Monday, November 30, 2009

What are Green House Gas (GHG) emissions?

With Copenhagen round the corner and the world is waiting with baited breath regarding the outcome of the conference – its time to acquaint ourselves with GHG emissions.

With plenty of literature on estimation of carbon footprint, green house gas emissions, people are bombarded with climate change jargon. However the basics are unclear in minds of many. Many people have yet to grasp how they are responsible for GHG emissions. Simply put green house gases are mainly CO2, CH4, N2O, and other halogenated carbon group gases. These gases are produced as a result of burning of fuels or generated as a result of chemical processes. The question arises in our minds is that apart from the 2/4 wheeler I do not burn any fuel….then how can I be responsible for other emissions. If I stop using my car, then will I be not responsible for any emissions..isn’t it??

Energy is required for work that is performed by humans. Energy is obtained mainly by burning of fossil fuels – the other sources being energy is solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, and nuclear. Every action performed in our daily life generates green house gases in two ways directly or indirectly. Direct emission are as a result of burning fuels which at sources owned by you – for example – your car. Indirect emissions are a result of emission produced by sources which are not owned by you – for example emissions as a result of use of electricity or use of products which generate emissions at source, during transportation etc.

So now, it will start seeping in that, anything I do on this earth which uses a wee bit of energy, I will be responsible for anthropogenic (man-made) carbon emissions.

Then how on earth are nations all over the world thinking about reducing the manmade CO2 emissions and curbing it at a level which will limit the heating of the earth’s atmosphere? Curbing CO2 emissions will mainly through rethinking of our current sources of energy and concentrating on using renewable sources of energy, improved energy efficiency. The other aspect is that of find ways to remove GHG gases from the atmosphere(in the form of carbon sinks, carbon reservoirs etc). 

Now that you know how each one of us is responsible, you can make a difference through your green efforts. Each green action will translate into carbon emissions avoided.

Hope this post has helped in understanding the hulabaloo about GHG emissions!

CIAO till the next post


Friday, November 13, 2009

CFLs in India and why I am worried…

In my last post on CFLs my readers would note my optimistic pitch and tinged with a bit a caution regarding how CFLs should be disposed. One should note that when something new is introduced in the US or EU or Australia a lot of strategic thinking and planning is put in place. In this case introduction of CFLs being backed by outreach(in my view not sufficient enough) regarding its benefits and also how to dispose them at the end of their lifecycle. It is important that CFLs are kept out of landfills or trashcans due to the mercury component in them. In US several stores like IKEA, Home Depot take back used CFLs. Recycling centers also take back CFLs.

CFLs in India however is another story. Let me explain – I am not against CFLs. Do use them in your homes..but can the thrifty Indian be warned enough that please avoid cheap ones. They do not last and break easily. In India CFLs have penetrated the poorer sectors as well. The transition for them has been from no light to CFLs. CFLs can run on batteries and hence in many rural areas it allows them to be off-grid(thru use of solar panels). It worries me that people are not sufficiently aware that what to do with a bulb at the end of its life. It worries me that there is no safe disposal system for recycling of CFLs in India. A recent article from Toxic Alert highlights this concern. Greenpeace in India has led several campaigns highlighting the effects of mercury release from these bulbs. As a result of the bad press that CFLs have received the pro-CFL lobby in India went on to show that the amount of mercury to be released due to CFLs will be miniscule as compared to the emissions of mercury from coal production. People in India somehow miss the whole point I guess. The focus should be on safe use of CFLs and safe disposal!

I am aware of hazardous waste management facilities run by RAMKY in the country do accept CFLs. Municipalities, townships, village representatives should be made aware of disposal of hazardous waste. A CSE report on CFLs in India clearly highlights the regulatory and management issues for a successful CFL program in the country(Study published in Down To Earth (January 15-
31, 2009).

Proper recycling and disposal of CFLs is a must – at manufacturers site or common waste management facility ? Or both with differing costs?

As highlighted by the CSE study the way forward is

• Existing recycling facilities at manufacturing sites must be
made available so that CFLs can be recycled even before
the government mechanism is put in place
• Cost of disposal must be part of the cost of the CFL
• A system must involve buy back of burned out CFLs

At present – the least you can do -

1. Buy your bulbs from reliable sources (marked by BIS)

2. If a CFL breaks in your home, be sure to disperse the harmful vapors by opening a window prior to cleaning up the pieces. Sweep up the fragments, taking care not to touch them with your hands and place the pieces in a sealed plastic bag for disposal. Be sure to wipe the area where the breakage occurred to make sure all fragments are removed.

3. Ask your township for a recycling of these bulbs.

4. Ask your dealer to will take back used bulbs or bulbs which fuse within a year.

Bye for now….

Do send your comments, concerns and forward this post.



Monday, November 9, 2009

CFLs are here to stay!


Hi folks – writing a new post after a month. The old tungsten filament bulbs will soon be obsolete as the compact fluorescent lamps(CFLs) are here to stay. World over we have seen a rapid change of normal light bulbs to CFLs.  This is a good change since we are talking about energy and money savings. To most people talking in terms of reductions in CO2 emissions do not make sense. What makes sense is talking in terms of savings in terms of money.

A CFL bulb uses up to 75% less energy than old fashioned bulbs. Every bulb changed means reduced demand for electricity which means lesser CO2 emissions, lower pollution, lower costs. That means cleaner healthier air, environmental and public health benefits. Each CFL lasts about 7 years. If every household in America replaced just one light bulb with Energy Star – qualified CFL, the reduction in CO2 emissions would be like taking 800,000 cars off American roads( Through the ambitious Project Porchlight’s endeavors this could be a reality.

I first saw these bulbs in IKEA London way back in 2000. My small studio apartment in London had only a three light fixtures. I changed them all. Electricity is costly in UK. My monthly energy bill plummeted drastically due to use of CFLs.  When I came to US and saw the wasteful light fixtures I was a bit amazed! Land of plenty it is! Also the fact that electricity is cheap in US as compared to Europe or Asia – makes people residing here less inclined to make any changes in this regard. But all this is changing slowly yet steadily. So CFLs have made way into our homes and are lighting up are lives.

Excited about the wonders of the new light many of us would not know what to do with the CFL after it is spent. Many of the fixtures we use today such as fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps contain mercury and ballasts that contain PCB can be hazardous. Due to the trace amount of mercury the end of the life safe disposal is of concern. What happens to your old lighting fixtures when you buy new ones? They are probably trashed but it might not be the correct way of disposing of them. There are federal regulations on the disposal of ballasts and lamps in US and EU.

