THE WASTE ISSUE- a workbook on solid waste management

Authors: Sangeeta Venkatesh, Padma Shastry, Nivedita Rathaur

Design: Anjali Shastry

The Editor’s Quill

Hello, young friends!

Solid waste has been an eyesore in our cities for some years now. There are mountains of garbage everywhere we look. With increasing population, all the waste we produce in our daily lives is taking over our streets and landfills. Do we really want to live our entire lives in the midst of garbage piles? Do we want our families to suffer from diseases caused by vermin which the garbage attracts? Do we want to breathe the smelly malodorous air caused by rotting garbage? Do you want your oceans and other water bodies contaminated with waste? Haven’t we had enough?

This workbook has been created in order to acquaint you with the extent of the problem and possible solutions to alleviate the issue. It is filled with stories, activities, information, puzzles and more. You will learn how our modern lifestyle is contributing to the problem of ever-increasing garbage. You will also learn what you can do as an individual or in a group to control the problem.  

So pick up this workbook, learn all about solid waste, and become a cleanliness warrior! Recruit your own army of cleanliness warriors and change the city. You have the power!  Write to us at sangeetavenkatesh7@gmail.com for awareness workshops or copies of the book.

P.S: PDFs are also available after payment.

Series- Resetting the Planet after COVID-19: Treating our Wastewater Effectively via DTS Technology

The following article appeared in the e-zine CSR Mandate.

The presence of SARS COV-2, the virus which leads to the disease Covid19 has been demonstrated to be present in untreated wastewater (sewage), as also antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria. This article (link below) describes how we can treat wastewater safely using a patent pending technology called DTS ( decentralised wastewater technology) developed by Ecoparadigm Pvt. Ltd.

The events of the past few months has clearly shown that the Earth can look after herself well. It is we who need to step off our high horses to protect ourselves. The anthropocentric narrative is no longer true- and we are merely a cog in the wheel of the Universe.

You can read the article in all its details in the following link.

http://www.csrmandate.org/resetting-the-planet-after-covid-19-treating-our-wastewater-effectively-via-dts-technology/

For more details please look up http://www.ecoparadigm.com

Image copyright @Ecoparadigm

Series- Resetting the Planet after SARS-COV2 (Covid-19): Change to Bioenzyme based Cleaners

Disclaimer: The priority right now is to tackle SARS-COV2 according to WHO guidelines. This article is to highlight why bioenzyme-based cleaners are a better choice to keep pathogenic microbes at bay and keeping our water sources free from chemicals.

Transitioning to Bioenzyme

As I write this piece, most countries are under a lock-down. The SARS- COV 2 Virus (Covid-19) has changed our lives in recent times like nothing before. Yes, there have been wars, natural disasters, but this occurrence is a truly humbling one, where a small virus has brought human kind to a grinding halt. The advisory to halt the spread of the virus includes thorough hand-washing with soap and water.

But think about it -does everyone have access to safe water? According to World Bank estimates over 21 percent of communicable diseases in India are linked to unsafe water and the lack of hygiene practices. Further, more than 500 children under the age of five die each day from diarrhoea in India alone. I suspect that very soon we will not have enough safe water to wash our hands!

Safe water is still a dream in many parts of the world

We have let our lakes and rivers die by letting our domestic and industrial waste-water into precious water bodies. As ordinary citizens can we do something to stop this? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’! One change that we can make is the stop of chemical cleaners and detergents in our daily life. And the article speaks about this.  

In nature there is a happy balance of good microbes and pathogens. The good microbes overrun pathogens in number. There are nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the roots of plants that play a major role in nature, the lactobacilli convert milk to curd, your gut bacteria help in digestion of food, keeps you healthy and there are microbes that also maintain reproductive health. Do you know that nearly 10,000 different species of bacteria and other microbes occupy the human body? But in our effort to sanitize our environment with chemical cleaners, we are also effectively killing the good microbes around us. And this imbalance gives power to pathogens to overtake good microbes. Additionally, the chemical cleaners that we send off as grey-water in our environments is fast polluting our water bodies as well. Have you ever thought about what happens to soapy water after it is flushed down the drain? Did you know it can pose severe health hazards to the lives of fishes and other aquatic organisms and pollute water bodies?

