Friday, December 30, 2011

Kayaking in Abu Dhabi's Mangroves

Last weekend on our wedding anniversary, in search of some eco-celebration we did mangrove kayaking in Abu Dhabi with Noukhada. It was indeed educational & adventurous.
Since years I have appreciated the beauty of those mangroves while travelling on Salam street in Abu Dhabi. Specially when you always get to see some interesting birds flying in that area. As we all know Abu Dhabi is blessed with a large coast line & lot of mangroves, but because of the development I always had a fear that what if all these mangroves will vanish some day?
But thanks to Abu Dhabi Plan 2030, govt. has strict policies about conserving existing Natural Systems. Sometimes if the existing natural system can not be conserved, the developer has to compensate for it by creating similar habitat in nearby place or further away.
So my husband booked our kayaking tour with Noukhada Adventure Company, who organize kayaking, fishing and similar activities in Eastern mangroves. We are glad to hear from Noukhada's owner & founder Mark that they are in talk with TDIC & hopefully soon they will start similar activities in very beautiful mangroves around Sadiyat Island! They also told us that they are in collaboration with Nautica environmental associates, who are doing ecological survey of these mangroves since years.
As soon as we reached Noukhada Launching point off the Salam street, we signed a declaration form. Once we were ready with lifejacket, sunblock, water bottle & some basics of kayaking from our tour guide, our group set off for the most amazing experience I ever had in Abu Dhabi!
The waters in mangroves were comparatively shallow & calm. Paddling our kayaks was not very hard but our muscles were aching for a day after kayaking (in short we need to exercise regularly ;)). Soon we realized that the mangrove trees are not just shrubs but they are regular tall trees like any tree on land. The only diffrence is that their roots are in the seabed & some part of tree comes above water, which looks like a shrub.

We soon found a heron sitting at the corner of mangrove trees, we paddled little closer to him, he did not move. I remembered a Marathi language poem I learned in my school, where poet calls the standstill heron a meditating priest and I realized how it makes sense! The sight was amazing!

While I was thrilled by the serenity of dense green mangroves, Jenny, Mark's daughter said it rightly "You don't even feel you are in Abu Dhabi!". All we know about UAE is beautiful desert & cement jungle, but one has to visit mangroves to see the richness of nature in UAE.
Actually if you see these mangroves in summer, they are all green & dense like how they are in winter. And I always seen local and migratory birds flying in these areas year round.
One of fellow group member found a yellow flower in those mangroves; Jenny told us the scientific name of flower, which I don't remember now. Jenny told us she is studying in UK, but she visits her father during her vacation and kayak in those mangroves to help him in his work. Now most of us will think why my father never did this kind of work? :)
After a while of paddling deep into mangroves, our tour guide took us in the narrow lanes of mangroves, where you understand why the word 'Mangrove Forest' is appropriate. The mangrove trees are quite dense & also tall in these forests. The natural canals are so narrow here that it's very hard to steer your kayak without getting stuck, especially if it is a longer two sitter kayak.

At first when we were sort of banging in mangrove trees, I was skeptic about hurting those trees & disturbing the flora. But soon I observed how flexible most of these trees were. Whenever our kayak was going onto these trees, the trees used to flexibly bend & rise up again once our kayak is passed. I also learned to hold the branches of other strong (not flexible) trees so as to stop our kayak going onto other trees.
While struggling with steering in those dense mangroves, we were stunned by the different world in those mangroves. As it was low tide that time, we could see the sea bed & roots of trees under water. There was also some sea grass under the water. We smelt salt in mangroves but there was not a bad smell at all in those mangroves, which we feel otherwise. The mangroves were clean & as people can't reach here that easily for picnic, we could not see garbage anywhere. Some tiny orange crabs were floating in waters, Jenny told us these crabs live under the sea bed. The leaves of mangrove trees were thicker to retain water I guess. Some small wooden planks were floating on waters. Unlike old days, people don't need wood from mangroves for fuel anymore now.
As I have described how mangroves were very important for locals here so many years back for food & housing materials. We also saw some people doing fishing in mangroves. We found some boards fixed in these mangroves, which displayed does & don'ts. As well as some boards displaying information about mangrove ecosystem. These kinds of boards by govt. are very necessary for awareness.
Kayaking through the mangrove forest was such an experience that we will definitely kayak with Noukhada again! While returning to coast from mangrove forest, one more big white bird, probably stroke flied spreading his long wings in front of us. This is definitely one of the most prominent spot for nature lovers.
When we returned to the launching point, we were drenched in water, had aching muscles and we were extremely happy that we explored something very unknown. Later Mark told us that they also arrange a special Eco- tour, in which similar to our tour the mangrove forest is explored through kayaking but then they stop at some dedicated points, where they give lecture & distribute some literature about mangrove ecology & conservation. The eco tour is great for school going kids & also for anybody who is more interested to know about ecosystem in these mangroves. To find out more about Noukhada Adventure Company and the mangrove tours visit, (Here are Mark & Jenny at Noukhada launching point.) Noukhada has definitely started some amazing work by starting this kind of business. Mainly because residents can now actually visit these mangroves even if they don't own a boat or kayak. The adventure part in it works like honey to attract more people, who will be then aware of rich ecosystem in mangroves & they will definitely spread their knowledge about mangroves, which will make more people aware about it.
If anybody wants to see natural beauty of UAE, I would say one has to visit not only desert but also mangroves, without which UAE is incomplete!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My addiction for Ecofriendly Bags!