LAMPS: Mercury is a very deadly element when in contact at very high levels. All fluorescent and High-intensity discharge (HID) lamps contain small amounts of mercury. This amount may not affect your health but still needs to be disposed of correctly so the mercury will not accumulate. Just to be on the safe side it is better to consider all lamping waste to be hazardous.

This means that they have to be recycled or taken to a hazardous waste landfill. When these lamps are recycled they are smashed and the mercury is taken out; then the other parts of the lamp are reused.

There are some new developments in lamps that have lower mercury content that are approved by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and is safe to dispose of as solid waste but regulations in each state are different so be sure to check.

BALLASTS: If your old ballasts does not have a label stating "NO PCBs" then it does not contain PCB. Prior to 1979 all ballasts made in the U.S. contained PCBs.

If there's a Home Depot store in your city or town, you can simply drop your used CFL bulbs off at the store for safe recycling, free of charge.

Also check out for the same.

For more information about compact fluorescent bulbs, visit

For more information about compact fluorescent bulbs and mercury, visit

So much for now, till the next post CIAO!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Woodbridge River Watch

Do you know that Woodbridge township has a green oasis? How many are aware of the existence of Woodbridge River and 97 acres of tranquil forest in the township of Woodbridge?  If you are a resident of Woodbridge and happen to be in Omar Avenue – you will be able to see the wooded area. A wooded area in Woodbridge?

Surprised? I bet!

Map picture

Way back in 1988 a group of six individuals of the township formed a small organization called the Woodbridge River Watch. The group grew in strength to about a 100 volunteers at one time. Several enthusiastic clean-ups were undertaken and you won’t believe the things that they pulled out from the Woodbridge river! Tires, shopping carts, bottles, cans amongst endless other things!

The WRW has shown that what a group of dedicated people can do to conserve the natural resources even in an urban environment. The  Woodbridge township has recognized the efforts of the group and has allocated $15,000 to have engineers delineate the wetlands.

The objective of Woodbridge River Watch:

Cleanup and Restore all waterways in Woodbridge Township

Provide passive (natural state) recreational areas, such as:

    • Nature Trails
    • Canoe Launch sites & rest areas
    • Bird Watching Stands
    • Animal Refuges

Latest activity by the group is the butterfly garden @Omar Avenue. Work in the butterfly garden started last year.

Thanks to the dedicated members of the WRW group and volunteers the waterways have been restored largely. More work needs to be done for which volunteers are required. The forthcoming cleanup has been planned for 24th of October 2009 (rain date 31st of October). Please visit the organization website for contact information. We need to ensure that the work of all the senior members of the group is carried on by the younger generation.

So pass this post to as many Woodbridge residents you know – As for me I am amazed by the spirit of the group and each meeting inspires me to do more than what is required for our earth.

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success." Swami Vivekanand

The work by the group shows just that! They never fail to inspire me!

CIAO – till the next post!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Car-less in Mumbai, London and New Jersey

autoexhaust pedestrian

Hi – To all my readers who have been following my blog(I presume – they have been ;-) ) I have a bit of news.

I had an accident on Wednesday. No one was injured – my son was with me and I was unnerved that’s all. Or that’s what I thought! Anyways what has a car accident to do with a green lifestyle?

No - I am not car-less trying to reduce my carbon footprint. I am car-less because the left blinker is not working you see. The whole thing will take about a week to fix. Till that time – I am car-less. 

Well, given a chance I would like to live car-less. Two legs, bike or a scooty(fuel efficient and/or preferably battery operated) is my kind of vehicle.

The pedestrian and the vehicle drivers are not mutually exclusive groups. Each one of us is one or the other in course of our daily lives. But it is the human tendency to assume a sense of power depending upon the vehicle we are driving. Hence in the human mind – owning a car is empowering, physically as it allows us to travel further and socially as it tells the society about our buying power.

I came to Bombay from Nagpur(I biked and rode a two wheeler in Nagpur). The first thing I felt in the first couple of days is the amount of walking I was doing in Mumbai. I have lived in Mumbai for several years without a car. I lived in IIT Powai campus which is pretty and very much walkable (i.e if you are not bothered by stray dogs and the late night visitors – panthers) and I would venture out at the most to the shops just outside the campus. Most of my shopping needs were met within a radius of 5 km of my place of residence. Mumbai offers the carless many means of travelling – mostly the city offers the option of bus, train and three wheeler autos and taxis. Not all modes are the best of the world – but they work, they handle endless crowd and somehow the chaotic system manages to take people effectively from point A to point B. Not the best of roads or footpaths to walk on though..but people walk anyways. Many times hordes of pedestrians cross the roads together and bring the road traffic to a halt. What hits me is the absence of safe pedestrian crossing. Pedestrians in Mumbai also do one more thing – they take the path of least resistance. For example hordes of people just get down from a train and cross the tracks together. Often you may find a big opening in a wall between the tracks and the road on the other side – you see path of least resistance. In India the term pedestrian often is synonymous to the common man or the poorer people. As smaller cars are becoming more accessible more and more Indians are moving on and acquiring that ultimate dream of owning a car. Urban planners need to cater to the needs of the pedestrian in the developing countries. Often this segment is neglected as we move on trying to emulate the west – more highways and freeways..enough to deter anyone even daring to cross them – example the western and eastern expressways. In India pedestrians often cross wherever they feel like…not where they are supposed to. On a busy road one many times can see a person whizzing past. That’s how one has to cross a road in India – superfast. Why – one may ask? think and let me know. And the pedestrian mind you can be inconsiderate too – whizzing past at the cost of the bewildered car driver! One thing though..without a car one does not feel helpless in Mumbai.

Many places in India you will see pedestrians walking on the road and not on the footpaths even where they exist. What is so disheartening to see is that – municipalities  spend time and money building footpaths..but height of the raised footpath – is almost a foot high. The design of the footpath has no allowance for people walking with prams or the like. Enough to deter old people or people with leg problems off the footpath. Often, open drains on footpaths and vendors or squatters hogging space deter people off the footpath.

After Mumbai, walking in London felt wonderful. Lived in London for 4 years. Not once did I feel the need to buy or own a car. For me, if I were to compare Mumbai and London – London to me is a walking heaven. One can walk really here. For the first time in my life I saw these quaint little buttons on poles near crossings. These are the pedestrian cross buttons. When I went back to visit India I told people about such buttons. One person said to me, “You mean the traffic actually stops because one person wanted to cross the road?”. “Yes it does”, I replied. London also has a very effective bus, train and tube service which makes walkability practically a cakewalk. I walked to my hearts content. I did not visit a gym during the course of 4 years of my stay there. Many European cities I have noted have infrastructure which support walkability.

