Posted in June 2016, Uncategorized

What can West learn from Indians to live more sustainably?

I have spent the last two years living in Delhi, a city with a population over 18 million. Most of my friends from Slovenia and my home village, were asking me how I could survive in this polluted, crowded, dirty city where trash is just lying everywhere. That’s the image of the city that they got through media and movies.

Honesty speaking, it wasn’t always easy. Yes, sometimes I felt like that there is no privacy to which we are so used, that there is no proper clean pedestrian paths and that even my lungs sometimes do not get enough of fresh air. But a city is a city, with all good and bad sides. I don’t think you can find a perfect city anywhere.

However, I have figured out that there is much more to learn than to criticise. Protection of Mother Nature as well connection and coexisting with her is originally in Indian culture very important. I am living in India differently and in some ways more sustainable.

I have learned that anything can be reused. I love the fact that the street food is usually packed in paper bags, made of old newspapers. I think lunch boxes are also very Indian and itself a brilliant concept.  Most of the people will bring their lunch to work in the reusable lunch boxes every single day. That means that they avoid millions of disposable plates, spoons and cups every day!

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Image from: Rasoie.be

Food is delicious and homemade, usually cooked early in the morning before it gets too hot and on top of that all the meals are actually cooked. Frozen food actually came to India in last few years, however Indians by the end of the day still prefer a home cooked meal.  Indians are also very aware what should be eaten when you are for example sick. On top of that people eat local and seasonable food. Imported food is usually more expensive and not so easy available. Honestly, in terms of how much variability is in Indian cuisine, they don’t even need it.  I found it super important to count our “food miles” and know the origin of the food. For sustainable lifestyle you just cannot eat strawberries in the middle of the winter, right? Scientifically is proven that the most suitable food for our body is seasonable food and in the same time you support local farmers as well. In relation to climate change it is also important to mention that the consumption of meat, in comparison to west; is very low.

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Image from: fodors.com

With the way how I bathe in India I conserve so much water! I remember how I was having long showers back home and used plenty of water. Here I am using a system of buckets and I really believe it is just so much better.  And of course the famous way of cleaning with water in the toilet and not using a toilet paper. Seriously, toilet paper is not only a huge waste of paper which clogs the drains but it’s also unhygienic.  Once my friend said: “If the bird poop on your hand, will you clean it only with napkins or first with water? The same is with your own poop.” No more explanation needed.

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Image from: permies.com

The increased number of cars in India is alarming, but there has to be a bigger look in the whole system of the Indian transport. There are many improvements in public transport, metro is spreading, auto rickshaws and buses are obligated to use CNG (compressed natural gas) and the system of taxi-sharing and pooling is also increasing.

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Image from: Scoopwoop.com

Women and men are always nicely dressed and it is important to look good.  I would say that they understand the importance of natural cosmetic more than we do. Ayurveda, homemade recipes with neem, turmeric and other ingredients are typically used every day. Yoga also brings people closer to nature. You will see full parks at 5 AM in the morning.

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Image from: globaltimes.com

In my college time, I was so use to take a coffee –to go. Here, you can always stop at Tea-point and have a cup of chai with locals. Originally, the tea is served in glass cup, but it does sometimes happen that it is served also in paper cup. However, it is different in terms of communication with locals. I never grab the cup and just go. A simple stop at the chai stall is not just a small talk. If you listen carefully, you can hear real stories of the locals and their lives.

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Image from: newsreporters.org

I have learned that in India anything can be recycled. I think Indians are the masters in recycling different materials and they are very innovative as well. The waste management system is maybe not the best, but the different materials have a value.

There is much more positive to write about the way Indian people live. It’s time to stop stereotyping and give a country a deeper understanding. Maybe some Indians lost a touch who they really are and they got manipulated by different plastic lobbies and consumerism as a whole. Remember that it came from the West.  I’m looking positively how people are finding their ways in this big urban jungle to live closer to the nature again. And meanwhile, West can learn something that Indians are already practising for centuries.

India, thank you for all the learnings!

 

Katja Polc, Member of Vatavaran team

 

 

Posted in June 2016, Uncategorized

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE?

