About Me

Someone who fell in love with the natural world early on and has been smitten ever since. A blade of grass, a mighty mountain, a tiny raindrop, a roaring waterfall, all fill me with awe and wonder. Nature feels home, filled with warmth and love. It pains my heart to see this home being ravaged. This blog is an effort to find tweaks in modern living to preserve the sanctity of this home. I sincerely hope that you join me in this green karmic journey.

Thursday 25 January 2024

My First US Roadtrip - No to Packaged Water

When I planned my family's first driving trip in the US, it was to Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park and Page. It being the peak of summer, I was advised to carry a crate of bottled water in the car. I was told that there would be no stores for miles and as it gets very hot in summers, one wouldn't want to be left dehydrated in the middle of nowhere. 

However, I didn't want to buy bottled water. I have always felt that packaged water is a waste of resources and creates unnecessary plastic trash. It was my first road trip in the US, so I was quite inexperienced. But I was sure that finding potable water in the US would not be that difficult. And much to my delight, I was proven right!

I went armed with my 5 reusable water bottles. On reaching Vegas airport, I found a touchless bottle filling station. Straight away, all my bottles were filled to the brim!

We were to stay the night at Vegas. In the morning, we started early for Zion. We still had a couple of water bottles filled from the airport but I wanted to have all 5 filled. I couldn't find a filling station at the hotel but found one at Walmart on the way. I don't like to drink from store water fountains, so these bottles were just for emergency. It was around a 4 hour trip to Zion. Once we reached this gem of a National Park (which made me fall head over heels in love with the region and made me return a couple of more times - you can read more about my Zion experience in my travel blog https://charaiveticharaiveti.wordpress.com/2018/05/11/utah-diaries-first-in-mighty-five-zion/), we could again find water refilling stations at Zion. These taps were more like my style and I could happily refill all my bottles. So far, so good!

We started in evening for Kanab, where we stayed the night. I filled the bottles at the hotel during breakfast. We started for Page thereafter and visited the beautiful Antelope Canyon. There was a water station at the hotel. Before starting for Grand Canyon the next day, you guessed it, we refilled the bottles at the hotel!

Once in Grand Canyon, we could find water refill stations at different places in the Park. Generally, National Parks have these facilities at the Visitor Centre. It's imperative to carry enough and more water on the trails. The heat is merciless and many an experienced hiker have suffered or even died by underestimating the punishing conditions of these trails. 

We made sure that we were always armed with enough water. We hiked only in evenings and early mornings. When we started from Grand Canyon to Vegas airport, we stocked up again. Once at the airport, we were back in good hands. :) 

Since then, we've done multiple trips in the US, and have never felt the need to buy bottled water. Amen to that!


Friday 21 April 2023

Why should our celebrations create hell for others?

We love to celebrate! Birthdays. Weddings. Anniversaries. Festivals. Poojas.

I often wonder - where does all the trash from a celebration go?

Does a human kid's birthday bring about an animal baby's death day?

Or does a rich nation's kid's birthday pollute a poor nation's kid's every day?

Does our joy make someone else's life painful?

Does it all come back to us? How? After all - what goes around, comes around!


After Party

"Just a plate

And just a spoon 

Just a bottle

And just a balloon

Just a bag

And just a party popper

Just a box

And just a candy wrapper

I'll put in a trash bag

And send them away

Where does it land?

Can't think - have had a busy day!

It can become a sea creature's food

Mistaken for a prey

Or get entangled in its neck

As it tries to swim away

A feathered creature 

Might proudly hop around

Pleased with herself 

On having a shiny morsel found

Or 

It will sail in a container 

To a far away stead

Where a wasteful nation's filth 

Is paraded as poor man's bread

Young kids scavenge

Through mounds of trash

Drinking leached water

Breathing polluted air

Oh that sounds so horrible!!

But it's so, so far away

I won't think about it

And everything will be ok?

What matters right now is 

Here and now

My guests have been pleased

And my kid's day has been wow!

Wednesday 22 March 2023

No-brainer Tips for Saving Water at Home

Water - 

Enjoy while it lasts.

Because it won't last long!

Tips to save water at home:

1. Bottoms up - Finish that glass of water. Take what you want. Then finish it. Practice it at restaurants, at a party, anywhere, everywhere.  Tip - Fill a reusable bottle for the day and you can sip as much or as little as you want without bothering about leftover. 

Finish all you take!

