500 Women In Kerala Village Switch to Menstrual Cups For a Green Future #WATWB

In a region where some 25 per cent of menstruating women still use old clothes and periods are considered a taboo, close to 700 women in Muhamma, a village in Kerala’s Alappuzha district, have publicly renounced the use of synthetic sanitary napkins during menstruation. What’s more, 500 of them have switched to safer options like menstrual cups or cloth pads, while the rest are in the process of adopting it.

It took less than a year for the Muhamma Gram Panchayat to achieve this extraordinary feat under a menstrual hygiene project called ‘Muhammodayam.’

The project was started in March last year by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE), a non-profit organisation in collaboration with the gram panchayat. The final goal is to make Muhamma India’s first synthetic sanitary pad-free gram panchayat in the next six months.

Bengaluru-based ATREE predominantly works towards restoring ecology in areas where water pollution is rampant.

As part of their work, they learnt about water clogging in Muhamma in March 2019 and reached the place to lend a helping hand.

The not-for-profit organisation assessed the deplorable plight of water bodies and kickstarted a canal rejuvenation project in Muhamma.

They found heaps of diapers and sanitary pads accumulated in the canal that is connected to Kerala’s longest lake, Vembanad. As per their survey, approximately one lakh pads are generated every month. Instead of putting their focus on the systematic disposal of pads, They decided to get rid of them altogether.

Seeing all the sanitary pads in the canal during the cleaning process was a wake up call to the extent of damage that one sanitary pad is capable of. They are not only bad for the environment but also for animals who chew on them.

While the cloth pad packets are being given at Rs 80 instead of Rs 250, the menstrual cups come at 1/6th of the actual cost.

More than making eco-friendly menstrual hygiene options accessible at affordable prices, it was changing the behavioural pattern that was challenging.

Instead of giving the menstrual cups and cloth pads for free and expecting them to adapt, ATREE first organised an awareness workshop with 30 local ASHA workers and local women in March last year.

When women started using the menstrual cup, their experience was shared with others. Sharing her experience of using the cup, Binisha a local woman said, “I would develop skin rashes from using the regular pads. Finding a hygienic toilet to change pads every six hours was another headache. Besides being cost-effective and environment-friendly, the menstrual cup is very convenient and easy to use.

Like Binisha, close to 700 women stepped out of generation-old societal customs, filled up the form and ordered cloth pads or menstrual cups for a greener future.

Fantastic initiatives like these are an answer to the rising problem of environmental degradation and regions like Muhamma prove that efforts at the individual level can go a long way in bringing about a big difference.

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This post is part of the We Are the World Blogfest, a monthly blogging event created by Damyanti Biswas and Belinda Witzenhausen to showcase stories of hope and light. This month, I’m helping out as a co-host, along with extraordinary bloggers : Damyanti Biswas,
Lizbeth Hartz, Mary J. Giese and Sylvia Stein, Please hop over to check out their WATWB posts as well as from other WATWB participants for a dose of feel-good to last you a whole month. You’ll be happy you did!

‘Low Marks’ May Not Create ‘Bad Students’

Hello Lovely People. My today’s guest is Destination Infinity. He is a Blogger, Video Creator and Sustainable-Living enthusiast based in Chennai. He has been blogging at Destination Infinity for more than a decade now, and believes that learning is a continuous process that starts once we complete our formal education.

Please join me in welcoming DI to my space here and I hope you enjoy his thought-provoking post.
Over to you, DI…

The second world war did not happen because of one man who wanted to plunge the world into a war. It happened because of the millions who obediently and unquestioningly followed his orders.

That’s why obedience may not always be a good thing.

But why am I talking about obedience in an article that’s supposed to be about education and marks?

I’ll give you another insight. Did you think our education system was designed to impart knowledge and encourage creativity?

Think hard before you answer. Because, although on a surface level, you might be tempted to say ‘Yes’, deep under, in your subconscious minds you know that’s not the case.