In hell, the once rich young ruler lifted up his eyes. He had a single request, “A drop of water, one single drop of water for my parched throat.” That request could not be granted. To witness such a scene, you won’t have to book a ticket to hell. Look around.

India has been facing a major water crisis in the past two years. The situation is so worse in villages of Maharashtra, that families have been forced to pay Rs. 100 each day for getting two barrels of water. Some have even tried to dig deep borewells, but without any luck, since the level of groundwater has gone very low. The only reason, many have been unaware of this water shortage across the country is because it hasn’t grasped headlines, which in turn is because this water shortage did not seriously affect the food availability.

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Image from: coastgis.marsci.uga.edu

Mindlessly digging tubewells and borewells possesses a huge danger. Aquifers found beneath the earth’s surface get eliminated due to extraction of groundwater. The aquifers act as cushions, and prevent seismic activities. When the confined aquifers are completely erased, it is impossible to replenish them, thus classifying an area as ‘seismic activity prone’. Delhi is also included in the list of such areas.

It has been well said ‘Jal hi Jeevan hai’ (water is life). Man can live without food for 1-2 months, but without water only for 3-7 days. Save water, save yourselves.

 

Mahima Bobin, Vatavaran Intern

Posted in June 2016, Uncategorized

Read their Minds

Recognize dogs that can bite.Take some time to learn some body language and you will understand more of what the dog is thinking.

dog1 This dog is intimidated.

He feels threatened and cornered. Notice his tail.

Don’t approach this dog.

   dog2  This dog is worried.

He feels concerned about what will happen next.

Don’t approach this dog.

dog 3 This dog is aggressive.

He is ready to bite.

Don’t approach this dog.

   dog4    This dog is dominant.

He thinks he is the boss and in charge.

Don’t approach this dog.

 dog5 This dog is afraid. How do you know? Look at his tail.

He will do anything to protect himself.
He will not feel better if you try to pet him.

Don’t approach this dog.

 

Take a good look at the dogs above and remember that if you get too close, they might bite. Be sure to notice their tailsand the expressions on their faces. In case encountered by aggressive dog, don’t panic, hold your ground, feigning to throw  an object can serve you well.

 

Want to learn more? Join our Canine Companion Campaign! Info@vatavaran.org

 

Vatavaran team

 

 

Posted in June 2016, Uncategorized

Living entity that cannot voice itself

 

Have you ever wondered how many and what types of trees Delhi has? The Economic Survey of Delhi 2014-2015 said that trees cover around 20% of the total area of Delhi’s territory.

But that doesn’t give us any idea about density, variety and health of trees.

Tree census includes marking of all the trees in a particular area. We simply start at chosen starting point in a particular area and with the first tree in the area. We mark it, take a photo, measure its height, age, recognize its type, see the species that are present and check the health status of the tree.

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Tree census at Asian Games Village

For example, many tree trunks are surrounded by concrete, making the foundations weak as there is no space for water and air to percolate. The roots of such trees are usually destroyed because they get little space to grow and to hold the tree. No wonder that trees fall like cards during rain and storms. Did you know that the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994, have provisions for penal action for those who trap trees in concrete?

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The tree census project is so big that it cannot be done only by government alone and it needs a civil action as well.  Usually, it is the best way to start in your own residential area.

Why is tree census so important?

How many times did you walk on the streets with many trees and not even seen them? Don’t they give us shadow, fresh air and some of them even provide us with delicious fruit? Have we forgotten their importance? As we mentioned before, many trees cannot function or grow properly because of their location, lack of space or they are surrounded with concrete. It is also important to know whether a particular type of tree is suitable for a city like Delhi with a long dry season. Usually, trees which don’t require too much water in the dry season are the most appropriate ones which can adapt to Delhi’s climate and to the particular type of soil where they are planted. That means that usually the best trees are the authentic trees, but we have to be always careful about the characteristics of a specific area as well.  Simply saying, a type of tree that we want to plant is extremely important step.

Sometimes trees have objects like nails, tree guards, rods, barriers, iron hooks and many trees have been lopped, which shows how careless and unsympathetic we can be towards a living entity that cannot voice itself.

