30 Dec Personal Green Audit & Green Resolutions for 2020
The year 2019 draws to a close and 2020 looms ahead. My mentor and guide Dr Prasad Modak (I will call him My Professor) has complied an amazing list of 30 Resolutions for Sustainable Living. I received this list a few days ago through his blog. (To read the original blog see here: https://prasadmodakblog.com/2019/12/30/30-resolutions-for-sustainable-living-in-2020/).
The 30 odd Green To-Do checklist got me thinking about where I and my life fits in with what My Professor has to say. So here is a quick audit of my life and possibly areas where I need improvement. Hope this helps me (and you) make your Green Resolutions for 2020.
#1 Consume Less – This is a huge conflict especially with teenage kids in the house. They want more and more stuff. Girls want clothes, Boys want Gadgets. How can we move towards everyone seeking less is a question I struggle currently, without being a villain all the time! But personally, I think, this is definitely a goal I would like to work on in 2020.
#2 Buy Refurbished Products – Wow! This is an eye-opener for me when I saw that My Professor has a link that lists websites where refurbished goods are sold. I think, my target is to use these websites at least 2 times in 2020. Hope, I will be able to give some feedback at the end of 2020 on this issue.
#3 Donate – I think as a family we have a huge donation drive. The rule always has been that no new stuff unless the old one is given away as donation – be it clothes or gadgets. There cannot be old stuff lying about the house. I have personally used RCube Charity Store (http://www.rcubecharity.org/). In India, giving away stuff is easier as our house help often is very happy to receive good condition stuff.
#4 Use Reuseable Water Bottles – Always! When on a trip, I often end up buying one water bottle and then reusing it for the rest of the trip by refilling it in the hotel where we stay. On a daily basis, each one of us have our own set of water bottles. Secondly, we always prefer the local municipal water as our source of drinking water. I have found that most cities treat their water to an acceptable level of drinking and hotels / restaurants use a second level of treatment too. This water is safe and there is, most times, no need to seek out a Packaged Bottled Water when traveling.
# 5 Say NO to Plastic Straws – The decision to ban plastic has made this easy to follow as we find paper straws replacing plastic straws almost everywhere in Maharashtra. With this, I also tried to shift a toothbrushes made from Bamboo, however, they haven’t worked beyond a certain point. I resolve to find more solutions in 2020.
# 6 Use your Own Shopping Bag – Always! I have stopped taking a bag (even a paper one) for just bringing things home. The plastic ban in Maharashtra has stopped plastic bags, but why even consume a paper bag when we can reuse one? A stockpile of cloth bags are kept everywhere – in cars, scooters and purse which is pulled out when then opportunity arises.
#7 Stay / Work in a Green Building – This may be slightly difficult to follow as Green Buildings are still rare in India’s real estate market. But the heartening thing is that most local regulations today mandate a sewage treatment plant, an organic waste treatment plant and solar water heating on rooftop. This is a good starting point. I have shifted to LEDs lighting completely and choose to buy only BEE 5-star rated equipment.
I had a chance to stay in a Green Building (Park Royale on Pickering) during my recent trip to Singapore. And it was a superb experience to see how the building saves energy & water for which thy maintain a dashboard.
#8 Use Renewable Energy – I have a 1kW SolarPV-Wind hybrid on my terrace, which produces some part of energy for the house, apart from solar water heating. It was great to start RE with 1kW but I need to have a plan to invest more and shift to a Net Metering model soon.
#9 Practice Rainwater Harvesting – This is tricky. In most new buildings, a storm water and a rainwater harvesting pit / bore is constructed, but remains unoperational. In 2020 I resolve to think about this more and seek solutions for its effectiveness.
#10 Use Water Efficient Fixtures – Points 7-11 all are features of a Green Building. So just choosing to stay in one will automatically earn you points for all five. As an exercise, our organization Sustainability Initiatives (www.sustainability-initiatives.org) undertook water audits of some of the public buildings and found that just shifting to water efficient fixtures will reduce the water consumption by 30%. If you can’t change the taps, add aerators to them so that the water consumption is reduced. I also maintain a water tray in my kitchen sink. All this water, (which doesn’t have soap) goes to my indoor plants. This I have been maintaining since 2015 and my house help is trained to do this efficiently.
#11 Treat your Wastewater – This needs considerable investment and most new buildings today needs to have a wastewater treatment plant in the premises. Through our organization, we conducted audits of some of these STPs and found that they are in a deplorable condition. Residents don’t want to spend money on operating these. As a environmentally conscious citizens, I would say, our first priority should be to address our waste before it goes out of our premises.
# 12 Maintain your vehicle – Really a simple measure to follow, but I find many of us are more interested in taking up visible environmental causes like conserving trees rather than ensuring that our own vehicles are properly maintained. I maintain a strict regimen of updating PUCs and servicing schedule for my car. If I need to buy a car, I resolve to make its fuel efficiency the MOST important criterion for selection.
#13 Use an Electric Vehicle – The Mahindra E20 that I own is a pleasure to ride. Its small, its compact and moves very smoothly. The only issue with the car is its suspension. It rattles in potholes and the unavailability of charging points across the city is a big concern. I usually end up using the E2O when I am sure of my schedule and the kms that I am going to travel. Any unscheduled trips causes concern for the battery charge. EVs have to be made better for people to choose them.
#14 Prefer Public Transport – I have not used public transport in the city of Pune due to a long lasting impression that the buses are not good. However, in 2020 I resolve to take the Bus at least once a fortnight. I have already started my ‘Walk to Office’ twice a week and if I am able to squeeze in a bus trip, I would be really happy. In Delhi, with its great Metro system, I use it extensively from and to the airport.
#15 Use less Phone – This is a resolution that I have to really take to heart and implement it. For this, I have vowed to read 40 books in 2020! So please give me recommendations for good books!
#16 – Use more daylight – I have resolved to inculcate a habit of opening the blinds in our office before the lights are turned on. My cabin has ample daylight and I never need the artificial light. However I find that our office floor always has lights on. I will work to find solutions so that people will receive and enjoy more daylight.
#23 Use Indoor Plants – I have already begun this quest in 2019, both at office and home. I hope to keep adding these plants in 2020.
# Engage Differently for Entertainment – The urban fettish for air-conditioned recreation has to reduce. Shopping malls and restaurants have their place, but I resolve to think creatively when it comes to recreation with my teenagers. Enjoying Outdoors will have two benefits – health and environment. I resolve to do more Outdoor activities in 2020.
# Practice LifeCycle Thinking – I tend to get confused doing this as it provides me with no clear answers. However, every time I find myself unsure, I resolve to connect with My Professor for guidance and help in the matter. For example, my daughter carries a paper tissue with her to school. Should I be giving her a cloth napkin instead? Or is a tissue, when disposed properly, a better way?
At shopping malls, I resolve to aggressively reject packaging materials that come along with products. I resolve to choose products that have lesser packaging.
# Meet someone Inspiring – I resolve to use the platform of Sustainability Initiatives to bring to the fore people who can inspire me and others to Go Green! Hope I can write more blogs on this in 2020.