Recently while walking past a shop in a mall, one cotton bag cought my attention. So I decided to buy that bag though I have a big no. of ecofriendly bags at home.

The instant response from my husband on it was, " You have some magnetic attraction towards the sustainable bag, you track them from anywhere in the World!" My husband's this reaction made me realize that I have addiction to eco-friendly bags! LOL....Yes, you may find it funny, but there is a psychology behind it.

Honestly speaking I don't look for those bags, but I stumble upon them. I am always interested in environmental news, campaigns & awareness and this leads to collection of eco-friendly bags. Because I believe in "Say no to only Plastic Bags, but not to Eco-friendly Bag though!"

To get an overview of my addiction I checked out the place of these Ecofriendly bags in my life. I have around 20-25 ecofriendly bags at home!!! Few of them I bought & other I collected from wherever I get them! The regular places of collecting these bags are sustainability/ environmental conferences or shopping from environmentally aware shops/brands.

My everyday tiffin bag to office is a cute tiny cotton bag by Environment & Protected areas authority, Sharjah. This is such a convenient & good looking bag with logo in English & Arabic. Added advantage is the bag is well suited to my job profile. Some of my office colleagues always enquire about it or appreciate it.

I always keep one cotton bag in each of my purse and few in my car. Whenever I buy something, I say no to plastic bag & use these bags. I sort of feel proud, when I hang the ecofriendly bag on my shoulder on any dress. The jute bags I use while going outdoors or for bulky shopping. I have specially dedicated some jute bags for camping & outdoor fun. I like the bags, on which some awareness message is printed instead of brand names. Some of the bags are souvenir of some trip or some event. The green bag from Paddy's market in Sydney is just one example.
My most favorite ecofriendly bag is from Beeah, Sharjah on which message is printed, "I care Do you?"

I love to give away the ecofriendly bags from my collection to friends. Many of my friends even know that I am right person to ask for cotton bags. I have gifted these bags to my office colleagues as well. So if you start saying no to plastic bags, there is a slightest chance of getting addicted to eco-friendly bags like aware ;).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Charities in UAE Part 2...Get rid of your junk!

Previousely I discussed some charities in UAE, where you can give away your unwanted stuff like clothes, furniture, mediciens, specs etc. But my search is still on, as most of these charities are either far away or their opening timings not matching with my timings etc. So find more charities & drop off points here....

1. Clothes drop off- In discovery gardens, there are good no. of cloth bank bins. forgive me, if I didn't mention in my last post about junk, I am using these bins since 2 years now.

2. Maria Christina Foundatation- They accept all personal & household stuff including furniture, clothes etc. You can call their personnel in Bur Dubai/ Mirdiff/Um Suqueim. For more info & contact nos. click

3. Electronics- You can get cash for your electronics like mobile handsets etc. click to find more

4. All Junk at your home- This is private organisation, collects junk from indivisuals & companies & redistribute to labourers. Some of the junk they sell to keep running their organization, the junk which is not usable they recycle. You just have to email at or call/sms 050 1704045! Without much delay, they will come & pick up your junk. Find more on

Slogan of Take my junk rightly says, "One man's junk is another man's treasure".