A study by the Indian Institute of Science, on the lakes in Bangalore showed that the inflow of sewage brought in a host of natural as well as synthetic organic compounds. The frothing in the lakes happens due to the surfactants in the detergents that mainly consist of phosphates. Common detergents contain branch-chained alkyl sulphonates that are non-biodegradable and results in persistent foam. Other agents such as bleach are very corrosive, and can affect the body. Moreover, if mixed with other cleaning products, it’ll react with it and release dangerous gases like ammonia and chlorine. Glass-cleaners have isopropyl alcohol, monoethanolamine, and butyl alcohol. You could do your research and see how safe they are. Indeed many of these chemicals are carcinogenic.

So, are there sustainable alternatives that do not kill the good bacteria and also clean the environment you live in? The answer is a resounding yes – and that is Bioenzyme based cleaners. What is Bioenzyme? Well, the clue is in the name. ‘Bio’ means living and ‘enzymes’ are chemical substances that hasten the breakdown of complex molecules into simpler one. Quite like the enzymes that our stomachs produce to digest food. Bio-enzymes contain both good bacteria and a lot of enzymes that can clean very well, very quickly and is completely odour free.  So, how does the process work? The following protocol is obtained from the book ‘The Waste Issue’ (2018), authored by Sangeeta Venkatesh (author of this piece), Padma Shastry and Nivedita Rathaur.

Essentially fruit peels (usually citrus) are placed in air-tight containers with jaggery and water, where the good bacteria begin to act and break down all the food matter using enzymes. The purpose of jaggery is to provide “simple” carbon source or energy for the microorganisms to first feed and grow. The air tight container is left for three months. If you are a beginner, you could start with the proportions given below.

 Materials Required:

 1) 300 grams jaggery

 2) 900 grams of vegetable/ fruit remains (citrus will give a pleasant odour)

3) 3 litres of water

 4) 5 litre capacity plastic container

During the fermentation process, give this a mix ever 2-3 days. After three months, all the food matter is completely digested by a process called fermentation. What is left inside the container is a lot enzyme and a lot of good bacteria. This can be diluted and used to clean the toughest stains, odours, utensil, and clothes while destroying harmful bacteria. If you have used citrus, then the enzyme has a pleasant citrus odour. And it is completely environment-friendly! Amazing isn’t it? If you want lather, you can add extract of soapnut (Sapindus). Release of Bioenzyme into the environment after use is perfectly safe and, in many cases, also helps rejuvenate polluted bodies.

Says Lakshmi Sankaran of Praanapoorna Collective, which makes a host of natural cleaners, “Ever since man has introduced chemicals into his life, his action has affected the ecosystem. The web of life is so interconnected, that man’s action directly affects the ecosystem – the soil, the water around us.” She further explains that by using soapnut, shikakai, woodash in combination with Bio-Enzyme, it can help us replace all the chemical cleaners used in our living spaces on daily basis. In addition these cleaners are not ‘dead’ and instead energise and rejuvenate living spaces.

The bacteria in the bioenzyme cocktail clean up waste and soiled items by producing enzymes specifically designed to break down molecules (wastes/soils) into smaller pieces. These smaller pieces become ‘food’ for the bacteria. 

However, it is important to know that the enzymes in these cleaners are not living things and cannot grow or reproduce on their own, like the bacterial micro-organisms do. The end product usually has alcohol, acetic acid or both. Both compounds are known for their cleaning and anti-microbial properties.

By the use of Bioenzymes, there occurs a natural competition for food and resources, where the non-pathogenic “good” bacteria helps to displace pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria, which benefits human health. Nature’s way of demonstrating that ‘good’ wins over ‘bad’, – if only we humans will allow it to happen.

Natural Bioenzyme-based Products from Praanapoorna

‘Soil and Soul’, another Bangalore based organisation founded by Preeti Rao also makes a host of home care products. Do check out her article on chemical-free living.

Bioenzyme-based cleaners from ‘Soil and Soul’

Apart from its use as cleaners, Bioenzymes has a plethora of other uses as listed below.

