Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mumbai - Blanket ban on plastic bags- Article in HT

Click on image to go to article

Vile Parle bans Plastic bags -Article in HT

Even as the civic body is planning to ban plastic bags, residents of Vile Parle (East) have launched a campaign to make the suburb free of plastic carry bags.
More than 35 resident associations and community groups in Vile Parle (East) have joined the initiative by civic engineer Subhash Dalvi, who has formed a core committee of vendors, shopkeepers and elected representatives.
"More than 50,000 cloth bags were distributed at a cost of Rs 5 per bag. The vendors were given options like stocking paper bags instead. They readily agreed as the cost was much lesser than that of plastic carry bags," said Dalvi. The initiative is catching on, as locals are supporting the cause.
Dalvi said the project began with creating awareness among the vegetable vendors in Vile Parle for the need of using cloth bags instead of plastic.
Fisherwomen at Vile Parle (East) have stopped using plastic bags and are wrapping fish in paper. People have also been urged to bring cloth bags from home. "We are trying to do our bit to help save the environment," said Shai Koli, a fisherwoman.
"It was a small-scale project that we tried to implement in our vicinity, but with the help of citizens and shopkeepers, it has gone to become a major social initiative," said Dalvi, who is also a resident of Vile Parle.
"We only sell things in cotton bags or paper bags. No local comes to our shop and asks for a plastic carry bag. The initiative should spread across the city," said Bakulbhai Thakkar, owner of Decent Chemist in Vile Parle.
"Since May, we have stopped giving plastic bags for takeaway items," said Jaiprakash Shetty owner of Geeta refreshments in Vile Parle.
Other suburbs like Bandra, Khar, Santacruz, Vakola, Byculla and Malad also plan to adopt the initiative. Some groups in Dadar plan to start a similar campaign in Dadar from January. "The Dadar vegetable and flower market generates a lot of plastic waste and such a campaign will help reduce it," said Rajan Taran, a Dadar resident.
Anandini Thakoor of the Hwest ward federation said: "We have begun groundwork to implement this by January 4 in our vicinity [Bandra to Santacruz]. We are also trying to convince licensed hawkers to stop using plastic carry bags."
Mayor Shraddha Jadhav, who is set to table a proposal this week to completely ban plastic bags, said that citizens' participation would help take the initiative forward.
Rajendra Bhonsale, deputy municipal commissioner (encroachments) said, "It's participation from the public that makes such ideas a success. The civic body will certainly extend all help to these groups."
At present, there is a ban on using plastic bags thinner than 50 microns.
According to statistics, Mumbai generates 8,000 metric tonnes of garbage every day of which 4 per cent consists of plastic.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mumbai Traffic Police – Now Online!

Think of this scenario- You commute to work every day in Mumbai and cross a particular traffic signal on your way to work. You feel that the traffic light should be green a little longer. You contact the traffic police via their online portal’s complaint button at and voila- The signal is green longer.

I missed one crucial point in the above scenario. The ill-timed traffic signal wasn’t allowing enough traffic to flow across which led to longer waiting times for motorists stuck at the signal. This translates to more fuel being wasted – Despite all the advertising very few people switch off their engines at signals.
This signal wasn’t always ill-timed. The 20 seconds for which it remained green was good enough when there were no pubs, restaurants and coffee shops in the narrow lane leading up to a major road. Today it demands at least 30seconds. And the traffic police did just that after I complained through the portal.

In hindsight I feel the “chalta hai” attitude of Bombayites /Mumbaikars is what allowed this problem to persist for as long as it did. When I first noticed the problem I asked a traffic cop at the signal why he didn’t do anything about such an obvious issue. He said he didn’t have the authority and that I would need to send a letter to the Worli branch(20kms from my home) to get the timing rectified.
A fast google search solved the problem (Check the link above). Mumbai is your city as well. Do find the time to solve the minor problems in your vicinity. Cumulatively these solutions go a long way in making our city a better place.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

From gadgets to mails

Another interesting aspect is related to the carbon footprints of spam mails. A McAfee study says that the mere act of people around the world deleting spam and searching for legitimate email falsely labelled as junk creates the annual energy consumption equivalent in the US of 2.4 mn homes using electricity, with the same GHG emissions as 3.1 mn passenger cars using 2 bn gallons of gasoline.