The US is completely different story. For the first time in my life I felt utterly helpless, hopeless and useless. Initially I didn't have a license nor a car. When my son fell sick I put him in a pram and walked him to the doctor’s office. The footpath suddenly vanished and I was contemplating how to cross the big road. You wouldn’t want to know the frustration I felt that day. Everything here is driven by the auto industry and insurance. Living without a car can be pretty tough, especially here, where public transportation is frequently lacking and where questionable urban planning has caused the average person to live far away from workplaces, schools, and markets.

That said, it's certainly possible, as long as you're willing to change your lifestyle. Many townships(Woodbridge for instance) have identified that the issues surrounding air pollution, green house gas emissions and walkablity, sustainability are all interlinked. A lot of thought need to be put into making neighborhoods sustainable.

Improving walkability could translate into :

1. Thriving local economy – walkers tend to stop more at local stores

2. Reducing carbon dioxide emission(33% of all US CO2 emissions come from cars)

3. Reducing air pollution (common criteria air pollutants from cars are PM, NOx, CO)

4. Healthier population – walking each day for 30 minutes..everyone knows it is good for you.

5. Curb unnecessary expenditure (in other words help lead a more austere lifestyle) since without the car, one would not visit far flung shops or malls!

Here are a few links :

Calculate your carbon emissions due to your car – at

Read about : The global walkability index :TALK THE WALK AND WALK THE TALK


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why Buy Local?

To all my readers – as you know I have been keenly following the green initiatives of the township of Woodbridge as I am a resident of this township. Woodbridge comprises of the following communities.

The Township has announced “Buy & Shop Local” and the “Green Business Recognition” initiative. According to Caroline Ehrlich, Chief of Staff and architect of the “Sustainable Woodbridge” initiative, the “Buy & Shop Local” initiative – part of “Greenable Woodbridge” – is geared to encourage Township residents and consumers to support locally owned, independent businesses that provide unique services and commodities to the community.

“Buy Local” contributes to the overall Township economy, maintains the character of the community and provides continuing opportunities for local entrepreneurs and businesses by building economic strength throughout the Township. “Buy Local” also encourages environmental conservation by reducing travel and fuel consumption and advances health and wellness by allowing residents to walk to local merchants and stores for all their shopping needs.

The township has announced A BUY LOCAL CHALLENGE which challenges residents, shoppers and consumers to shop locally the week of September 20-27.

For a resident the first and foremost question that would arise to meet this challenge is to know what are the local businesses in their area. FREE on-line business listing in the WOODBRIDGE TOWNSHIP BUY LOCAL directory is up at the Woodbridge Township web page(

One can think of buying local in terms of concentric circles. For example – for your food requirements – local starts with growing your own food, the next concentric ring is local farm, next farmer’s market, next state run grocery food chain, next might be nationwide grocery chain.

People should be aware that buying local need not imply that goods you buy are organic produce or sustainable. For that “buy local” and “green businesses” have to run in tandem. What buy local does is supports the local economy and help save fuel. For more information refer to the Top Ten reasons to Think Local - Buy Local - Be Local. Also take a minute off your time to see what the main street of your town looks like. You might find an interesting cafe or restaurant with a lot of character. Our car dependency hampers exploration by foot and robs us of exploring a town – stopping at will at a local store when you are passing by. The next in line of efforts from the township – should be making the main streets walkable and pedestrian friendly.

So to all residents of the township – do your part in helping the local economy – try and meet the challenge of shopping locally – at least during the week of September 20-27 2009. Pass on the message to all people the residents of Woodbridge.

Till you hear from me again – Happy Shopping.

BWT – when you visit the Woodbridge YMCA – pick up coupons – @ ‘Your Passport to Woodbridge’ in the entrance lobby.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Still no bottled water for me!

My last post on bottled water had generated a lot of interest. This is a follow up post on the same subject. I got a bunch of interesting comments from my readers. For those who could not post their comment..I have fixed that.

Would like to share this video with all my blog readers :

Seen enough I guess?

I was scouting for options to carry water without using glass or plastic and we recently acquired this bottle from SIGG. The other bottle which we got was from Klean Kanteen. If you are in North America or Europe – these would be viable options for you. However these are good value for money. And there are others like EcoCanteen too.


kleen kanteen

Developing nations may still not have these options – I would expect people to put their heads together to come up options to make portable water bottles with copper, steel and glass(something like capped beer bottles?) – anything but plastic…and I would probably even look for light weight aluminum bottles.

I did find good portable steel flasks to carry water in India – even the old fashioned glass flasks are options – though these break very easily. Water kept in copper containers are supposed to be good for health – and I have seen them at my mom’s place and store water in one myself here in US. But these might not be good options in local travel as compared to the stainless steel bottle below. This makes me nostalgic of the times when we would carry water in earthen pots for long distance train travels.

216rPrFiCrL__SL500_AA150_ copper jug stainless steel

People in India please read the report by CSE on the occurrence of pesticide in bottled water. The only company that did not have any traces of pesticides was Evian – which is bottled in France – why the hell did they choose to transport it to India for sale…no market in France? What about GHG emissions associated with all their operations – never head is aching!

Why would people prefer bottle water even if they are aware that bottled water is the single largest marketing gimmick by private companies?

I had posted my post on the "Climate Change- I care" group in linked and it ended up being a lively discussion. I am reporting it say it went - their arguments in quotes and mine without.

From Netherlands Saskia wrote, “The water company in Southern Limburg Netherlands has great difficulty in getting tap water clean. Especially antibiotics and medicines are difficult. This is a problem in the US too.”

I understand that antibiotics and medicines are difficult to remove from water...strict regulations to ensure the safe disposal of these hazardous wastes - so that they do not enter the water cycle - must be put in place. US EPA is working towards that....I will highlight that in my next post. In fact if bottled water is many times tap water bottled - i would not be surprised tests show traces of antibiotics in them.

Marcio Rossa from London says, “In lots of countries bottled water is a means of survival and the tap water is undrinkable.”

Poor people in these countries many times do not have access to clean water at times and no means by bottles water is my response to the above argument. Bottled water is a luxury which many people cannot afford.

