The factory is up and running, albeit very inefficiently laments a native Keralan turned fortune 500 CEO turned self-help writer (who happened to be touring around with us, viewing the facilities). He ran Phillips, the appliance/TV company and quit after working to outsource production of Phillips products – and seeing the negative effects his work was having locally and globally. He explained to me the Indian mindset that he came from: “Indians are not thinking of the future -besides marriage and home construction. The mindset in village is: let’s pay off today, lets enjoy today, then we will worry about tomorrow.” He offered his consultant services to URAVU on his visit home next year, to help increase productivity in the factory.
Uravu sells bamboo crafts within India and demand is high for the quality handmade products. This is only one aspect of the Bamboo Village. The next phase is a large guesthouse (Completion Goal: Dec 2013)- being built with – you guessed it – bamboo. This will house tourists – primarily groups and families, however dorms may be available for backpackers. Currently there is a home stay program that Romarie and I enjoyed. We stayed comfortably in Mary’s families house, experiencing the day to day – even the early morning noises from the chickens (one of which we ate for dinner), and even the family scuffles. Half of the cost went to Mary (money is given to the woman of the household, who runs the homestay), and half is reinvested into the community through › Continue reading
The mission at Bamboo Village is to preserve a way of life (agriculture-based) in the face of a changing world where local village economies are subject to global economic changes. Much more than that – it is to create something for this area to live sustainably and healthily and to prevent brain drain; to keep young people there, rather than running off to the city to work as a tech customer service representative. URAVU meaning “Spring” or “source of life”, was started in 1996 by a group of Indians who had met in college and were politically active who wanted to help make a change (fun fact Kerala is the only state in India that democratically voted a Communist Government). When I pressed, Sivaraaj pin pointed the two main reasons for starting this work here – to break the caste system and to address environmental concerns that were coming about at the time. I asked him what changes he has seen since starting, and he said that “we have gotten women out of the home, and we have been a pacifier for the religious tension that boiled over a few years ago.” He indicates that the organization has gained a lot of respect for hiring all types of people (all religions) especially tribal people and women, and helping the community in an › Continue reading
Not long ago, my sister embarked on an extended traveling adventure with the goal of experiencing science in a variety of cultures to develop new educational curriculum in sustainability. This 3 part article series is about her experiences in India. Enjoy!
I had been in India 3 weeks before I discovered Bamboo Village. Prior to leaving, I had read in the Sivananda Ashram copy of the Lonely Planet that the Wayanad wildlife area is the most beautiful place for wildlife sighting, in Southern India – even “ask an Indian!” I had 16 days left so decided to start heading for a town nearby named Sultanbatheri – a place from which a jeep or trek into the forest, one can experience a variety of wildlife and – possibly (gasp) Tigers! I set off via train then local bus. We went winding through the mountains and brisk hill stations of Coonoor and Ooty, monkeys watching and eating on the side lines like the road were a parade route. To my delight these places were breathtaking – and the routes afforded wonderful views. Also, I started to see something I had never seen so far in my travels in Kerala and the south – environmental propaganda signs. I was wishful that they would have a solid law backing the “no plastic in Nilgiri Hills” proclamation, but soon found that they did not. The gorgeous rolling tea and coffee fields were lined with the usual plastic bags and bottles. India has an issue – the tap water is perceived to be unsafe to drink therefore, bottled water is sold everywhere – even in restaurants. Containers are discarded and can be seen everywhere you go. Just as in my Kerala backwaters boat tour – floating plastic debris among lily pads and invasive plants – and there doesn’t seem to be › Continue reading
With Thanksgiving coming up, there is much to do to prepare for a green holiday. Make the conscious choice to reduce waste without sacrificing (you may up even saving money this year!)
There is as much involved in the preparation as the choices you make during the meal. From choosing local and organic produce to preparing your guests and family in order to reduce waste. Check out these tips to keep your Thanksgiving feast fun and eco-friendly.
Shop and Eat Local
Buying and eating locally produced food, you support your local community, reduce transportation waste and eat fresher food! Farmers markets, local grocers and natural food stores are great places to start. Organic produce and a free-range turkey reduce your exposure to pesticides, are grown under eco-friendly and humane conditions.