The average greenhouse gas emission associated with one spam message is 0.3 grams of CO2, about the same as driving three feet in equivalent emissions. When multiplied by the 62 tn spam emails sent globally, that is like driving around the earth 1.6 mn times! So just think how green is your inbox.

Even the storage of emails contributes to environmental hazard, warns writer and environmental activist Sami Grover. Retained data means storage space used; storage space used means energy consumed; and this means nothing but carbon emission!

Our drawing room is also not that green either. An average television or computer running for eight hours per day generates 618 lbs of CO2 annually. And for a laptop this is 77 lbs.

Dangerously e-wasting!

The concept of long lasting is a pass for the modern-day man, who is turning away from the earthly feelings. We have no prick of conscience in changing the gadgets like soiled clothes! But again we feign ignorance about one thing our contribution to e-waste. The problem of e-waste management warrants greater attention. Unlike the organic waste, e-waste doesn’t decompose and the hazards thereof are beyond our imagination.

A major concern is that developing countries are falling victims of this e-waste threat. According to the UN Environment Program (UNEP), up to 50 mn tonnes of waste from discarded electronic goods is generated annually, with the majority being shipped from the west to developing nations.

PC maker, Dell, recently announced its strong stand against e-waste export. Nokia’s recycling program is also worth mentioning here.

And, interestingly, though we are all concerned about the R-word that made the world economy make a nosedive, statistics show a shade of green in the environmental front. A study from America says that ever since the global economic meltdown began, energy-related CO2 emissions in the US declined by 2.8% in 2008. The Energy Information Administration estimates this as the largest annual drop since the US government began recording the data in 1990.

So, should we say a green cheers to the economic meltdown that saves Mother Earth from the dangerous global warming?

- Dataquest

How Green is our gadge life?

A couple of days back, while attending a green initiative by the International Indian Film Academy in Gurgaon, evergreen superstar of Bollywood, Amithabh Bachchan made a startling remark, To go green you should get rid of the mobile phone that you are using!

And this statement assumes greater significance in today’s tech-driven world, where gadgets are becoming style statements; at times even becoming kind of an extension of the human body.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, a gallon (around 3.8 litres) of gasoline has 131 MJ of energy and emits 8.8 kg of CO2. Based on this, if we calculate the energy consumption in the manufacture of a mobile phone, it would come to 1,390 MJ of energy, while CO2 emissions would be 60 kg, says a blog post in Likewise, the production of a computer and monitor takes 6,400 MJ of energy, or 4.6 times that of a mobile phone.

According to another report published on, carbon emissions from personal gadgets (such as mp3 players) and electronic devices (including televisions and mobile phones) will rise drastically over the next twenty years. The report, quoting a study by Frances International Energy Association says that their energy-use would triple between now and 2030. So, you understand from where all the bullets pierce the fragile ozone layer!

The IEA pointed out that over half of the world’s population now has a mobile phone and forecast that the number of PC users will surpass 1 bn in 2009. If we fail to adopt new policies, the energy consumed by such devices will rise to 1,700 TW hours by 2030, significantly undermining efforts in reducing global emissions, it warns.

According to the IEA estimates, by 2010, there will be over 3.5 bn mobile phone subscribers, and 2 bn televisions in use around the world.

It is this awareness about environmental hazard that prompted Ericsson and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to partner in encouraging the use of climate-smart telecom solutions across industries.

According to a recent study by Gartner and WWF, the ICT(Information & Communication Technology) industry has been slow to embrace the low-carbon economy, and is missing out on opportunities. The ICT industry is responsible for approximately 2% of global CO2 emissions.

-Dataquest (Edition: June 30, 2009)

14 firms shortlisted for city makeover - TOI

MUMBAI: The dream to re-mould the city and its surroundings into a cleaner, greener and a hi-tech metropolis is firming up with the state shortlisting 14 international firms out of 39 that had expressed interest in the project.

The programme, meant for the city and its metropolitan region, involves the drawing up of an overall prespective plan, which will be worked upon for the next 30 to 40 years and will cost around Rs 6 crore. The shortlisted firms are from three continents.

