I am happy to share, that ‘The Waste Issue’ and my story was published as the ‘Cover Story’ in the monthly digital magazine ‘Nainen – the woman’. I share the pages here and if you want to go to read the whole issue, here is the linktree link. I hope you find this insightful
In an earlier post, I had given an introduction to the ills of Fast Fashion and why Sustainable Fashion is the way to go. In this video, Shailaja Rangarajan, Founder of Rimagined, also tells us in detail the magnitude of Textile Waste and the burden it is causing to the Earth. The statistics are staggering and the waste is created not just by the consumers but by fabric makers, garments makers, and brands that put a label on them – especially in the realm of ‘fast fashion’. The problems of blended fabric that give rise to microfibre pollution are not talked about much, but pose a great threat just like microplastics. Shailaja emphasized that the use of singular natural fabric has a greater chance of degrading at the ‘end of life’ and also the use of natural dyes over chemical dyes.
India’s tryst with preloved is not new, as we inherit some beautiful, heirloom and vintage sarees and jewellery from our mothers and grand mothers. These are investments that have gone down generations. However, in modern times, many heavy sarees (or regular wear), just lie in the cupboards and then they are discarded when they fray. Would it not be a better idea to get it out of the cupboard and let someone else have a use for it? Maybe rent it out, or sell it a discounted price?
This is where Sumrux comes in. It is a one stop shop for selling, buying, swapping and renting. This initiative was started by Krupa Seetharaman, a software engineer. Krupa was previously with Microsoft, which she quit in 2011 to engage with citizen and civic movements in the city of Bangalore such as the CMCA and HSR citizen forum. The name Sumrux comes from the the Sanskrit/ Kannada word Samrakshine, which means to ‘protect the environment’. Krupa started this enterprise in 2020 and had started with putting up books, and textbooks. It then slowly expanded to hosting electronic and whitegoods that were in working condition. Of course can apparel be left behind?
Sumrux is currently holding an event that is giving Bangalore citizens to get out their preloved sarees and put it into circulation. The event is on until February 25th, 2023, where you can touch and feel the garments. Even after the event, you can go to their website and interact. Krupa goes through each garment for any damages or stains and makes sure that the consumer is not short-changed. The goal is also to remove the ‘second hand’ stigma!
Bangalore is singularly lucky in having other enterprises that help prevent waste and help conscious consumerism, and Sumrux adds to this list. Do let me know in the comments about enterprises such as these in your city!
Krupa Seetharaman (2nd from right)
While at the location, do check out composters, menstrual cups, cloth pads and other eco-friendly products.
In this video I speak about what it takes to produce sanitary pads and how we can reduce landfills by switching to sustainable menstrual products. I am also in conversation Seema Khandale, Social Activist, Founder – Ashay Social Group, Designer of RUTU menstrual cup – https://rutucup.com/
Seema talks about the advantages of a menstrual cup, how to buy a menstrual cup, how to wear them, how not to wear them and gives us a lot of tips in using the menstrual cup. Seema also talks about cloth pads. What are the pros and cons of using cloth pads, how to buy cloth pads and more. Do click on the link above to learn more about sustainable menstruation and how it can change the lives of adolescent girls and women.
Today July 3rd is Plastic Bag Free Day, and a great day that I get to share the concluding episode of Waste to Wonder – a wonderful conversation that I (Sangeeta Venkatesh) had with Ms. Akta Sehgal Malhotra, Ms Ila Pachauri and Ms. Binu Dhir, where it’s not just about plastics but many other chemicals that we can do without! Do click on the link below- listen to the conversation and please also leave a comment on what you thought!!
Here is the link to the full session of “Waste to Wonder” on YouTube. It was really well conducted, and moderated Akta Sehgal Malhotra and Ila Dwivedi . We had Mrs. Shanti Paswan, Gounder NGO, Jan Sandesh too. Kudos. Really appreciate the audience too. I hope we succeeded in creating some awareness. Look forward to more interactions.
