Monday, 7 January 2013

Maha Kumbh Mela 2013 plastic ban

The Kumbh Mela is a pilgrimage of Hindus to the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and (Mythical) Saraswati rivers in Prayag (Allahabad, UP).  The Ardh Mela is every 6 years, while the Puma Mela is every 12 years.  Every 12 Puma Mela is celebrated as the Maha Kumbh Mela.  the last one was in 1869. January to March 2013 will see the unique Maha Kumbh Mela in 144 years.
In 2001, the last Puma Kumbh Mela saw 60 million pilgrims bathes in the river.  It was said to be the largest gathering of people in the history of humanity.  It was visible from outerspace!

2001 Kumbh Mela from space (top left caroner of image)

The risk of pollution

This year, the Maha Kumbh Mela, a once-in-144-years event, is expected to break the previous record for human gathering.  Over the years, the local authorities have done a great job of providing sanitary facilities, medical facilities, drinking water, and all sorts of facilities such an event requires.  However, the one danger that is still a menace is the pollution caused to the river.  As pilgrims offer milk in their prayers, the milk packet (plastic cover) is discarded to the flow of the waters.  Needless to point out the concentration of all the other usage of plastic covers and bags we take for granted on a daily basis that such an event will conjure.

To counter this, a big awareness campaign has already been set in motion.  the UP government is buying out advertising pages in all major newspaper to warn people that a ban on polytene will be enforced.
So if you are atending the Kumbh Mela this year, don't forget your SmallSteps bag!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

More on SmallSteps

Today we update the blog layout with new tab links under the header (see above). The new tabs link to a page with a list of stores where you can find your smallstep bag in various cities across India. We have also added a link back to our home page. Feel free to explore.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Ban of Plastic bags in India

There is a growing trend to ban plastic carrier bags in cities across India as the plastic pollution menace is growing by the day.  A number of new articles have reported the bold decisions by public authorities (in Delhi, in Kanyakumari, in the Nilgiris hills) to ban the source of the menace, but this is not always practical as little alternatives have been put into place to effectively wean the public away from this addiction.

A number of countries have also taken this initiative and India is one of the most active proponents of such a ban.  However, the plastic pollution is real and banning the source is only addressing the future production of this menace.  We still have a major problem today to resolve in cleaning up our land and water of this trash.  Unlike other natural trash, plastic remains in our environment for a long time.  in order for the ban to be effective, we also need to address the issue of collection and recycling.  Currently it is left to the private sector and individuals to tackle this issue.  I have heard of stories of plastic bottle recycling plants in Chennai being forced to purchase trash bottles from the US and Europe in order to supply its need as the disorganised collection in India is simply not able to satisfy the demand for waste plastics.

Similarly, a new initiative by the Chennai mayor to collect plastics for recycling in road surfacing layers which was launched at the beginning of this year never materialised, as I myself attempted to deliver collected plastics to the indicated collection centres only to find corporation staff clueless of this collection drive.

It is left up to the private sector to organise itself using market forces to drive the need.  The recent FDI in retail reform passed by the centre may yet have a solver lining as this article highlights about Ikea's trash recycling initiatives in Sweden.  Such initiatives would work very well in India as people are all too ready to make a few rupees worth of business, especially among the poorer urban population which are less likely to follow laws that ban the use of plastics as this Reuters blog so well explains:
" When it comes to plastic bags, alternatives aren’t as cheap, but people tend to not mind flouting what they consider “nanny-state” laws if the fines aren’t that high. After all, paying the fine might be easier for some than hunting for a jute bag. "

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Plastics in our seas

Plastics often end up being blown in the sea, they get eaten up by fish, killing them or poisoning them which may end up being fished by fisherman. It is a worrying development and there are not solutions but to reduce, reuse or recycle our plastic nuisance. So next time you dispose of a plastic bag, try not to throw it in the open, either collect it with other plastic bags and sell them to a recycler or ruse them. The best solution is to carry a small shopping bag with us at all times so as to be able to say no to plastic bags!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Preparing India for a consumer wave

A recent article in The Hindu highlights the environmental dangers of consumerism.  The article highlights the problem that invariably accompanies consumption, that of garbage disposals.  Well documented, the author points to the issues in the USA, notably its largest landfill, Puente Hills outside Los angeles.

What started off as  landfill (a hole in the ground) is now a towering 500-foot high hill of trash.  The refuse of nearby civilization, and growing.  The problems are diverse, from escalating production of trash to containment of the toxic substance oozing into the ground and contaminating the underground water resources.  It is a man-made natural disaster in the making.

Furthermore, the article points out that recent trends in educating the masses in the need of recycling is not really addressing the problem, for the majority of trash is a direct consequence of industry's calculated strategy to push consumption to its extremes.  One of the biggest contribution being technology's built in obsolescence, a design feature of modern consumer technology to ensure a shorter life-time of the object and therefore force the consumer to purchase evermore newer models, as this short movie highlights.

The original documentary, by German film maker Cosima Donnitzer can be viewed in this post.  However, as a note of optimism, all problems come with opportunities, as this report from Puente Hills shows, trash decomposition is also a source of alternative energy.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Come, Step out with a SmallStep

As part of our Step Out with a SmallSteps campaign to encourage our country to say to no to plastic bags we have re-designed the box to hold 10 bags as a self-display container that can be placed on tills and counter tops of points of sales of stores and small boutiques.

We actively looking for partners to take up this campaign on a national scale and encourage as many people as possible to use SmallSteps.  We have also designed a smallsteps tree that we hand out on a deposit basis for shops and stores to display smallsteps in an elegant way.

full length half length table opp

If you would like to join us to spread the message and sell Smallsteps in your area, please get in touch with us on our main site.