2. Leftover water - If you or the guests haven't read the first tip, take a rap on the knuckles. Say ouch and move on to the saving grace. Pour water from disowned bottles and glasses in potted plants, lawns, trees etc. If you're not in the mood to make a trip to your garden, collect it in an assigned bucket and make the trip later. If you don't have a garden or pots, use it for cleaning.

3. Collect after-rinse water - When washing fruits, veggies, pulses, rice, etc. place a container below the colander. Collect this water to:

  • water plants
  • rinse dishes before loading the dishwasher or piling them for household help
  • clean sinks, shower areas...you get the drift

5. Use a bucket - When having a shower, cleaning the car, doing laundry by hand try to limit the use of water by filling a bucket and managing the task with that. Running water gets very wasteful, very fast.

4. Optimise usage - Run washing machine and dishwasher only when full. Choose the shortest cycle. 

6. TURN. THE. TAP. OFF - When brushing, shaving, taking shower - when you really don't need water in those in-between times, turn it off!

Thank you for turning it off!

Little things add up. Multiplier effect, you know. 

Plus you never know who all you end up inspiring:) Your gestures send out a message.....so keep at it, Earthlings....or Waterlings! We all know that 70 percent of Earth is water. I read somewhere that going by this fact, the Earth should have been called Water! Interesting thought, isn't it!

Picture credits: Pixabay

Monday 15 August 2022

Teri Mitti Me Mil Jawa...Three Promises To Make To Our Mitti

Har Din Tiranga!
Pic Credit: Pixabay
   

15th August, 2022 - 75 years of Independence! 

Tiranga is fluttering everywhere with 'Har Ghar Tiranga' campaign. Every Indian heart is filled with pride and joy. The song that's playing in my heart is -"Teri mitti me mil jawa...." which then set me thinking...

Our freedom fighters sacrificed their lives to get freedom for our mitti.

Our soldiers do the same to uphold that freedom. 

What do we civilians do for our mitti

To die in our desh ki mitti is a romantic dream that many of us cherish, but what do we do for the mitti while we are still alive?

I thought of these three promises that we can make to honor the mitti we so love:

1. Compost

Our soil is dying. The least we can do to nourish it is to compost at home or support composting at community level. Composting helps in building organic matter in soil and makes it healthier. 

2. Stop Food Waste

Wasting food is nothing less than a crime. When we waste food, we not only dishonor our mitti which has gone through a lot to grow all that food, but also our farmers. (Remember Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan?)

3. Reduce Landfill Waste

Where does all our rubbish go? In the heart of our mitti! We raise mountains of waste on the sacred soil or bury it in its folds. So wherever we can, let's reduce and recycle.

If har ghar makes these three promises, our contribution to our mitti would be much more meaningful. Don't you agree?

Happy 15th of August!


Sunday 5 June 2022

Won't Waste Watermelon Whites Again!

Summers are here and so are watermelons. While we all (or so I believe!) love the juicy, cool, refreshing goodness of a watermelon, we don't really like the waste left after a juicy melon. 

While I haven't ventured to experiment with the outer rind yet, the whites below the rind have been looking at me with imploring eyes. I don't have the heart to toss them in the bin - even if it is a compost bin! 

My Mom makes a curry with diced white parts but I'm not a big fan of this curry and the whites are just too much to be consumed in a curry. So I was on a lookout for other uses. 

The red part goes in the tummy
The green part goes into the compost bin

Pic Courtesy: Pixabay

And whites go in an.... adai batter (lentil pancakes)
Pic Courtesy: Greenkarma360

Here's the recipe for adai. I've made this adai using a single lentil. You can add other lentils like toor, urad, masoor and chana in equal quantities. 

Ingredients : 
Moong daal - 1/2 cup
Toor daal - 1/2 cup
Urad daal - 1/2 cup
Masoor daal - 1/2 cup
Chana daal - 1/2 cup
Watermelon whites - 2-3 cups
Tomato - 1 medium
Onion - 1/2 
Coriander - A fistful along with stalks
Ginger - 1 inch
Garlic (optional) - 3-4 cloves
Green chillies (optional) - 1-2
Curry -leaves -10
Lemon juice - Half a lemon
Spices: Red chilly powder, cumin seeds and salt.

