In this feature we learn from Anjana Mehta on how trivial details at home can make our ecosystem a much better place where all forms of life coexist in harmony. She give us 33 more methods to reduce COs emissions that each one of us could practice daily and do our bit to save the world.
The woody part of plants (like trunks and branches of trees) stores huge amounts of CO2 in them – one metre cube of wood can store 1 ton CO2 !
1. We have planted and nurtured as many trees and vines as we could in our small gardens. Currently there are 6 woody trees and 5 mature woody vines in our 2200 sq foot garden.
2. Before we had a garden we had rooftops and balconies. We planted many trees and vines in pots. You will be surprised that a tree / bush in even a 12 inch pot can grow to be 4 feet tall – birds will sit on it, one even made a nest. It will flower sometimes, though may not fruit.
We grow some food without chemical manure and pesticide (so some CO2 is saved in growing and transporting it to us) :
3. Currently Mexican spinach 'palak', lettuce 'salad patta', drumstick, Indian gooseberry 'anwala leaves and basil 'tulsi' are eatable.
4. But in the coming months, we should have lemon, mango, mulberry and perhaps more vegetables.
5. We build more soil by the addition of compost and leaving leaves to decompose in the margins of the garden – new soil hopefully will trap more carbon.
Almost 3% of green house gas (CO2 + methane + nitrous oxide – all of which are driving global warming) emissions are generated because of wet (kitchen) wastes dumped all over :
6. Since March 2018, we have not given out any wet waste to the waste collector. We easily compost it at home.
7. We use the compost in our own garden and in public garden flower beds as well.
Recycling dry waste saves energy !
8. Our wet wastes go in the kitchen bin, but all paper, packing, metal and glass waste etc. goes into a bag hanging near the kitchen waste bin. When this bag is full, it is tied at the neck and given to the waste collector.
9. Poor people sell these materials to recycling industries. If the dry wastes were mixed with wet wastes, the dry half cannot not be taken out for recycling and also prevent composting of wet wastes.
10. Recycling just 10 plastic bottles saves enough energy to power a laptop for more than 25 hours. Recycled plastic uses 40% less energy in the final product than using virgin plastic would. Recycling just one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for four hours.
We repair most things we can – even mosquito swatting rackets gone bad !
11. What is not easily repairable or usable, we give to someone who may still have use for it.
12. Clothes are recycled several times over – old curtains become seat covers, even mops (swabbing material) are also given away to poor people.
13. Almost 60% of the furniture in our home has been salvaged from discards by family and friends, and reused by us, or bought second hand from a furniture market. Only the garden has furniture we bought new in 2007.
14. We re-paint at the first sign of rusting and protect wooden doors etc. from rain by overhangs or thick coats of paint. So our things usually remain in a good state and don't deteriorate.
15. We have been using lime paint for walls which actually traps CO2 along with other beneficial effects. Now for wooden furniture we have started using linseed oil for preserving and giving a colour tone too. So that keeps us from using synthetic paint to that extent saving CO2 emissions.
16. Wood stain removers costing just 50 rupees renews our furniture and makes it akin to new again.
We buy less..
17. We are thinking even more than before – do we really need to buy this ?
18. If a book is available on kindle or on the net, we need not buy a physical book perhaps.
Efficient use of Vehicle
19. We plan all use of vehicle in advance, cramming as much into every trip out that we can.
20. If we can do so without interfering in our work, we try to offer rides to neighbours, friends and relatives along the way.
21. A lot of the work done via the vehicle is now done without it – stuff is ordered from the net; we keep up with parents, relatives and friends even more than before, via whatsapp.
Savings when out of home
22. We carry our own drinking water where we go rather than buying plastic bottles.
23. When out of our home, we also carry our own fruit / snacks in lunchboxes rather than ordering takeaways, thus saving on packaging and delivery fuel. Occasionally we may not be able to pack enough, and have to order, and feel terrible about it. I guess that is the kind of consciousness we all need to come to.
24. We carry bags to bring fruit and vegetable purchases back.
Efficient use of LPG – cooking gas
25. All water is warmed with the vessel lid on, including for drinking or tea, coffee, making rice and so on.
26. The gas knob is only kept half on to prevent the flames from emerging out of the vessel size.
27. Tea is brewed at a go in a 500 ml thermos, thus not needing to use the gas to make it multiple times in the day.
28. Separator is used for making two things at once in the pressure cooker when feasible. This might seem a little too much to most but its very cost, time and energy effective.
29. Many people end up using hairdryers to dry hair after washing it in winters. We simply go dry the hair in the sun, this way you also get your dosage of Vitamin D, or wash hair at night when it can remain wrapped in a towel to dry.
30. We don't use room mosquito repellents - liquid / coil / tablet which take electricity to manufacture and pack and which spread toxins through their use and when they are discarded too. We burn oils such as 'neem' oil in oil lamps and it effectively keeps the mosquitoes at bay.
Storing steel utensils in airy, open spaces
31. Rather than making closed cupboards for them where because of humidity, cockroaches lay eggs, we store steel utensils in open shelves. In kitchens with closed cupboards, insecticides are used to kill them several times a year. Insecticides not only use fossil fuels for manufacture and packaging, they also spread tremendous toxins in use and disposal.
Being rid of pests and rodents the old fashioned way
32. Until such time that we had dogs they killed all rodents who happened to wander into our home.
33. We now tackle any mice found on our property by setting the old fashioned rat trap, and drowning the poor thing in a bucket when caught. When the rodent body is thrown out, crows and owls would make a meal of it. Sticking pads used to trap mice are horrible as the mouse starves to death and birds who alight on it to eat it are also trapped and die horribly. Insecticides poison our water, food and us.