“Exploring Bangalore” Series: to walk, cycle or drive?

To walk, cycle or drive? Unfortunately, that is not a difficult question to answer here in India, but it does provide a good starting point for my “Exploring Bangalore” Series, where I will share my discoveries as I slowly come to know the city.

When I reach a new city I love to explore by hitting the streets and wandering past cafes, markets, parks and old buildings.

Unfortunately, to do so in India can sometimes mean taking your life into your own hands. For the most part, the roads are congested, the air polluted and the footpaths are often broken, covered in street stalls and parked motorcycles or even non-existent. And of course the cows are there just as an added challenge! There are a lot of fascinating sites to see, the stressful part is just travelling between them!

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Going back to Rio: 20 years on…

Severn Cullis-Suzuki, an inspiring 12 year old speaking at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992…

and 20 years on, now a wife and mother, speaking at Rio+20 in 2012…

What has changed? What have we achieved and where have we failed?

Where will we be in another 20 years? Creating “the future we want“?

Indian innovation – turning plastic waste into roads

As a follow up to my “Living Green in India” Series post, Waste not, want not, I came across this unusual solution.

Plastic Roads Offer Greener Way to Travel in India – NYTimes.com

Rather than viewing plastic products, such as plastic bags and food packaging, as waste, one Bangalore company uses it as a raw material in roads to create polymerised bitumen. This adds a few years of life to the road and reduces the amount of plastic waste sent to landfill.

How many other so-called “waste products” could we turn into material for innovative products?

Out of the box…shipping container homes in India?

Recently, a friend put me onto a feature in the National Geographic about Shipping Container homes, particularly a university dormitory in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Photograph by Ton Koene, Hollandse Hoogte/Redux

I love the versatility, modularity and recycling embodied in the design and I started thinking about the possible applications of such structures in India. Could they be used there to create more affordable housing options?

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“Living Green in India” Series: Waste not, want not…

Starting from today (aptly World Environment Day), I will be running the “Living Green in India” series, where I will share some of the unique challenges of living in an environmentally friendly way in India.

Recently something curious happened at home in our Indian apartment. We had stored all of our used glass and plastic bottles on our balcony, not really sure of what to do with them (given the lack of accessible government recycling facilities). Our housemaid gathered up all of the bottles and then, just as she was leaving, asked me for a letter. Initially I was unsure as to why she needed it, but I realised that she wanted a note from us stating that we had given her the bottles (to prove to security at our complex that she hadn’t stolen them). Clearly the bottles were valuable and she could get some money from selling them.

What to do with all of our bottles?

This situation got me thinking about the whole waste management and recycling sector in India. To me, at least, India feels like a country slowly splitting at the seams. Waste is definitely much more visible and hard to ignore than back home in Australia. In Australia you put out your rubbish bins and just forget about it…blissfully unaware of where it goes or what happens to it! I guess at least in India I am more aware of its presence and that challenges me to recycle and minimise my waste where possible.

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One man’s legacy and a future of our choosing – David Suzuki

While I’m still here in Canada, I thought that it might be appropriate to take some inspiration from world-renowned Canadian scientist, broadcaster, environmentalist, and author, David Suzuki.

In his book and lecture, “The Legacy”, Suzuki explores the notion, “If I had one last lecture to give, what would I say?” The result is both insightful and confronting; heartwarming and honest. 

“The biggest challenge humanity faces in carving a better future is to reimagine how we perceive the world, our place within it, and our highest priorities. By creating a vision of what must be, we then determine the way we act.”

What are your thoughts? How can we, as a society, ensure that we take the time to purposefully reimagine our world? Do you have a vision of your future community that you’d like to share? What values drive how you live?