Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Composting human manure...

The True Green Heroes

As I continue to read on the topic of sustainability from the thought leaders in this space, I come across some gems, which resonate so much with the current environment around us that the best I can do is to imbibe them in my thought process and propagate them further. In this week’s blog, I share one such excerpt from Joseph Jenkins, The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure.

“We line up and make a lot of noise about big environmental problems like incinerators, waste dumps, acid rain, global warming and pollution. But we don't understand that when we add up all the tiny environmental problems each of us creates, we end up with those big environmental dilemmas. Humans are content to blame someone else, like government or corporations, for the messes we create, and yet we each continue doing the same things, day in and day out, that have created the problems. Sure, corporations create pollution. If they do, don't buy their products. If you have to buy their products (gasoline for example), keep it to a minimum. Sure, municipal waste incinerators pollute the air. Stop throwing trash away. Minimize your production of waste. Recycle. Buy food in bulk and avoid packaging waste. Simplify. Turn off your TV. Grow your own food. Make compost. Plant a garden. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. If you don't, who will?” 

About the Author and The Humanure Handbook:
The Humanure Handbook was something of an accidental literary phenomenon. Joe Jenkins began writing the book as a master's thesis while attending Slippery Rock University's Master of Science in Sustainable Systems program in northwestern Pennsylvania in the early 90s. Not content with academic convention, but fascinated with the topic of humanure composting, Jenkins decided to convert the book's language into a popular format and self-publish the thesis as a book.

The intention was to learn how to "self-publish" using a book that probably no one would ever read. As expected, every possible publishing mistake was made on the first edition of the book, published in January 1995. Yet, an unbelievable 10,000 copies sold. Clearly there was more interest in this topic than Jenkins had expected, so he revised the book and published the 2nd edition in 1999. This edition sold another 15,000 copies and won awards. See reader feedback of the Humanure Handbook.

The 3rd edition was published in 2005, sold out its first 10,000 printing, sold out its next 10,000 printing, and is working on the next 15,000 copies, most of which have already been sold. The book and topic receive regular coverage in the news and have been mentioned on Howard Stern, BBC, CBC, NPR, the New Yorker Magazine, Grist, Seoul Broadcasting (SBS), Playboy, Wall Street Journal, Mother Earth News, and many others. 

The following image sums up the book’s content.

I will publish such excerpts as and when I come across them under the title of ‘The True Green heroes’, as these people not only preach but also practice what they preach, thus enabling sustainability and more importantly making people think and discuss about it. Also, do share any ‘True Green Heroes’ that you have come across. If we don’t celebrate them, then who will!!

-Meera Mahajan Rotti

    Samuchit Enviro Tech.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday Quiz: Take this week's quiz to start your week!

Q: How many dams supply water to Pune city?

1) 4
2) 3
3) 5
4) 8

We await correct answers!

Last week's answer: atleast 10000. The rapid loss of species is estimated by experts to be between 1000 and 10000 times greater than the natural extinction rate. 

sourced from:

    Samuchit Enviro Tech. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Feed: Sign off your week with this message...

A brilliant ad we came across recently...

    Samuchit Enviro Tech. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ego v/s Eco...

Man is, undoubtedly, the biggest destroyer of ecosystem... However, man, himself, is powerful enough to restore the ecosystem. The question is about priorities and choices...

Share your thoughts on today's visual...

    Samuchit Enviro Tech. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Points of View by Meera - In-organic and more!

When the gray cells turned green…

Homemade, all-natural, organic, herbal, fair-trade are the buzzwords all across the globe. And many are cashing in on that like never before- from groceries to clothing, from toys to schools. The benefits of opting for such products are known by all us – they have low ecological footprint.

For thousands of years, drawing from the nature for all the needs, and at the same time, making a conscientious effort to conserve the nature has been the way of life of our ancestors. In past couple of decades, lifestyles changed, food habits changed, thereby, alienating us from the nature. But now, thanks to the Rujuta Diwekars of the world, the trend is reversing, and products with the above labels are flooding the markets.