  1. Use as room fresheners (1 part bioenzyme : 3 parts water, leave in an open container)
  2. Removes pesticide residue from vegetables and fruits
  3. Safe to use when you have pets at home
  4. Enriches soil quality (15 ml in 1 litre water)
  5. Also a pesticide for plants (can spray a diluted solution)
  6. Acts on oil and grime on vessels
  7. Clears blocked drains when used directly without dilution
  8. Removes limescale on taps

The highlight is that the cleaner is made from organic fruit or vegetable waste and can be made at home and using your fruit or vegetable or even flower waste. For those who cannot attempt it, you can source from organisations that I have mentioned above – at very competitive prices. The bottom line is that the use of Bioenzyme, maintains a healthy population of ‘good microbes’, thereby suppressing pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Hopefully, we will soon overcome Covid-19, but there will be other pathogens that will invade the space where good microbes should. A choice will have to be made now- What will be your choice of cleaner?

Write to me at sangeetavenkatesh7@gmail.com for your copy of ‘The Waste Issue’.

Towards Gender Parity in STEM: Some thoughts on International Women’s Day

Today, March 8th is being observed as the ‘International Women’s Day’. To achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs), as mandated by the United Nation, it absolutely vital that there is gender parity in science and technology. Let us look back at some nuggets from history in our country, of the journey of women into science.

It was in 1911 that my alma mater, the Indian Institute of Science opened its doors to its students and one hostel block was ready for male students who were admitted. However, it would take around three more decades for a women’s hostel to feature in the Institute’s plans. It has not been recorded about who the first lady student was.

However, an anecdote that I read from the June 2018 issue of the magazine ‘Connect- with the Indian Institute of Science’ brought out by the institute, describes an instance of the struggles of Indian women students in the field of science. I quote from the magazine, “Kamala Bhagvat later Kamala Sohonie, had just graduated with a first-class degree from Bombay University when she sought admission to IISc as a research student in biochemistry. C. V. Raman, who was Director at the time, infamously denied Sohonie entry because of her gender. It was only after great persistence from Sohonie and her family that he agreed to admit her, with humiliating restrictions.” The conditions that were laid out were that she would be on a probation for one year. Her work would be recognised only if Raman was satisfied by the quality. In addition, she was told that she should not be a ‘distraction’ for fellow male scientists. It was a slight that Sohonie never forgot. Kamala Sohonie’s graduate work was the study of proteins on milk and legumes that provided a lot of data to prevent malnutrition in India.

Kamala Sohonie- a harbinger for women in science

Years later, at a function organised by the Indian Women Scientists’ Association (IWSA), she is reported to have said: “Though Raman was a great scientist, he was very narrowminded. I can never forget the way he treated me just because I was a woman. This was a great insult to me. The bias against women was so bad at that time. What can one expect if even a Nobel laureate behaves in such a manner?” Perhaps the laureate eas a product of his times. But when Sohonie left IISc in 1936 to study in Cambridge and it took her just 14 months to complete her PhD – a brilliant thesis which was just 40 pages.

So, have things changed from the times of Kamala Sohonie? Let us look at some statistics. According to UNESCO, it is seen that while globally women are actively pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees and even outnumber men at these levels at 53%, their numbers drop off abruptly at PhD level. It is here that we see that suddenly, male graduates (57%) overtake women and the discrepancy widens further at senior research positions where men now represent 72% of the global pool. The high proportion of women in tertiary education is, thus, not necessarily translating into a greater presence in research.  As if the tilt in the real world was not enough, the reel world on screen reflects similar biases. The 2015 ‘Gender Bias Without Borders’ study by the Geena Davis Institute showed that only 12 percent of onscreen characters with an identifiable STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) jobs were women.

While global figures of women in scientific research points to 28%, in India the figures are at an abysmal 14%. This is disappointing as India has a rich tradition of producing exemplary women scientists. An early Indian woman doctorate in basic sciences was Janaki Ammal (in 1931) and the first woman to get her doctorate from an Indian university was Ashima Chatterjee, (in 1944).

