Posts Tagged ‘green’

Immense wastage of brown paper

June 5, 2013

It’s the beginning of a new year in schools across the south of India, and once again, I see a massive wastage occurring…that of brown paper.

Every year, children go to a new class or form, and they have to buy a set of new text books and note books. We do not have any concept of using the text books that the students used the previous year.

Each printer and publisher of a school text book obviously goes to great lengths to design the cover of the book. So, too, do the printers of note-books. The text books and note books, therefore, come in a variety of sizes, and many have attractive covers.

However, some time in the ancient past, the practice of protecting the books came into being, and for the sake of uniformity, it was decided to use brown paper to cover them. Today, brown paper itself comes in a variety of colours and textures. The brown paper comes in sheets.

Busy parents have the job of helping their children in the job of covering all the text books and note books before the start of the academic year.

Given the fact that the brown paper covers regularly tear and are sometimes replaced, and sometimes not, what is the mandate that schools place on this process of covering? And if the books are to be covered, why not in newspaper, which would recycle paper, and not waste virgin paper?

Covering all the books and notebooks with brown paper actually has the disadvantage that when the child is packing his or her books in a hurry in the morning, they all look alike, and the child has to open the books or notebooks to make sure that the right book is being packed. Of course, the wrapping never can last through the entire academic year.

Why can we not eliminate this extremely wasteful procedure, and become a little more green? Just calculating the amount of paper that must be used in our country, across so many schools in so many towns and cities, is a mind-boggling task…all I can say is that the amount must be astronomical.

Yet another example of “that’s how it’s always been done” becoming the guiding rule, instead of a common-sense approach. If only we could move forward into today’s world, where paper is a resource to be husbanded. We teach green practices to our children in our schools..but do not practice what we preach.

Dusk at Lalbagh, 160312

March 19, 2012

I went to Lalbagh on Friday evening, because a friend wanted to try out the 300mm prime lens. I’ve not often been to Lalbagh in the evening, and was freshly amazed at what one can see and observe, in spite of many more people being there than in the morning.


Apart from the sights and sounds….were the smells, that cannot be replicated, at the present state of technology. The air was redolent of the scent of the entire lane of Sampige (Champa, Shenbagam)…Michelia champaca, belonging to the Magnolia family, says the scientific mind…but my mind was thinking of how the Sampige is intertwined with my memories of Bangalore…the wonderful smell from the small bunches of these flowers that used to be plucked from roadside trees and sold at Cantonment station!

The evening light, golden and beautiful, highlighted the birds on the lake, and sparkled on the wavelets. My friend was able to photograph a Grey Heron, and several Purple Moorhens (or Swamphens….curse these changing bird-names!) walking around on the waterlily pads.


We went to see the Spotted Owlets, of course, and it was as delightful to watch them as to photograph them!


The various trees in flower now at Lalbagh made it a very special visit. I pointed out to my friend the ones that I did know, and am going to find out about the ones I don’t. I showed my friend the majestic beauty of the Monkey Puzzle trees (why are they so named? Must ask Aunty Google!) and we walked down the avenue of the Copper Pods. We saw Little Egrets fishing, pecking suddenly at their own reflections in the water.

The clouds in the sky turned to pink cotton candy as the sun sank slowly westwards…and as we came out of the Siddapura gate, I felt totally at peace, having enjoyed looking at growing, living things in one of the few public green spaces in this concrete-filled city of ours.


I’ve put up a few photographs on my Facebook album at

…but no photographs can do Lalbagh justice…if you have the time…do visit the lovely park that Hyder, and Tipu, the wise administrators of the Wodeyar dynasty, and some dedicated botanists like Krumbiegel, Cameron, and Mari Gowda, have gifted to all of us!

One of the subjects of an article….

December 10, 2011

Nice to be written about, instead of writing about others, for a change!

Click here for the article by Sameer Shisodia

and sometime ago (when the article appeared, I was away in the US and never saw it….just now, Deepa Jayaraman dug out the link for me!)

Thank you, Sameer…and my namesake!


October 25, 2011

Staples. A “staple” is something that is supposed to be very good…it forms the main part of what we eat, for example. But another kind of staple…those ubiquitous little twice-folded pieces of metal that hold two surfaces together…seems to be taking over the world. They are so popular that a famous chain of stationery is named after them!

I’ve learnt to utterly detest staples. Every document of an official nature that arrives at my doorstep seems to be festooned with them. A cheque or an important document is attached to the covering letter with one, the envelopes are often closed with two or three more, and several other staples seem to be added on in some random way, for what reason, I cannot fathom.