I have been using these products for quite some time now, but it’s the economics of these that intrigues me more these days. The pricing of these items clearly indicates that it is meant for the upper middle class which, ironically, leads a high ecological footprint lifestyle. The larger part of the population, though mostly uses less resources, pollutes more because they (are forced to) use low-cost, environmentally damaging products. It compels me to ask myself this question: Do I deserve to consume the green while not making a slightest effort to think green?

We want land and other natural resources to build the modernest workspaces, houses, marketplaces.  As sitting at home makes life boring, we want resource-guzzling recreational spaces. So where is the land and labor left to grow organic food for all? We want the purest water to drink but do not want to take the slightest effort to save a drop of water or to protect the water bodies.  We want to unwind and recuperate in the lap of nature, but in return do we ensure to leave it clean, let alone to preserve it? Organic, handcrafted cotton clothing is back in vogue, but is the land capable of producing the cotton to meet the demand arising from lavish lifestyles? Without the help of neat packaging all the goodness of nature can never reach us, but why the goodness we consume does not give us the wisdom to dispose the waste correctly? How many of the brains fuelled by the organic  food are busy in working towards finding sustainable solutions to the pressing problems and how many are busy in fabricating unnecessary demands and provide for them, and in turn, give rise to more problems?

At the risk of sounding delusional, I will put a brake here to my speeding thoughts. I take solace from the fact that increasingly, more and more people are becoming aware of the situation and talking about it. As people with power go about doing their job in this regard, the best way we can do is to stop complaining, questioning and start contributing in some way. Let us all plant a tree this weekend and that I think would be a good start. What say?

- Meera Mahajan Rotti

    Samuchit Enviro Tech. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

MUSINGS FROM PRIYADARSHINI KARVE: Technology-driven or Sustainability-driven?

**This blog entry is related to my musings from Sept 8, in which I have raised the question of what is more important - focusing on SMART or focusing on Sustainability.**

SMART cities are essentially technology driven. In fact the very concept of SMART cities was created by Information Technology companies as a marketing tool to sell the range of SMART technologies that they had developed and were working on. The focus of some of these technologies is to deliver various essential services efficiently and smoothly and some technologies are useful in improving governance. Of course, in order for the IT technologies to be effective, other technological inputs also need to go in. Thus, for example, if you have flyovers, traffic islands, AND a SMART network controlling the traffic lights in such a way as to minimise congestion, it will in general improve the efficiency and comfort of traveling around in the city. Problem solved, as far as some advocates of SMART cities are concerned.

When we are planning a Sustainably SMART city, we want every intervention solving every problem to also deliver two co-benefits - social equity, and environmental protection. Both of these ingredients are missing from the 'solution' described above.

The use of flyovers conveniently assumes that all transport is happening by motorised vehicles. The 'rare' bicyclist or bullock cart then has to be 'allowed' to go against the flow of traffic. The smooth functioning of such a road network depends on the number of bicyclists being small! Are the people who cannot afford or do not want to use motorised vehicles second class citizens, whose transportation needs are to be considered as 'exceptions' in the overall system?

If traffic moves smoothly, the air pollution and fuel consumption will certainly be reduced - if the number of vehicles on the road does not increase! I have worked mainly in the cooking energy sector, and an oft-seen phenomenon from that sector is worthwhile to mention here. Rural poor are given more efficient cookstoves, in an expectation that it will reduce consumption of wood for cooking and the time spend in the work of collecting fire wood. However, what actually happens is that the families start cooking more or start cooking more complex recipes, rather than actually consuming less fuel! Of course, I am not saying that this is a bad thing, but just pointing out that human nature also plays an important role in deciding the outcome of a technological intervention. I know a few people who, in spite of owning cars, actually use two wheeler vehicles for daily commute to avoid traffic snarls. But if traffic is flowing smoothly, I am sure they will be tempted to use their cars more often! Thus, one cannot say for sure what the effective impact on air pollution will be, considering how human nature reacts to the changed situation.

