Did you know that it takes 200 litres of water to make one 50ml disposable paper cup?
Did you know that the long hot showers you enjoy use about 20-22(or more) litres of water per minute?
Did you know that simply by the virtue of eating in a big plate, we end up taking more food than we intend to eat and end up wasting food?
We did not, really. Then we met Mr Niranjan Khatri, who dropped by at our centre for a talk. What started off as a session on sustainable living turned into a dialogue on water conservation, mindful living and eco-friendly lifestyle, with quite a few amusing tidbits of facts and anecdotes thrown in. He also taught us the Inclusive Applause, a thoughtful practice that considers as well as includes hearing and speech impaired individuals!
Mr Khatri is the Founder and Principal Consultant at iSambhav, a sustainable development training organization that enables people to optimize their lifestyle and processes by teaching them eco-friendly practices and providing tools to do the same. Check out their website here.
In a style reminiscent of the 90’s phenomenon “Potli Baba”, Mr Khatri pulled out one story after the other from his own vast experience, while we sat there, spellbound and listening like curious little children. It’s really difficult to put all of them together in the same basket and call it one article, so we’re just gonna list it all out for you.
Although there many large-scale operations to conserve water, most of us do not make any effort to save water in our day-to-day lives. It might be because we don’t know how to, or maybe because we don’t care. The way drinkable water is drying up and the amount of wastage, it is very probable that the next war be fought for control of water!
There are regions in Rajasthan which get 200 mm of rain annually. The water is collected in small, shallow wells with a pipe installed in the middle. Over days, the morning dew settled on this pipe eventually trickles down and collects in the well. This water is then rationed to the villagers, 1 litre for every person. (Btw, that is how much we use every time we wash our hands under a running faucet). If you ever visit these villagers, you will be offered a glass of camel milk, since that is available in abundance. A family’s stored water is their wealth and is treated like it. The water containers are locked in a safe and opened only for VIPs, and offered in very small portions.
Similar practices are followed in South Andes regions where rainfall is just as scarce. A vertical net is erected with an open drain pipe below it. The dew accumulated in the net falls into the pipe, which leads it to a community tank. This water is then supplied to the community for drinking and cooking.
We had our bit of controversial dialogue when the talk turned to water pollution on the account of religious practices. A lot of us throw idols, offerings, flowers, food (*cough* dead bodies *cough*) in our rivers and lakes. Spelling out the obvious, it is very, very bad for the environment and in turn, for us. Traditions are tied to faith, not practices and by modifying the latter to make them less damaging, we are only protecting the planet we call our Mother. Don’t follow the mandate blindly. Question the real purpose behind it all and follow your belief without damaging your own surroundings.
The Rs 50 study table
“On many of my trips to the far-flung villages, i noticed that the schools did not have tables/desks for the children”, recalls Mr Khatri. “Children kept their books on the ground and hunched over it to write, back completely bent over the book. It is unimaginable how uncomfortable that would be and what damage that would do to a child’s posture in the long term.”
He came back with a strong urge to do something about it. Wooden tables/desks would be out of questions since the schools would have neither the budget nor the space for them. What could possibly be as strong as wood and as cheap as plastic?
Amazingly, the answer came from nature itself. In partnership with bangalore based eco solutions firm Vaspar, iSambhav created a sturdy, compact and portable little desk made entirely out of cardboard and based on the honeycomb design beehives! It is incredibly lightweight and folds into a regular register-shape, so easy to store and carry! When opened, it becomes a desk one can keep on his/her lap. It is strong as hell – It can withstand a weight of upto 80-90 kgs without any damage. Best part is, it only costs Rs 50! Here’s how it looks. In case you want to order some, you can reach out to Mr Arun at Vaspar on 9900029721.
The highlight of the day was, making DIY solar cookers! Made from simple raw materials, easily available in and around our homes, the cooker can be as good as an LPG stove on a sunny day. We made one during the session and cooked delicious maggi too! It is incredibly simple to make and is a boon for families who cannot afford LPG. Learn here how to make one and pass on the manual to someone who might need it.
The little things we can do
Tiny changes in our lifestyle can go a long way in improving our ecosystem and maybe even elongating mankind’s life on this planet.
Here are some you must try –
- When you have guests over, don’t offer full glasses of water which will eventually go to waste. Ask them how much they want.
- Maybe cut down on the introspection under the running shower? Bathing under a shower for 30 mins is surely relaxing for us. But think about this when you do that – Rajasthan. 1 litre per person. Water in a vault. Yeah. Turn that shower off.
- We have a habit of washing utensils under a running faucet. A lot of water can be saved if we just made the effort of turning the tap off every few seconds.
- When visiting your native village, take solar cookers as gifts for the family or the VASPAR desks as gifts for their children. They sure will last longer than clothes and will be be much more useful than jewelry.
- This diwali, give away new solar cookers and cardboard desks to your maids/society staff along with your old clothes.
- Don’t use disposable cups/plates made of paper. It takes 200-250 litre to make EACH one of those. Carry a plastic/steel bottle with you. For gatherings, keep plastic glasses. (Hire someone for washing. Create a job for the economy. :p)
- Don’t throw away something that is still usable. Give it to someone who needs it. to quote Mr Khatri – “Use something till you are happy with it. Then give it to someone who will be happy with it.”
- Next time your are at a wedding, eyeing the sumptuous feast, or out for a buffet lunch, eat for your stomach and not for the eyes. In our excitement of a good meal, we take more than we intend to eat. Taking smaller portions will reduce food wastage. Remember, the food left in the dustbin cannot be given away, but that in the dish can be. Another quotable quote from Mr Khatri – “Waste is just wealth in the wrong place.”
- Pause and think. What are the practices that are wasting water/food/resources? How can they be modified to stop wastage? Nobody, mortal or god, would be displeased with you for doing your bit for the planet.
Terribly tiny moral of the story – Be thoughtful!