Posted in August 2016, Uncategorized

Why Green Packaging ?

More than 75 million tons of packaging waste is generated annually by the aggregate of commercial, residential and institutional users, according to the U.S. EPA, while only roughly half of that amount is recycled. The end result is that about 37 million tons per year end up in the landfill, accounting for at least 30 percent of all municipal solid waste. Food packaging accounts for almost two-thirds of total packaging waste by volume. Moreover, food packaging is approximately 50% (by weight) of total packaging.

 

Traditional Sustainable Packaging-

Before the onslaught of Styrofoam, Thermacol and Plastics the packaging materials were Glass, Metal & Paper, all reusable and recyclable.

Glass has an extremely long history in food packaging; the 1st glass objects for holding food are believed to have appeared around 3000 BC.  Recycled broken glass (cullet) is also used in glass manufacture and may account for as much as 60% of all raw materials.  Improved break resistance allows manufacturers to use thinner glass, which reduces weight and is better for transportation. Because it is odorless and chemically inert with virtually all food products, glass has several advantages for food-packaging applications: It is impermeable to gases and vapors, so it maintains product freshness for a long period of time without impairing taste or flavor. The ability to withstand high processing temperatures makes glass useful for heat. On a personal note the glass jars of milk additives I bought 40 years back are still in use as storage containers of pulses, sugar, salt, flour, millets etc. without a scratch. They are still transparent, scratch free, attractive and can beat any of the new storage jars available in the market.

Metal is the most versatile of all packaging forms. It offers a combination of excellent physical protection and barrier properties, formability and recyclability. The 2 metals most predominantly used in packaging are aluminum and steel.

Aluminum is a lightweight, silvery white metal highly resistant to moisture, air, odors, light, and microorganisms. It has good flexibility and surface resilience, excellent malleability and formability.  It is also an ideal material for recycling because it is easy to reclaim and process into new products.

Steel is formidable packaging material for both food and non-food products. It can be indefinitely recycled with no loss in inherent properties and in Europe it’s the most recycled material.

 

Paper & Board use for food packaging dates back to the 17th century with accelerated usage in the later part of the 19th century.

Paper used as primary food packaging is coated with waxes, resins, or lacquers to improve functional and protective properties.  Personally I miss the bread, biscuits, toffees etc. in paper wrappings.

Paperboard is thicker than paper with a higher weight per unit area and often made in multiple layers. It is commonly used to make containers for shipping—such as boxes, cartons, and trays. White board may be coated with wax and is recommended for direct food contact. Solid board has multiple layers and used to package fruit juices and soft drinks. Chipboard is made from recycled paper, least expensive and used for cartons of foods such as tea and cereals. Fiberboard can be solid or corrugated provides good protection against impact and compression.

 

Science behind Sustainable Packaging-

 

Sustainable packaging relies on best engineering, energy management, materials science and life cycle thinking, in order to minimize the environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle. The aim of sustainable packaging is to:

  • Reduce packaging

Never over package, use minimum amount of packaging material using best engineering practices of this field.  Reducing excess packaging is the easiest and an effective way to start a green packaging initiative.

Just reducing packaging however is not enough. It is important to select the materials whose environmental impact and energy use is the lowest during its life cycle and whose material science has been investigated. The use of which reduces the waste to landfill sites and that is cost effective.  Consider the following new packaging materials –

·      Biodegradable Packaging- 

  1. Bagasse is biodegradable packaging: Bagasse is the pulp of sugarcane after the sucrose has been extracted. Until recently, the bagasse was destroyed after sugar production. Now, new methods allow it to be converted into lightweight, durable, biodegradable packaging.
  2. Mycelium is green packaging from mushrooms. Mycelium can be grown over a short period in custom-shaped molds. This packaging is economical, sturdy, and earth friendly.

iii. Shredded wood was normally either a waste material or was used for cooking but it is reusable, light weight, green earth friendly packaging material provided the wood has been procured from certified, responsibly managed, renewable forests.

