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Sustainable Development Goals – the grassroot barriers


With all the talk we do about environment protection, safe deposing of toxic substance and circular economy, this recent advertisement actually shows us how shallow the words on environment protection are and how the Corporate world would still love teach the “developing” countries and the “third world” countries what it knows best – Destruction.

This Kohler-Co-Boom-Crash-Bang advertisement makes me cry out in despair. And another by the scooter manufacturer Hero, in their latest product Hero Maestro, proudly displays the IQ of the advertisement company, whose creative could think of the story board  where a parody is made out of a rare bird watching (connecting to nature) and bringing it down to the frivolous. While the former advert is a complete anti-thesis to all  talk about austerity and balanced consumption. It is a slap on the face of the  authors and followers of the Sustainable Development, Millennium Development and the Inclusive Wealth Report. While a free world has a right to express itself and  individuals should live a life-style of their own choosing; the time for vulgar extravagance which directly impacts nature must be curbed.

That such large companies who should know better the impact of visual medium on the minds of the audience is a telling report on the rot of the human race and the failure of us collectively to educate our children and ourselves on the dangers of Climate Change and the impact of Global Warming. Before the Rio+20 summit of the UNFCCC, I had made an appeal in form on an article that the United Nations, CAN International, Green Peace International and other Climate change forums like the CIICESD, WBCSD should create advertisements to create awareness. –UNFCCC – A Little Advertisement can help save Earth.

In three days time I would be using my printer for the last time. The reason is that Lexmark the company could not create a mark of its own in India. An absolutely perfect, 5-in-one printer is junk for want of ink cartridges!  The manufacturers do not have a mechanism in place to take back goods for recycle. And with all the hype on  the mechanism for Reuse – Recycle – Renew  is just as nascent as it was when the concept dawned. No company likes to standardize products such as ink of a printer, because they want only to sell their own goods. And the government too is a mute spectator to this tamasha!

Being the LEED / GRIHA  consultant, I believe in walking the talk. Using energy-efficient products, using public transport as far as possible. In effect the Reuse – Renew – Recycle is our core practice. So I went to the store from where I had purchased it and asked if there is any exchange offer, or would they at-least take it for proper recycling. The answer was a resounding No!

Next, I went to Lamington Road, the famous electronic bazaar of Mumbai. It is from here all electronic trade for India happen. ” My friend, if you wish you can leave the printer with me”, said my friend; an electronic goods trader and repair shop owner. ” Every month I sell junk I will sell this too.” he said. However he warned me that he was doing this as a favour and I should not expect any money on it. I know he was telling the truth, I tried selling a few cellular phones I own. Having bought them at an average price of Rupees 18,000 each, the total price offered by a second sale shop was Rupees 500 ! And I bought them in the year 2010 AD!!

As you can see from my personal experience stated above, and I’m sure there would be similar resonance from like minded individuals; there is absolutely no incentive in recycling. And the rich ( who consume most) would rather destroy a perfect home to build another, rather than even pause for a minute to think about the homeless, the needy or the poor. And that is exactly why the larger corporations and the advertisement companies should all the more take the responsibility and initiative to educate the masses on the merits of recycling. And initiate actions through business forums to standardize products which is needlessly complicated.

For, example I can insert my SIM card into a tablet, a 4-G cell phone or even the 1st generation cell phone and it would work. But when it comes to brand I still choose one over the other. That perception will always stay. All said and done there is a Brand loyalty. Ask Apple or Google or Microsoft.

If Kohler is listening then here is what I would have done the advertisement –  a perfect home being dismantled and being given away to the homeless or an orphanage, while building a new one around a tap.

Yes! it’s just a tap, when one turns it provides water, and for those living in the suburbs of some of the famous megalopolis in India; foul and dirty municipal water – Not Milk and Honey. So please grow up.

And  as a LEED/ GRIHA consultant, after watching this advertisement it would be difficult to recommend the product for any Green Building project.

 

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VoIP – “Skype” the new medium to reduce Global Warming ?


Every day millions of diesel and petrol driven automobiles, revs up and starts to trundle down the same boring commute of home to office.