Marcio continues, “Bottle water is like wine or other drink. Different countries and different regions in the same country have different types of water due to chemical components in the rocks, etc.
I do have a preference for a certain type of water. A taste I prefer or a more adequate type of water, adjusted to my health. Saying that banning bottled water is the best... hum, would make me very sad. I think I would stop drinking water all together, so being obliged to buy juices, then get fat and with diabetes because they have about 40% sugar, etc.
And believe me, I would never drink water from the Victorian pipes of London... They are very old!... if bacteria survive in extreme basic and acid (ph) environments, don't tell me that the 'treated' waters of London (where I study) are safe. The river Thames looks very dirty to me!
In Portugal, where I'm from, bottled water is a big industry. It is collected where the spring is being less processed, transformed, or whatever we want to call it.
Of course I do care about the poor countries and the people that have no money to buy water. I do care a lot, but is not by stopping (what we call) developed countries having their water that they will be happier! we need to find solutions and maybe exporting (traded or not) bottled water might be the only solution. That we know is not.”

Bijoy Nair from Gulf writes
“But there is no other choice for people like me who are living in Arabian Gulf. We are paying more for water than gasoline!
We are not away from wars for which water is gonna be the cause :("

From Saskia again

“I am secretly happy to hear that you pay more for water than for gasoline. As gasoline is soooo cheap over there... The prices in the Netherlands with special taxes on gasoline are terrible... but good for reducing CO2 emissions.
Sunita, how do you propose strict regulation on keeping antibiotics an medicine out of the water? Its in feaces and urine... that's the problem. We can hardly forbid people to use their restroom/loos!? When the toilet is flushed it comes into the water cycle, also with closed sewer systems as we have throughout the Netherlands.”

My response to the above two :

I have mentioned that incase you have to drink water from reliable sources and which come under the category of bottled water - you could use 3 - 5 gallons refillable, reusable, recyclable bottles - which can be returned back to the water supplier in lieu of newly filled water containers.
I too am worried about the antibiotics and medicines in water - however treated STP water is many times not recycled back into the city water distribution system - let me know if I am wrong..
Rain water harvesting, storage and use - is a good area for homeowners to investigate.
Also one have to weigh what poses a greater health threat - BPA or traces of antibiotics in water.

I have lived in London for several years - totally agree - that the Thames is doubt...but it used to be dirtier believe me it was the sewage carrier for the city of it is much better.
The source of drinking water in London are the lakes - I have drunk tap water - filtered using Brita - and not fallen sick any time during my several years of stay in London.

Another interesting reason where we would need bottled water says David Gross ,“About the only reason I can think to have bottled water is for national disasters. When the power goes out so can the water/sewer. Having sat through hurricanes Francis and Jeanne in Florida in 2004, I can say that bottled water is useful to have around during an emergency. Filling up the bathtub is a good plan for occasionally flushing the toilet, but I would not want to drink that.”

We would definitely not want to add to the burden of disasters – water supplied by tankers and filled in containers by affected people is often practiced in countries like India in times of nature afflicted disasters. – But what works for some countries might not be true for other countries – we all tend to follow one rule in life diligently – we follow path of least resistance – we all do what is the easiest and most convenient for us!

For such events we could think of bottles made of Taterware and Novomer.

Novomer is a company that makes plastics from CO2. SO no oil, and it helps reduce CO2; sounds too good to be true.

Did you know that offering water in glass bottles is becoming a gourmet thing in restaurants! Its a shame…at present there is no single company that is offering water in a glass bottle – though beer a very popular drink is routinely sold in one.

Enough on bottled water I guess. As you can see there are two sides of a coin - but the environmental impact of plastic bottles far outweigh any other concerns. We have a long way to go! CIAO till the next post...will do more on water pollution and how you can be involved.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Smaller Houses and Bigger Lives

At ombegogg

Photograph by Puru

Today I have a very special guest writer for this post. He is Abe WalkingBear Sanchez. Since 1982, International Business Speaker and Trainer,  Abe WalkingBear Sanchez has worked with companies across industry lines and has spoken to  many hundreds of CEO and Top Business Managers Groups.

He had posted this on the Green group in linked in. It is so well written that I wrote to him seeking his permission to post this on my blog. He immediately agreed. So here it is – Enjoy the post. 

“Some younger people fear that in their future they will not do as well materially as their parents' generation. Well I have good news and better news.

GM (General Motors), the old GM that once roamed the world stage like a 900 pound gorilla not the "new" smaller and more humble GM that filed for bankruptcy, came up with the idea that the car you drove defined who you were and created different brands for different classes of consumers.

The same concept was applied to other products...your stuff defined you and people were constantly told and bought into the idea that the quantity and quality of their stuff reflected their worth as a person. He who dies with the most stuff wins. This excessive consumption and accumulation of goods knowing that there were others in need is the very definition of greed, which is both an economic and moral sin.

Proof that people around the world bought into the "pack rat" mindset is the number of mini-storage warehouses, garages, attics, basements and storage sheds bulging with unused and often forgotten stuff. This accumulation is fed by fear, God forbid someone points out that you are wearing/using the same "old thing".
There is a company now called, yes..Pack Rat, which will bring a really big box out to your home and when you've filled it with stuff they'll pick it up and store it for you.

The consumer society is about more than just need, or at least physical's a sickness. But we are recovering from the fever and awakening from the consumption nightmare .

Since WW II we have had several generations sell the most precious thing they have...their lives, for stuff they really didn't need or even used. It was OK to spend more time with your co-workers than with your family. Fighting rush hour traffic was a good thing because your kids could then wear the "right" shoes. Better an expensive electronic toy then tossing a ball with your kids or just sitting and talking..but all that is coming to an end.

Our future lives are not about the quantity of the stuff we possess or which possesses us , but rather about "quality essentials".
In the physical world this concept of "quality essentials" is manifested in education, energy, health care and the goods we produce.

Technology brings with it new efficiencies, a greater return for the investment made and is the basis for "quality essentials" and for new understandings about what is good and right, about new values.
In Native American teachings children are told that life is a gift and that they are also given free will and can choose the road they walk in life. The Red Road is based on love , the Black Road is based on fear and is about focus on self . The opposite of love is not hate its fear for hate like all moral and economic sins is fear based.
Irrational fear holds back the change for the better. Fear creates what the Toltecs called mitote, the fog of the mind and of the soul which clouds our vision but once we let go of the fear and stop giving it energy the fog dissipates.

My friend and mentor , Jack Brightnose, a Cree medicine man once told me that words are magic, that the very idea that by making sounds or putting down symbols we can paint picture in the minds of others is magical, and that we get to choose whether we practice white magic (love) or black magic (fear).

The good news is that the world economy is changing from one based on saturation and excess to one based on fewer "quality essentials" . The better news is that people will be set free from the consumption nightmare.