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The Tree census will show us the reality and give us a huge data about what we have planted in the past and how well they actually work in terms of water conservation, their productivity and growth. Tree census will show us where we failed and what can we do better in the future. The rapid growth of the city requires more trees to deal with the everyday pollution by giving us enough oxides to sustain. In the same time, we are all fighting for the lack of water and conservation of it, trees will play even more important role. There are many birds and other species who find their homes on and in these trees. It is important to preserve them as well. Tree census is bringing us back to our origin, to the nature that coexist in our cities and on which we are so depended.

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Tree census is an opportunity to get out of your home, to take a moment and to open your eyes. We disconnected with nature, but reconnection is just a step away from you.  Trees have more stories to tell you than a whatsapp message or a facebook status.

 

Want to join us? Want to start Tree census in your locality? Write to us: info@vatavaran.org

 

Katja Polc, Member of Vatavaran team

Posted in June 2016, Uncategorized

WITH NO ONE TO CALL THEIR OWN

Kicked around, mocked by strangers, pitied by few, they loiter in the streets with no one to call their own. Who speaks for this kind? We at Vatavaran are determined to make a difference.

I was not very compassionate about stray dogs until I joined college. In my college there are many stray dogs. And my friends are great dog-lovers. They are even ready to miss classes just to spend more time with the newly-laid litter. Yes, that’s how crazy they are. With such an atmosphere, my college became the place where I started my humble beginnings of being a dog lover.

I witnessed situations in which humans could very peacefully co-exist with dogs, even if those dogs are not a special breed or are un-trained. During our assemblies in college, dogs would walk in to the auditorium and quietly sit down, as if listening to our principal talk. While lectures were going on, they would peek into the class, proudly walk in and grab the front spot. Surprisingly, they even had a sense of time. So, they got up and left 2 or 3 minutes before the lecture got over, never giving our professor a chance to take extra time.

 

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Image from http://www.thealternative.in

But people come in all shapes and sizes, and attitudes. Even though there was such a great exposure in our campus, there were still people who didn’t like dogs. Once, during a class test, a dog (named ‘Chandini’ by someone) strayed into our class and a student started freaking out. So, another student got up and petted the dog out of the class. What left me in admiration was the fact that there was no pressure involved. There are people who love dogs and there are those who do not. If you forcibly push the person towards the dog or vice-versa, the situation would not be helped. It is better to let people adjust themselves, because self-inspiration and self-implication are the best kind.

Therefore, we at Vatavaran help in conditioning your relationship with the environment in the absence of impositions. It’s you who can make the difference, not someone else through you. If you want to join us in this Canine Companion Campaign, join us on Facebook. Let us give them a voice.

 

Mahima Bobin

(Vatavaran intern)

Posted in June 2016, Uncategorized

Bringing harmony between people and strays

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I was reading some articles about stray dogs in Delhi and most of them were about dangerous strays and how mostly stray dogs are attacking humans. These accidents of course open discussions what should be done about it. Is true, there are only few Ngos and civil corporations who work for this particular matter. But the voice is quite loud and most of the people wish that there would be more dog-catching vans which will increase manpower and simply get rid of the “problem”.

But there is the voice of the stray dogs too.  Strays are easily used, abused, exploited, dumped and very rarely cherished. They don’t get dignity and protection which deserve all life creatures and forms on this planet.  These animals, who live in our midst, share our space and our lives – have to be treated humanely.

Unfortunately, strays get the worst treatment in urban environment, especially because of uninformed citizens or dog hate groups.  The life on the streets is tough, more than we can imagine. Urban jungle forces animals to search food in our open dump fills. Inappropriate nutritious and environment cause dogs’ diseases. We have to remember that dogs actually reacte as humans. If they are not treated well, they are even bitted and abused – yes they do become more violent and dangerous. There is a Darwinism – they have to survive somehow. Our wrong reactions make everything just worse.

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The problem has to be solved in a right way. Stray dogs are present in our cities for very long and most of residents have a hard time dealing with them. So what can we do? We have to create coexistence between people and dogs. As human beings we do have certain responsibilities and too many times we don’t want to deal with them. Together we have to take care of the stray dogs.