Decorate from the Yard
Collected pine cones, fallen leaves, branch cuttings and fall foliage from the neighborhood can act as great decoration or as colorful centerpieces. By using locally found biodegradable items instead of synthetic purchased items, you reduce production and › Continue reading
We are celebrating Earth Day weekend with our 300th Post!
Here are some of our most popular and favorite posts over the last few years since The Chic Ecologist began, everything from green fashion, green services to green perspectives. Enjoy!
Cut down on Global Warming and eat fresh. No matter your space, containers make it possible to grow a garden just about anywhere, and you will be amazed at how it can impact the environment and your health.
How Long to Biodegrade?
Common trash items and how long they stick around. From composting to landfills, you may be surprised at how long trash sticks around before turning into dirt.
Green Burials and Funeral Services
Staring to gain a foothold, green burials and funerals are increasingly becoming more popular leaving the chemicals out and impacts low. Leave a legacy on the earth with your death, not an impact.
Re-thinking green ideals. What kind of ideals do we want to instill in our children and how do we (the green community) want to be perceived?
Green Feminine Products
Tampons plot to destroy the world! What kind of impact does feminine hygiene have on the environment? Hint: A lot!
Jewelry that is naturally beautiful and eco-friendly. Transforming existing wooden treasures into beautiful sentimental jewelry pieces.
We are all in luck to hear that the Green Festival will be returning to Seattle this May! After just wrapping up in San Francisco, the festival will be in Chicago on May 14th and 15th and then come to Seattle on May 21st and 22nd. I attended green weekend last year and was blown away by the amount of exhibitors, knowledge of the speakers, and the interactive booths that were there. If you are looking for something to do in Seattle for a weekend, don’t miss this opportunity.
With another year behind us, I like to look back and see what people are reading, and in particular, the most popular articles on this site. Here they are as voted by your traffic, the Top 7 Chic Ecologist articles for the year 2010:
- #1 – Pacific Plastic Island
A plastic island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean more than 30 feet deep and twice the size of Texas, this is definitely a troubling story. It seems that there are more of these plastic islands in just about every major ocean driven by wind and current gyres.
- #2 – Eco Friendly Driveways
Green driveways are becoming increasingly popular to reduce storm runoff, water pollution and recharge underground water sources. They are easy to build, add a softer more charming feel to any parking spot and are much more visually pleasing. A great way for anyone to reduce their footprint.
- #3 – Eco Friendly Diamonds
Is there such a thing as a Green Diamond? What is the difference between a mined diamond and a synthetic diamond? How about social implications, like blood diamonds? This article explains your green options when it comes to selecting a jewel for your gem.
- #4 – Platinum for Fuel Cells
Platinum plays a big role in fuel cell vehicles, and a new process found by Researchers with the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Houston may make it more efficient and cheaper. This is a big step in the development of fuel cell technology, one that may affect our future transportation costs.
With all the new eco-friendly phone applications out there today, it’s like having a green guide in your pocket. Both the iphone and android phones are capable of keeping you updated with eco events, tips and green living ideas in practical ways. If you have an iphone, visit our Top 5 Must Have iphone Eco Apps. The android app selection is still behind iphone selections, but it is catching up with many vendors now duplicating their eco iphone apps for the android enabled phones.
- Seasonal Harvest from Discoversites
$0.99 or free ad supported ‘lite’ version
Keeps you up to date with the growing seasons in your area so you can select the locally grown produce grown in your area. Select your state or use the GPS to view local produce in season for your state. Also locates nearby farmers markets and can even search recipes. For those transitioning from the iPhone, it is very similar to the Locavore app.
- Greenpeace Tissue Guide from Greenpeace
Allows you to look up eco-friendly home paper products in 4 categories: paper towels, toilet paper, paper napkins, and facial tissues. Shows you recycled content (both pre and post consumer content and bleach processing) and gives you recommendations on your most eco-friendly choices. Both a scrollable category list by manufacturer or search by brand.
I find it very useful in quick decision situations, its just another way to stay informed and not get fooled by marketing greenwashing. Just do an android market search for Greenpeace.
- Visibility from the Robotics Lab at USC
This handy little app is being used to accumulate data about visibility and air quality for research. Hopefully this will help researchers track air quality and better asses pollution levels for different areas at different times, all concurrently through a base of mobile users.
It’s pretty simple, you just take a picture of the sky, select pixels from the sky and submit it to the USC lab.
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