The challenge for us, who are thinking Sustainbly SMART then, is to come up with the solution that will solve the basic problem of traffic congestion, while addressing the issues of social equity and environmental pollution in a foolproof way. Since I am not a corporate giant wanting to create a product to sell, I am not driven by the need to incorporate my pet technology in the solution! I am also not anti-technology, so I will be happy to use technologies, IF they serve my purpose.

And where do the various public transport options fit into this discussion?

In the last week or so, I have received some interesting suggestions with respect to the urban transport issue. I also have some thoughts of my own. What about you? Please feel free to share your ideas, either in response to the blog or by email to

                                                                                           Priyadarshini Karve
Samuchit Enviro Tech

    Samuchit Enviro Tech.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday Quiz: Start your week with our quiz!

Q: How many species are we losing each year to habitat destruction and global warming?

1) atleast 100
2) atleast 1000
3) atleast 10000
4) atleast 50000

We await correct answers!

Last week's answer: Environment Category. Priyadarshini Karve picked up the Uncha Maza Zoka 2015 award for the environment sector. Mostly everyone answered incorrectly - Renewable Energy sector. 

    Samuchit Enviro Tech. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday Feed: Search for life...

This could not have been put up in better words....

    Samuchit Enviro Tech. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Go back to the tap..

Last week, we blogged about drinking from copper bottles would be beneficial for a healthy lifestyle; today we tell you reasons that will make you resolve to never drink bottled water again...

6 Reasons To Never Drink Bottled Water Again

Plastic bottles are not sustainable, no matter what we've been told.
Using vast quantities of fossil fuels and water, these bottles are manufactured, filled, and shipped around the globe. (Not a good carbon footprint!) Neither are bottles biodegradable in any meaningful way: what you drink in a few minutes can stick around for a thousand years.
Even with recycling efforts, 6 out of 7 plastic bottles consumed are “downcycled”—sent somewhere out of sight and out of mind where, for the next millennia, toxins from degrading plastic containers can leach into watersheds and soil. That’s just not something we need to give to global neighbours and future generations.

Some bottled water is glorified tap water at 10,000 times the cost.
The label on your bottled water may depict a peaceful mountain stream, but that doesn't mean the water inside is pure and pristine.
Only some bottled water comes from springs or groundwater sources. It turns out that approximately 25% of bottled water is sourced from ... the tap. Sure, some companies filter or radiate the tap water with ultraviolet light before selling it to you at several thousand times the cost of municipal tap water. (Examples include Aquafina, Dasani, and many other brands.)

Many bottled waters contain toxins
Plastic isn't just bad for the planet, it’s not good for you, either.
Bottled water companies increasingly use BPA-free plastic, but laced into plastic bottles are other chemicals that can seep out if bottles are exposed to heat or sit around for a long time. 

Local water is the new complement to local, organic food.
Local food is everywhere these days: Farmers markets, farm-to-table dining. That local food is grown and cooked with … local water! It’s the invisible part of the sustainable, healthy food you eat.

There ARE gorgeous alternatives for travellers!
Choose a durable, re-useable water bottle (BPA-free or, even better, stainless steel) in whatever size or shape and design you like. I think of it as an accessory

Change is simple—and makes a real difference!
When you ditch disposable bottled water, you save money, live healthier, and join a movement for global sustainability. Plus, it’s easy. And you’ll save money.
Yes, you’ll need to take that first step of buying your re-usable bottle, and then remember it when you jog out the door. But if “keys, wallet, yoga mat” are on your mental checklist anyway, what’s one more item that saves you money and protects the planet?

Credit sourced from : by Christiana Z. Peppard 

    Samuchit Enviro Tech. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bharatlaxmi - a smokeless chulha that allows women to breathe well...

