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Go Green Ideas For Everyday Life

Posted: October 18, 2012

Let’s strive for a better planet with these go green ideas that you can implement in everyday life for eco-friendly living.

This article was originally published at The Alternative – an online publication on social change and sustainable living.

On most days conversations about environmental sustainability leaves us feeling puzzled and helpless. We don’t really know what we can do to ensure we are being earth friendly. And, at the same time we look around and gripe at all the waste heaped sky high. This is an ironic turn of events. There was a time when households would throw out very little. Backyard science was not a fancy term; it was something we did every day. We found creative ways to reuse and recycle things.

Perhaps it’s time to head back. To find our way out of the dump we have created and gone and gotten ourselves lost in.

Here is a small list of things to get started with, in this quest of going cleaner and greener in our everyday lives.

Eco-friendly living tip 1: Unplug it

Get rid of all those energy inefficient bulbs and replace it with CFL or LED lights. They are not just eco-friendly but will also reduce your electricity bills. Here is a comparison between LEDs, CFLs and incandescent light bulbs.

Shut off appliances when not in use. Shut off the power source to your TV, computer, turn off your monitor, microwave ovens and other such. Standby power of appliances can sometimes amount to 10% of the total electricity used, and most devices have standby power. If you don’t use a device regularly, unplug it. Look for products with low standby power in the market (ENERGY STAR rated products have lower standby power).

Eco-friendly living tip 2: Take steps to go off the grid

Take advantage of the sun, and use solar water heaters. While this involves a high initial cost you’ll notice a marked reduction in your electricity bills and soon you’ll have free hot water for your showers. You need an unshaded, South facing balcony to start with in order to take advantage of solar power. Before you purchase a solar water heater, take steps to make your house more energy efficient. Invest in low-flow showers and taps, dual flushes thereby reducing your water consumption, so that you have less water to heat.

Research shows that use of solar heating for residential purposes is growing and overtaking industrial use slowly. In 2009, around 7 lakh households were using solar water heaters, and 60% of these were just in the urban areas of 2 states: Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Eco-friendly living tip 3: Buy local produce

Choose your local vegetable vendor, and fair price markets or farmers markets over a retail store. Refrain from buying produce flown in from elsewhere (Pears from Fiji, Apples from Washington). Most products bought from a retail store have travelled further than most people in this country. An added benefit – you are helping the small time vendors earn a living.

Eco-friendly living tip 4: Go organic

Organic products are grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Bangalore has many stores that stock such products. There is even an organic market (Namma Santhe) that takes place in Vidyaranyapura on the first Sunday of every month from 8 am to 12 pm. Here is a short list:

– Fresh Earth, Mother Earth – Indiranagar
– Parisara Organic Junction – Malleshwaram
– Simply Organic – Rajajinagar
– Ojas – Gandhi Bazaar
– Mantra shops across the city
– Adi Naturals – JP Nagar
– Navadarshanam Trust (sells out of houses at four points across the city.)
– Janodaya and Pristine Nature deliver organic products to your doorstep

Check out this comprehensive list of outlets in Bangalore that stock organic products, courtesy the Vegan Bengaluru group.

For your washing and cleaning needs – doing your dishes, laundry and cleaning your bathrooms consider products such as soap nuts (reetha), a 100% natural alternative to detergents. They can be used in your washing machine as well. More ready-to-use products are available at Daily Dump.

Eco-friendly Living Tip 5: Start a kitchen garden

You don’t need much. A couple of pots are good enough to get you started. Grow herbs in small pots on your kitchen window sill. Your balcony or terrace can be transformed into a garden. Organic terrace gardening is growing in popularity in Bangalore. Dr. B.N. Vishwanath is a pioneer at urban organic terrace gardening. He has written a handbook on organic terrace gardening and has been conducting one-day courses to help people start the same. For those interested, these workshops are conducted periodically and one could get in touch with Dr. B.N.Viswanath on +91-9845627217 or email: vishy_kadur@yahoo.co.in

Eco-friendly Living Tip 6: Rain water harvesting

Look around you, all that water that floods the streets, if you could collect raindrops much of your water requirements will be met. You don’t need much to get started – some pipes, a roof and a barrel. Rainwater Club and Arghyam have a lot of resources you can get started with.

Eco-friendly Living Tip 7: Manage your waste

Recycling, really, is not a new concept in Indian households. Remember the Kabadiwala who would come around to your house on Sundays many years ago to collect old bottles, plastics, clothes and so on? Somewhere between then and now we stopped recycling our old stuff and started throwing them in the dump instead. All of us have more than we need; clothes we stopped wearing, appliances we no longer use, books, paper etc. Stop hoarding!

Groups like Bangalore Reuse (BangaloreReuse@yahoogroups.com), Second To None and Bangalore Craigslist help you give away stuff in working condition, as well as feature innovative ideas and tips to recycle.

Organisations like SaahasSamarthanam Trust and Daily Dump offer solutions and services to help you better manage your waste. Samarthanam Trust, Saahas, Spastics Society of India, Karunashraya and Rakum School for the Blind are some organisations that use waste paper to make stationery and bags – active livelihood sources for their beneficiaries. By giving paper to them regularly, you are also promoting inclusive employment.

How do you embrace eco-friendly living in your daily life? Let us know in the comments!

*Photo credit: Citranow (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)

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