  1. Straw is not only good for insulation but also a good cheap and green packaging material for all non-food products.
  • Eliminate hazardous materials being used.
  • Reduce mixed materials for packaging  as much as possible mixing of because pulling apart is not always possible or is costly and energy consuming. Even the simplest
    packaging materials like a cardboard liner with a wood frame, stapling the two pieces together makes recycling inconvenient; this requires firstly that materials are pulled apart with resultant “breakaway”, introduction of the third material though inconspicuous but dangerous like staples.

To see a video on mycelium as a biotechnological revolution see: https://vimeo.com/dezeen/officina-corpuscoli-growing-products-materials-fungus?ref=em-share

 

Dr. Ms. Iqbal Malik

Founder & Director
www.vatavaran.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in August 2016, September 2016, Uncategorized

Welcoming the Age of Introspection

I have passed that age when birthdays evoke a bulk of emotions- excitement, anxiety, curiosity, happiness. I don’t even remember who wished me, and more importantly who did not (it helps you in keeping a headcount of the people invited for the birthday party).

But now I’ve come to an age of overall consciousness, mind you I’m not always grateful for it. It makes me reflect upon my actions, and actions of those around me.

One such action which brought itself to my attention was that of gift-wrapping. As a kid I used to fret over both the gift and it’s wrapping paper. Now I realise that if I wrap a diamond necklace in an old box and a newspaper, the value of it won’t reduce. On the contrary, a twisted flavour of surprise might be beheld.

If a newspaper seems too extreme, then give my next idea a try. On my bestie’s birthday this year, I wrapped the gift in a plain white sheet of paper, embroidered with my best of wishes. I could add any quote which would suit the occasion, thus making it personalised. Won’t a handcrafted wrap (or a card, for that matter) reflect your emotions and hard work  better than what someone else crafted in a factory?

After all, if we give it a thought, a gift wrap is not what’s precious, neither is the gift at times, but the thought that went behind it.

plastic gift wrap
Picture Credits: recyclenation.com

We have come to the time where each and every denizen of this planet needs to give thought to their actions. We have been created globalized, in the sense that each of our actions affect the other person in this globe. Even our small actions of gift-wrapping, using plastic wraps which in turn are non-biodegradable affects someone else’s access resources. And mind you, the affected are not of the present generation only. These thoughtless actions will amplify and reflect themselves in the lives of our successive generations. We are snatching away resources and opportunities from them. I present to you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the Guardians of the only planet with chocolate, i.e., Earth.

My prayer is to not be selfish, but give. Because the hand that gives is above the hand that takes.

give and take
Picture Credits: creativemarket.com

Mahima Bobin

Intern,

Vatavaran NGO

Posted in August 2016, Uncategorized

AWI Addresses Animal Abuse and Behavioral Health in Children

In the last 20 years, law enforcement, policymakers, health care professionals, and the general public have become more aware of the significant link between animal abuse and child abuse. As with domestic violence, animal abuse often occurs in the same households as child abuse. But there is another troubling connection: Animal abuse is one of the first signs of antisocial behavior in a child. Recurrent animal abuse by a child throughout childhood is a strong predictor of later serious delinquent and criminal behavior. Recognizing this relationship can lead to greater protection for animals, children, and society in general.
On March 15, AWI’s Dr. Mary Lou Randour took that message to the 29th Annual Research and Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health, held in Tampa. As the conference’s only speaker to address the connection between child abuse and animal abuse, Mary Lou offered guidance for early identification and intervention in animal abuse cases—more effective strategies that can save more animal lives than punishment after the fact.
Among the many behavioral health care professionals attending the presentation was a representative of the Child Welfare Information Gateway (CWIG), an online resource provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services that connects child welfare and related professionals. As a result of this encounter, the CWIG website (www.childwelfare.gov) now has a link to the AWI webpage that offers resources relevant to animal abuse and child abuse. This will help build greater understanding of animal abuse among child welfare professionals.