The education system, at least in India, doesn’t exist to impart knowledge.

Then why do people invest so much money, time, and efforts to educate their children in good schools and colleges? If great minds are not the outcome of the education system, what is?

To answer that question we should answer – What makes some children score more marks over others?

Is it their competitive attitude? Is it their ability to memorize and practice? Is it their patience and discipline to sit through classes, extra classes, tuitions, homework, home studies, etc.?

All the above three, right?

If a system needs to impart the above three, it primarily needs to impart obedience and discipline. Our education system excels at that.

What else could explain kids sitting through hours of lectures, and still having to go to tuitions, and still having to study from their books by themselves at home? What else could explain more memory power = more marks rote-learning method we’ve been studiously following? What else could explain all that DUMBING DOWN forced on kids to get stellar marks?

While obedience (in others) has its merits for the few people directing things at the top, it seldom has benefits for the masses who are actually obedient.

Have you noticed politicians or entrepreneurs who are disciplined or obedient? There maybe a few, but by and large it’s the rule-benders and breakers who are at the top.

Although they themselves don’t, they expect everyone under them not to break any rules – and be obedient.

Did you notice the contrast in the above sentence?

‘Low Marks’ May Not Create ‘Bad Students’

Our education system was built to serve the interests of the few people at the top, while everyone else toils to achieve their bosses’ (usually fat) objectives.

I am not saying that getting great marks/grades is always bad. It’s fine for people who do. They get to have a relatively secure future while being perpetually unhappy about their jobs and life.

However, why do we follow a culture where the failures and dropouts are criticized heavily both by teachers and parents – to the extent of pushing a few of them to even commit suicide – when they are actually good at something else?

Which is:Taking risks, Breaking rules and Creating a new world.

Contradicting my title, I should admit that low marks does create bad students, at least in the Indian educational context.

But low marks don’t create Bad people. Failure in exams doesn’t mean failure in Life. In fact, the opposite is true in many cases. Haven’t we all heard about great founders and leaders being dropouts?

What do you think? What’s your opinion on this subject?

Plastic – Where Does It Go?

Hello Folks. Say Hi to my today’s Guest Blogger Shalini Baisiwala from Shalzmojo. I had the pleasure of meeting her some time back and she comes across as a warm, confident and intelligent woman with inner strength. An interior designer by profession and a blogger by passion. Shalini blogs about her experiences of travel, food, books, mindfulness and sustainable living.

Please join me in welcoming Shalini to my space here and I hope you enjoy her informative and thought-provoking post.
Over to you, Shalini…

Plastic

Plastic is defined as a man made material which is composed of a wide array of synthetic/non-synthetic organic compounds that can be molded into any shape or size.

We don’t need any introduction to plastic as it pervades every sphere of our daily lives. Be it packaging of products, grocery bags to carry stuff, utility items of daily needs – you name it and it would be made out of plastic. It’s a material of high convenience if you look at its strength, weightlessness, being water proof, and other such qualities.

Where Does It Go?

But the biggest side effect of this product is that it does not decompose naturally. So it needs to be carefully disposed off in conditions suitable to degrade it safely. For you see it releases toxins when left for long in water or soil. These pollute the natural resources in ways that have far reaching consequences than we can ever imagine.

Today our landfills are bursting to seams and there is no end in sight to ever reducing their garbage down to a degradable sense. The plastic waste is mixed with the wet/organic waste in our households which forms a bulk of the waste in the landfills. The non biodegradable waste then chokes the process of decomposition of the organic garbage. So the whole mass keeps accumulating and that leads to the present situation of the landfills.

Positive Actions

There is a growing consciousness among the educated and concerned citizens who are now taking up home composting and waste segregation at source. Residential societies and municipalities have woken up to this crisis in fits and starts. The effort is not on a war footing yet but it’s a step in the right direction.

