Celebrating World Environment Day

It’s World Environment Day today. What have you done? A token gesture like planting a sapling that you will forget to water tomorrow? Or switching off your computer today but leaving it on for 48 hours the next time you switch it on?

Do go here and pledge something today if you can. Something that you mean to carry though. Either, keeping your AC on 25 degrees, or growing a kitchen garden in a window, or cleaning your bathroom without chemicals. Anything that you find sustainable. I find that choosing something you enjoy works best. Personally, I do a lot of these things simply because I enjoy living this way. Even if you don’t, make the effort to do something for Mother Earth.

Here’s something I’d like to share from my own home. We use desert coolers instead of airconditioners until the monsoon months bring humidity. In this case, the waste water from our RO system is going directly into the tank of the desert cooler. And guess what, my maid came up with this! She saw me religiously filling RO water into buckets for swabbing and washing clothes and she figured this was simpler. So right.


51 thoughts on “Celebrating World Environment Day

  1. πŸ™‚ at the pic πŸ™‚

    I always carry my own cloth bag while I go out shopping, and my own water bottle. I don’t litter on the roads, and patiently wait till I get home if I want to throw out something. I am working on a kitchen garden, experimenting rather, and it has actually been loads of hard work but loads of fun too. Apart from that, I try to use natural light and air as much as possible, and switch off lights and fans quite religiously when they aren’t required.

    Not much, but still I am happy I am religiously following certain little things.

    • I do all those things except the kitchen garden, and I picked it all up from the way I saw my momma live… never had to be taught that. It just feels natural that way… it feels weird when people don’t do these things! I also wash and collect the milk pouches, then give them away to the maid who can sell it off to the vendor who sends them for recycling. My atta and dog food bags are regularly handed over to the watchman who smartly puts them to good use… making mats and other things.

        • Yeah, I think a lot of us picked up this “green” habits from our parents, and their rationale may not have been saving the environment but saving money but whatever works! When I first moved to Hong Kong I went crazy with the freedom and funds to waste but after a few years I reverted to the way I was brought up – like reusing boxes, using both sides of paper etc. and added some new ones like sorting waste.

  2. Our house is totally green even though I don’t do much. My husband is totally green and these are the following steps by which the house tries to stay green.
    – Green dishwashing liquid, detergents, bathroom cleaning stuff
    – No water bottles; We use water filter to filter tap water and if we are travelling buy a BIG can rather than small bottles so much that my husband volunteers for any get-together or team outing or party to bring water and buys these cans because most people seem to like the small bottles which is sheer waste of money, plastic and water.
    – Kitchen cloth towels instead of paper
    – Hybrid Car
    – Kitchen Garden
    -Take cloth bags with us when we go grocery shopping
    – Green diapers,wipes,soap,cream etc for the baby ( I have to say this – initially I was skeptical of green diapers because we are so used to thinking diapers means huggies and pampers. This looks like it is made of recycled paper and I used to feel odd initially when his “not sparkling white” diaper had to be exposed at the Doctor’s office or while he is playing etc. But now I am a big fan of this. Unlike other diapers, this smells only of urine when it is wet. We had sent few to my SIL in Trivandrum and there was a huge strike in trivandrum by the garbage disposal guys and for days noone picked garbage and people had to burn waste or resort to other stuff. SIL said pampers/huggies could not be burnt and the green ones we sent used to totally burn with no chemical smell.
    – Have seperate trash cans in the house for paper,bottles,kitchen bio-degradable waste and we take the paper and bottles to a recycle place (once every week)
    – My husband gets books like ” how to go green” or ” how to make your parents go green” for friend’s kids. Some parents have come and told us that after reading the books, the kids asked some changes to be done in their house.
    Sorry for such a long comment, I started and could not stop πŸ™‚

      • Thanks … πŸ™‚ though all of it is initiated and implemented by the green OA of my house. As I said until recently I was a causeless rebel. Also, we don’t use the dryer. Saw Arun’s comment and remembered. The lazy bum that I am, I don’t do the hanging part. It is so cute to see my 20 month old and his dad carry the laundry basket outside and then the little one hands out one cloth at a time and the dad hangs it.