What is even worse is that so many packets of foodstuff are stapled shut. Every so often, these staples make their way into the packets themselves, and are a deadly danger to the unwary consumer. I remember, long ago, finding a staple in a dish of pulao that I’d ordered (it was the Peacock restaurant that used to be on Residency Road) and I promptly quipped that “rice is our staple diet, and the restaurant cooks know that!”

I googled around and can’t see much on the impact that staples have on the environment…but surely millions of small pieces of sharp metal can’t be a Good Thing!

So I was quite happy when a forward from Padma Kanani of Kalanjali gave the following news:

“Environmental company creates a staple-free stapler to avoid staple pollution.

“Staples are supposed to be so bad to the environment that a company decided to create a staple-free stapler. This product promises to make collation eco-friendly. Instead of using those thin metal planet-killers, the staple-free stapler “cuts out tiny strips of paper and uses the strips to stitch up to five pieces of paper together.” You can even order them customized with your corporate logo so you can, you know, brag about what your company is doing to stop the staple epidemic.”

paper stplr 251011

I would like to use one, but first I have to first find out how it works! Goodbye to the “staple” diet hereafter! Let me google and find out where I can get one…or, alternatively, I resolve to use only paper clips…and reuse them, too. Can anyone tell me who makes this eco-friendly stapler?

This post is for Venkat Mangudi, whose post on Facebook, and Gabin’s comment on it, that got me back to the subject of staples!

From the LJ of

May 15, 2009

What a pity that we squander our treasures and our good practices to the excitement of aping western ways…

Today I walked to the Farmers’ Market in the Loop,

farmers' market loop 010509

and walked back with my purchases; the fact that I had 3 bags (one backpack and two carries) attracted a fair number of curious looks. I realized that no one is used to carrying groceries or vegetables/fruits and walking around. Walking is an activity engaged in only for exercise. It is NOT a form of locomotion unless one is too poor to afford anything but public transport…

When KM and I told people that we walk from home to the St Louis Galleria (no.1 on the map), and back, we got a lot of “wow” reactions!,

A Young Walker

November 10, 2008

Amongst the many images and impressions at that I saw and experienced at the “Namma Raste, Namma Ooru” walk on Sunday, 9th November 2008, was the picture of this tiny tot;

She didn’t seem to be angry, or against anything; she made a peaceful statement that surely none of us can disagree with…and was calmly eating something that a tree gave her, too!

Surely, if a little one like her can come out to express her opinion, the rest of us can take heed and protect the trees we have left!

Update: Her name is Nandana, and she is the daughter of Meera Iyer, who also writes for Citizen Matters! 🙂

Monsoon Green…

August 23, 2008

I did a whole lot of very interesting stuff today, including photographing our Chief Minister overseeing the funeral procession of someone who died in the blasts and this was NOT a sad thing…how, you ask? Wait for a few days, and all will be revealed in Citizen Matters …..

But I was waiting in the morning to begin the photowalk with Mahesh Shantaram and the group, and I shot these really lovely leaves-in-the-hedge….

Have a great Sunday, everyone. Am off to Nandi Hills early tomorrow morning for a plastic cleanup drive…will see you lot on Monday. Be good…or not..until then!

The presentation went well, thanks for all the heartening messages from all of you….

May 30, 2008

Here’s my account of the Clean and Green presentation for WIPRO (does anyone remember that they were once Western India vegetable PROducts, and once sold vanaspati?)…

“The very nature of voluntary work is
that it has to be…voluntary, so sometimes, finding the time and the
effort become difficult or even impossible….so even being a part of
the egroup and trying to help out occasionally is fine! (This is the
kind of reasoning *I* shelter under, for all the voluntary work I do!
😀 )

Today, Anush and I went to Wipro, at one of the their campuses at
Electronics City. Alas, the Wipro shuttle bus that was supposed to
pick us up at Silk Board junction sped off without stopping, but we
got into a nice Volvo bus and phoned back and forth, and prevented
Sandhya, our contact person at Wipro, from having a proper lunch, poor

Wipro has something like 20,000 employees at the Electronics City area
alone, apparently…but no, not all of them turned up for the
presentation 🙂 There were about 40 or 45 people, though, which I
think was the right number! I went through the slides of the
presentation, and talked about what we are doing and how we are trying
to do it.

I was really happy that there was a lot of questions and interaction
from many members in the group after I finished speaking…and I found
that many of the members of the audience were brimming with ideas, not
only to partner with Clean and Green, but also about trying to make a
difference in small ways on their campus itself. One gentleman, Mr
Bharat Padiyar, had, indeed, come prepared with some pads that he had
made out of the one-side used paper that was not collected from just
one building on the campus! There was a group of people which
included Rohinik Sawant, and Akshit Jhaveri, who are already doing a
fair bit on trying to improve the communication skills of various
lower-level staff on the campus. Another young man, Ankit Khaitan,
spent a little time with us after the presentation, and said that he
didn’t ask all the questions he wanted to. I was very happy to see
that we were addressing individuals who are already pretty socially

Sandhya had, with short notice, done a good job of mobilizing so many
people to come and attend, and indeed, a larger gathering than this
would have been more difficult to manage.