Through the use of computer and communication technology we are sharing what we have learned and reaching new levels of efficiency; and in so doing we are moving away from an "us and them" time into the time of the "we"; a time of smaller houses and bigger lives.”

 Abe WalkingBear Sanchez

Thanks Abe for sharing this article.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Farmers Market at Woodbridge

We did make it to the Farmer’s market on Saturday. Fruits and vegetables were very fresh indeed – don’t the pictures speak for themselves! I bought Jersey fresh basil and the very last of this season’s blueberries. The farmers market for Jersey Fresh produce is to encourage residents to “buy local”. In doing so – they would help in encouraging local business, and save fuel on transportation of goods.

It was a Green day at the market. One of the stalls was distributing CFL bulbs free of charge to residents – under the project Porchlight.

Project porchlight is about “how changing just one light bulb is a gateway to larger public participation in Climate change action and responsible energy use.”                              


_A225036-1Chris Adornato, Chairman Woodbridge Environmental Commission was offering visitors a free bulb while also explaining how we can help save the environment by doing small things ourselves. His enthusiasm was infectious. I hope it rubbed on to many of us!

Another green stall showcased the green products of Shaklee Corporation. Shaklee is not a new firm – their website says “We were doing it back when green was just a color and biodegradable was barely a word.  In fact, as early as 1960, we made one of the first biodegradable household cleaners ever.  And we were the first company in the world to obtain Climate Neutral™ certification and totally offset our CO2 emissions, resulting in a net zero impact on the environment.”

Shaklee was represented by Debra who shared her extensive knowledge on the products with us. I loved the all-in-one cleaning agent and my hubby particularly liked the laundry cleaner :-)


Apart from the above there were local vendors selling bread, pickles, cheese. Mr. Jaker’s with his pickles stall.


The veggies market.


One interesting day and colorful day it was!

CIAO – till the next post!

PS: All photographs are copyright of Purushottam Rao

You can view these photos on

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Woobridge Farmers Market – Woodbridge goes Green

To all my readers who responded on the “No bottled water for me” post – thanks a lot. I did promise that my next post will be on bottled water again, as the "Climate Change – I care" group on Linkedin where I had posted had several different arguments about this issue.

However, this post is too important to wait – atleast for the residents of Woodbridge.

Woodbridge Goes Green is the event planned for August 22nd at the Woodbridge Farmers Market.

The Greenable Woodbridge website asks residents to -

“Join the Woodbridge Environmental Commission for “Woodbridge Goes Green” @ the Farmer's Market… a day-long festival of “Green” events and giveaways to help protect and preserve our environment…  8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Downtown Farmers Market at the Town Hall parking lot.”

How does dropping by and shopping at the local farmer’s market help in being green? One might wonder!

It works in the following manner:

The Farmer market sells produce from farmers here in New Jersey. Instead of paying big corporations, by buying local farmers’ products, you can help to sustain the environment and support the community.

Not to mention fruits and veggies bought in markets are usually more plump, juicier and more nutritious.

Conventional farming uses vast tracts of land and loads chemicals, inefficient use of water. Constant water techniques causes the percolation of chemicals deep into the soil and polluted water run-off into nearby lakes and streams. Land and water degradation is the result of conventional farming. Not to speak of the chemicals that remain on the fruits and vegetables.

Sustainable agriculture has begun to proliferate in response to the concern. Farmers maintain small plots of land and raise different types of plants and animals, which are rotated around the fields to enrich the soil and help prevent disease and pest outbreaks, according to

Chemical pesticides are used minimally and only when necessary, but many sustainable farms have gone completely organic.

To lower the amount of fossil fuels wasted, farmers sell their goods to local vendors, and that’s where we come in — the consumers who make sustainable agriculture possible.

This is where the Farmer’s Markets come in. By buying your produce at the local farmer’s market – your benefits will be two-fold – you get to buy fresh and organic food – as well as your efforts will help in supporting your local economy.

Moreover – such markets are outdoors – and on a nice summer day – what could be more pleasant than picking up your basket for a nice trip to your local farmer’s market?

So see you there..till then CIAO.


PS : For township residents with kids (5th – 8th grade) – the next green event in your calendar -

Aug. 24 to 28
Sign-Up for the “Green” Day Program
Eco-Adventures at the Earth Center
Davidson’s Mill Pond Park, S. Brunswick

More more info click the link below :

 Aug. 24 to 28 Eco-Adventures at the Earth Center

Monday, August 10, 2009

No bottled water for me!


Why do people buy bottled water? I find it quite amusing when I see people buy water in a bottle. People think that bottled water is purer than tap water. I would not pay a penny to buy bottled water and I have my own reasons which I will share with you. It will explain why the green buzz says no to ‘bottled water’.

Why you must say no bottled water:

1. A four year study by NRDC found major gaps in bottled water regulation and concluded that bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water.

2. Each year 38 billion (and counting up) water bottles end up in landfills in US, in countries like India they line up railway tracks, stations, roadsides etc. The bottles sit there for an average of 700 years before they would break down. 90% of water bottles are not recycled. Do not even think that changing the shape of a bottled water bottle could help to make it tad more ‘eco-friendly’.

3. It takes about 1.5 billion barrels of oil to manufacture bottles – that is the reason why 1 gallon of bottled water actually costs twice or thrice more than what you pay for 1 gallon of oil at the pump.

4. Tap water is on an average 500 times cheaper than bottled water – making bottled water as the most expensive way of water distribution.

5. Municipal authorities have stringent standards for water that is distributed through pipelines into homes.

6. Even in developing countries like India – I would give tap water distributed by Municipality a thumbs up – along with a home water filtration system.

7. I am particularly worried about the implication of storing water in plastic bottles – Bisphenol A (BPA) which is released when the water is hot(like bottles stored in sun heated cars) or when a plastic bottle is washed with hot water. Read more about BPA at science daily.

NRDC study concludes that in USA there are no specific contamination limits that are set on the bottled water industry. I wonder, if that is the case in USA – would I expect any standards for bottled water in India? According to NRDC one fourth of bottled water is actually plain old tap water in fancy packaging. Several brand names tested positive for industrial contaminants and bacterial contaminants such as – fecal coliforms.

Some of the contaminants found in bottled water are arsenic, disinfection byproducts and bacteria.” Seattle, quoting Gina Solomon

Well haven’t I said enough to transform your habit of buy bottled water – into carrying your own reusable water bottle?

So think before you buy yet another bottle to be sent to the landfill.

1. So please use a filter for the tap. However these have a life span and have to be changed after a certain length of time.