If you go by the several articles published on food last year, many homes seemed to have awakened to the benefits of home-cooked food. Moreover, a large section of society was inspired to get back to whole foods. There is a new found awareness when people started to look at and read food labels. A positive fallout of the pandemic was that nutrition and principles of a healthy diet was brought to centre stage. Business magazines and papers report that organic food sales that included plant produce, poultry and livestock went up dramatically around the world .
Personally, it has always been a priority for me to know where my food came from. And it is very convenient if you can find authentic produce under one roof. A few years back, on my mother’s recommendation I visited the Grameena Angadi in Jayanagar, Bangalore, which is the sales and showroom of the cooperative Grameena Karakushala Udyama located in Kanakpura (Bangalore Rural). The cooperative also has branches in Rajajinagar and Banashankhari localities too.
According to the founder and manager of Gramina Karakushala Udyama, P Rajashekhar, nearly two hundred farmers are dependent on this shop. They all come under the trust formed by artisans and agriculturists. The shop in Jayanagar has two sections in the basement and a flight of steps takes you to another. One section in the basement has organic food grains such as a variety of millets (foxtail, barnyard, kodo, ragi etc), dals/ lentils, all types of organic rice from, black, red to unpolished rice, various types of flours including those that can be used for a low- carbohydrate diet. There is a plethora of cooking oils to choose from, from cold pressed to virgin oils processed from coconut, groundnut, sesame seed etc. I love the high-quality cow and buffalo ghee that they have in stock too. You have the choice of buying free-range eggs and goat milk too! If you come on a Tuesday or a Friday you have the choicest organic vegetables and fruits. Literally from farm to table. I love to buy the cold-pressed oils that come in steel container. Next time I buy another, I simply have to return the steel container and I am not charged for it again. This way, I have the option to cut down my plastic consumption.
The adjacent section has a plethora of ayurvedic proprietary mixes, chemical free cosmetics, cleaning agents, soaps, pooja oils, aggarbattis and items a host of traditional ready to eat snacks like murukku, chakli, koda bale, chips and ready sambar powder, chutney powder, papads and pickles. It’s a tough choice you are faced with. I always feel excited to see the earthen-ware and cast- iron utensils. This section also has things that you can gift others as well yourself like handcrafted bags, terracotta and metal jewellery, and home-décor.
The third section is as interesting as the other two and houses handloom (kaimagga) and some power-loom sarees and textiles. You can find handloom sarees from Karnataka such as the Udupi saree, textiles from Gadag, Raichur, Bijapur, the Patteda Anchu, Ilkals, Khana material along with textiles from adjacent states like Ikats, Kalamkari and linen and jute.
There is something for gardening enthusiasts too, like compost, organic fertilisers, products made from vetiver and seeds. All in all, a treat for conscious customers who want look to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. The customer service is also excellent. We certainly need more such farmers’ outlets for getting ethical, organic and nutritive foods. Do check out the shop when you are in Bangalore.
8th, 11th Main Road, 39th A Cross, Opposite-Shalini Grounds, near Raghavendra Temple, 4th T Block East, Jayanagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560041
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At an online function in the last week of December ’20, at the INSPIRE BEYOND MOTHERHOOD AWARDS 2020, it was so exciting and humbling to be awarded in the category ‘Making a Difference’! This award was given taken into account the efforts in communication for the last 20 years i.e (awareness workshops, blogging, writing including publishing ‘The Waste Issue’- that I have done for the past year on ‘sustainable, waste-free living’ ) and also took into account past work done on ecological sanitation in the tsunami hit village in Tamil Nadu.
The function had the beautiful Nisha Rawal as Guest of Honour, and the jury comprised of Neha Kare Kanabar and Nirupama , Co Founder of Fit Life Style (https://fitlifestyle.in/). The Moderator was RJ Meenal. The event was also partnered by https://maaofallblogs.com/ and so many other partners that you can see on certificate! It was amazing to be in the company of so many talented and accomplished women. Thank you Inspire Beyond Motherhood.