This article originally appeared in the  AWI Quarterly, Summer 2016, Volume 65, Number 2. It is republished with permission from the Animal Welfare Institute. (http://awionline.org/)
Posted in August 2016, Uncategorized

Sustainable development is failing but there are alternatives to capitalism

Za blog

 

 

All over the world, environmental justice movements are challenging growth-oriented development and neoliberal capitalism

Ashish Kothari, Federico Demaria and Alberto Acosta

Tuesday 21 July 2015 07.18 BST

In the face of worsening ecological and economic crises and continuing social deprivation, the last two decades have seen two broad trends emerge among those seeking sustainability, equality and justice.

First there are the green economy and sustainable development approaches that dominate the upcoming Paris climate summit and the post-2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs). To date, such measures have failed to deliver a harmonisation of economic growth, social welfare and environmental protection.

Political ecology paradigms, on the other hand, call for more fundamental changes, challenging the predominance of growth-oriented development based on fossil fuels, neoliberal capitalism and related forms of so-called representative democracy.

The false answers of the green economy

If we look at international environmental policy of the last four decades, the initial radicalism of the 1970s has vanished.

The outcome document of the 2012 Rio+20 Summit, The Future We Want, failed to identify the historical and structural roots of poverty, hunger, unsustainability and inequity. These include: centralisation of state power, capitalist monopolies, colonialism, racism and patriarchy. Without diagnosing who or what is responsible, it is inevitable that any proposed solutions will not be transformative enough.

Furthermore, the report did not acknowledge that infinite growth is impossible in a finite world. It conceptualised natural capital as a “critical economic asset”, opening the doors for commodification (so-called green capitalism), and did not challenge unbridled consumerism. A lot of emphasis was placed on market mechanisms, technology and better management, undermining the fundamental political, economic and social changes the world needs.

In contrast, a diversity of movements for environmental justice and new worldviews that seek to achieve more fundamental transformations have emerged in various regions of theworld. Unlike sustainable development, which is falsely believed to be universally applicable, these alternative approaches cannot be reduced to a single model.

Even Pope Francis in the encyclical Laudato Si’, together with other religious leaders like the Dalai Lama, has been explicit on the need to redefine progress: “There is a need to change ‘models of global development’; Frequently, in fact, people’s quality of life actually diminishes  in the midst of economic growth. In this context, talk of sustainable growth usually becomes a way of distracting attention and offering excuses. It absorbs the language and values of ecology into the categories of finance and technocracy, and the social and environmental responsibility of businesses often gets reduced to a series of marketing and image-enhancing measures.”

Radical alternatives

But critique is not enough: we need our own narratives. Deconstructing development opens  up the door for a multiplicity of new and old notions and world views. This includes buen  vivir (or sumak kawsay or suma qamaña), a culture of life with different names and varieties emerging from indigenous peoples in various regions of South America;  ubuntu, with its emphasis on human mutuality (“I am because we are”) in South Africa; radical ecological democracy or ecological  swaraj, with a focus on self-reliance and self-governance, in India; and  degrowth, the hypothesis that we can live better with less and in common, in western countries.

These worldviews differ sharply from today’s notion of development, challenging the dogmatic belief in economic growth and proposing in its place notions of wellbeing. They are internally diverse, but they express common fundamental values, including solidarity, harmony, diversity and oneness within nature.

There are already thousands of initiatives practicing elements of such socio-ecological transformation: the reclamation of indigenous territories and ways of life in the Americas, the Zapatista and Kurdish movements for self-governance, solidarity economies, producer cooperatives, transition towns and community currencies in Europe, land, forest, and direct-democracy movements in Latin America and South Asia, the rapid spread of organic farming and decentralised renewable energy across the world, and others.