2. Invest in a water purification system which uses reverse osmosis, UV, Ozone – these are costly but are very popular in countries like India as it looked upon as a necessity.

3. Store water in glass pitchers for daily use. For parties invest in reusable jars or canisters.

4. Last resort – if you still insist on drinking the so called pure bottled water – make sure that you get a 3 or 5 gallon water bottle. Chances are that you will get it delivered at your home and chances are that it will be reused, recycled,refillable,returnable.

One niggling worry though – if you have a water cooler with these big plastic bottles – do not use the hot water option – remember BPA which is an endocrine disruptor – it mimics the function of the endocrine gland.

As for me – I have always drunk tap water – no matter where in the world I am. Give the tap water a chance – if you are still worried..boil the water, strain it and then drink it. Well who has the time?…Go pick up that bottled water from the store or get it delivered at home!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Greenable Woodbridge


Woodbridge Township is committed to developing strategies that will reduce our impact on the environment both collectively and individually, so that we might preserve our natural resources
for the citizens now and in the future. The Township is also committed to the growth of an economic and socially
sustainable community.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

Making green choices is hard for many people. Modern living has made us lazy. We put all our trash in one big bag when we can recycle and compost, we wipe our tables with paper when we can use cloth, we take out our car when we can walk, when we entertain friends we use disposable plates and cups, we take loads of plastic bags when we go grocery shopping..……the list is endless. Why do we make these choices – 1. We cannot immediately feel the ramifications of our actions, 2. We have no time…3. We believe we are doing nothing wrong as everyone else is doing the same thing and 4. last but not the least the non-green choice is the choice that offers the path of least resistance and is most convenient and readily available!

Those who make green choices could be very well branded insane!!

We have no choice but to be green…if not for our sakes but for the sake of our children. The legacy of environmental degradation will be a big price that our children will have to pay. Recently saw a beautiful Walt Disney children’s movie Wall-E,which touches upon the future of mankind due to the immense trash that we generate and massive consumerism - message well conveyed. In fact, most children today are more aware of what is good for our earth (due to efforts of several environmental education groups, school curriculum, TV shows and movies). Even the popular children’s cartoon show Curious George ran an episode on vermicomposting – causing my son to take a lot of interest in worms and dirt! There was one more on recycling. Ask your child what’s good for the earth – she/he probably knows a bit more about making greener choices. Recently I went grocery shopping(minus my reusable bag) and I took 2 plastic bags as one of them was torn – my friend’s daughter was with me – she pointed out – “Aunty, don’t double bags – see it is written there” see what I mean! A lesson learnt! Children can teach us a lot!

As a resident of Woodbridge Township – this Greenable Woodbridge pledge offers all of us a chance to become environmentally aware and do our bit to achieve a sustainable lifestyle.  I am extremely happy with the resolution of the township since it provides an impetus to the green movement worldwide. Many people are reluctant to lead a greener lifestyle as they do not know where to start or what to do. As a starting point the residents can take the green team challenge listed on the township website.

The townships efforts will bear fruit with whole hearted effort of its residents. We as residents must not undermine our part in this effort.

The various aspects that the township is working on are :

1. Saving Energy – Distribution of CFLs

2. Saving Water – Rain Gardens

3. Buying local and encouraging local economy – Farmer’s market

4. Walkability in the township

5. Reduce, Recycle and Reuse

6. Community outreach and education – through fairs, schools

7. Protection of local natural areas

The township had the Greenable Visioning meeting on July 14th 2009. It is imperative for one and all to be a part of the green movement to make the township’s green movement successful.

The Woodbridge township website lists all the future activities in which its residents can participate.

read more ...

read more ...

Woodbridge Township Moves Toward Certification...
read more ...

Woodbridge Township Redevelopment Agency Achieves Excellence in Planning Award for 2009
read more ...

Woodbridge Mayor McCormac Announces $2.4 Million BPU Clean Energy Grant to Kick-Start ...
read more ...

Hats off to the town’s proactive Mayor John McCormac spearheading the township’s effort in order to achieve its sustainability goals.

As a resident of this township our job is to join this movement and to provide feedback. Through this blog I will promote the township’s green efforts and post blogs on how to achieve a greener lifestyle. People interested in posting their green efforts are most welcome to send me their posts – which will go up on this blog.

Ciao – till the next post…


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Air Pollution in Mumbai and people’s perception


Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly Victoria Terminus, in Mumbai. Photo by thebigdurian on Flickr.

I love Mumbai’s air..though it is very polluted as everyone says. At places, the air brings the smell of sea or wafting smell of lovely roadside food, at other places of leather, ammonia, garbage and stench of human filth. Now, all we seem to breathe in Mumbai is unbearable amounts of toxic gas mix all over Mumbai. Mumbai’s coastal climate is ideal for removal of air pollutants, however, the rate of removal is slower than the rate at which pollutants are generated, hence we end up with a cauldron of toxic gas mix.

Air pollution has a telling effect on the citizens of the city I love. My neighbour’s 5 year old son in Nerul, Navi Mumbai suffers from all sorts of respiratory problems. This is not however an isolated case. Scores of people, especially from the vulnerable group – children, women and old people - are affected. The effect of polluted air on human health is well known. This translates to persondays lost in as people fall sick more often – which in turn – means loss of revenue. The commercial capital of the country must not tolerate this loss. So it should take a cue from how the capital Delhi has dealt with air pollution.

As with everything else that citizens of Mumbai put up with, from terrorism to packed trains, heavily polluted air is also another in their list of things that they have come to accept. Very complacent huh? or are the people of Mumbai sitting ducks?


Sitting ducks, photograph by Purushottam V.Rao

How bad is the pollution on Mumbai? The city authorities are well aware of what it could loose if it fails to address this pressing issue of air pollution. It is engaged in various ameliorative measures to address the issue. What remains to be seen is whether these measures are yielding any positive results.

For the uninitiated, the common air pollutants are :

Carbon Monoxide - CO

Oxides of Nitrogen - NOx

Sulphur Dioxide - SO2

Suspended particular matter - SPM

Respirable suspended particulate matter - RSPM

Hydrocarbons – HC

Deteriorating air quality is the result of rapid economic growth, industrial output, unprecedented rise in vehicles to cater to the city’s burgeoning population.

As per World Bank report 1997 - “In Mumbai (Bombay) the main contributor of air pollution is the transport sector, followed by power plants, industrial units and burning of garbage. Fuel quality and engine conditions significantly influence the level of air pollution To arrest this growing problem, a concerted effort with public involvement is essential. Awareness of the issue, proactive policies, economically affordable standards and technologies and effective enforcement are key elements in any effective air quality management strategy A long- term perspective shows that early adoption of policies for environmentally safer technologies can allow developing countries to resolve some of the most difficult problems of industrialization and growth at lower human and economic cost.”