So, what is the reason for this drop in numbers of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related pursuits? A recent study by the organisation, Kelly Global Workforce Insights (KGWI) that conducted a survey on Women in STEM, found that women in India tend to drop out of workforce at specific points in their lives, particularly around childbearing years and later at mid-management levels. This attrition, the report says, is largely due to the “double burden syndrome” of women who are constantly struggling to find a balance between work and family, in a culture where both men and women feel the family and household duties are primarily the woman’s responsibility. This is worrisome, as some good talent gets eliminated from the workforce and are ‘lost’ to science.
Fortunately, conversations around these issues are happening. At the 9th Women Science Congress (WSC) organised in January 2020, at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, there was mention of woman exclusive schemes mooted by Department of Science and Technology (DST) such as KIRAN (Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing), with the mandate to bring gender parity in S&T through gender mainstreaming. Different programs and components of KIRAN like Women Scientist Scheme-A (WOS-A), Women Scientist Scheme-B (WOS-B) deal with various crucial issues (break in career due to maternity, familial responsibilities, relocation etc) faced by women scientists in their career path.

The need of the hour in India is the creation of structures that can facilitate negotiation of a career in science in a professional manner, while maintaining a career-family balance. These measures may range from simple matters such as ensuring child-care facilities, to the difficult task of creating awareness in families and society as a whole.

Nothing can be closer to truth than the UNESCO report that says, “Gender equality is more than a question of justice or equity. Countries, businesses and institutions which create an enabling environment for women increase their innovative capacity and competitiveness. Gender equality will encourage new solutions and expand the scope of research. This should be considered a priority by all if the global community is serious about reaching the next set of development goals.”

Every drop counts- An inter-community event in Whitefield, Bangalore; 11th-12th January 2020

A water neutral community

The T-Zed community in Bangalore is well known for a long time for being an ecologically sensitive community. T-Zed is a water-neutral community which means that the water drawn out from the ground is recharged back into it. The community keeps relooking at ways water can be saved. The residents recently held a 2-day event to create awareness about the situation of groundwater in the country and particularly in Bangalore. ‘The Waste Issue‘ was part of the programme too as a participant. Sangeeta Venkatesh, author- ‘The Waste Issue’ was the judge for the 2nd day of events.

Day 1

Day 1 had the water expert Vishwanath Srikantaiah, of the Rainwater club (he is popularly known as ‘Zen Rainman’) was in a conversation with the participants on ‘How to save our borewells from running dry and save our lakes to avoid ground zero..”

Vishwanath stressed that a country has to have ecological literacy, that is the ability to understand the ecosystem, which is a precursor to sustain human communities democratically. Did you know that India, is the largest user of groundwater user and uses more than China? 65 percent of our water consumption comes from groundwater? Moreover, 85 percent of drinking water is from groundwater. He rightly mentioned that water is one substance which touches our lives daily- and as the saying goes- it is everybody’s business. Without it there would be no health, no hygiene and no safe sanitation. It is required for agriculture and basically growth in the economy is directly linked to water and the advent of monsoons.

In Bangalore there are over 10,000 borewells and quite clearly, there is a huge stress on the groundwater. Vishwanath narrated an interesting historical anecdote about how in early days water was sourced from open wells where the level of water was visible and depending upon the quantity people could assess how much to use. However, this stagnant water was also a breeding ground for guinea worms and people who drank this water became infected with the disease Dracunculiasis. The 1960’s were a crucial and defining time for the water situation in the country. Due to the guinea worm menace, the open wells were filled up so that people were prevented from sourcing water from there. In addition, war and drought made the country dependant on the United States for food. To make the country self-sufficient in food the green revolution was launched, but agriculture needed sufficient water. Drilling machines were imported from the United States and thus began the borewell drilling for groundwater. Later, indigenous machines were manufactured in Thiruchengode in Tamil Nadu. Groundwater is invisible and we never know how much there is to control and monitor usage. We also need to know the hard rock geology to test for fluoride, arsenic and other chemicals.

So the obvious solution is that we have to recharge our groundwater and find ways to use wastewater efficiently. There has to be good behaviour as limited withdrawal of water and recharging of borewells.  Piped water also has to be made available to curtail indiscriminate drilling of borewells. Vishwanath delineated solutions that communities could adapt easily. It is events like these where there is dialogue and exchange of ideas which sensitise citizens to the precarious state of the environment we are in and more communities need to come forward and hold dialogues.