I am very thankful to Anush for being with me throughout…when my
screen blacked out and I didn’t know what to do, he helped me out! I
was in such a hurry to make sure we didn’t miss the Wipro shuttle that
I prevented him from having any lunch too…I think it was Lunch
Prevention Record Day for me!

We can now take this forward with Sandhya, and work out the modalities
of the first cleanup with Wipro as our partners. I feel confident that
we will have a good turnout. I pitched the cleanup as a kind of family
outing, where, instead of just having a good time, the volunteers
would be doing their bit.

I took a few pics, and they are:

Alas, I couldn’t take a pic of myself giving the presentation, but
perhaps that is just as well!

And I got a good laugh when someone asked, “Can we bring our spouses to the clean-up?” and I said, “only one per person allowed”….yes, stale, but it got a laugh..!

But as we were waiting at the Electronics City Main Gate for Sandhya
to come and pick us up, I took this not-too heartening picture of the

So..I am looking forward to the next meeting and the next cleanup, this time
with Wipro.

Citizen Matters article

May 29, 2008

This time Citizen Matters took a little while to get the article to “go live”…I guess they have a lot of material to manage, now!

click here for the article

I am giving a presentation on behalf of Clean and Green about plastic and its management…. at Wipro, at their Electronic City location, tomorrow, with anushsh. I have never, ever, done a powerpoint presentation before….am somewhat nervous, hope that my tongue doesn’t get entangled in my tonsils!


May 1, 2008

Of all the multitudinous varieties of greens that are available (I could not begin to list them…there are so many….!), my favourite is spinach.

I have a very sweet young woman who brings bunches of spinach to my front door. It’s fresh and green and I drool just looking at it….so this time I thought I would photograph it, too.

Just look at it…fresh and so wholesome, deliciousness is written all over it!

spinach 300408

Of course, the bunches generally come attached with what sometimes appears to be most of the soil of Karnataka…washing has to be a careful business, and I take extra care because I am mindful of pesticides, too…

I googled for spinach washers and got either industrial stuff or this patent info

I usually make either a north Indian dish (Palak, with or without panneer or matar or alu), or a very simple south Indian dish, for which the recipe is as follows:

Cut off roots of spinach. Wash thoroughly, and chop not too fine (I generally buy three bunches at a time…what you see in that photo above.) Add some water, and boil with a little salt, just enough, so that the green colour (lovely!) is not lost. (generally, 4 to 5 min.). Drain and reserve the water. Take a little of the spinach and grind it well.

In the water that the spinach has been cooked, and mix in two tbsp of rice flour, and set aside.

Add 1 tsp oil in a pan, and sputter some mustard seeds, and 2 red chillies. Add the boiled spinach and the ground spinach (which, along with the rice flour, will bind the dish together.) Add pounded jeera and black pepper…about 1 tbsp each. Thoroughly mix the rice flour in the water and add to the pan, and let the whole thing simmer for just a minute or two, and switch off the heat.

This is fantastic with vathal kuzhambu and rice….but I could eat it on its own!

Spinach is NOT easily available in Chennai, for some reason, the plant (or herb) doesn’t grow well there. But in Bangalore…it’s just great.

Here’s the Wiki entry for Spinach

And here’s an entire cookbook devoted to it!

It’s obviously high in Chrolophyll , which was once touted as the “fresh-breath” ingredient in toothpastes, prompting one wag to ask this:

“Why stinks the goat on yonder hill…
That only feeds on chlorophyll?”

…oh well, jokes apart… here, by sheer coincidence, is an LJ friend’s post

Popeye…you were on to a real good thing, all those years ago! I may not have bulgy arms or one eye or a pipe stuck in my mouth…but…I *LURRRV* spinach!

I do also like the frozen variety that I can get abroad, which has all the cleaning, chopping and labour removed…I have never tried canned spinach, though.

Here’s the nutrition part

Waiting for all your comments, including all you lurkers!! Do you like it? Do you hate it? How do you eat it or avoid it? Is there anyone who is allergic to it ?

I rarely make food posts….I am not one of those creative cooks, I cook to get by.

And, by the way…that colander in the picture, I have had for 32 years, and the towel, for 12 years….

Next time she comes home, I will photograph Chitra the spinach (and lemons and murungakkAi and sweetcorn in season) seller, and introduce you to her, too.

Oh, and the cost? Three bunches cost Rs.10…that is…about 25 cents…