"After receiving letters of interest from 39 firms, we screened and shortlisted 14 from them. Now, the steering committee, headed by MMRDA commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad, will examine these 14 firms and the bids should be in by September. We plan to appoint the consultant by the end of October,'' said UPS Madan, head of the city transformation unit of the All India Institute of Local Self Government, which is helping in the Mubai makeover plan.

The steering committee members include municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak, the urban development secretary, chairman of Bombay First Narinder Nayyar, city planner V K Phatak, architect P K Das and former chief secretary D M Sukthankar.

Madan said the plan would have several broad parameters to be worked upon, including housing projects aimed at reducing the number of slums and developing economic centres in the metropolitan region. "The plan will also focus on transport and better use of land. A list has also been drafted for certain sectors, which need investments from financial institutions in India and abroad, to give the city a global makeover.

Narinder Nayar, chairman of Bombay First, said they would also emphasise the development of social infrastructure such as educational and health institutions to ensure a holistic makeover of the city. Several civic groups and NGOs have not been too happy about the infrastructure projects in the city, which they feel, has not given importance to social developments.

Among the consultants shortlisted are Jurong Consultants, Singapore, Lea International, Canada, Urbis, Dubai, Calthrope Associates USA, Groupe SCE,France, Gensler,USA, ILFS and Perkins Eastman, US, Arup Consultants with Domnique Perrault (France), Atonk International/Edsa, US, Buro Happold, London, Maxwan Arehelt, Rotterdam, GFB, Germany, and Consulting Engineering Services, India.

Green Ganesha

An article published in Hindustan Times

Sustainable Development in India

India marches onto the “Green/Sustainable development Bandwagon” with the words of Mr. Singh. Truth be told, we had started marching a long time back. As far back as 3000 years, when India had developed a unique irrigation system, which conserved and replenished surface and ground water. Back then as is today, everyone from the Sarpanch to the village idiot respected “Panchavati”; a name derived from the 5 essential medicinal trees in various forests in India.

Insatiable human wants

Before the Egyptians started using scented oils for “various” ceremonies, Indians used the juice extracted from the leaves of one of these trees (Bilwa tree) as it removed all foul odors from the body. The perfume industry probably contributes in a marginal way to global warming but the rationale for using perfumes is simple- It makes us feel good. A fast Google-search on how much energy and water it takes to make a wedding ring will make an environmentalist squeal.
This is not an attempt to prove that the perfume and jewelry industries are the bad-guys, but to unravel human psychology. In some cases, our “want” hasn’t transformed but the solution has- From the humble juice to sophisticated woody flavours. In other cases, a new “want” has been created in the form of an indispensable marriage memorabilia.

We have old wants and new ones, all being satisfied and created by brilliant innovators and marketers’ world over. Human wants are insatiable by today’s standards. If we satisfy all the wants of six billion people we will have a bigger problem at hand than we had bargained for. Most kids covet their friends’ toys. The same holds true for mature adults as well. Everyone will want a share of the “good life”.

Take away – Maybe it is time we make a difference at a personal level by moderating our wants and spreading the sustainable development message more strongly.

Home Advantage

Developing countries blame developed countries for global warming as they waste a lot of resources. I am sure Mr. Prime Minister will not face that issue in India because most Indians still have the “save today” mentality. Some Indians waste resources but that of course isn’t a “direct” expense for them. However, I am still talking about a minority who has access to these seemingly inexhaustible resources. India still has a considerable population that has to satisfy its basic needs on a day-to-day basis.

Take away – We are intuitively savers. This attitude will only aid the green movement as Governments can think of unique taxes for wasteful usage.

Policies aren't solutions

India is a heady mix of cultures and economies. Tackling global warming with generic policies is not a foolproof solution. For instance, a policy on having “Bharat-x” norms on every vehicle that is manufactured now onward, will prevent the upward-mobile population from polluting the air. However in cities, millions of these “Bharat-x” vehicles with engine specifications such as 0 to 100 in 9 seconds ply at an average speed of 20kmph. Did traffic management strike anyone apart from Mr. Rahul Dandekar?(The man behind the idea MESN) People in certain areas in UP still use Bharat minus hundred “Jugads”( unregistered indigenous vehicles). Policies cannot be made for each and every one of these situations and therein lies the limited reach of policies in making a difference.

