Dear Pandit ji,
I’m a Class XII student from The School K.F.I. I’m doing a project on paper production, usage and waste handling. At the end of it I have to set up a small waste paper managing unit in my school. I will also be making my own grid of the social, economic and environmental costs of different kinds of paper. Can you suggest me places to visit preferably around Chennai for this and suggestions for doing this project.
Tanya Agarwal, Chennai, Via Email
Great project! You could see the journey paper takes – where does the pulp (wood) come from, how is the paper manufactured and its by-products, use and disposal of paper and then the ways by which paper is recycled (if it is). This is also known as the “Life Cycle Assessment” of paper. If you go about it this way, you would be able to see the social, conomic and environmental costs.
Ask questions like – why do we need wastepaper and how much paper does my school use? Do you know that recycled paper needs about 20-25 per cent less electricity and 50 per cent less steam.You can visit Tamil Nadu Newsprint, Geetapuram in Karur district and Seshayee Pulp and Paperboards in Erode. Also, see pages 70-71 of Gobar Times, August 15, 2004, issue.
How can I produce organic manure for plants grown at home?
Swaroop, Via Email
There is a wealth of organic manure you could get from various sources in and around your home that you thought were waste.
Leaves and flowers – Fallen old leaves mixed with soil make good composting material. Marigold and chrysanthemum petals have great nutrient value as manure.
Vegetable waste – don’t throw vegetable peels. Most vegetables have vital vitamins and mineral content on their surface and can act as organic manure.
Vermicomposting – Earthworms are wonderful soil churners. If you have gamlas or earthen plant pots on your terrace, vermicomposting could do all the magic.
Animal droppings – If you keep pets at home, you are in luck. Droppings of cats, dogs and if you have cows, use these. Gobar is the best manure..
Bioorganic manure – Biodegra- dable organic manure can also come from neem leaves, turmeric wood, lemon peel and garlic. These are rich sources of plant nutrients that increase growth because of their nitrogen and sulphur content. You could also seek more information from Gobar Times, March 2004, issue .
I appreciate your web site very much. I would like to know how I could make compost at home? Could you also give me information about 'flush-free' toilets?
Shankar, Via Email
There is a simple answer to both your questions. You can have a flush-free toilet, which makes great compost. You can actually convert human excreta into useful manure. In fact many sanitation experts believe that it’s sinful to waste clean water to flush such small amounts of waste. Earlier, in India it was common practice to have two pits to dispose human waste. Once a pit was filled up, the refuse was allowed to break down and slowly dry out till it became manure. Converting excreta into manure
It’s neither disgusting nor embarrassing. It can become lovely compost that smells like forest soils that can green our cities and save a lot of water too.
PAUL CALVERT, A British sanitation engineer
Paul Calvert, a British sanitation engineer has designed special flush free toilets which have been very successful in Kerala. For more information, see Gobar Times, May 1999, issue and http://www.enviroalternatives.com/toilets.html
The modern age is full of chemicals. We use chemicals in different ways all the time in our bathrooms, kitchens and gardens. Please tell me about the harmful effects of household chemicals. Are any alternatives to modern chemicals?
Suresh Nagpal, Subhash Nagar, New Delhi
It’s absolutely true that chemicals seem to have invaded our lives. Household products are perhaps the biggest source of chemical exposure that may be potentially harmful to our health. Detergents, paints, floor and toilet cleaners may all contain hazardous chemicals such as ammonia, sulphuric and phosphoric acids, chlorine, formaldehyde and phenol. All of these may have dangerous side effects, including allergic reactions, asthma, migraines, eye and skin irritation, respiratory distress and even cancer.
Common fungicides used in gardens may contain manganese ethylene, bisdithiocarbamate, which is a carcinogen. But you can make your surrounding healthier by using non-toxic products. Natural products like baking soda, soda ash, vinegar, and ritha make very good cleaning agents. You can also use neem oil and leaves that contain a compound called Salanni, which is a very safe, but effective insect repellent. Put neem oil on your skin to drive away mosquitoes.
I really enjoyed the new GT. It was bright to look at, and good to read. The Telegraph newspaper has a section called Telekids and I think it would be great if we could carry some of the GT stories in it. Could you send a few copies of GT as soon as you possibly can?
Bishakha De Sarkar, Senior Correspondent, The Telegraph
We have heard of the great reputation of the Gobar Times magazine and think the ideas explored in GT are really good. We would therefore, like to draw your attention to a potential competition based on a book. ‘Dragon,’ is a book about Komodos – the world’s largest lizard. They grow up to 10 feet long and some 6000 can be found in the Indonesian islands. We would be delighted to extend our invitation to this competition to Gobar Times and its readers.
Julia Truscott, Daniel White, Wildlife Reflections, Indonesia
I think Gobar Times is an excellent publication and I found it to be very informative. I also think that GT is a very useful magazine for youngsters and I would like to subscribe to it since my daughter is really interested in the issues GT talks about. Do let me know what the exact procedure for subscription is. Keep up the good work and good luck to you!
Raja Bhattacharya, Information & Press Specialist, Embassy of the United States of America, New Delhi