Many of these form a basis for transformational politics, potentially supported by the case with Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain. This is what has been called plan C, a reinvigorated bottom-up project of the commons and communal solidarity. This would be an alternative to the failed plan A (austerity) and untested, but flawed, plan B (Keynesian growth based on further indebtedness).

The inability or unwillingness of UN processes to acknowledge the fundamental flaws of the currently dominant economic and political system, and to envision a truly transformative agenda for a sustainable and equitable future, is disappointing. Even as civil society pushes for the greatest possible space within the post-2015 SDGs agenda, it must also continue envisioning and promoting fundamentally alternative visions and pathways.

Radical wellbeing notions are unlikely to becoming prevalent in the current scenario. But it is not an impossible dream. As intertwined crises increase when even the green economy fails to deliver – as it inevitably must – people everywhere will be resisting and looking for meaningful alternatives.

 

 

Ashish Kothari is a member of  Kalpavriksh (Pune, India) and co-author of  Churning the Earth  (Penguin, 2012).  Alberto Acosta is professor at Flacso (Quito, Ecuador) and author of El Buen  Vivir (Icaria, 2013). Federico Demaria is a member of  Research & Degrowth,  a researcher at  ICTA UAB (Barcelona, Spain) and co-editor of  Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era (Routledge, 2014).

The article originally appeared in The Guardian, dated 22/07/15.

For more organisational information: http://www.kalpavriksh.org/

And to read more articles by Ashish Kothari: http://ashishkothari51.blogspot.in/

 

 

 

Posted in August 2016, Uncategorized

What about sustainable wardrobe?

In the past, I was a usual teenager with a passion for clothes. It was just so great to have a new shirt or skirt or just anything NEW. Shopping was always a great way to hang out with my friends and we spent hours and hours in the shops. Now I am only thinking how many better things we could have done instead of that.

Sometimes I have questioned myself if I really need all of these things and I slowly figured out that I don’t. But for a very long time, I didn’t think about clothes as something  which contributes to climate change, it is in general bad for environment and has many social deficits.

fashion
Photo from: Sehn.igc.org

You can for example watch The True Cost or read Overdresses, google the Rana Plaza Tragedy (over 1100 people were killed when the factory in Bangladesh collapsed) and hear the dark side of the fashion industry.

the true
Image from: youtube.com

Unfortunately, it is not good that the clothes are cheap. When shoppers aren’t paying the price for the clothes, it only means somebody down the fashion chain is.  It is a common thing that people that make these clothes do not have basic human rights and can hardly sustain their livelihood.

The fashion industry has a severe sustainability problems as well.  Fashion has a high cost for the environment. After mining and oil, Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world! Additionally, it is a very thirst industry. Each garment requires thousands of liters of water and it is a terrifying fact for many countries who are facing water crisis. Pesticides and chemicals used for production of cotton are polluting our soil and air. The fashion industry also requires packaging and transportation, quickly depleting natural resources.

cotton
Cotton needs a lot of water, the pesticides used are pollluting our soil and air. Photo from: usagainblog.com

It is not enough to just know this. As consumers, we vote with our wallets for an unethical and irresponsible industry. Wearing clothes that are both socially and ecologically good, should be our goal.

Here are some ways to make your wardrobe more sustainable:

Go Local – Support local and independent designers and dressmakers that are engaged in sustainable practices. In this way, you will reduce your carbon footprint and support small businesses.

Buy better – Buying better means spending more and buying less. Buying less means less resources, less waste, less opportunities for exploitation. Connect with the labels you like and endorse. Are they responsible? Do they value their supply chain? Choose fair-trade labels that are transparent about their labour practices. Transparency leads to accountability – fair and livable wages, workers rights and suitable working conditions.

Recognise green washing – Some labels are all about cashing and overconsumption and often guilty . They try everything so that consumers will think that they are environmentally friendly. H&M newest »recycling«  initiative is one of such examples. If a brand really cares, they make fewer and better quality clothes. They would not bring new clothes into shop every week and offer huge discounts.