Take away – Policies help to a limited extent. But it is very important to have the right policies implemented quickly. Testimony to policies not being ratified- The hybrid cars of the world have still not made headway in India due to 100% + duties on these cars.

Localized Solutions

What we need are micro solutions for a diverse India. This can be achieved by making people more accountable. There are officials in government organizations responsible for certain areas in every city and town in India. These officials have teams who monitor the area. The questions the PM should be asking are - Are these officials aware of sustainable development? Do they know what can be done in order to implement sustainable development? Can public transport be made fast and convenient? Is the waste management system of the area resourceful? And many more.

Take away – A city’s/town’s problems are many. However solutions can be best implemented by locals. The roadblock here is inadequate education and lapses in accountability.

Rural India Too

The questions above may not be relevant to a village with a population of 60 which relies on agriculture as their only means of survival. What may be relevant is how to sustain cultivated land without overusing fertilizers? The questions will differ as per geography, occupation, income and many other variables. When answered the government can make sure we make a collective difference to the environment in our country.

Take away – To achieve sustainable development in India in a meaningful way various pieces of the “green” puzzle have to come together. This can be achieved with adequate Government hand holding.

- Karthik

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pause and think!

“More coastal space falls to Builders” – Such ran an article in HT in June 09. The article stated that a developer in Mumbai wanted to build a hotel and rehabilitation buildings in place of all the slums that are built on a CRZ (Costal regulatory zone).

Mumbai has a unique distinction- It is one of the 20 megacities in the world. A megacity is a city with a population of over 10million & density of over 2000people/sq km. Like the other megacities it is faced with a dilemma of development versus environmental sustainability. But what exasperates this dilemma is that Mumbai is a coastal city.

Out of the top ten coastal cities exposed to climate change in the form of floods, Mumbai is 5th. Club that with the fact that over 90% of the planet's living and nonliving resources are found within a few hundred kilometers of the coast we have a serious economic and environmental problem at hand.
Converting slums in the CRZs to buildings and hotels doesn’t answer a serious question. Is it sustainable? Crores will go into building this infrastructure. And crores more will go in rehabilitating the rehabilitees when a storm strikes Mumbai.

An idol city for many, Shanghai has constructed more than 4,000 high-rises in less than three decades. Another coastal city which may see realty costs plummet and huge environmental issues once a deluge ensues- It is number 4 on the list. Incidentally, Calcutta is number 3.

Solutions in the form of stricter coastal regulatory norms, disaster management programs and alternative rehabilitation facilities are the need of the hour. If not taken seriously we may see Mumbai go back in history in the form of 7 distinctly divided islands; or maybe more.

Source for numbers – (OECD report) (Ocean Carbon and Biochemistry)

- Karthik

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The big picture

Do you own a home? Do you aspire to own a home? Why?
A few answers that might include yours are: primarily a sense of security, something to protect you from the elements, something unmoving and permanent. Or maybe as a long term investment. Perhaps something to leave for your kids. That would obviously mean that the thought process would lead to having it "last" for a long time.
We care for that home, we maintain it, repair it. We would be extremely distressed if, either the elements or someone else, damages or destroys it. We therefore take great pains to protect and secure it.
Taking this point on another path, those who rent apartments, perhaps with room/house mates, find it extremely distressing if that person does not keep the house neat and clean.
In both these cases, great care is taken to use resources carefully, especially those that we have to pay for.

Step back and take a look at the bigger picture...The earth is our home too!!!

- Primus

Monday, June 8, 2009

Every way we can

We at MR(Mumbai Rewind)saw an opportunity to bring up the issue of plastic bags yet again but through a different channel- A letter to the editor of Hindustan Times.

As owning a mobile phone has become a norm over the past 10 years so has selling a plastic bag for the tiniest of items. This is how we brought it up.

Here is the actual page print.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

4 lakh plastic bags reduced in 2 hours

You ask how ?

We took 8 students from St. Anne's, Malad for a plastic bag awareness drive in Hypercity- A supermarket in Malad, Mumbai. These kids managed to convince 112 citizens at Hypercity to curb their plastic bag consumption by at least 3 a week. A testimonial to that effect is the signatures of all 112 citizens. Which means these 112 citizens will cut down on their plastic bag consumption by 4 lakh in the next 30 years. And 4 lakh not counting the number of people they in turn convince to curb the use of plastic bags.