Ameliorative measures by city admin mainly focus on the vehicular pollution :

1) The bus and rail network in Mumbai is by far the best
public transportation infrastructure in the country in terms
of coverage, carrying capacity, and utilization. Moreover,
Mumbai is implementing an MRTS – metropolitan railway transit system.

2) In the spring of 2002 the High Court issued an order
that all the diesel taxis in the city change to using compressed natural gas [CNG]. They were allowed a few months to do so. Infrastructure was hastily set up to allow for this transition. Now all taxis which ply in Mumbai are either CNG or petrol.

3) The strengthening of the cities arterial roads and introduction of 55 flyovers for smoother flow of traffic in and out of the city.

These results of these measure show a steady decline in SO2 and RSPM concentrations in Mumbai. NOx concentrations are below the NAAQS standards and have remained steady. Monitoring results are available on Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board website.

However, SPM remains above NAAQS in Mumbai. A comprehensive emission inventory was conducted in 1997 for Mumbai as part of the Urban Air Quality Management Strategy (URBAIR). It was found in the study that the total suspended particulates exposure was primarily due to resuspension from roads caused by vehicles(40%), emission from diesel and gasoline vehicles (14%), domestic wood and refuse burning (31%), and others (15%) (World Bank 1997). The aspect of resuspension formed one of the important areas of investigation in the later emission inventory-related studies.

And people’s perception of high air pollution is due to these levels of suspended particulate matter. The World Bank conducted a public perception survey in 2004. One purpose of the survey was to compare the perceptions of stakeholders to the findings of the recent analyses of air quality trends and sources of particulate air pollution in Indian cities. The survey was not designed to yield statistically significant results. It was rather a modest attempt to get a broad picture of the perceptions and understandings of informed observers of urban air pollution in India. “Nearly half of the respondents said
that air quality in their cities was deteriorating. Transport was
considered the most important cause of air pollution.” Country Synthesis report on Urban air Quality,Dec 2006.

I get to hear this from a lot of people who travel from the west to Mumbai and get stuck in the city’s maze of taxi’s and three wheelers – unable to bear the pollution or the heat of the city – they come back and say that ‘Oh my God, Mumbai is so polluted’. One must take a leaf out of the former mayor of London – who decided to take the local train during his stay in Mumbai (just to get a feel of it - I suppose!). Either the monitoring done in the city is at wrong locations – hence showing decreasing trend in pollutant concentrations or the people have wrong perceptions regarding the changing air quality of city of Mumbai!!

People’s perception has a lot to do with air quality battles – rather than depending on the city admin to change the air quality – and avoid being sitting ducks – the citizens of Mumbai must participate actively in the following through proactive groups:

1. Refuse burning – form area active groups to prevent refuse burning

2. Construction activities – ensure builders in your area comply with mitigation measures for air pollution – a construction phase of a project is a temporary phase and hence many builders do not employ any mitigation measures for air pollution reduction. A year of construction activity may result in a year of misery in a child or senior citizens life.

3. Diesel generators generate a lot of SPM and SO2 – many of these generators can be seen at construction sites – it is the duty of the citizen to form an action group – to ensure DG sets comply with current emission norms(Refer CPCB websites on DG set emission norms).

4. Use public transport – leave personal vehicles at home.

5. Service your vehicle and keep your pollution under control certificate up to date.

6. Spot out vehicles using adulterated fuel – and report to state police.

The CPCB website gives a list of dos and donts for the citizens for reducing vehicular pollution.

The latest environmental status report is available at

Taking a cue from the cities of Pune, Delhi and Hyderabad, the citizens of Mumbai - could ask for digital signboards indicating the air pollutant concentrations for each day.

Don’t be sitting ducks – be proactive – breathe cleaner air!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cigarettes & Indoor Air Pollution

Hello World! This is Govindraj Umarji. Dr. Sunita has invited me to write a post for A Greener You. I am really glad to be a part of this initiative.

A few bits about me: My basic degree is in Chemical Engineering. I completed my Masters under the guidance of Professor Patil (CESE 2007 Batch), with the topic being Improvement of the Indoor Micro-environment in Commercial Kitchens. Dr. Sunita & I share our Guide, Professor Patil and a passion for topics relating to Indoor Air Pollution. All right, then. On to my post.

These days, we hear a lot about indoor air pollution and its effect on human health. But what exactly is indoor air pollution? What are the sources of indoor air pollution? Why does it occur in the first place? Well, this post will try to provide some insights on that. Indoor air pollution is an area that is close to my heart and you will hear more on IAP on this blog from me.

To start with, let me get to pollution in general. Contrary to popular belief, a pollutant is defined as a substance present in excess of its normal concentration in the environment. That means, any substance on this earth has a the potential to be a pollutant, if it is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Air pollution is a serious issue because unlike water and land pollution, physical boundaries are not sufficient to contain it. Pollution, in that sense, is a unifying factor across national and international boundaries! Consider the case in point: rapid industrialization in Germany and France led to Sweden’s lakes turning acidic due to acid rain! Now, that is what they mean when they say that the world is getting closer.

Another myth is that CO2 is a pollutant. CO2 is a green house gas and is not a pollutant. CO2 will be called a pollutant if it is present in amounts exceeding 5000 ppm and since there are a lot many sinks to this particular gas, there is scant possibility of this gas making it to that high a concentration. Anyway, coming back to the point at hand, we all know what ambient air pollution is. There are standards set by the Central Pollution Control Board [CPCB] which are known as National Ambient Air Quality Standards [NAAQS]. More information can be found at the website:

However, there are no standards prescribed for the indoor environment. Why is this so?Consider the fact that there are at least a million registered and un-registered architects all over the world and each one has her / his own way of designing buildings. Each one gives different weightage to lighting and ventilation factors. Ergo, it becomes difficult to gauge how much air is going into an indoor environment and how much is leaking to the atmosphere from it. Also, the definition of the indoor environment is such that it becomes difficult to make a standard. An indoor environment is any place / location where one is not exposed to the ambient air directly. That means every place, right from schools to cars to trains and aeroplanes fall in this category. That makes a difficult job, that of specifying standards, impossible.

What then, are the sources of indoor air pollution? There are many, and a partial list can be found here: [The website of the United States Environmental Protection Agency] You will find among the many listed sources a source called Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS). Note the use of the word Environmental. Cigarette smoke has not been referred to directly, because cigarette smoke itself is a part of ETS. ETS is constituted by cigarette smoke as well as the smoke that the smoker exhales. Overall, ETS is more harmful than cigarette smoke by itself is.

