Sunday, November 23, 2008

The "Saahas" to eliminate plastic bag use

Note: This post is targeted at people living in residential complexes in Bangalore. Most of it might apply to you regardless of which city or country you live in.

We had Ms Hema Ramana from Saahas visit our apartment complex today to talk about our waste management.
A few people attended the session. I have uploaded an edited version of the session that I videotaped. Its about 10 minutes and captures the main points that were communicated.

Saahas works in the solid waste management space. While there are a lot of things that can be done, for now Saahas is asking us to actively participate in their Less Plastic for me initiative.
We are being asked to eliminate our use of plastic bags. If you wonder why plastic bags are bad, a quick look at this website will tell you why.
I did take a look today and it is a very short website (wont take more than 10 minutes, but communicates the problem very clearly). There is also an accompanying blog if you want more information and news about this issue.

What can we all do immediately:
  1. Start carrying our own bags to grocery stores and other shops. Refuse plastic bags at shops wherever possible. Hema has left a few bags with Gowda (our apartment manager). Small ones for Rs. 30 each and large ones for Rs. 150 each.
  2. Stop giving our garbage in plastic bags. Use two dustbins. Empty one and immediately wash it and dry it. Use the other one for the day while the first one dries up.

These arent easy things and will require a change in our habits. This evening I was out and while returning I decided to stop and get some groceries. Then I realized, I didnt have any of my own bags and would be forced to accept plastic bags at the store.
I could have driven back home, carried my own shopping bag and gone back to the store. But I was short on time and ended up making the compromise. I felt guilty and the least I could do was combine all my shopping in a single plastic bag.
What I am going to do now is just keep a couple of cloth bags in the trunk of my car, so I'll always have them handy if I do happen to just stop by at the store. I am sure you all can do the same.

The second item of not using plastic bags to dispose off garbage is even tougher and I am not even sure I want to do it from a hygiene perspective. What do you think? There have to be better alternatives than washing and drying dustbins daily. Hema was talking about some company selling bio-degradable garbage bags, but I do not have information about availability or cost.

What we can do in the medium term in other areas of solid waste management:
  1. If everyone in the apartment complex agrees, then we can segregate waste right at home. We will just be asked to separate dry and wet waste. Saahas will train our housekeeping staff in the building to collect it separate and keep it separate. They will then further train our housekeeping staff to segregate dry waste further.
    Saahas will help us collect dry and wet waste separately and ensure it is properly handled and not mixed up after it is picked up from our apartment. This will need some space in our apartment complex to do the secondary segregation.
  2. If we do have plastic bags and we will inevitably have some even if we reduce our usage, someone in the apartment will need to collect them and drop all the plastic bags in the facility that Saahas has in Jayanagar. (This will need one of us to volunteer)

What we can do in the long term and potentially earn revenue through our waste:

  1. A compost facility or waste processing machine located within our apartment complex or feed our wet waste into other compost facilities in HSR. (whenever they are setup).

Friday, October 31, 2008

Vote for the term "cloudworker"

Venkatesh Rao, a blogger at who I read regularly, coined the term "cloudworker" and entered it in a contest, run by Plantronics, to update the obsolete term "telecommuter." The term is one of the 10 finalists out of over 500, and I really think it deserves to win, since it captures how remote workers today use cloud-based technology to work anywhere/anytime.

The winner will be selected by popular vote, so please go and vote for "cloudworker". You can vote once a day between Oct 30 and Nov 7, so it'd be great if you could bookmark the link and remember to vote multiple times.

You might like Venkat's ongoing series of posts on cloudworkers:

Please forward this to any of your friends who are interested in 'future of work' stuff.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ode to Bandipur Jungle

We recorded a song inspired by the sights and sounds of Bandipur Jungle

Ode to Bandipur Jungle
- By Lakshmi Javadekar and Jayesh Kapoor

Bandipur Jungle
Where the peacocks have fun
And the spotted deer run
If you wanna see
The land in harmony
This is where you come

Cheetal, Langoor, Bison
Drinking to their freedom
Little do they see
The tiger by the tree
Thinking Aaah !! There's lunch!

Roaaaaaaar !!

(Western style music depicting scene of desolation after the tiger has had its meal !!)

Monday, June 23, 2008

San Bruno Mountain Wildfire from up close

This evening we drove out to get some groceries from Trader Joe's and then just decided to drive around a little bit. I wanted to see the Bay side of South San Francisco and we just drove up on Oyster Point Blvd. till we reached the Genentech campus and related areas. While driving up, we noticed a small cloud of what looked like fog, but that is not too uncommon on the San Bruno Mountain. It just appeared a little pinkish and we thought that was just some kind of sunset effect.

Just 15 minutes later and it became clear that this was indeed some kind of fire. It was clearly originating from the mountain, although it seemed to come from the Brisbane side of it.

A little while later the smoke had started drifting over the Bay and it looked like it was almost reaching San Mateo Bridge. We decided to get back home soon in case the air quality got bad. While driving up on Sister Cities Blvd, we were able to actually see the flames from relatively up close.

We were able to see helicopters trying to douse the hills with water scooped up from the Bay. It really hits you how fast these fires can spread. It looked like the Brisbane side of the Mountain would have been hit worse, but as you can see from the photos, the fire had started advancing downhill on the South San Francisco side.

Last we saw in the news, they were lighting up control burns from the downside of the hill to try and starve the fires advancing from above.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fog in Bangalore these days

This is unusual. I do not remember having seen fog this heavy in Bangalore in the past few years. I could barely see the road from my balcony