Love your clothes – We are buying too many instant products. After a thrill of the NEW we are often apathetic about our purchase.  This video is a good example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_oY-5hpt3Q

Stop being trendy and get mileage – Our culture is obsessed with ever-changing fashion trends . The fast fashion industry makes cheap, gimmicky clothes that will look tacky for a few months. It is a good thing to adapt to some kind of a uniform whatever that means for your personal style. It is okay to wear the same outfits over and over! Figure out what looks good on you, what you like and what suits you.

Wear natural fibres – Look out for organic, sustainably farmed cotton, invest in quality weaves. It is not only important to know how your clothes are made but also who »grew« them.

Reuse and buy second hand – It is important to reuse clothes which already exists in the world. Go to second hand shops, flea markets, vintage stores.  There are several opportunities to shop second hand in India.

Repurpose  – DIY and upcycle your existing wardrobe or go to Doodlage which can redesign your clothes and industrial waste into a new unique design.

Speak out – Most people don’t care about where their clothes come from because they simply don’t know. Have a conversation about sustainable fashion, ask the labels who made your clothes and make your voice heard to brands that are unethical.

Don’t shop– You probably have enough stuff already. Wear what you’ve got.

 

 

 

 

Katja Polc, Vatavaran volunteer

 

Posted in August 2016, Uncategorized

Swatch Bharat Mission & NGOs

Sometime back Swatch Bharat mission announced ‘Things NGO’s can do for Swatch Bharat’.

To me the 20 announced things appeared jumbled up, non-clear, non-serious and rough work.  I have divided the 20 points in four categories to make more sense of SBM’s exercise. Under each category I have given my analysis and critique.

 

1st Category (Solid Waste Management)

  1. NGOs can take up the task of educating the people of India about keeping their surroundings clean.

2 NGOs could adopt certain areas/colonies and take the responsibility of keeping them clean

  1. NGOs can set up and monitor waste management systems.
  2. NGOs can make house visits and ensure that people understand proper sanitation and garbage disposal techniques.
  3. They could also visit schools to teach the kids the importance of cleanliness in their daily lives.
  4. NGOs can also facilitate workshops on how to recycle and reuse non-biodegradable wastes into livelihood programs.
  5. NGO’s can be asked to put up small-scale units for collecting garbage and sorting it into different components for processing.
  6. NGO’s can be authorized to collect money from houses and use it to arrange for segregation and separation of waste.
  7. NGO’s can help societies, colonies setting up unit for decomposing wet waste, water harvesting etc.

 

My comments-

According to SBM NGO’s can primarily educate, who then is going to implement – SBM /Municipalities/ Multinationals??????????

NGO’s can adopt an area (does it mean legally)????????

NGO’s can help decompost (let the waste decay/rot)?????????????????

I do not understand SBM! The use of the word ‘decomposting’ whom’s dictionary meaning is rotting, decaying. —–. Wet waste decomposes on its own causing stench and diseases. On the other hand when wet waste is composted instead of stench and diseases we get cleanliness and compost.

What SBM is aiming has already been done by NGO’s of the country in different pockets .As an example Vatavaran, which started garbage management when it was not fashionable to be talking about ‘cleanliness’. We have been doing it since early 90’s. Its tag lines for last 20 years have been ‘Garbage dumps to flower beds’ and ‘Towards Zero garbage areas’. Its inspiration has been Gandhi so in our work at grass root level manpower is supreme. This is quite unlike SBM where Gandhi is being used on paper but his thinking /practices/ sayings are not followed. Otherwise SBM would mention it in its philosophy. Vatavaran has practically created Zero Garbage Areas without motorized vehicles or any plants. No waste ever went to any landfill sites. We converted garbage dumping area to a green, attractive area where besides composting trees, potted plants, organically grown vegetables and a earthy hut with seating area around made it picturesque and pleasant. Where the knowledgeable and politically motivated wanted to come.