We also convinced customers that they could use one bag for all their vegetables instead of one for every single vegetable. This idea was well appreciated by the customers who were more than willing to try out the idea that very instant.

The off shoot of this drive of course was that the students (std 8 to 10) gained a lot of confidence in talking to strangers. The students went back home with broad grins knowing fully well the impact they had on the environment in a matter of 2 hours.

All this was made possible by 8 students from St. Anne's, Mrs. Seema (school teacher), Hypercity folks, Mumbai Rewind and of course all those who joined in the campaign by pledging their support for the cause.

- Karthik.

Friday, May 29, 2009

HyperCity - Education Drive

Tomorrow is a big day for Mumbai Rewind. 8 students from St. Anne's High School along with some volunteers are going to talk to HyperCity(Supermarket in Malad- Mumbai) customers and educate them about the damage plastic is causing to our environment and Mumbai is specific.

There will be a signature campaign and posters all around prompting customers to reduce and reuse plastic bags.

The students of course had to be trained to talk to these customers. The training sessions were fun filled with arenas as diverse as the school ground. They were taken through all sorts of real life scenarios they could face at HyperCity while interacting with customers.

We are sure these kids are going to reach out to as many as 100 customers and will bring down plastic consumption by a significant amount in HyperCity. More importantly if they convince even 50 people to reduce and reuse plastic bags by as many as 3 a week. That is a reduction of 2 lakh 34 thousand plastic bags in the life time of these 30 individuals. That is the effect these kids can have in a matter of a few hours.

The drive is going to be organized on 30th May 2009 from 2:30pm to 5pm. Join us in our drive:-)

- Karthik.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

We've been Telegraphed

This is an article about how people are using blogs to 'Be the Change'

Read the full article here

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Picnics and Plastics

Picnics are fun times. A time to forget all the troubles of the world and enjoy whatever it is that you are doing. A time to stop thinking. Wait a minute. That doesn’t sound right does it. A time to stop thinking!

We never do that. Everybody thinks. Let me rephrase. A time to stop analyzing. Yup! Fits the bill. Why would anybody analyze anything during a picnic? It destroys the very essence of a picnic, right? Wrong.

I can delve into the psychological aspect the whole “Work-play” idiom but for all practical purposes and to address an audience which by now may be losing interest in this post I’ll say it simply – We have lost it!!

We compete in games at picnics which involve rampant use of “plastic straws and plastic cups” and come back to work “refreshed”... I’m morose.

We have actually not put to good use let alone reuse the plastic. There are plenty of games which can be played without using plastic – Didn’t see too many of those.

Now I come to the crux of it all. How do you convince a bunch of “adults” who have come to “get away from it all” to avoid playing that particular game completely?

The more I think of it the more trickier the answers become. Top of the animal kingdom we may be but I think we have not taken it as seriously as we should.
- Karthik

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Honkzilla - It's in our culture!

With the Mumbai traffic police taking up the ante of the “No honking Drive” in Mumbai we may see people changing the way they use the “electronic-bhompu”. Time will tell the efficacy of the drive. Here is my take-
Let’s face it- In India we love to give a personal touch to everything, be it a little tabasco sauce in the spicy monchow soup or discussing politicians rather than politics. In India like Guru bhai said “Even business is personal”

So why should we stop honking? After all it is our way of saying “Get out of the way you tortoise” or “Please give way”. The loudness and the pattern of the honk is indicative of the temperament of the driver who is honking. So honking isn’t just about telling the person to give way but it is an expression all too personal to do away with.

Advising people is one thing but changing a culture is an entirely different ball game.

Let us take a typical roadside example. Tulsi is walking on the road rather than the pavement. She just had paani puri at the pani puri wala who works on the pavement. Ram who is in a hurry to reach his appointment with Dr. Suri is driving his Santro at a break neck average speed of 20kmph. From a distance he sees Tulsi walking on the road instead of the pavement/marketplace. The only way for him to pass a 14 wheeler travelling at 5kmph is to overtake the monster from the left, the only obstacle being Tulsi. Tulsi loves her walks as much as she loves her paani puris and she cares two hoots about the various businesses taking up her walking space. She is comfortable walking on the road as well. Ram by this time decides that overtaking is the right option. After all Dr. Suri is the best somethingologist in town and missing his appointment could be tantamount to no more appointments for a month.