    • What a nice list. We do all of this, except the hybrid car. The green diapers was a revelation to me too. But actually writing it out and glancing at it periodically will make sure that we dont accidentally forget something, so I am going to do just that (for example, I take a water bottle when I go out, so I can just fill water in it. But I dont always remember). Other things we do

      – the house is at 68 degree (F) even in the winter, and at night we reduce it to 62
      – I take a coffee and tea mug when I go out to get coffee
      – We are part of a community supported agriculture, so we get local, organic, produce all summer
      – We buy local vegetables and fruits as much as possible, and as a result, almost always cook using seasonal veggies. For example, very little tomatoes in the winter, and almost no root vegetables in the summer
      – We take the bus to work whenever we can (i.e., when it is not raining)
      – We are a one car household (which is probably not such a big deal in India, but in the US, most families seem to have two cars)

      And finally, our 20 month old knows what things are be discarded as trash and which ones are recyclable πŸ™‚

      • Saumya,

        I buy all green products from seventh generation – online store. Not seen their products otherwise.

    • Anamika,
      Great list. One thing we do is we cloth diaper our child. She is 6 months old and apart from the package of diapers the hospital gave us to take home, I am proud to say we have not bought a single disposable diaper/disposable wipes. I use cloth wipes and diapers. Cloth diapers in this day and age are NOT like what our mom’s used. They are VERY easy to use and most times are more absorbent (AND CUTER) than the disposalbe ones. I am not sure if you get them in India but I am in the US and they are readily available.

      • Hey
        Am in the US. One of my friends had recommended cloth diapers. But somehow I could not bring myself to getting ok with the washing of soiled diapers in the washer. I know it is not a big deal -same as cloth sanitary napkins or menstrual cups are not for many. But I haven’t yet reached that level … Probably by the time for the next kid πŸ™‚

  3. Does buying a Merc 4X4 and watching the whole neighborhood and friend circle ‘going green’ counts?
    …. Yup.. I knew that was a lame attempt

    • Nahi? I was so happy when she did. When she first began work with me it was a fight to get her to not waste water. And the problem is, either you do it yourself, or give up on the maids. But I gently and persistently reminded her and it worked! In this case I have to admit, she had an open mind and was willing to learn.

      • Yep! A tip of the hat to you for your patience and persistence πŸ™‚ There’s got to be a like button for the comments and posts here, MM.

  4. On a serious note, I always had my coffee mug at work place, which I washed/rinsed every morning instead of using the use&throw styrofoam cups common during 90s/00s. At home, I always did the dishes using hand soap as it used less water.. only using the dishwasher when i/we had a full load. Once we bought the house, barring the winters and rainy days, always hanged the clothes to dry in backyard. This all did when it was not fashionable, and friends would just make fun.. but i continued.. just to save water and conserve energy

  5. And yeah, the coffee cup and water bottle at work too. I also collect bottles and give them away once every few months. I’ve had quite a few battles sparking off because the collection box takes up a corner in the house, but I’ve stuck to my guns. Most of the spare plastic bags get used in waste segregation. Oh, and I especially bought a two-wheeler to use during the non-monsoon days so that I consume less than half the fuel that my car guzzles.
    Then again, I simply don’t ‘get’ why people wouldn’t want to care for their own planet? Do they love living in filth or do they think the resources are going to last forever? We won’t be around when this planet becomes a hell-hole, so why bother… is that the logic?

