July 18, 2008

A belated Earth Day post

Warning – long, preachy kinda post. Actually, it’s a list of all that you, as an individual can do to lessen your carbon footprint and in the process save some money too. If one of your resolutions this year was adopting ways that would be more environmental-friendly (and if its not, well, it should be) then here are some pointers on how to go about it. Some of these I had started ages back and some are newly discovered ones. Hope this helps and hey if you know of any more – let me know….

1. Repeat after me: I will not buy a bulb ever again. A humble bulb, you say??? Duh, haven't been reading up on your resolution, have you? Ok, remedy: Google. Duh! Or goto BanTheBulb and sign their petition. And please don't end it at that, replace every bulb in your house, yes, including the one in your bathroom with a CFL. Yes, I know it costs more than a bulb does. But your electricity bill drops, so, it’s a great tradeoff.

2. Don't buy more paper than you can grow. This one is assuming that you do your bit, at least once a year, by planting at least 2-4 trees. You don’t? Well, I guess you know what I have to say to that. Get off your fat bottom and do it!! Oh, and there is environmental-friendly paper out there. There is a factory in Delhi that makes paper from elephant dung. No, I kid you not. Check it out, its called the elephant poo paper. Hey, don't snigger!! At least, someone is trying to make up for the crap you dole out in kilos every day.

3. In a city like Mumbai or Delhi, traveling by your own car is a luxury that you get addicted to before you can say 'Duh'. The public transport in both these cities, long distance at least, is good. No, I am not saying try to get into a over-crowded local train. That extreme is for morons like me ;). You guys can start out small by sharing a rickshaw (even if it is an LPG one), car pooling, making sure that you absolutely can't take the time to travel by train before choosing a airplane and small things like that. Yes, I know, it requires a little patience to wait for the eternally late guy to clamber into the car pool, but hey, you can do that much!! Compare that to the stress of driving yourself to work every day: exactly, the aggravating guy is peanuts!!

4. In Mumbai, there is a ban on handing out veggies and other supermarket stuff in plastic bags of a certain type. The other grade ones are expensive and not cost effective for the vegetable vendors and so they refuse to hand out plastics. They would rather you don't buy veggies from them than run the risk of incurring a huge fine. Yea!!! Please, oh please, invest in cloth bags. If you try, you will find nice looking ones too!!

5. Another way of reducing paper usage/wastage: gift wrapping paper. I feel very strongly about this – ever since my wedding. The amount of plastic and paper wrapping we had to discard was horrifying. Remedy: buy bright cheap cloth from your friendly wholesale guy the next time you go into town and use these for wrapping. They are reusable, washable and (here is the kicker) makes your gift stand out among the paper and plastic ones. Plus, when you hand the gift, it makes a great impression and you can tell them to pass the wrapping on.

6. Restrict yourself to a bucket of water for your bath or a five minute shower every weekday. This not only saves lots of water and time, it also makes your weekend baths a relaxing, luxurious affair.

7. Summer: open your windows to let in the sun and the wind. You won't require the fan or AC. Open your windows in the winter as well. A closed house is a cold house. Monsoons: Open your windows. The dull, damp feeling will vanish as soon as the wind brings in the smell of the wet earth. Grab that cup of tea and relax.

8. Don't leave the tv/dvd player/computer/set-top box in sleep mode. You are not using it, right? Switch off the mains as well. Yes, this does make a difference.

9. There is nothing different in a can of cola that the glass bottle doesn't have. Cool factor, you say?? Not only are you adding sugar to your bloodstream, you are adding to the non-biodegradable waste. And all for looking cool?? Sorry, the logic escapes me.

10. Use products that have the least packaging. Could you really tell the difference, between small bites of say, a Perk or a Kit-Kat?? I can't. So, every time, I feel like having either, I go for a Perk. It has only one layer of wrapping. Need I say more?

11. It is not going to be long (it’s already started actually) before buying stuff from companies that are famous for its environment-friendly procedures is actually fashionable and the norm. No, it’s not impractical. It’s along the same lines as not buying a product that has been tested on animals. Simple.

12. Another way to reduce your paper consumption. Talk to your bank, credit card and mobile service providers and tell them that you would prefer an e-bill to an actual hard copy. Almost every bank and mobile service provider has the facility of an e-bill and they will gladly process your request. It’s easier for them too, see.

13. Coffee break at office?? Try not to use the dreaded styrofoam cup or the disposable plastic one either. Your desk will look better if you keep a nice stone/china mug on it. Use it for you coffee and rinse it with plain water afterwards. The office boy will wash it for you if you want. Or else, talk to your office canteen/mess guy and talk him into washing your mug with the rest of his stuff.

14. If you live in a metro, the you can Recycle, recycle, recycle.

15. Live in an eternally sunny city? Rejoice: a solar water heater will reduce your power bill by half. Yes, the electric water heater is a power sucker!!

16. End of the post near. Whenever you leave your desk, after you press Ctrl+Alt+Del, do switch off the monitor. You will be amazed at how much power is saved if you do this everyday during your lunch and coffee breaks. At the end of the day, after shutting down your computer, turn off the main switch or your monitor will be on standby. (Hadn't realised this, had you?)

That’s it for now. Will add to this list, whenever I think of any more. Till then, do you know of more ways to save electricity, petrol or water?


tanu said...

Thanks a lot priyanka :), for directing people like me. Sometimes, I become just to unconscious to realize. You would be happy to know that I have already started a lot of these things :)
Have got a coffee mug to office, dont use the paper cups anymore, and enjoy drinking milk and coffee a lot. :)
Also, I will share this blog post with all my friends too. :)
Am sure it will help. Most of us are ready to do things but just done spend time in thinking what and how. So now that we have a director, we surely can start.

God bless u kudiye, for such an effort. May our beautiful beautiful earth stay beautiful forever :)

Raghunandan Hukkeri said...


The one I liked most was gift wrapping, I never thought about that, its so simple. Thinking about a cloth, it easier to manage than a paper...

I'm doing my bit, I have stopped using the car to office, and I save upto 3000/- per month on petrol and reach office in flat 30 mins as against 1 hour in car... and its wonderful to reach home soaked in rain... :)

Anonymous said...

CFL's have been around for decades but had not caught on in India because of their cost. Now they are affordable. But a disquieting fwd is doing the rounds (I'm sending it to you), warning of their mercury content, the hazard it poses and the imperative of proper disposal of fused/broken lamps. Coild you check it out?


Priyanka said...

@tanu: Director, huh?! Thanks yaar.. You can now expect lots of harassing mails from me :)

@raghu: About the gift wrapping - I had never thought about it too!! But its very cost effective.. Wow!! Must commend you - getting out of the going-to-office-by-car rut is almost impossible! How do you commute now, by bus?

@papa: Will get back to you on this CFL's hazardous mercury content once I research a bit more.

Vibhav Agrawal said...

I agree with you... But some points (Point 5, 10) are IMPOSSIBLE to do for me [:(]...
For some other points, you can refer to my post..

It has some points for everyone.. from individuals, corporates to the government... (although not well organized... )

Vibhav Agrawal said...

Also, along with the elephant poo paper, there are some brands of paper which are manufactured from Sugar-cane bagasse (the left over after creation of sugar).
Sorry, I forgot the names of those brands :-( but i had used those notebooks in my B.Tech....


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