The overtaking procedure begins with the well educated Ram doing the polite soft honk which says “Please stand aside. I know it’s tough, what with the stupid sandwich wala occupying the pavement. But please try”. Tulsi is still talking on the phone.

Ram decides to go for the double honk procedure – One short, one long. In other words he is trying to say “Look lady, I know your calls are important but not at the cost of totally ignoring my desperate pleas for some room”

This time Tulsi takes notice and blurts out a “Dikhta nahi hai kya. Jagah nahi hai” and continues talking on the mobile. At this point Ram loses it. He is late. He sees a stone over a tiny nala on which he presumes Tulsi could stand and give him way. Now he tries the loud long honk procedure which pretty much means “Get out of the way or else..”. Tulsi at this point cannot even talk on the phone because Ram is getting all too personal. She spots the rock and jumps on it. The car rolls past. Tulsi continues talking and walking- An easy victim for Rams galore.

Blame honking on the chana wala, blame it on the average speed on Mumbai roads, blame it on trucks in suburbs at peak hours, blame it on random parking, blame it on bad roads, blame it on signals even but don’t blame it on people. Because it is, after all “in our culture”.
- Karthik

The "Serial" Initiative

We plan to spread the message of “Reduce Reuse” plastics with the aid of a popular serial in the coming months. The idea is simple-
Use a medium which reaches out to a big audience – A television serial.
Use comedy – Ads the element of humor to the underlying serious message.

The Reason for the “serial” initiative –
Over time we have formed a perception that what doesn’t affect us today will never affect us anyway. This perception, call it shortsightedness or call it ignorance, we believe can be done away with only if people are made aware of what is going to hit them in the future.
A plastic cup - a supposed hygienic way to drink our water/ tea takes 80 years to degrade. If it’s not affecting you now think about the plastic cups thrown by mankind each day- The number which easily goes into millions is startling.

If you think it’s all being collected and recycled, think again. Recycled plastic costs 4 times as much as a virgin plastic. Do you truly believe “businesses” will go the recycling way until a “cheaper” alternative is here?

Through this serial we hope to educate people about how we can use alternatives. We also hope to educate people about the benefits of reusing plastic bags.

Sure enough every comedy serial deserves its fair amount of word of mouth publicity. This will further aid in spreading the “Reduce reuse” message.
We shall keep you posted about the progress we make here. Until then..

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mumbai most crowded city - Hindustan Times

This appeared on the front page on Friday 13, 2009.
Mumbai is the most crowded city in the world!!
Click on the image to go to the Hindustan Times. Chose the Mumbai edition dated 13/03/09

See the image here

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beach Bummed

Bus load of enthusiasm: From Aksa cleanup

Forty 8th grade students, one teacher and ten other volunteers (family, friends and colleagues) made their way to Aksa beach located in Malad, Mumbai on 8th February 2009. Our mission, like that of several others before us, was to ‘Clean Up’ the beach. This was the first initiative of Mumbai Rewind — a concept whose viability relies on the philosophy ‘Be Aware, Be the change, Cause a change’.

We intend to take Mumbai back to its glory days. When the traffic was managed, the pollution level wasn’t too high and the population was largely aware of their surroundings.

Pep talk: Video on Aksa cleanup

The purpose of the Aksa Clean up drive was not only to make the beach a little cleaner but also to make people aware of how we are damaging our environment each day. Ten students were asked to study a “fact sheet” which contained information like “one plastic cup takes 80 years to decompose” and solutions like “use earthen cups instead”. After the students were reasonably confident about the facts and the solutions, they walked up to strangers on the beach and imparted their new found knowledge to them.

The Great Aksa trash pile (collected by us - around 150 kgs of it): From Aksa cleanup

We collected approximately 150 kg of garbage from the beach in a span of 1 hour. The beach which stretches for around 2 km still didn’t look clean. Knowing the extent of filth on the beach we estimate that 500 people working tirelessly for 4 hours could probably make the beach a lot cleaner. Presently there are only two BMC sweepers who work for a few hours a week at the beach.