  6. Thats an awesome idea MM πŸ™‚ such a simple way to save water…I am impressed..

    One question – How can we wash the bathrooms without chemicals? *Seems to be a stupid question, but then if one doesnt ask, one doesnt know na*

  7. Some of my efforts at being environmentally responsible:
    – I never switch on the air-conditioner either at office or at home, except in summer. In office, I insist on keeping the temperature at 24C and switch it off every few hours. At home I keep it at 18C and switch off as soon as the room cools.
    – I am also fanatical about using as much natural light and breeze as possible; and switch on lights and fans only where necessary.
    – I try to minimise our usage of other electrical appliances also (especially the microwave) but living in a large joint family means that this isn’t really in my control.
    – I never, ever litter. I always put it in a dustbin, and in the common scenario of not finding a dustbin close by, I actually put it in my bag and take it home! I also shamelessly nag and harass everyone around me into not littering the streets.
    – I try to take my own carry bag with me when I know I am going shopping. I often forget to do it, but even then I refuse plastic bags in shops, unless I am buying a lot of stuff and can’t carry it all in my hands.
    – I also carry my own water bottle as much as possible so I can refill the water, instead of buying more plastic.
    – I am very conscious of all my use of paper and plastic products and cut down my use where possible. Such as washing my hands and drying them with a cloth towel instead of tissues, not serving anything paper/plastic cups or plates when we have people over for dinner, using cloth instead of tissues for cleaning, etc.

    I know this is very little stuff and I have a long way to go. But it’s also very inspiring to see all the other ideas out here, some of which I can definitely implement.

    • Recently I even tried to change my fridge bottles to glass, but I realised the kids are too young to be trusted with glass bottles so had to switch back to plastic 😦

      • I think plastic is okay as long as it’s not very flimsy and can be used for a long long time. Because the other options – glass or steel – may not always be the best. You can’t carry a glass or steel water bottle with you everywhere, can you? So flimsy bisleri bottles: BAD but sturdy long-term-use fridge bottles: OK. I make sure my plastic stuff gets used until it is unusable, or use it until I don’t need it anymore and then give it to the maid if she needs it. It almost always goes out to for recycling after that.

        The other thing I do now is, whatever plastic bags I get, because vendors insist on packing different stuff separately or because it is sometimes they’re a necessary evil (like maybe one time in twenty), I collect, fold & store them until they reach a decent number. Then I take them to my neighbourhood veggie shop lady and give it to her to reuse. Saves her money, and I don’t have to worry about having ‘wasted’ plastic. Plastic covers of rice, dal etc are handed over to the maid who sells them to the raddiwalla. She can do with the cash, and I’m happy doing the recycling.

        One area where I fail to get my own no-plastic or minimum-plastic rule implemented is garbage disposal. Because I don’t have the space to compost, and because the bin is not very near and because there are too many mosquitoes and fruit flies around, the best option as of now seems to be to line my bin with a plastic bag and then throw the thing. I hate doing this, but don’t see another option that works as well. Also the garbage pick-up guy doesn’t have any segregation thing happening, so everything gets piled and dumped somewhere. What can I do in this situation? Any suggestions?

        • //I collect, fold & store them until they reach a decent number. Then I take them to my neighbourhood veggie shop lady and give it to her to reuse.//
          Great idea! I used to do that with milk pouches, and reuse other plastics for wet and dry garbage, but I had to throw away some of the smaller bags (of packed stuff like daal etc.). Will now use your idea and hand them over to the local subziwala so that he doesn’t have to spend on newer plastics!

  8. oh boy. I’m not the greenest person around, and reading this list has made me feel more conscious of how un-green my life is.
    And in Dubai, going green is not of the highest priority. It’s so easy to just pay the extra buck for plastic bags than to remember to carry cloth bags with you all the time. And there are families I know of with a car per head. So a family of 4 have 4 cars!

    I don’t have plants. I use chemicals in to clean up the house… and I use paper towels in the kitchen. sigh

    Okay… so now that I’ve listed out all the things I do wrong, I’m going to make a sincere effort to make it right.

    • Its never easy. For instance it was months before I could remember the cloth bag thing. Now I have about 8-10 cloth bags in the boot of the car and one of those little foldable bags in my handbag. Can’t go wrong.