Day 2

Day 2 saw the participation of children of various age groups in activities that re-iterated the importance of water and its judicious use. The Ramagondanahalli government school students put up a skit that emphasised the result of water leakages, water wastage and presented a near apocalyptic situation if we are not careful. The painting session and the series of power-point presentations were held simultaneously. Both sessions revealed good participation and a keen maturity as regards to the understanding of water woes and solutions. The presentations ranged from highlighting the condition of lakes and the need to rejuvenate them; the need for waste-water treatment and its efficient reuse; simple doable habits that should be followed by every citizen of the country; and also, responsibilities of resident communities.

The ‘Water’ skit by the students of the government school

It was a tough task to ‘judge’ but there was a lot of merit in the final results. The results were as follows:

Painting competition in progress

Art Prizes:                             Judges: Krati Mishra – Art Educator

                                                          Tamoshi Ghosh – Head Mistress, Kunskapsskolan School

5-7 Years Category

 *1st – Satvi Samanvika

 *2nd – Aarya

 8-10 Years Category

* 1st – Avi Kollari

* 2nd – MM Siddharth

* 3rd – Sumana Das

11-14 Years Category

* 1st – Nivedita Shaine

* 2nd – Kyra Kolluri

* 3rd – Anika

 The Water presentation results were as follows:

1st prize: Khushi and Om – students of Kunskapsskolan School

2nd prize- Young residents of Skylark Green community

3rd prize-  Anu and Rishith- students of Kunskapsskolan School

A section of the audience and the judges

The judges were John Bastian, resident and water expert – T -Zed; Mats Rosen, Head of Kunskapsskolan and Sangeeta Venkatesh, waste management coach and author – ‘The Waste Issue’. Cash prizes were given to the winners that was sponsored by Kunskapsskolan. A copy of ‘The Waste Issue’ was presented to the first prize winners of the ‘Water’ presentation and the copy will be kept in the library of the Kunskapsskolan School.

A presentation in progress
John Bastian, Sangeeta Venkatesh, the winners with ‘The Waste Issue’, Mats Rosen and Tamoshi Ghosh

What’s more – the community were thoughtful in handing out mementos for the judges and guests too. Handmade soaps in the colours of the Tricolour, a Jute bag and yummy laddoos in a reuseable container. Kudos to the volunteers and Bravo T zed!!

Thoughtful ecological sensitive gifts

Workshop on Bioenzyme and Natural Cleaners- 9th January, 2020

Happy New Year, Happy 2020 from ‘The Waste Issue’.

The new year has begun with a bang where ‘The Waste Issue’ in collaboration with ‘Praanapoorna Collective’ held a workshop on ‘Making Bioenzymes and Natural Cleaners’ for the participating residents of the community of ‘Palm Meadows’ in suburban locality of Whitefield in Bangalore.

Lakshmi Sankaran of ‘Praanapoorna Collective’ (2nd from left), Sangeeta Venkatesh of ‘The Waste Issue’ (3rd from left) with the participants

Sangeeta Venkatesh, co-author of ‘The Waste Issue’ gave the introduction to the workshop and also introduced the facilitator of the workshop Lakshmi Sankaran, Director Praanapoorna Collective LLP. The Bangalore launch of ‘The Waste Issue’ was done by Ms. Sheila Premkumar, an erstwhile Senior Program Officer of Public Affairs Centre (PAC), Bangalore and Ms. Tina Kishore, senior English language educator.

The Bangalore release of ‘The Waste Issue’

Ms. Sankaran took the attentive participants through an awareness session on how man had introduced so many chemicals into their lives. However, since the web of life is so interconnected, this not only effects human beings, but also the ecosystem – the soil, the water around us.  She explained that by using soapnut, shikakai, woodash in combination with Bio-Enzyme, it can help us replace all the chemical cleaners used in our living spaces on daily basis. Moreover, these natural cleaners are not ‘dead’ unlike their chemical counterpart as they are full of life and energise our living spaces.