The trash at the beach comprised chips bags, chewing tobacco packets, toothpaste tubes, slippers, duffle bags, chuna tubes, cigarette packets, plastic bags of various shapes and sizes, newspapers, cardboard boxes, tooth brushes etcetera. We were shocked to find plastic bags embedded so deeply in the sand that we had to dig them out.

MUMBAI REWIND: The kids wanna say... From Aksa cleanup

The following week the students were taken through a feedback session where we discussed about what they felt about the drive and in what other ways we could help to save our environment.

We are determined to avoid the ubiquitous, ever so easy to use plastic bag and convince others likewise. If you share a similar passion and wish to be part of the change, do email us at

- Karthik, edited by Averil

Presentation at St. Anne's High School

Deplasticize your life: From Aksa cleanup presentation at St. Anne's High school, Malad

We’ve always loved going to Aksa beach. Aksa is a 2 km stretch of sand situated in the northern suburb called Malad. Malad has access to a lot of beaches; Marve, Manori, Aksa, Erangal, Madh to name a few. Marve was the commercial beach that everybody visited until the late ’90, by when the pollution and fishing trawlers killed off the beach. What’s left of Marve is a little section of land that is used by people to get into ferries that take them to Manori / Gorai.
This then diverted attention of the masses to Aksa, which was largely untouched, thanks to its reputation as a killer beach. Along with the inflow of ‘tourists’, came the filth.

The beach that we loved started to look like a dumping ground. We decided to do something about it.

We had seen and read about school children involved in cleanliness drives, and so we decided to go back to our alma mater, St. Anne’s High School, Malad to see if we can convince the principal and the students to aid us in our quest.

We went to school to meet the principal Mrs. Annie Braganza, who was more than happy to see us give back to society. She directed us to Mrs. Seema Ramdas who is in charge of the Nature Club at St. Anne’s High School. We met and discussed our plan of cleaning up Aksa beach.

Karthik has the audience enthralled: From Aksa cleanup presentation at St. Anne's High school, Malad

We needed to motivate and educate the students. A presentation was planned and delivered. Armed with a few charts and a slideshow we presented to an audience of about 100 enthusiastic 8th graders.

The presenters: Shobhit, Nishant, Karthik and Primus (below): From Aksa cleanup presentation at St. Anne's High school, Malad

The half hour session hit the spot. We got a resounding yes when we asked if they were interested in cleaning up the beach.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: From Aksa cleanup presentation at St. Anne's High school, Malad

From Aksa cleanup presentation at St. Anne's High school, Malad

The big picture: Aksa cleanup presentation at St. Anne's High school, Malad

- Primus, edited by Karthik

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Project DePlasticize

Have you ever travelled to a place described as breathtaking…only to have the trash and filth there take more than just your breath away? Plastic waste forms the most prominent embellishment.

As inconsequential as this may seem, it played its part in the floods that brought Mumbai to a halt on 26th July 2005, affecting tens of thousands of Mumbaikars either directly or indirectly. We, at the DDC (Dedicated Delivery Center) have decided to reverse this destructive trend.

We began this month by giving up the use of plastic cups in office. Each of us at the DDC took it up as a personal challenge to change our attitudes and use mugs/reusable bottles instead. A week of environmental education saw the core team and each manager taking it up upon themselves to pass the green word on to the entire DDC, irrespective of location.

After some deliberation it was decided to let individuals buy their own mugs, since this gives people a greater sense of responsibility than when something is handed down free. It also allows for personalization and expression of individuality while eliminating the confusion that standard one-type-fits-all mugs could create. The team has supported the cause by buying their own mugs to show that they care for the environment! And slowly but surely, the usage of plastic cups has reduced in the DDC.

We can take this message with us wherever we go. Going on a long trip? Travelling by bus or train? Keep your trash in a bag and throw it in a trash can when possible, rather than out of the window. In the train, use steel cups to have tea/coffee and wash once you’re through.

Now, these simple steps may seem bothersome, but don’t we do this at home? Don’t we keep our houses tidy and try not to waste the resources that we pay for?

Look at the bigger picture. The Earth is our home too!!!

Save the Earth! It's the only planet with coffee on it!

- Primus, edited by Averil

Raise your non-plastic cup

Most organisations provide refreshments for their employees in plastic/Styrofoam cups. On an individual level using 1 or 2 cups a day seems insignificant, but let’s do some simple math here and see how it adds up:

  • Say you work for 5 days a week, using on an average 2 cups a day (I'm positive the usage is way more than that)
  • That would mean using 10 cups a week and 40 a month.
  • So a single person uses 480 cups a year.