  9. This might be of interest in the context of environment.

    There is some interesting work being done by Dr. Bjorn Lomborg (http://www.lomborg.com/) on global warming. He has challenged the traditional ways to reduce global warming – which he analyses to be “elaborate and expensive ….. costing hundreds of billions of dollars, …. often based on emotional rather than strictly scientific assumptions, and may very well have little impact on the world’s temperature for hundreds of years”. He identifies certain alternatives and argues that money should rather be spend “more immediate concerns, such as fighting malaria and HIV/AIDS and assuring and maintaining a safe, fresh water supply-which can be addressed at a fraction of the cost and save millions of lives within our lifetime”.

    You can check out a movie (coolit-themovie.com) or read the book (goo.gl/8g2tH). I accidentally came across this movie (while on a flight) and then read the book and found his ideas quite compelling. Take a look …

    And thanks for the replies. Made my day πŸ™‚

  10. Mad Momma, your blog is a treasure trove of information.I am quite environmentally conscious,but thought I was a dying breed…Super excited to see so many people who think alike and what awesome stuff too….Totally loved the post and everyone’s comments.
    I’ve always wanted a green toilet cleaner.Tried some of the eco friendly ones, but they smelt so bad that i stopped using them. However vinegar sounds like a great option. I use it to clean my glass, but never thought of using it for the toilets. .
    @Anamika – Green diapers sound awesome! What are they? also where could I get them in Mumbai.
    @ Poornima – Love the daily dump website. Thanks for pointing me there – Am going to try my second stint at composting. The first one was an epic failure, so fingers crossed this time around

  11. We carry our own cloth bog, carry water instead of buying bottled water, compost our kitchen waste,try and switch off electrical appliances when they are not being used. I travel by bus and the hubby uses the metro to commute to work.We hardly used any diapers when the son was a little baby( really helped in toilet training him πŸ™‚ )
    Recently we also have started growing veggies on our terrace.We have already harvested some greens and lemons.We are now waiting to harvest our own tomatoes and green chillies.

    We live in a locality where we do not have regular water supply and have to depend on water tankers.This summer, due the water scarcity the water tankers price shot up. We used to hand-wash the son’s clothes and put ours in the machine earlier.Feeling guilty about the water being used by the washing machine( even though we only use it when we have a full load),I started hand washing all our laundry.We then reuse the grey water from the laundry washing to wash the bathrooms.We have also installed rain water harvesting.And its such a happy feeling when we have nice heavy showers and the sump fills up and we know that our water supply for the next couple of days is taken care of.

    This summer, we started another new initiative.We have been frequenting the local Corner House regularly for ice cream.But we always felt uncomfortable with all the plastic cups and spoons that they use even when serving us in the shop itself. So now we carry our own cups and spoons and ask them to serve us our scoops in our cups. We get some odd looks from the other customers, but frankly we feel so much more comfortable now πŸ™‚

    And of course we plant as many trees as possible. πŸ™‚

  12. A few things I do
    Around the house:
    1) Buy all masalas and spices in 200g packets (even mustard, jeera etc) and store them in Jam bottles. Over a period of a couple of years, I have almost 15 jam bottles. Looks very neat in the pantry.
    2) Use natural stuff to clean. A mix of salt + tamarind/lime can get the copper part of a copper bottmoed pan super clean No harsh chemicals needed. Baking soda cleans all appliances, countertops etc really well. You dont even need to wear gloves. Plus since it is used in small amounts in baking etc., it is safe even if trace residues remain. I’ve heard the same for vinegar.
    3) Clean silver lamps etc with a cloth + baking soda + hot water. Silver sparkles. Can be done without gloves too.
    4) Have a recycle bin in each room/floor of your house.
    5) Buy fruits/veggies and milk every 3 days. Not for a week since it tends to rot sooner and also, chances that it will be forgotten at the back of some shelf in your fridge are very high. This is a big one for me. I also plan my meals for a couple of days to the extent I can, so that I canshop accordingly.
    6) Cut an old bedsheet into many small towel sized cloths. Use in your kitchen and bathrooms for any cleaning that you would have otehrwise used a paper towel. I stopped buying 12 pack paper towels at costco. If you buy only 2 rols at a time, you will use fewwer too.
    Sorry, long comment, But I hope this has been useful. I loved a couple of ips I got here too which I totally intend to try. Another comment for kid related green stuff will follow. Thanks for a good topic MM, with more awareness, we will make our planet better.
    -Kuttys mom

