Education and Inclusion. Acting happened first with commercials, then comedy sketches and that eventually evolved into feature films. I love both fields and wouldn't want it any other way! :)

 

Q: “What is your self-care routine to restore balance, given your busy schedule? (It could be anything from yoga, to going for nice walks or treating yourself to some coffee, massage, occasional weekend facemasks, etc)”

 

Ans: “To unwind from my busy schedule I usually go for a full body deep tissue massage, sing a karaoke night or just have a long hot shower with some nice scrubs, bath salts or essential oils and make sure I sleep really well. I love working out too. It de-stresses me so much! :)”

 

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Solutions (in a white object and why we should care)

Solutions (in a white object and why we should care)

The object was white- not a dense white, it had flecks of grey as well- it had been lofted. Not hurled. Not thrown. Not aimed. Not even propelled with malice. Simply lofted. That’s all I would call it, nothing more, nothing less. It reached its zenith at my chest level at the same moment my left foot touched the pavement a short distance in front of my right. The pavement was uneven. The grey concrete lifted at an angle toward the cream wall to the left. Toward the door frame that the object, the white object- with flecks of grey- had been lofted from.

 

My mind followed the object back in time- back to the point where my right foot had placed itself on an earlier piece of pavement, this piece leaning toward the road. The road where the white object with small flecks of grey would land on a medium sized pile of other nameless objects in the gutter. Next to the cars. Next to the rickshaws. Next to the scooters. Right there where it would wait for some unknown individual to sweep it up, place it in a cart laden with other objects, and from there it would take its next journey away from the place where it was lofted from- my mind closed around the image of a man with a small white object in his hand that was about to be lofted, and then it returned to the present.

 

The object reached my chestline and rushed passed. It began its descent. It could have been a milk based dessert. It could have been curd rice. I don’t know. And really, that is beside the point. I’m not angry with the bag of white food with its flecks of grey. I’m not annoyed or grumpy with the man who had lofted it- never seeming to notice me- toward the gutter. I’m not bemused by the shopkeeper who had sold the product in a bag instead of only selling the product to be eaten in a reusable bowl at the shop’s counter. I’m not even surprised- it has happened to me more times than I can count.

 

How is it that I can walk down the street knowing that if my left foot needed to step a slightly longer distance to avoid something on the pavement, I would have been connecting with the white object with grey flecks during the midpoint of its journey from hand to pavement, and still be happy walking down that street?

 

I could find countless answers to such a question but the reality is that that is the system that is here. There is no formal waste collection. There are no bins on street corners. There are no signs highlighting how to segregate one product from the next. So why, I ask you, should the man who had lofted the bag care about a bag that he knows is going to be swept up by an informally employed waste picker at a later date? Why should the shopkeeper change practices away from an economical method of selling goods?

 

The fact is that this event could have occurred anywhere. Well, not anywhere. There are numerous locations around the world where there are formal structures of waste collection. Where there are signs raising awareness. Yet, I cannot guarantee where all that waste goes to. Similarly, I cannot guarantee that a person placing a white object with grey flecks into a bin to be collected by a formally paid waste collector is going to care about where that bag goes more than the man who lofted the bag in front of my chest yesterday.

 

We should all care, we are not in little bubbles of our own that never interact with one another.

 

I researched and found a recently published article last week stating that marine plastic pollution costs the world up to 174 377 036 102 500 Rupees a year (2,506,556,072,524 USD) (source). Looking into this further I promptly sought out the world population- 7.7 billion as of May 2019 according to the most recent United Nations estimates elaborated by Worldometers (source)- Therefore 174 377 036 102 500/ 7 700 000 000= 22 646 Rupees (324 USD) per person per year, which is a conservative estimate, and marine pollution only! And this is if we only care about the costs from our personal bank accounts!

 

Perhaps this fact would have made the man who lofted the white bag with little flecks of grey care. Perhaps it would make an individual in another location of the world care as he/ she placed a white bag in a bin to be collected by a formally employed garbage collector. I think either is as likely. From what I have found- and yes this is all very subjective. I am happy to be wrong- is that either is as likely as one another. If I asked both people to read and absorb this fact into their consciousness, they are as likely to change their habits in the initial instance. They are as likely to walk back to the shop and ask to eat the white meal with flecks of grey in a bowl on the shop’s counter. How likely is it that either of them continue this practice a week from now or a year? I have no idea. I doubt that without reiteration of these types of facts any of us- myself included- will form habits that will adjust the system enough for a long term adjustment, no matter where we are standing on our planet.

 

Next time there is a white object lofted. Not hurled. Not thrown. Not aimed. Not even propelled with malice. Simply lofted reaching its zenith at my chest level. The best way I have found to help change the system (fix perhaps?) is not to be grumpy, angry or annoyed. Nor is it to try and connect my chest with the object so that the man is (finally) aware that he had lofted the bag away and had almost hit a passerby. It is simply by strategically thinking about that scenario and working out solutions to that problem. There are solutions to all of these problems and they need to be put into practice by all of us understanding the reasons why we need to find new methods. We also need to care about how all moments that we are walking through are intrinsically interconnected- there is never only a white object with little flecks of grey being lofted through the air independent of everything else that surrounds it.

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'Masked' - A Series of interviews with inspirational women. Part 2

'Masked' - A Series of interviews with inspirational women. Part 2

“A good hot bath always makes me feel better at the end of a rough day. I like to add essential oils to my bath water and it always works like a charm to de-stress :)

A creative soul and our very own Visual Director at Bare Necessities, Vanmayi Shetty was the second lady under the spotlight. She is one who is always behind the camera clicking away the most charming pictures of our Bare products. Since the past one year, she has been the one to elevate or brand aesthetics and visual language to another level.

So, that’s when we thought why not for a change we get her in front of the lens? And, the ‘Masked’ series did seem like the perfect opportunity to get to know Vanmayi a bit more – on what is her natural process to restore balance after a long tiring day. Free-spirited as she is, it was fun shooting her playing around with the products and giving out bits of information on taking the perfect portraits. The chosen product was Multani Mitti Face Pack.

 

Meet Vanmayi. Our second woman influencer of the 'Masked' series

Multani Mitti Face Pack

Her work does speak volumes about the person she is. Intense, soulful and highly creative. Her intelligent use of palette shows the amount of thought she has been putting behind every work she does. And, it was a delight to get to know a bit about her mantra on natural skincare.

Also, a peek into her life. You can check out her beautiful work here: https://www.vanmayi.com/

You can also check out her work on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vanmayii/

Excerpts from the Q&A session and from the shoot.

Q:  Tell us a little about what you do, and how you got started?

Ans: I'm a Visual Artist working with multiple mediums like painting, photography and found object art. Most recently I've started working on a new project where I'm merging my love for storytelling with hand poke tattoos.

Q: “What is your self-care routine to restore balance, given your busy schedule? (It could be anything from yoga, to going for nice walks or treating yourself to some coffee, massage, occasional weekend face masks, etc)”

Ans: A good hot bath always makes me feel better at the end of a rough day. I like to add essential oils to my bath water and it always works like a charm to de-stress :)

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