Still think that’s a small amount?

  • Consider a midsize company with 1000 employees... that's 480,000 cups a year.
  • A city like Mumbai has at least 1000 such companies... that's 480,000,000 cups a year
  • Say a cup weighs a meager 5gm... that’s 2,400,000,000 gm or 2,400,000 kg of plastic a year — all of it going to some landfill!

All because of a measly cup! What a criminal waste!

It does not make economical sense for the company either. A cup costs Rs. 0.40 per piece, which would mean Rs.1,920,000 a year just “thrown” in the trash.

So we decided to educate the people in our respective companies regarding the issue and try to get people to change.

I started small, with my project team of around 100 people. The department heads and managers supported me all along. Information emails were sent, polls conducted, colleagues were educated and in a couple of weeks we saw a huge change in peoples mindsets. They willingly bought their own bottles and ceramic/earthen/ steel mugs to have their refreshments.

We had this featured in the company
monthly newsletter. At a 'Green' day that was organized, the center heads were impressed with what we had achieved in our department. This paved the path to take the drive to the entire company. Emails and posters informed people about the harmful effects of plastic. Soon a policy will be in place and plastic cups will slowly make their way out of our corporate lives!

The same argument can be extended to plastic bags that we use without batting an eyelid. It is very easy to carry your own bag while going shopping. Infact it’s even better if that bag is cotton or jute. Small steps like these lead to big changes. Join the revolution…be a part of the solution!!

- Primus, edited by Averil

Circa 1950 — Plastic weds humanity: Till death do us apart!

Here are some facts about our friend turned foe:

The thing to understand is there is no such thing as "away" when it comes to plastic. Often people think that because it's no longer in our home, in our work place or in our car, it has "gone away". Not true! It just means we no longer see it on a daily basis and it’s somewhere else on this planet. Out of sight, out of mind, and not our problem! How wrong can we be! Remember the 26th July floods?

We've used plastic only since the 1950s. With scientists estimating that each plastic item could last in the environment anywhere between 400 to 1000 years, it's all still here. Our plastic consumption, which is already estimated to be about 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags a year worldwide, is growing at an alarming rate. Moreover, nearly every piece of plastic EVER made still exists today.

Plastics do not biodegrade; they photo-degrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil, waterways, oceans and entering the food chain when ingested by animals.

Scare Statistics:
Plastic production uses 8% of the entire world's oil.
The world currently produces 200 million tons of plastic a year. Around half of this is used for disposable packaging that is discarded within a year.
96 % of the world’s waste plastic is not recycled. This debris accumulates in landfills before being dumped into the sea.
An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash, much of it plastic is dumped in the world's oceans every year.
Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1 million sea creatures every year
Excess packaging is not just bad for the environment but for your pocket too. Studies carried out in 2007 established that excess packaging costs the average UK family about GBP 470 a year. ( (BBCNews)

Plastic News, Facts, Myths, Bans and more:

- Primus, edited by Averil

Mumbai Rewind - Why?

Mumbai is a city of dreams. With an estimated population of 13 million, it is currently the second most populous city in the world. It has an area of 600 sq kms with a population density of 20000 people per sq km!! It is also estimated that over a 100 people call this city their new home everyday.

This then is a city stretched to the limits.

Growing up in the then Bombay feels like a surreal experience when one looks back today. The streets weren’t overcrowded, the pollution didn’t scare people out of the city, the endless cacophony didn’t raise its ugly veil, the traffic was manageable and the filth would go in dustbins.

As the 20th century bid us adieu something went wrong.

Mumbai today is a mix of crowds and mobs, noises and wars, stench and disease. The problems just seem to be increasing exponentially with no Messiah in sight.

Oh! Everybody is tired of this city; everybody grumbles about it, everybody wishes for change, everybody wishes that somebody will do something about this mess…and yet very few will put in a modicum of effort to change…

Mumbai Rewind is the brain child of a bunch of friends who decided to reverse the trend by bringing about a change for the better, even if it seems very little compared to the enormity of the problem at hand.

We want our old city back!!

- Primus, edited by Karthik