The whites impart volume to the batter without altering its taste
Pic Courtesy: Greenkarma360

Way to Go:
  • Wash and soak all the lentils for 4-5 hours.
  • Blend all the ingredients together. You can skip onions and tomatoes while grinding. These can be skipped or chopped and added to the batter later.
  • You can add more watermelon whites or water to get the consistency right. The mix should not be too watery or too tight. 
  • Season the griddle with some oil. 
  • Scoop the batter and spread in a circular fashion on a hot griddle. Don'r spread it too thin.
  • Add oil around the adai.
  • Keep the flame medium. 
  • Flip the adai when well done. 
  • Sauté lightly on the other side. 
When done, enjoy it with a dip of your choice. Here's a lovely ridge-gourd peels chutney to savor it with.

The watermelon whites made the batter very light and fluffy. I loved the fact that the whites gave body to the batter without altering its taste.

I brainstormed on different ways to use these whites. Here are a few other ideas. Add watermelon whites to a:

1. Smoothie
2. Soup
3. Dip or Chutney
4. Lasagna Sauce
5. Pasta Sauce, Pasta Veggies
6. Daal or Sambar
7. Paav Bhaji
8. Dough
9. Curry

I would advice you to add the whites in moderation, to begin with. Once you get comfortable, you can increase the proportion according to your taste.:) 

If you get inspired by this post and use the whites in some way, please post in the comments below. Happy experimenting!


Saturday 28 May 2022

Jo Gardening Se Kare Pyaar, Wo Composting Se Kaise Kare Inkaar!

Remember this 80s ad?


It was a regular on our screens and was so interesting to see a husband's love for his wife getting measured by the choice of a pressure cooker!

When I thought of convincing gardeners to start composting, I couldn't help mouthing the words from this ad!

Jo Gardening Se Kare Pyaar, Wo Composting Se Kaise Kare Inkaar? (How can you say no to composting, if you love gardening?)
If you love plants and like pottering around in the garden, sooner or later, you'll consider composting. Composting and gardening are joined at the hip.:)

Here's why you should start home-composting if you're into gardening:

1. Compost makes the soil healthy

Compost makes the soil light and rich 
Pic Credit: Pixabay

Compost adds organic matter to the soil which in turn improves the structure and water-retention ability of the soil. Though compost is not a fertilizer, it has immense nutritional benefits for plants. 

I've heard many gardening tips like burying potato peels near plants or watering them with banana-peels-infused-water. It's about growing healthier plants. 

2. Free compost, yay!

Even if you don't want to invest a dime on composting equipment, you can still compost and reap healthy benefits for your garden. Read my post on how to get started here

You can sure buy compost from stores but if you make it at home, you can not only save some bucks but also control the quality of compost, which brings me to the next point -

3. All those organic peels, organic compost doth make

Turn organic peels into organic compost
Pic Credit- Pixabay

If you're into gardening, chances are that you like to eat organic. What about giving your soil some of that organic love too?

Dumping organic peels into landfills is like making a villain out of a hero. Let me explain. 

Fruit and veggie leftovers, when trashed in a landfill, produce methane, a greenhouse gas that leads to global warming.  
The same leftovers, when composted, add to the nutritional value of soil, which help you grow luscious tomatoes and carrots.  

If the veggie remains are derived from organic produce, your compost will be organic, which in turn will help you grow organic produce. Aha!

4. Surprise, Surprise!!

Love surprises? Compost always has something up its sleeve:)

I added compost to my potted plants and in a few days, I had tomato, papaya, watermelon, pumpkin and even mango saplings peeking out at me:) 

Seeds from fruits and veggies that you eat, generally survive in the compost. They germinate whenever conditions are conducive. Tada -free saplings! I got a lot of tomato, papaya and cantaloupe saplings this way last year. This can be a nuisance for some as they have to weed the saplings out.

You can even sneak a few seeds of your choice in the compost and who knows, you might get the desired saplings without actually sowing the seeds separately. 

5. You're a natural

Love gardening - love tending the soil!
Pic Credit - Pixabay

If you're into gardening, you don't shy away from soil, organic matter and a few bugs:) Neither do you shy away from hard work and patience. 

You're good at soil-speak and plant-speak and are already a natural! Composting will come easily to you. You just need to get started :) 

So what are you waiting for? If it's shubh muhurtham that's holding you back, let me tell you that it's National Learn About Composting Day on May 29th. No better timing than that:) Click here now to learn how to compost.:)

Wednesday 26 January 2022

Why Compost?

Compost - Black Gold
Compost aka Black Gold

Good question! 

