Step in to save environment now

Another World Environment Day just passed. As has always happened, this time too, many organisations held programmes to espouse the cause of environment. Paintings competitions, lectures, tree plantations and cloth bag distribution happened in these events.

But I cannot help but question the utility of it all. Not just the need of holding these events, but also the fact that these events are often limited to one day in a year. What purpose can they suffice? Further, why should the concern about something that affects us on daily basis be limited to one day in the entire year? Shouldn’t we be observing World Environment Day, every day? I mean, we should be caring for our environment every single hour each day.
Our ancestors gave us clean rivers, clean air, rich forests, teachings and wisdom on nature and environment. And it is our duty to pass these on to our future generations.

Use public transport more and use cycle as much as is possible. It will not only reduce congestion on the roads but also minimise the carbon print on the earth.

Reduce the use of air-conditioners. The ACs, no doubt, cool your room but they also release excessive heat into the atmosphere. As per information available, the US that is the biggest consumer of air conditioning, accounts for 15 % of the total energy goes into air-conditioning and results is 100 million tons of carbon dioxide emission every year. The waste heat from air-conditioning can raise the outdoor night temperature by one degree centigrade, quite a high amount by any account.

Maintain cleanliness around you. A clean environment that includes clean air, water, land and energy, is essential for human existence. If each one of us maintains cleanliness around us, the municipal authorities will have to spend less on this job.

Use water judiciously. And as far as possible conserve, harvest and recharge it. Also do not pollute the sources of water like rivers and wells, ponds and lakes by throwing garbage in these.

Dispose the waste scientifically, be it solid waste, plastic waste, or E-waste. Scientific landfills eliminate the risk of waste seeping underground and spoiling groundwater. Scientific landfills also act as degassing systems by reducing the production of methane. And whatever methane is released from the waste in scientific landfill sites can be used for generating electricity.

Minimise the use of plastic. Plastic doesn’t get degenerated and affects lands, waterways and oceans. Marine life is adversely affected by the plastic that is thrown into water.

Don’t just plant trees but adopt these. And see to it that the saplings you plant turn into full grown trees. It has been seen that while tree plantation drives are undertaken most enthusiastically during van mahotsvas, the saplings are left to die. Please don’t let the planted saplings die, see to it that they grow into fully-bloomed trees.

If each one of us get conscious and conscientious about all these small little things, we sure can bring about a positive change.

This market is no-plastic zone

A small beginning was made on this World Environment Day in Noida. Thanks to the efforts made by young children, the sector 55-56 weekend market in Noida, Uttar Pradesh has been finally rid of the menace of plastic. The market has finally become a no-plastic zone and no poly bags, plastic cups, plastic dishes can be seen in the area.

The challenge of making the market a no-plastic zone was undertaken by a local NGO Eternal Energy some months back. The NGO worked with children from the under-privileged sections of the society living in Khoda Colony to create awareness about the harmful effects of using plastic. They went door to door, held meetings with the women in the area and were able to drive home the point.

The enthusiastic young student volunteers of Khoda has now decided to keep a watch on anyone using plastic of any kind, and also monitor cleanliness in the market area.

Children who worked hard to educate shopkeepers and residents about the harms ploybags’ cause to environment.

The NGO also distributed hundreds of cloth bags as a safer alternative to poly bags and ceramic cups as an alternative to plastic cups.

“Though banned by the Supreme Court the polybags are being freely used in all the markets causing a lot of environmental hazards. After several months of campaign with the hawkers, the poly bags are now totally removed from this market,” says Jayanthi R Iyenger from Eternal Energy, Noida.

Time to purify indoor air

This World Environment Day, be very, very worried about the indoor air pollution.

You are very concerned about the air quality on the roads, in the factories and other public areas. You roll up the windows of your car when you near a traffic intersections or if you are in an auto you quickly put on a face mask, just so that the polluted air does not get inside your body.

Good enough.

But have you ever thought about the quality of air you are breathing when inside your home?

I’m sure you don’t give even a wee bit of thought to this. You take it for granted that the air quality inside your homes is of excellent quality.

But this is not true.

Scientific studies over the last few years have found that the air within our homes can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air. Studies show that air pollution is not something that exists only outside. Outside it is at least seen in the form of smog, ozone, or haze hanging in the air, especially in summer. Inside the homes, the pollution is not even seen, and that is more worrisome.

All the pollution that exists indoors is due to the excessive use of chemicals (detergents, room fresheners, incense sticks, cooking gas, perfumes, deodorants, paints, varnishes etc) as also due to presence of dust, the air inside the homes contains formaldehyde, dust mites, molds and pet dander inside our homes. Further, since most homes are air-conditioned, there is little or no circulation of fresh air from outside. The result: we are exposed to a greater degree of pollutants indoors than our parents were.