The cigarette burns at a very high temperature when the smoker inhales and the tip of the cigarette can be at as high a temperature as 900 C. This explains why cigarette burns take so long to heal. Nicotine, the habit forming chemical present in tobacco, does not lead to the production of harmful gases / particulate matter. It is the “tar” present in the tobacco which leads to production of carbon monoxide and carcinogens and poly aromatic hydrocarbos like phenanthrene, flouranthene, etc. Carbon Monoxide, another combustion product, reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of human blood because it forms an irreversible bond with haemoglobin. Particulate matter settles in the lungs, and cigarette smoke has such small particles that they can deposit in the alveoli, which are the places where gas transfer takes place in the lungs i.e. oxygen is swapped for CO2.

The smoke that a smoker exhales has more of these smaller particles than he/she has himself/herself inhaled, because they are too small to get deposited in the smoker’s lungs. However, in the time that elapses between a smoker exhaling and a passive smoker inhaling, these condense on other particles and grow sufficiently in size to get deposited in the passive smoker’s lungs. This is what makes passive smoking such a threat to humans! There are of course many other sources of indoor air pollution and I haven’t even scratched the surface of this topic. However, I do believe that I will have generated sufficient interest in this topic by this small article for all of you to do some reading on your own. Based on the popularity of this post, I will decide whether to part with some more interesting information!
Till then, adieu!

Some links for reading up on indoor air pollution:

Govindraj Umarji

Thursday, June 4, 2009

World Environment Day – 5th June

This is my foray into the world of green blogging – “A Greener You” .

But yet another green blog..why? As Karen puts it – “we all touch lives of different people. Let the other green bloggers touch the lives of people in their part of the world and this one will touch the lives and tell the stories of people in our part of the world.”

The ABC of becoming green is a 3 step process :

A – Awareness

B – Belongingness

C- Commitment

This blog will create awareness – with inspiring stories and information about anything in the shade of green, belongingness you will need to develop, commitment will come the moment the realization sets in that – we belong to this earth and it belongs to us.

“Now as never before, the old phrase has more meaning. We are all in the same boat.” – Jacques Costeau.

We are at the beginning of the fourth revolution of human history. This is the green revolution…We aim to achieve a balance between our consumerist ways and the new greener ways – some call it sustainable development.

“Sustainability, ensuring the future of life on earth is an endless game, the endless expressing of generosity on behalf of all.”Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest

Green is about worrying more than oneself. It is being sensitive to what your actions could cause to not only your immediate neighborhood, but understanding its larger ramifications. Even something as simple as the food we eat has its ramifications. “We sit down at the dinner table, pick up a fork, take a juicy bite, oblivious to the double helping of global ramifications. Our beef comes from Iowa, fed by Nebraska corn. Our bananas from Honduras, our olive oil from Sicily”(source National Geographic : End of Plenty – The Global Food Crisis June 2009).

Becoming “A Greener You” is your choice and you can fool yourself into believing that one person does not matter. But believe me living in tandem with nature is cheaper and healthier and we can become green and more greener with patience and perseverance.

I chose June 5th- World Environment Day as the day of my first blog. World Environment Day (WED) was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

Commemorated yearly on 5 June, WED is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. The day's agenda is to:

  1. Give a human face to environmental issues;
  2. Empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development;
  3. Promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues;
  4. Advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

So what better than 5th June to start this Green Blog.

Today I will tell you about a story of a certain doctor couple. In the neighborhood I grew up in – in Nagpur, central India, our immediate neighbors were Dr and Dr(Mrs) W. Mrs. W’s father was a keen gardener. As was the case in the early 60-70-80’s independent houses had big gardens – with front gardens for flowers and back gardens for fruits and vegetables. With the demise of Mrs W's father, the house was divided among the children – the ground floor for the son, the top floor for the daughter – Mrs. W and the second floor went to the other son – who constructed his office and cordoned off half of the garden to make way for parking for his staff. The front garden was half its size and was reduced to just a small portion of greenery.

The first floor had two big terraces which used to be rather bare. We used to play there with Mrs W’s kids when we are little. A few months after her dad’s demise we started seeing loads of potted plants arriving. Within months the bare terraces where transformed into a formal lawn sit-out(yes on the first floor!) and loads of plants from various places. Watching the bare space turning green gave me immense pleasure – as if it was Mrs W’s way of paying homage to her departed father. So why mention this story here – well its about how you can include just three green plants in your apartment and improve the air quality inside your house. A few months earlier I was checking out LEED certification courses and stumbled upon Kamal Meattle’s talk on TED. With its air-filtering plants and sustainable architecture, Kamal Meattle's office park in New Delhi is a model of green business. Meattle himself is a longtime activist for cleaning up India's air. He talks about three common plants – the Areca palm, the money plant and mother-in-laws tongue. These are not very high maintenance and are available anywhere in the world!


Each of these indoor plants have their specific specialties – but they all help in improving indoor air quality – which in turn improves the health of the people living therein. Work environments with healthier indoor air quality have reported lower absentees, fewer sick leaves, lesser allergies and increased productivity.

We may not be plant lovers but we all love our families and all offices would like their employees to be more productive – so please do go through Kamal Meattle’s talk on TED and get these three amazing plants to become the showpieces of your home or office.

So creating fresh air for yourself is easy and it could be your first step in turning into a beautiful light shade of green(for a beginning!). I move houses often (between countries) – but wherever I have lived I have had my plants and pots. On departing the country I leave my plants with plant loving friends.

Recently my hubby went for a training session - ‘How to make better business presentations” – session was interesting and the speaker very good. Now why I am going off the context – well – they were all asked to give a talk on any topic of their choice – my hubby gave a presentation on Longwood Gardens (visit his blog on Vignettes on Photography (using Olympus E-30)). His colleague Sumathi chose to talk about these house plants and Kamal Meattle. So there was Puru – sitting and nodding his head – Suni will like this – or she must have already seen this..!! So thanks to Sumathi – I decided to write my first blog on these three humble houseplants.

So this is my first blog post – leave your feedback, comments and let me know incase you want to share your big or small green effort, will happily include them. Counting on you all to make this a beautiful dark green blog!



Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Hi Sunita! Congratulations on getting 'A Greener YOU' started. I'm excited to see where your blog takes us! I'm confident that each little green effort we make will help our planet and make it a better place for our children and theirs.
All the best!