Bharatlaxmi (meaning, wealth of India) is a state-of-the-art cooking stove designed on the lines of a fixed improved single pot hole stove that is already popular in Maharashtra, India.
The stove, sold as a kit, contains the following components:

  • Eight bricks of insulating cement (cut to specific dimensions)
  • Pieces of pliant metallic wire for tying the bricks together
  • Cast iron fire grate
  • Metallic pot holder

Salient Features of Samuchit Bharatlaxmi stove
  • Effective in reducing indoor air pollution in low income households in rural areas of India
  • About 50% reduction in fuel consumption and about 30% reduction in cooking time.
  • Affordable to rural population
  • No behavioural change required on part of the user compared with traditional horseshoe shaped chulha
  • Releases 80% less smoke as compared to a traditional chulha.

    Samuchit Enviro Tech.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

MUSINGS FROM PRIYADARSHINI KARVE: After the Zee TV channel award...

On 13 Sept, Zee Marathi TV channel telecast the ceremony for 'Unch Maza Zoka' awards 2015 for women achievers. I was one of the awardees, and I received the award for Environment category. Today, I would like to share some reflections about this experience!

Unch Maza Zoka (loosely translated - High goes my swing) was a Marathi television serial based on the life of Ramabai Ranade, a woman who struggled a lot to raise the status of women in the pre-independence Indian society. It became quite a popular serial, and when it ended, the TV channel constituted this award in its name. This was the third year of the awards.

I sort of vaguely knew about the award, but had not followed it much. I do not have a television for the last 15 years, so I never saw the serial, except for glimpses caught here and there, and snatches heard in family conversations. It was therefore quite a surprise when a couple of months ago, I received a phone call informing me that I have been selected for this honour for 2015!

The Zee TV channel team then visited to make an introductory film about the work for which the award was being given, and then the actual award ceremony took place at Thane on 2 September.

From the day the advertisements started coming on the TV channel, and also as the awardees (including myself) also started spreading the word about the award and the telecast, congratulatory messages started pouring in through various media. As my award acceptance speech, I had talked about the Sustainably SMART Pune 2030 study. I had requested people to send their suggestions and to support the study. (In case you do not know about the study, please read my MUSINGS from the previous couple of weeks).

The response has been overwhelming!

I am myself traveling out of Pune this week, so I am not totally accessible to everyone, and yet, I personally received several phone calls, and tons of text messages. The phone number and email address given during the award function have also been inundated with responses. This is in addition to other responses received via emails and phone numbers of colleagues, parents, and the facebook accounts of myself and my company. Many are congratulatory messages, some are specific suggestions for the study, and some are even offers to help financially. It has been just a couple of days since the telecast, and the messages are still coming in. I feel overwhelmed, excited, and humbled by this experience.

I have received other awards before, and have always felt rejuvenated by the response of people attending the award function. The admiration and encouragement are a great tonic to keep walking and I draw strength from these in times of challenges.

In 2011, I received a women achiever award from Mumbai Doordarshan Sahyadri TV Channel, and the response at that time was also quite overwhelming. However, this time, I actually had this new project to talk about and it is a topic that is very much in public discourse right now. So I must say that it was an opportunity that came at just the right time! I want to thank the referees of the award, Zee TV channel team, and everyone who is responding to my appeal in various ways.

What I am going to say below to end today's musings are the things that are expected to be said as an acceptance speech of any award, but I almost never do that! I always use the opportunity of having a 'captive audience' to talk about the work that I am doing at that point in time, rather than follow the convention. This does not mean that I do not feel gratitude, and I am sure that my colleagues and family knows and understands that!

I want to put on record my sincere gratitude to all my colleagues, past and present for their support and contributions. No achievements are stand alone things borne out of a single person's efforts. The originator of the idea or the leader of the team often gets the credit, but the actual work happens through the contributions of many. The role of distractors and non-believers is also important, as the arguments and challenges bring their own learnings! So I thank all of the neigh-sayers too! The support of my parents has also been vital to everything that I have managed to do so far, and will try to continue doing as long as I am able to. I also thank all my students, past, present, and future, from whose youthful idealism I continue to get fuelled in my various chases of various rainbows!

    Samuchit Enviro Tech.