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reusing Household Items

When I think about 'zero waste' lifestyle, I dream of a balanced ecosystem. Lush green landscape in place of garbage areas near each community. Fresher air and near-to-nature living! However, every day as some new products hit the market, we all get overpowered by the marketing tactics and end up buying stuff which we don't need - be it electronics, fashion clothing, cosmetics or home interior items, etc. Instead we keep on increasing our waste - some times we give to charity, sometimes we recycle and at most times we throw unwanted things thus ending up in the landfill. Wouldn't a public park be a more appropriate use of land than a mountain of waste?
So at first place if we shop less, then waste will be less. But suppose, people suddenly stop buying all those not so necessary things, surely it will affect the market, employment and the economy, isn't it? If the old items which we need to discard are damaged then they may not be useful for charity. Also recycling of every item is still not available in many places. So what we can do is only reusing those unwanted items creatively at our home. The added benefit is you save money & can own an unique, personalized home organizing or interior item, which will be talk of your guests for sure!

To check what can be reused & where, we need to look at our garbage & shopping list. Maybe we can cut some items on our shopping list by reusing items which we are about to discard. I did that & believe me it was fun!

The items found in routine garbage from our home are generally these,

1. Plastic/glass jars, containers, bottles

2. Packaging boxes small or large of paper/cardboard

3. Small bottles, boxes

4. Toiletry, chemical containers

5. Tin boxes, containers, jars

6. Chipped or broken crockery or ceramic or china wear

7. Take-away food containers

8. Old clothes, bags

9. Wooden/metal/plastic furniture & accessories

etc etc

Here are some of my personal favorites & some experiments of reusing things which may be otherwise trash.
1. Plastic & Glass Jars- Many plastic & glass jars with proper lid can be used to store grocery & arrange in your kitchen cabinets. Ex. rice, pasta, milk drinks etc which are packed in bottle or plastic jar can be bought then next time we can buy same item packed in bag & refill the jar.

If you can reuse jars & boxes comes as package to store all your grocery like pulses, flour, beans etc, you would never have to buy separate jars for same purpose. The plastic jars of ice-cream, yogurt are also good storage containers once they are cleaned.

Most of my grocery is stored in such jars. Rice is stored in yogurt jar, urid pulses are stored in horlicks jar & ice-cream box is used to store bird feeding rice.

2. Soap, shampoo, toiletries Bottles- Just like jars, hand wash bottles, dish washing liquids, shower gels can be bought second time in loose refill package & can be refilled in previous bottle, if you use same brand then you don't even have to clean the bottles .

3. Baby food bottles, Herbs/Spice bottles, ketchup, jam bottles- we can use the same bottles for using same items or other appropriate items. Once in a while it is better to wash these bottles, especially if we use it for a prolonged time.

4. Tin boxes- The tin boxes of coffee/ biscuit etc can be used for storing same items. Alternatively planting small plants in these tins is also a good idea, only remember to make some holes at the bottom of tins for draining water . Some good looking tins can be used for organizing like pen holder or as coin box or for keeping small stationary or hardware items. Or we can also collect coins in these boxes

5. Food take away/delivery boxes- some food boxes are of good quality which we can use to store food items in fridge. Other use could be to pack food for office or outdoors. Generally I use these boxes to store cut vegetables in fridge.
6. Plastic ice-cream boxes, chocolate Boxes- These boxes can be used to store small items like stationary/medicines/hardware items or grocery. Chocolate boxes can also be decorated & used as gift boxes. I have assigned this empty Ferrero Rocher chocolate box to store sachets of sugar, coffee etc.

7. Cold drink/ wine bottles- These glass bottles are of good use to store drinking water. Also we can store some homemade juice or lemonade in this & keep in fridge. I also used one beautiful wine bottle to grow money plant.

8. Chipped or unwanted mugs/vase/flower pots can be used for storing pens, brushes, spoons etc on study table, dressing table etc. One of mug which I received as gift but don't like it for drinking coffee, is kept on bookshelf, which stored pens. Other chipped mug is used in washroom to hold items.
9. Broken ceramic plates or china wears can be used as colour pallet, if you do painting. From my experience it is better than any other newly bought pallet specially for oil paints.

10. Shoe boxes can be used to store collectibles, small home decor things, cards, documents, write ups etc. The clean & hard shoe boxes are my favorite home organizer items. I have kept all shoe boxes, some are used for storing home decore items, some hold collectibles. One box is dedicated for stationary items. This box in photo contains stock of cleaning accessories.