Everyday millions of tons of CO2e ( Carbon–Di–oxide and equivalent gases;  refer to – Green House Gases: Reduce it to earn Carbon Credits – in my blog to know in detail about these gases. ) is spewed into the atmosphere causing untold misery.

Everyday, well-intentioned and brilliant people all over the world sit to ponder how to tackle the ever-growing menace of Urban sprawl and its transit oriented problems. And when it comes to South Asian Countries, with high urban population density and resource crunch, like Mumbai in India, the problem is endemic.

For those not familiar with India and Mumbai (Bombay)in particular, it’s an

Island City created from 7 small islands ( by filling up the rivers & creeks in between them, a classic & historical example of destruction of natural ecosystem )  by the British ! And the Mumbaikars, as the Citizens of Mumbai along with its polity likes to call itself, merrily continuing to decimate whatever good is left of it.  Bad roads, dangerous overhead construction zones along the bad roads and the chaos of traffic snarls  makes life of an average Mumbai citizen totally unenviable. Dilapidated buildings, narrow by-lanes, choked drains and poor civic sense making a time-bomb of disaster waiting to happen.

But of late there is an awareness for the good, amongst urban Indians in general  ( villagers are anyways ZED or T-ZED in their approach to life in India ) and Mumbikars in particular, that solutions must be found to stop Mumbai slide down year on year on the world livability index ie; not be counted as the World’s most worst city to live in. To meet that, a major re-haul of the infrastructure with proper town planning and Development Rules  be created at the earliest are being discussed within the States Legislative Assembly.

This article would  attempt be to provoke some thoughts which have been around for sometime but mostly considered as “intellectual talk”. And how it can help change the situation in a practical and scientific way.

During the birth of Computer era  many talks floated as how we could aspire for a paperless office. This idea took come time to germinate, in the developed world like Japan, you can do almost everything from the cell-phone. Buy your travel or movie ticket, do e-banking etc. In the developing Nations like India some Urban pockets are taking up to the idea and slowly a turn-around can be perceived. Similarly with the dawn of the Internet the dot.com boom began. Business could be done from afar, employing labour at cheaper cost overseas was possible. The time of BPO‘s had arrived. So what are these BPO’s – are they not offices to which employees commute to everyday? They are, BUT with a difference. Here the employee commutes to office but not within the parent Country/city of the Company which has employed them. To put it simply.

Let’s stretch the imagination a bit and assume that these people were working from home via the Internet and voilà! we have a solution at hand to arrest the menace of failing infrastructure in Mumbai. And perhaps for similar cities around the world.

As the main cause is the overwhelming population and ceaseless traffic which makes difficult any task of maintenance and upkeep. Add to that the Co2 emission form  automobiles driving to and fro from the suburb to the various business districts within the City, a distance of 30-40 KM average.  On bad roads with heavy traffic and unruly driving the amount of fossil fuel being burnt is immense.

What if – a legislation be pronounced after due diligence that non-critical work be executed from home. Almost half the automobile traffic will reduce. Allow for web-cast and live streaming of College education, bus loads of commuters will vanish, leaving the municipal authorities to do a proper job of rebuilding Mumbai.

Once the idea takes off, MSME’s ( micro, small & medium entrepreneurs & enterprises ) would take hold of this idea and creative business solutions would be found. While manufacturing units need human presence in front of the machines, consultants like Architects, Media professionals and many more who sit all day by their desks can link up over the WAN and even have meetings with intercity clients and staff over the VoIP ( Voice/ Video over Internet Protocol ). Monitoring a staff presence is not difficult as many security tools are available to measure presence in front of the Computer / Laptop. Encryption can help avoid IP ( intellectual property ) theft.

Along with reduction of pollution the immediate advantage would be reduction of usage of fuel which is a scarce and costly resource for India. And then there would be international acclaim. India too has agreed to reduce its Carbon emission along with 194 UN member nations. Such program of activities could find its way as legitimate CDM ( Clean Development Mechanism ) tool and adopted by UNFCCC which will then encourage other Nation and people to adapt to a limited-commute life style and thus a CO2 free city can rise out of the smog.

Perhaps the C40 and other Climate Resilient Cities  program could look at it.

A brief look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World’s_most_livable_cities and a very interesting  http://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living  lets you know how your city fairs.

 

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