With a fantastic answer:)

Because it's a Win-Win-Win. For you, your plants and your environment. 

Composting is like witnessing the circle of life. It shows you how everything is interconnected and how one system feeds into another. 

You eat veggies and fruits and discard the peels. Those peels get mixed with soil and dried leaves. Microbes feast on this mix and decompose it. The decomposed mix is an elixir for plants, which you eat. Repeat. 

Those of you who are convinced, stop reading here and start setting up the composting process. Those who need more convincing, read on!

Why compost?

1. To save organic matter from going into landfills: 

Organic matter is what makes the soil rich and healthy. Throwing away organic matter is a double whammy - robbing the soil of nutrients and clogging landfills with stuff that emits a greenhouse gas. Basically, throwing something incredibly useful to make it totally harmful. How smart is that!(And it takes the smartest species on earth to accomplish this!)

Organic matter doesn't biodegrade in a landfill. On the contrary, it emits methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas which is at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. 

When you compost, you reduce greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere. Imagine that - you could be a global-warming-fighter operating right from your home. Feel the green cape fluttering around you yet?

2. For your kids: 

Kids know the pressing issues of climate change. They're the ones who will suffer the consequences the most. 

When kids see you act, they'll take pride in the fact that their family is a part of the solution. When helping you with composting, they'll learn the process and when they run their own households, a composter would be a natural part of their homes. Action speaks more than words. 

Don't we all want a good future for our kids? One of the coolest gifts for them would be a cool Earth!

3. To improve soil health: 

There are alarming reports about how earth's topsoil is depleting. 
With our current ways, we could run out of topsoil in another 60 years. 

No topsoil = No crops 
No crops = No food

When you compost and return the goodness to earth, you help improve soil quality. Healthy soil also holds much more water and helps reduce erosion and flooding. If you grow vegetables and flowers, this nutritious compost is like manna from heaven. Even if you don't grow anything, having good soil quality is good for your yard.

4. To conserve fuel:

By reducing the organic and yard waste going out of your household, you're not only easing the burden on overflowing landfills, but you're also helping conserve fuel that is required to ferry this waste till landfills. 

Less kitchen waste to be carried around = Less fuel consumed. 

5. To reduce your trash bag content and hence trash bag usage:

Look into your filled trash bag. How much organic waste is in there? 

If you cook most of your meals with fresh produce, the proportion of organic waste in your trash bag would be quite high. You can divert all this organic waste to your compost bin. Less trash means fewer trash bags too. 

In addition, gardening waste bags will also get reduced because you can divert leaves and garden clippings to the compost bin as well. 

More bags saved, yay!! (In fact, this is what motivated me to start composting. I used to recycle stuff wherever I could. It was the kitchen waste that could not be stored for long and needed a plastic bag for disposal. I cringed every time I had to use a plastic bag for kitchen waste. So one fine day, I said enough is enough and started composting.)

6. To get rid of stinky kitchen trash bins: 

In single family homes in the US, waste is not collected daily. It's collected weekly at my place. You're supposed to store the kitchen waste for a week, which starts to rot. Soon, the trash bin starts smelling and it takes courage to open the lid even to toss in the waste.

A much cleaner alternative is to dispose kitchen scraps in a composter. By adding browns and with proper aeration, the waste decomposes without unpleasant smells.

7. To express your love to your houseplants: 

"Jo gardening se kare pyaar, wo composting se kaise kare inkaar!" 
(My non- Hindi speaking readers, please excuse my take on a famous jingle from the 80s:))

If you like plants and gardening, you'll love composting. Remember the joy when you spot a seedling sprout, a flower bloom or a baby tomato peek through leaves? Composting gives you the same woozy feeling of happiness when you see your kitchen scraps convert into life giving black gold!


8. To witness a beautiful natural process: 

Nature does not know waste. Every output is an input. It just converts one useful resource into another. 

Nature also shows an intricate interconnection between everything. Take a piece away, and you jeopardize the whole system. Composting gives you a subtle reminder of this interdependence.

Are you convinced yet?

I can keep adding to the list in different ways. But the gist remains that if you take from the earth with one hand, you should return to it with the other. Composting completes this give and take and completes the circle of life. 

Doubts? Keep them coming! But the best way to slay your doubts is to start the process and learn along the way. For the rest, there's Google, FB composting groups, composting practitioners in your locality and this blog! :) You can post your questions in the comments section and I'll try my best to answer them.