I started garbage segregation at my end in 2014 and faced a lot of challenges in disposing off electrical items, glass bottles, plastic wrappers, etc. Initially I tried giving out the dry garbage to the ubiquitous kabbadiwalas. They were happy to take the cardboard items, paper, magazines but the rest of it was anathema to them. I tried giving it away instead of expecting money in return. But that also didn’t work and I saw them dump what they didn’t want in the community bin.

Segregation & Collection

Internet came to my rescue and led me to an organization called Chintan which deals with waste segregation in a homogenized way. It’s a New Delhi based NGO that processes nearly 30 tonnes of waste daily through recycling, composting and segregation. It not only works with waste but also for the waste pickers through training, awareness and education programs.

There is actually no end to more such progressive and committed waste pioneers like Saahas which is a Bangalore based organization with presence in several Indian cities. They have an office in Gurgaon and their initiative Alag Karo is a great way to involve RWAs into organizing waste segregation in residential colonies.

But just segregation is not enough as the plastic waste needs to be recycled or degraded to get rid of it. Something constructive needs to be done with the collected waste and harness its power. This thought has translated into generating fuel and fashioning products out of waste plastics. More and more such ideas can be seen popping up which is heartening to see and read about.

Plastic as Raw Material

Aarohana is a Pune based organization that crafts bags and other accessories out of waste plastic. The waste plastic is converted into threads that are then woven by their worker to create home décor items.

Rudra Environmental Solutions is a Pune based set up that innovatively converts waste plastic into poly-fuel which can be harnessed to run boilers, furnaces, agricultural processes, etc. The team collects discarded plastic waste from homes, parks, roads, etc and effectively converts it into fuel in their self designed converter.

Crockery banks have sprung up that lend out steel utensils for community/religious functions in a bid to cut down on the use of non-biodegradable items.

Samadhan Hub Park in Gurgaon is an innovative set up by I Am Gurgaon where artists have collaborated to create artwork out of discarded plastic waste. The idea is to generate awareness about how Plastic is eroding our natural resources and how we must be careful in its consumption.

Despite such innovative efforts, we cannot be blindsided to the fact that we need to not just Reuse, Reduce and Recycle but now REFUSE should be made a big part of our lives. We are consumerists by nature but this has now exploded beyond measured means, leaving behind tonnes of waste everywhere.

When we discard an object, we need to stop and think if indeed its utility is over? Do we really need to replace/upgrade our appliances? Maybe gifting as a trend needs a ban? What happens to an item when it’s thrown out? Where does it end?

Plastic Where does it all go

Our wastefulness is not just polluting our natural resources but killing animal life too. Marine animals are the worst affected by this as most of our waste is dumped into rivers which flow out to the sea. The water and soil pollution has increased to such an extent that now our food chain is affected. It’s leading to a huge increase in health disorders which are due to bad diet, lifestyle and poor quality food. Our bodies are no longer the temples they used to be; instead they are a hub of harmful chemicals which are leaching into it via our food.

In October 2019, Indian government had announced a measure to counter plastic menace but then it was rolled back and we are still at square one. More than the government action, we need conscious thought on the part of citizens to tackle this devastating problem. Saying NO to PLASTIC should now be the motto of one and all.

We can all do our bit by refusing bottled water, carrying our own shopping bags, avoiding use of plastic straws, replacing plastic items with organic options, etc – just a few ways in which we can combat this issue without inconveniencing ourselves. The other thing is to DEMAND that our municipal now segregates and collects waste responsibly. We must all come together to combat this growing nuisance and do our bit to clean up the planet now.

5 Best International Places To Celebrate New Year’s Eve

New Year’s is just around the corner and the plans for new year eve parties are being finalized. After all new year is celebrated just once a year so it really is worth all the brouhaha. So, which is the best place to be at New Year when the clock strikes midnight of the 31st December? Here are 5 best international places where you can travel to celebrate the New Year’s Eve you’ll never forget…

1. Singapore

Welcome New Year in the Lion City of Singapore where you can witness amazing mega parties and grand events. It is a paradise for those people who are on a limited budget, but want to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the best way.