It goes without saying that the health of children, the elderly and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular diseases are the worst affected by indoor air pollution.

Since all of us spend approximately 90 % of our time indoors, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.

As they say, extreme situations demand extreme measures. It is time we start thinking about installing air purifiers inside our homes.

A number of companies are making indoor air purifiers, and you can chose from these depending upon your requirements. These include Honeywell, Blueair, Dr Aeroguard, Kent, Amway, Electrolux, Febreeze etc.

Another path-breaking air purifier comes from the home of Sharp, the Sharp Plasmacluster Air Purifier. It is beneficial for asthma patients, pet-owners and new born babies as well. Equipped with highest class H14 HEPA, it can capture 99.97% of 0.3 micron dust particles, neutralise harmful and toxic gases, generate fresh indoor air by emitting the same positive and negative ions that occur in nature, kill harmful microbes, remove static electricity that traps dust particles and pollen and also helps the skin retain moisture and improve its elasticity and texture.

“Sharp is using Plasmacluster Technology which can best be described as the next generation of Air Purifiers. I prefer to use and recommend Sharp since it has 24 Global Certifications to confirm the Safety and Effectiveness.” said Barun Aggarwal, CEO at Breathe Easy Consultants Private Limited, a Paharpur Group Company.


Please do your bit for our environment

Till the time each one of us gets worried about deteriorating environment and starts working towards its preservation, nothing much can be achieved, no matter how many times we observe the World Environment Day.

The deteriorating environment does not bode well for anyone. Recent studies have found out that the environmental pollution is a major cause of not just various respiratory diseases but it is a potent cause of cancer as well. It is time we all, each one of us, pull up our socks and start taking care of our surroundings.

What can I do? You will ask. Plenty, I will say. I know you cannot do anything big, but you sure can make small, practical changes in your life that will have significant effect on your own footprints, such as the responsible use of electricity and water, and even making more sensible selections when it comes to the products you use in your home. There are very simple, cost-effective ways following which you can switch to an eco-friendly lifestyle.

To begin with start keeping indoor plants in your homes and offices. Plants not only beautify the interiors, but also act as natural air filters. Plants like Areca Palm, Peace Lily, Song of India and Ferns absorb harmful pollutants from carpets, furniture and electronic equipment. Besides, plants are good for the mind as well. They provide positive psychological impact by reducing stress and anxiety along with improving concentration and memory.

Tips to conserve fuel
Make walking a habit. As much as possible walk, be it going to the market or to your friend’s place in the neighbourhood. Walking is not only a good way to keep your mind and body fit but by doing so you contribute towards minimizing the use of fuel. For going to your place of work, opt for carpool.

Do not fill up the fuel tank of your vehicle unless needed. Also reduce the speed. Try driving at the normal speed of 60kmph.

Keep the engine of your vehicle clean, remove all deposits formed in it.

Do all your cooking at medium or low flame. It will not only retain the essential nutrients in your vegetables but also use less cooking gas.

Tips to conserve electricity
Switch off lights and fans when not in use. Whenever you move out of the room, switch off all fans and lights. During the day, open the window curtains so that you don’t have to use tube lights.

Buy electronic equipment that have energy-saving features. And unplug appliances when not in use, from the main switches.

Switch to LED bulbs. LED bulbs are not only cost-effective; they also last up to 10 times longer than compact fluorescents and even longer than incandescent bulbs.

Install solar panels. The government also gives subsidy on use of solar power. This will not only reduce your electricity bill but also contribute in a big way towards reversing environmental damage.

Tips to conserve water
Keep a jug of water and a few glasses in your drawing room. When the guests come calling they can have as little or as much water as they want. DO not offer glasses filled with water as it leads to a lots of wastage of water as some people will just a have a few sips and leave the rest of water and there is pretty little you can do about it.

Wherever possible, put the drain pipe of your washing machine into the garden or collect that water and use it for watering plants. Similarly, wash vegetables and fruits in pans and not under the tap in running water and use this water for watering plants.

In the washroom, place a one liter bottle in the cistern, it will reduce the volume of water used in each flush. And do not keep the water tap running while you are brushing your teeth or washing your hands or shaving. Better still, use stored water.

Water your garden with a watering can and not a hosepipe. Also water the plants either in the early morning and/or late afternoon as it will reduce evaporation leading to saving water.

Wash only full load of clothes in washing machine. When you wash only a few garments at a time, your washing machine fills up with more water than necessary to get the job done-even on the lowest setting.

Bathe your pets in the garden as this way the water used will directly percolate into the earth, and recharge groundwater.

Those of you who are living on the ground floor must install a rainwater harvesting system in your compound. It doesn’t cost much but will be very helpful in recharging the ground water.