Has Swatch Bharat Mission ever recognized such efforts / best practices? No! Why?

Vatavaran’s earth friendly work area visited by Environmentalists, Chief & Private Secretaries of CM.

 

swachh baharat.jpg

 

swachh bharat.png

Manpower and community involvement our pillars &non-motorized cycles our transport vehicles. 

 swachh

 swachhh.jpg

 

2nd Category  (for Government Organized Non Government Organization’s)

 

  1. NGO’s can ensure people’s participation in Swachh Bharat and put pressure on ULBs to act.

 

  1. Some NGOs could play a role in highlighting the importance of SBM to housewives, shopkeepers and small business owners

 

  1. NGOs can also do third party quality checks of infrastructure being created under SBM and also do sample verification on a pre-determined checklist.

 

  1. NGOs could work closely with the municipality to execute a daily cleaning plan in the area.

 

  1. NGO’s can submit survey reports on Swachh Bharat Mission; they may be allocated areas to carry out surveys independently substantiated with videos and pictures on the basis of MOUs between the NGO and the monitoring authority.

 

  1. NGOs can also be given access to the Swachh Bharat city local circles to share community initiatives with citizens and mobilize citizens to help where necessary.

My comments

Is SBM trying to convert NGO’s to GONGO’s? Once again my example would be Vatavaran. It never took any funds from the government. Its mission was to be self-reliant. It took bold steps, exposed wrongs; helped communities received love and respect from them.

If SBM wants NGO’s to become their rubber stamp Vatavaran refuses to do that. We are not Government Organized Non Government Organization.

 

3rd Category (For Rural India)

 

  1. NGOs could help in building toilets in rural areas
  2. NGOs can be assigned the task of building and maintaining public toilets
  3. NGOs dealing with heath care delivery could have a tremendous role in the area of personal hygiene, optimum use of potable water, basic sanitation etc.

My Comments

I do not have first hand experience about toilets in rural areas but hope that local Ngo’s working at grass root level are being recognized and given more responsibility and more GONGO’s are not being created.

 

4th Category  (Chosen Few)

  1. Certain NGOs can also conduct research on specific areas to scientifically dispose wastes, improved toilets, improved composting processes etc.

2.NGOs should be allowed funding for cleanliness drives and other Swachh Bharat related activities.

My Comments

These are special NGO’s who bail the government out of sticky situations and now are being rewarded.

Final Words

Is it not essential that Swatch Bharat Mission not become a vehicle to promote big businesses and concentrate on Gandhi’s philosophy and Ghanaian way of working as Vatavaran has proven to be the right path for India?

 

Dr. Ms. Iqbal Malik

Vatavaran logo
Founder & Director
www.vatavaran.org

 

 

Posted in August 2016, Uncategorized

Swachh Bharat Mission – My take

 

Swatch Bharat Mission- a national campaign to clean India was started by Prime Minister Modi on Oct. 2nd 2014. Its budget is in billions and World Bank has contributed in a big way

 

Most conspicuous are innumerable hoardings, advertisements in print and digital media and government sponsored    online citizen community in the form of a National Circle and 100 city level circles with  335,000 citizens as members engaged in online discussions.

 

 

Lets analyze the situation.

 

Of the 1,252 billion Indians (2013 data) how many are involved even in this digital exercise?  Only 0.0000011 %!!!! Shamefully!!!

If we forget the digital India and come down on ground and ask –

 

Have people become more responsible for the waste they produce? Has the waste generation reduced?

Have life styles changed?

Has the production or use of non-bio degradable, toxic substances been banned or even reduced?

Has the ongoing grass root level work specially based on Ghanaian principles been rewarded?

How much of Swatch Bharat Mission funds been used for any of the above? 

 

Dr. Ms. Iqbal Malik

Founder & Director

www.vatavaran.org