The awareness session was followed by a ‘do-it-yourself’ session of making citrus bioenzymes. In addition, Sangeeta Venkatesh also showed the enzyme made from mango peels and the ‘lemon-vinegar’ cleaner.  The session was followed by interesting Q & A and extra citrus peels were taken home by the participants to kick-start their journey in replacing chemicals from their daily lives. The hot samosas and fresh lemon juice perked up the eventful morning!

For the full protocol of Bioenzymes and knowing more about the ‘The Waste Issue’ order your copy here https://www.amazon.in/Waste-Issue-Sangeeta-Venkatesh/dp/8193733207

To know more about Praanapoorna and their natural cleaners and products head here https://www.praanapoorna.com/

Sustainable Fashion: Meet the ladies behind Social Enterprises Re-Store and Cayal ©Sangeeta Venkatesh

A recent video of an interview with ex-Vogue Editor Bandana Tewari has been doing the rounds on social media, where she talks about a very pertinent and an urgent issue. Tewari discloses that the world manufactures a whopping excess of 500 billion T-shirts per year. According to the World Wildlife Fund, it takes 2,700 litres of water – from farm to production-of one cotton T-shirt. You can do the math and calculate the enormous stress an excess of 500 billion T-shirts puts on the environment. At a time, when the world is in water-stress, the issue of sustainable fashion, conscious buying, morality and integrity of clothing choices has to take centre stage. Does it ring a bell, when experts point out that we only wear 20 percent of our stuff in the closet, 80 percent of the time?

There are many ways how we can mitigate our carbon footprint as far our fashion is concerned and increase our sustainability quotient and two Bangalore-based social-entrepreneurs, namely Devyani Trivedi, 42, and Anandi Sridharan, 41 tell us how to.

Trivedi runs a thrift store called ‘Re-Store’ in Whitefield in sub-urban Bangalore and Sridharan, is the founder of ‘Cayal’ an online technology platform which allows renting and borrowing.

Re-Store: I met Devyani Trivedi, an ex-IT professional, at the local government school where she volunteers her time as a teacher and we chatted on how the concept of ‘Re-Store’ came about.  She recollects how at a donation drive conducted by the local citizen group; they largely collected a lot of clothes most of which were in very good condition. There were other occasions during the year too when people wanted to give away clothes.  This made Trivedi and the other volunteers, rethink of a better model of using ‘preloved’ clothes.  

Devyani Trivedi (left) with the author

This led to the creation of ‘Re-Store’ in 2017 – a store dedicated to preloved and ‘gently used’ clothes. Accessories and household items were also added later to the store. Trivedi’s previous stint with Oxfam in the United Kingdom that had introduced her to thrift stores proved to be very helpful. It was also where she learnt that buying second-hand could be an option with no stigma attached. She learnt that this controlled the ‘garbage’ considerably that was created by a ‘throwaway’ society.

Re-Store is located close to a village community and has become very popular with them. The rental for the shop was initially supported by the citizen group ‘Whitefield Rising’, till it became self-sustaining. Trivedi does not accept any item of clothing that is too expensive or which requires a lot of maintenance. This helps in pricing of items in the range from Rs.5/- to Rs.300/-, making it accessible for customers from all walks of life.

When I went to visit the store, Venkatesh, the storekeeper took me through it. In addition to clothes, shoes, crockery, children’s games, bags are also stocked. Re-Store also encourages parents to give away pre-loved clothes, toys or books on their child’s birthday, as an alternative to the trend of giving ‘return gifts’. While Re-Store may have popularised concepts of sustainability like Reuse, Rent, and Repair, there is yet another silver lining. The proceeds earned from the store is financing education of a deserving girl child, who is already bringing laurels to the village.

The Store from the outside

Cayal: While Re-Store is a physical store, ‘Cayal’ founded by Anandi Sridharan is a tech-platform that facilitates renting and sharing. It is a peer-peer online platform that is tech enabled for users to list the items they would like to rent out. Sridharan, an erstwhile full-time product development professional, explained about how this community-based platform was developed where people could rent and share things with one another, and can become a true alternative to buying.