Back in the 1980’s, film director, K. Balachander from the Tamil film industry, highlighted one of the gravest issues to hit humanity. His path-breaking Tamil film ‘Thaneer-Thaneer’, brought to centre stage the issue of drought and water-shortage. There is a dramatic scene where one of the female protagonists, Sevanthi, played by actress Sarita walks miles every day to fetch just two pots of water, struggling to balance them along with her new-born baby. A poignant scene that drives home the point that water is one commodity that women will go to any length to provide for their families.
Growing up with my grandmother in Bangalore, I noticed that it was she who got up in the middle of the night to fill the vessels with drinking water when the municipal corporation supplied water for a few hours. All this – while the rest of the family slept. So, while we had taps, it didn’t spout water all the time. It is also well known that globally, it is the girls in the family, who are responsible for fetching water and helping their mothers with household chores. This translates to spending nearly 6 hours per day just collecting water.
That is why it becomes a personal war for women and girls, when there is a water crisis. While water is a basic human right, it impacts women and girls most. It becomes their responsibility for finding a resource their families need to survive – for drinking, cooking, sanitation and hygiene. Perhaps the depiction of Goddess Durga with many hands was inspired by these women. It is not uncommon to see women standing in line, in both rural and urban India waiting for water. In rural India, they also have to walk long distances to collect water. In other areas, they have to pay exorbitant amounts of money to secure water. For instance, water shortage is becoming commonplace in India’s hill-stations. In parts of Himachal Pradesh and Shimla women walk long distances to get to water-tankers to buy water. These tankers in turn rely on groundwater which is getting depleted very fast.
According to a study, women around the world spend a collective 200 million hours collecting water. (https://water.org/our-impact/water-crisis/womens-crisis/). So like Sevanti in Thaneer- Thaneer, by regularly carrying litres of water every day, is causing permanent damage to a woman’s health, especially if she is pregnant or if she is carrying small children. Pelvic deformities, chronic fatigue and deterioration of reproductive health is very common.
When so many ‘woman hours’ are spent on just providing water to the family, the opportunity to finish their education and find jobs is remote. It becomes imperative that clean and safe water should be easily available to empower these women. It is interesting that most rivers in India are female and revered as Goddesses. But indeed, that has not stopped us from polluting them or the many lakes which have become dumping grounds for sewage-water.
According to water-expert and engineer, Pravinjith K P, Chairman and Managing Director of the Bangalore-based award-winning environmental company, Ecoparadigm, “Water-diplomacy will be a major political currency in the coming decades. If half the population of a nation, that is women, is heavily invested in merely acquiring water for daily life, then it means they are not available to contribute towards the growth of the country in any other way. This is another kind of brain-drain which, unfortunately but surely, will push economies down over time.”
But there are silver linings and this is largely due to participation of women in water-conservation. In Vellore, Tamil Nadu, an army of women resurrected the Naganadhi river, with the help of the ‘Art of Living’ volunteers and expertise of hydrologist, Ravindra Desai. The labour-intensive project had women working overtime and they created recharge wells and planted drought-resistant plants. It is important to know that a river can flow only after there is enough groundwater and the recharge wells are healthy. This has helped rejuvenate a river that was dry until 2018. Up in north of India, in the Bundelkhand area, which is a parched region, 600 ‘Jal Sahelis’ or ‘water women-friends’ are trying to fix the region’s perennial water woes. It has been anything but easy, but the Jal Sahelis are optimistic.
“As a woman living in urban India, I can only imagine the troubles of rural women in acquiring water for the family. They are the ones who truly appreciate the value of water, and their water saving and conservation strategies are born out of necessity,” says Padma Shastry, an educator and co-author of the book ‘The Waste Issue’. “I wish urban India adopts a few of these strategies before it becomes imperative. As Jack Welch, recently departed ex-CEO of GE said, ‘Don’t manage. Lead change before you have to.’