Caring for stray dogs is not only good for the dogs themselves but also works a safety measure for humans against contagious diseases and attacks. If we take this responsibility; we can simply prevent these terrible accidents about which newspapers are talking about.

Vatavaran believes that dogs have to be adopted. We help families who wish to adopt about food, health, type of collar and how to take their adopted dog to the veterinary doctor. There is also an option to financially support the adoption if you don’t have interest, time or place to take care of the dog. A family that wish to adopt, but is not in financial position to take care of the dog will be happy to do it instead of you.

As human kind we like to avoid the responsibilities that we have to our life forms around us. But to bring a harmony between people and stray dogs, these actions are extremely needed.

 

Join as at our “Canine companion campaign”  on facebook  or write to us: info@vatavaran.org

 

Katja Polc, Vatavaran

Posted in June 2016, Uncategorized

Are we the decision makers or is the plastic lobby making decisions for us?

What would modern world be like without plastic? I am sitting in my room and looking around. I usually want to say NO to the plastic but I can still see so many items which are made of it. My earphones, parts of the lamp in the corner of the room, my computer, my phone, my pen, boxes for spices, some plastic food containers, face cream and when I check my bin for recyclables – is also full of plastic. It’s terrifying – plastic is everywhere!

Pollution has many forms and one of them is made of a material we are all too familiar with and it is there as a result of our obsession with plastic. About 8 million tons of plastic enters the ocean each year and at least 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are currently in the oceans (Environmental Economics, 2015). For a quick reality check, go to Google images and type “plastic birds”. Those pictures make my heart ache.

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Image from: cleanmalaysia.com

Plastic is a sturdy material that is made to last forever but the truth is that 33 percents of it only gets used once and then is thrown away. All together, more than half of the plastic is short-term plastic. And it gets worse: “Plastic is a material that the Earth cannot digest,” according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Our dependence on plastic is troubling more than we think. We often don’t think about catastrophically environmental issues when we go to the grocery store and grab that plastic water bottle and a pack of chips. The truth is, Nature is slowly, silently dying around us, but we don’t see it.

We are not allowed to see it. Who actually made us obsessed with the plastic items? Why will we suddenly rather buy plastic containers instead of glass ones? Why are we suddenly buying plastic furniture instead of wood one? Why are we suddenly got so used to plastic bottles every day?

We are consumers of the plastic products. People up there from the plastic lobby, “creators of the plastic” care a lot about us. They want to make these products practical, easy to use, comfortable, cheap and they want us to be dependent on them. Their obsession is to make us obsessed with plastic. To the extreme where we cannot imagine life with plastic anymore. To the extreme, where we know all horrible facts about plastic, but plastic remains to be a part of our daily life routine. To the extreme that we admit we are living in a plastic world.

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Image from: the guardian.com

Plastic lobby is just too profitable to be stopped. In my opinion even recycling is more about people feeling better about their plastic consumption than anything else. I am not against recycling and I still believe is a great half-way solution, but recycling in the same time motivates people to continue with the use of plastic and it seems like it is a perfect manipulating tool of the plastic lobby. Nobody talks about reduction of plastic quality during the recycling process and how even plastic reaches its end. Plastic reaches its end for the human use, but it will never leave the Earth; small micro-pieces will remain in our lakes, rivers, oceans, soil, animals, food and human body.

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Image from: ecowatch.com

So what can we do then? Just now in this very moment I am writing on my laptop which is basically plastic. But then I look around my room again. I can see three reusable cloth bags, glass bottles for water, steal lunch boxes, a homemade tooth paste and shampoo in refilling glass jar  and I think – that all could be plastic, but it is not. I took decision to refuse plastic. I am still far away from plastic-free life but I started with the plastic items which are short – term or disposable. Our focus has to be to eliminate half of the world’s plastic which ends too quickly in our bin. And what can we do about the plastic lobby? Maybe we can learn something from these young girls from Bali who banded plastic bags in the whole Island – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8GCjrDWWUM.

Let’s not give up – “The plastic world” doesn’t have to be a reality.

 

Katja Polc, Member of Vatavaran team