Anandhi Sridharan of ‘Cayal’

Cayal piloted the lending platform with fashion and clothes. “Typically, in many households, there are some clothes that are not used very often. It could be a jacket or perhaps a Kanjivaram saree. These are also pieces that you do not want to part with. If one is willing to share, then the item can be put to better use”, explains Sridharan. Hence, a model that incentivised the ‘lender’ was developed. For the ‘borrower’ it meant that he or she did not have to buy something that was needed only for a one-time use. The central mission, hence, was to create communities that changed its consumption pattern from buying to renting and thereby breaking the cycle of excessive consumption and wastage.

In addition to clothes, Cayal has now expanded the products to books, musical instruments, travel gear, games, toys, home needs and even aids for senior citizens. “We have a monthly growth in membership of 10-15% and we have 1500 members who have signed up at the moment”, says Sridharan optimistically.

How the platform works: The owner of a product registers oneself on the website and then lists the products with descriptions. When there is a request, Cayal verifies it and the owner hands over the product via a pickup or personally. After use, the product is returned to the owner who confirms it to Cayal and a rental fee is paid to the owner. A borrower in turn registers on the platform, browses for a product. On finding the product, the borrower reserves it and makes a payment. The product is picked up, used and then returned in good condition. For more on this do visit this link https://cayal.in/how-it-work. A rental etiquette delineated for members makes sure that the entire experience for members is a positive one.

Both Devyani Trivedi and Anandhi Sridharan, have realistic expectations and don’t expect people to go on an extreme fashion diet, but they recommend that a garment should be purchased only when there is value attached to it. This conscious buying prevents the buyer from trashing it at the earliest and an item is cherished and used for a long time

So next time we go to buy clothes or accessories, in a world that is stretched in resources we should be asking the following questions.

  • Firstly, do we really need the product?
  • Are the fabrics made from natural fibres or are they chemically synthesised? What is the impact on the environment?
  • Do the clothes that we buy generate livelihoods or are they machine-made?
  • How many times will we actually wear the clothes that we buy? Are we swayed by fashion trends too often that most of the clothes go unused?  
  • Do we hoard for a special occasion that never comes?
  • What is the carbon footprint of the clothes? Do we buy local or do we import it?

Food for thought indeed.

This article was first published here: https://www.womensweb.in/2019/10/this-festive-season-pre-loved-recycled-clothes-from-re-store-and-cayal-oct19wk1sr/

Happy Deepawali 2019 – From ‘The Waste Issue’

Happy Deepawali from the team of
‘The Waste Issue’.

Deepawali, for most communities, is associated with the worship of Goddess Lakshmi. She is the deity, who brings prosperity into the homes and lives of Her devotees. It is said that the goddess of wealth, enters only clean and well-lit homes. And so soon after Navaratri is over, you see a flurry of activity in Indian homes who start the annual ritual of de-cluttering, cleaning and making arrangements to light up their homes with lamps.

If this is indeed the case, should we not be extending this paradigm to our external environment, to our urban and rural landscapes, our forests and water bodies? According to the EPI (Environmental Performance Index) 2019 index, India is ranked 141st among 180 countries worldwide in (EPI), the lowest amongst BRICS countries. It is common knowledge that the state of the economy is closely intertwined with the environment.

If we want Goddess Lakshmi to embrace our country, don’t we have to first clean up our neighbourhoods? Our festivals too need to be celebrated with consciousness. This Diwali, with the air quality already poor, are we going to burn more crackers? And if you do burn a few, what are you going to with that hazardous waste? What kind of decorations are you going to use? What type of lamps will you use? Will you be using re-usables or disposable cutlery at community events?

Do these questions bother your mind? Do you have queries about them? In that case you can get answers for these and more from ‘The Waste Issue’.

This Diwali, if we really want to respect Goddess Lakshmi in – let us understand every action of ours that effects cleanliness. As a spiritual nation, let us first address our ecology spiritually as well as practically. The rivers, lakes, ocean and forests are the deities we need to revere. The towns, metros and villages are the gods we need to care of.

Again, Wishing you a Happy Clean and Green Deepawali from the team of ‘The Waste issue’!