Things to do: Marina Bay Countdown, Siloso Beach Party, Esplanade New Year’s Eve Countdown, Propeller Rooftop Bar, Foot-tapping music at Wave House

2. Sydney

More than a million worldwide people visit Sydney on every New Year’s Eve to have an unforgettable experience while watching its world-famous fireworks. Live environment, breathtaking views, light shows, and aerial flyovers displaying messages make Sydney the ideal destination to celebrate New Year.

Things to do: Celebrate under the Opera House’s sails, Lighted Boat Parade, Sydney Harbour Island parties, Sydney Opera House, Indigenous Smoking Ceremony

3. Dubai

Dubai is undeniably the renowned place to welcome New Year and make the Eve eternal. Ring in the new year 2020 against the backdrop of spellbinding fireworks from Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa – the world’s one of the attractive skyscrapers.

Things to do: Watch Spectacular Fireworks, Dubai Aquarium, New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruise, New Year’s Eve parties, Boat Ride to Atlantis.

5 Best International Places To Celebrate New Year's Eve

4. Bangkok

Everything you expect from the New Year celebration – fireworks, parties, dining, and DJs, are available in Bangkok. With parties in every nook of the street and best nightlife, Bangkok is perfect to ring in the new year.

Things to do: Central World Plaza, Bangkok Rooftop Venues, Dream World Amusement Park, SanamLuang, Asiatique, Loy Nava River Cruise

5. New York

With festive parties, shows, concerts, and dinners, New York City is one of the top destinations for New Year’s Eve celebration. The biggest ball drop live in Times Square is New York’s one of the biggest New Year’s Eve parties.

Things to do: New York Harbor, Watch The Ball Drop in Times Square, New Year’s Eve Parties, New Year’s Eve Show and Concert

Before you choose any new year travel destination to have sweet memories for a lifetime, check the ideal time to visit that specific spot and buy the most suitable travel insurance plan. Be sure to find out venues charge admission fee and last date of booking tickets to ensure that you would not miss out on anything this New Year. Wishing you a Happy New Year in your dream holiday destination.

Struggling After Husband’s Death, Widow’s Tea Stall Was Transformed by Art & Kindness! #WATWB

Art is not just intended to be appreciated for its beauty or emotional power. Art has the potential to transform lives too.

A native of Uttarakhand, Dipti Joshi lost her husband at a young age, which put the entire responsibility of supporting her family of three on her shoulders. She ran a small tea stall in the hills of Kumaon, Uttarakhand. which was mainly frequented by drivers and staff of a nearby resort.

A group of people from Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), Delhi, were on a trip to the hills of Uttarakhand when they stopped at her little tea stall. When they heard her story, they decided that they had to help her.

With the help of local school students, the KNMA team painted the walls of Joshi Tea Stall. Keeping the spirit of the local culture and tradition of Kumaon hills, the ‘painters’ team decided to incorporate Aipan, the traditional painting style from Kumaon, on the walls of Joshi tea stall.

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With a drastic change in its appearance and the shop’s name being rechristened as ‘Josh Café’. This intervention marked an overnight change in Dipti’s life. She found more people slowly flocking to her stall along with a steady and better flow of income.

Amazing, isn’t it!

An act of kindness transformed Dipti’s life. Kindness is a simple concept, but it’s impact is large in scope. We all have the ability to transform someone’s life for the better, just by a simple act or word. Let’s make our world a better place, one kind act at a time!

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This post is part of the We Are the World Blogfest, a monthly blogging event created by Damyanti Biswas and Belinda Witzenhausen to showcase stories of hope and light. This month, I’m helping out as a co-host, along with extraordinary bloggers : Damyanti Biswas, Lizbeth Hartz, Peter Nena and Simon Falk Please hop over to check out their WATWB posts as well as from other WATWB participants for a dose of feel-good to last you a whole month. You’ll be happy you did!