  13. continuing from previous comment
    For kids:
    1I) I dont use wipes unless outside where i cannot find a tap. I always wash baby with a little water and pat dry with an old cotton cloth (made from veshti/dhoti cloth). I swear by this, my kids have never got diaper rash – mos wipes contain fragrance/chemicals not suitable for tender areas of the skin.. this is the most comfy for them + environment.
    2) This one I am still working on – I dont buy more dresses for my daughter that I know she needs. Pretty pink is easy to buy, but I make sure I’m regular with laundry and my kid has only 6-7 sets at a time. 2 for party wear. Thats it. Still cutting down, because every now and then I get into impulse buying 😦
    3) Toys – I have seen my kids’ friends who have 2 full rooms of toys and are yet found bored on weekends. More toys is not more fun for them. I have become more diligent about buying fewer, keeping toys well-organized (like montessori). Thats what seems to keep my kids engaged better. I have been able to keep them at less than 1 hour of tv each day (knock on wood) whers frinds wiht way more toys and entertainment, are still hooked on the electronics. Not judging anyone, just sharing what worked for me so far, and what seems to be better for plant too.
    4) teaching my kids to recycle. I beam with pride every time my 5 yr old asks me ‘should this go in trash or recycle’. They get it, believe me. Even a 2 year old can be taught to not thrown kachra around.
    5) Gently telling to-be parents about babiesrus and similar companies’ marketing gimmcks. Go to babiesrus when you’re pregnant and they’ll make you spend a fortune. Cribs, high chairs blah blah. as if your kid will not have motor skills if you dont buy that fisher price toy. Anyway, this is a hard one, but I remember how I got into buying a few useless things before my 1st was born, and tend to caution other to-be aprents too. Dont get me wrong, I know 1st kid is exciting etc. but I wish someone had told me about intelligent shopping or atleats being wary of this kind of stuff. Most stuff can be bought after the kid is born and you get a better idea of what you need. That way, we’d be able to avoid wastage too.
    -Kutty’s mom

  14. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We diligently recycle all paper products. All bottles, recyclable plastic goes into the recycle bin on Trash day. We do not leave water running when brushing teeth, strict 10 minute showers. And we throw trash in grocery bags that are made out of recycled paper. Energy saving bulbs all over the house. The AC is hardly ever used thanks to the cooler weather prevailing in our part of the world. Even in winter, the thermostat is kept at an optimum temperature that consumes less power and we bundle up in socks, full sleeved clothes and stash blankets all over the house for usage in cold weather

  15. Nice to see so many green ideas here. This summer, my husband and MIL were majorly pissed with me for stubbornly refusing to agree to install AC in at least one room. We live in Bangalore which has pretty good weather almost all year, so I do not see the point at all. But next summer, I should try out the desert cooler thing. Looks so cool.

    At my place, all the vegetable peels, etc go on to become manure for the 150+ pots that make up our (I should say MIL’s) garden. No special processing required, we just toss the peels into the pots. But I am considering buying a Daily dump product soon. MIL once grew cabbages in pots with no manure/pesticide other than onion peels. We also get beans, radish and greens regularly, not to mention 30 different kinds of flowers from our tiny garden.

    We used diapers for my son during nights, but during the day he would just wear a cloth diaper. My daughter got toilet trained at a very young age. So far, we bought only 2 packs of diapers for her (one because she was to undergo a small surgery, but she did not use it anyway).

    Does vinegar+citric acid work for bathrooms? The water we use is a little hard, and leaves white stains on the taps and the bathroom tiles. I do not want to use extra chemicals for that, so they remain dirty 😦

    • I apply tooth paste (Colgate plain -calcium one)on the taps leave it for minute, then clean it with old tooth brush, rinse & wipe with old thin cotton cloth. My tap will be as good as new!

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