I'm a Goan woman, working in Mumbai as the founder of a studio called Totem Creative. I try to make the world happier, safer and more meaningful. I believe education, knowledge and awareness, art, writing and creating Social Impact are my means to achieve that end.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Khamba has arrived!

24th April 2016

Finally the khamba (composter) arrived! I was really anticipating this guy! It's only been 3 days and I feel like a girl feeding her pet dragon. I even instructed by super co-operative roommates and my maid what we can feed it and how smaller bits should be made of all wet waste. I really hope I'm doing it right and I get good quality fertilizer by the end of this.

Khamba inside out
May I also say that thanks to the Remix powder I bought with this, it's not smelling at all as of now. I'm also mixing it up with some dry leaves or newspaper to absorb excess moisture and avoid fruit flies.

I've successfully managed to live a week without buying some things I consume almost daily for snacks - chips, biscuits etc. Although, this is not a happy solution. I need to carry a container to buy my week's supply of junk food. :P Right now I'm eating freshly cooked food in newspapers - samosas, chaat etc. and visit shops which have their own plates/cups. I'm still looking for an inexpensive carry cup with a silicon lid like this one. That way I can happily consume buttermilk and coffees in fancy caf├ęs that serve in Styrofoam cups. Arvind also bought a steel container that we can buy loose good quality milk. It's almost double the cost of the packet milk, but it's worth it, since it gives a lot of cream. We're making other milk products like ghee, curd and buttermilk from it; hence cutting down their packaging as well and eating more organic food.

I read about Organic Mandya in the news a few days back. It's amazing organization which sells organic farmer's produce directly to customers, and also helps them have a more sustainable living by sending over volunteers and educating them on better farming techniques. It was such good news to read about this! I went through their website and noticed they also package in plastic. I was a bit disappointed, but realized they must have a good reason - maybe they need to be cost effect, maybe the food has to last through transportation and moisture issues. Whatever it was, I decided to contact them and ask if they were open to more sustainable packaging.

They called me the next day itself! I was shocked and really impressed with their quick response - they were infact looking for greener packaging for their products, like jute or cloth. I called some of my product design friends who'd worked on packaging in college. They suggested recycled handmade paper, jute or cloth. Arvind's sister makes recycled paper products, so I've put them through to her. I hope something good comes out of this as well! I was so grateful and surprised to see how much they care about their carbon footprint.

There's really some hope afterall! :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A start! (towards quitting plastic)

19th April 2016
Today was my first day after the personal oath I took to cut down my plastic consumption. We normally order chai in the office which comes in small plastic cups. I refused and so everyone refused, and we went to the tapri and had chai there in their glass cups. We always take our own bags for grocery shopping, but today we had to emergency shop in the evening, and we was out of bags! I collected a few left over bags from the office and managed; even with the dal guy, who refuses to use anyone else's bags other than his own as it's more convenient for him.

Unfortunately though, even in the local market, we had to buy mushrooms which are packaged in two plastics! One like a tray and one cover. I asked if they ever come loose, or if it's possible to purchase them in bulk. He mentioned there's a 1 kg plastic bag and the small package he gave us; and that all the brands supply with this packaging to keep the produce undamaged and fresh. I was so disappointed and helpless. I'll try to contact them and atleast try for an alternative. Meanwhile if anyone knows where I can buy loose mushrooms in Goregaon/Malad please let me know.

In the morning my maid threw out all the wet waste and I looked at it painfully going waste! I could have composted that, but the composter I've ordered hasn't arrived yet. It's from 'DailyDump'. They don't have a shop in Mumbai, but an organization in Sion called 'Green Practices' is supplying for them! Yay! :D You guys really HAVE to visit their site, I've browsed through each section and read everything thoroughly. It's really enlightening and educative.

Will let you guys know how well the composter works after I've used it for a bit. I really hope it arrives soon tomorrow morning! It's such a waste for the waste to go waste! :P! I'm also segregating dry into paper, plastic and 'other', so that I can sell the paper and plastic to the raddi guy.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Be the change you want to see.

18th April 2016
Arvind and I recently read about the 19 year old who is solving the world’s ocean pollution crisis. Boyan Slat is a Dutch engineering student single handedly developing the gyers (floating booms and processing platforms) which would potentially clean up 20 billion tonnes of plastic from the world's oceans; the plastic which kills millions of animals and damages thousands of cargo vessels every year. Arvind stressed on the fact that he was 19 – he was exceptionally impressed by a kid who showed that much drive, determination and hard work at such a young age.

For me, regardless of his age, this was so commendable. The age didn’t matter to me, infact I disagreed with Arvind, and mentioned how adults have it harder to do something for the greater good. Not only are they in a pathetic zone (they have full time jobs!), they also have responsibilities towards their families and are less imaginative and courageous than the youth since they are aware of the hindrances like the corruption of the government and lack of support from other bodies.
Arvind called these ‘excuses’. It hurt me quite deeply, as I felt like I was defending myself along with the other lazy adults. He mentioned how we are trying to change the animation industry in India by starting Totem – since it was something that everyone complains about, and it was something that mattered to us deeply. But we always think of things beyond Totem – things which need immediate attention like global warming, rising carbon levels, animal cruelty and abuse, poverty, failure of forest conservation and all kinds of waste and pollution caused by man.

After much thought and contemplation in solitude, I realized I really was making excuses. There’s no excuse for not fighting for things you truly believe in. There's no relative morality. For nature, for animals, for the welfare of all kinds. I need to take a drastic step to changing the way I live and how I contribute to these severe life threatening and destructive issues. We all do.

I started my research and found some truly inspirational people who I think we all need to listen to and help in their efforts to change the world for the better. These people have truly motivated me to change and take out the time and effort to improve. Here are some of those admirable people.

Lauren Singer - Environmentalist living a zero-waste lifestyle in NY

Boyan Slat - Engineer solving ocean-pollution
Tshering Tobgay - Prime Minister of the ONLY carbon negative country in the world (Bhutan)
Daily Dump - an Indian (Bangalore-based) oranganization promoting and educating about responsible garbage segregation and disposal, and it's benefits to individuals and the world.

There are many other inspirational people working towards such global causes, but these are the few who have deeply inspired me to do something!

Daily Dump's lovely terracotta compost-ers. 
I am taking the first few steps to solving the pollution and garbage segregation and disposal issue in our country, especially the cities which generate the maximum waste. A majority of people are aware, but not conscious of the waste situation. I am going to start waste segregation, composting of wet waste, recycling of dry waste and minimize my consumption of packaged products to discourage plastic use.

Through this initiative, I would like to influence and urge you all to make these tiny steps that would help in a big way. I am going to share my progress and relevant helpful info regarding the same. I would love to hear if and how these efforts are working for you guys as well! Let’s be more responsible and try to undo the shit we’ve already done, one step at a time.

With lots of love,