11. Packing boxes comeing with gifts specially those of hard material, watch boxes, cosmetics boxes, skin care set boxes can be used to store miscellaneous stuff like stationary items, jewelry, hardware items like screws, nails or buttons coins etc. These boxes can be used as gift box as well.
I have made a body shop box with transperant window on top of it as our collectible box. Al our natural collectibles like dried flowers, leaves, shells etc along with some memorable photos & postcards are stored in this box.

12. Washing powder/ cereal Boxes- Big empty boxes of cereals, washing powder, tissue boxes can be used for storing carry bags. one opening could be cut in the box, from where we can pull the carry bag out. It is good reuse also a nice idea for organizing those otherwise voluminous carry bags, which filled up space in cabinet below our kitchen sink.

After cutting the top side of the box, these boxes can be used as magazine holders or for holding excess wires, assorted things in store room.

13. Planter- Many items like broken earthen/ceramic/glass wears, shoes, tin/plastic containers, paint or chemical containers, ceramic pipes, coconut shell, can be used for planting small plants in your garden. Actually if you grow a plant in anything which can hold the soil & can have a hole or two facilitate axcess water to flow, then any waste item in your home can become beatiful planter. In this photo old tyers are used as planter.

14. Clothes- Old napkins can be used for housecleaning or as bathroom mat. Old clothes can be used to stitch rugs, mats, decorative wall hangings, covers for pillow/chair/cushion, curtain, handbags, pouches, wall hanging organizers, cloth files in patch work or with other creative technique. In India 9 yard sari, traditional garment for women is reused for many other purposes. The blancket stiched from my grandma's soft cotton saree was my favorite in my childhood & is best example of reuse of clothes.

15. Bags, Purses- I never throw old bags, purses, pouches. Though they are damaged a bit. I always dedicate those bags for things according to application. One of old bag is where we store all tools. A small old purse of mine is where all sort of small locks are stored .

16. Old containers/ tiffin boxes- Some old containers, tiffine boxes with broken handle or lock can be used for keeping water and seeds for birds in your window.

17. Lids of jars- Lids of jars can be used as coasters or can be kept below bottle of oil to avoid any oiliness to kitchen platform.

18. Partition cards in tea bag boxes can be used as bookmarks. I painted some of these cards, laminated them & now these bookmarks kept on bookshelf add not only good use but beauty as well.
19. Small empty boxes of Tic-tac or menthol or tablets etc can be used for storing nails, screws or any assorted tiny items.
I have stored nails in tic tac box. Some toothpicks are stored in one of empty calcium tablet container which can be used during travel or outdoor trips.

20. Plastic trays in chocolate boxes to hold chocolates can be used to store tiny jewelry items in jewelry box or pins in stationary box or nails/buttons etc.

21. Trash CDs can be used as coasters or decoration purpose.

22. Plastic spoons coming with milk powder, ice-creams, cough syrup can be cleaned & kept in containers of floor, spice powders, washing powders etc. I have kept those ice-cream spoons in containers of turmeric, chilli powder, cocoa powder etc.

23. Old funiture accessories like racks, hooks, wall cabinets can be reused for other purpose. I have used some old hooks for curtain rods to hang clothes instead of throwing them on bed or tables etc. These small hooks made our bedroom clothes free, where one could find clothes all over before.

24. Unwanted, old, damaged furniture pieces- There could be many creative ways to use the old furniture piece for some new applications. I never did it, but I alawys like the idea of using old trunk as side table, it could add the antique touch to interior. These are some of the photos from other people, who reused there old furniture & result is these amazing art pieces.

Hope some of you would have developed interest in reusing old items, or have you started looking for them in your store room already? Let me know how it goes!

Enjoy Creative Reusing!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011



We read these words everywhere these days. We also know that these 3 Rs is mantra for waste management.

Long back in 2009 I have already explained the basics of waste managment in my blogpost,

But the poster I displayed on this post which is easily available on internet, made me write this new post. Actually same poster I used in my office to emphasize significance of waste managment. But one of my collegue, an engineer always complained that 'this poster doesn't convey the message which you want to tell us. The words Reduce-Reuse-Recycle are though popular but are not enough to understand their role in waste management, there should be some more explaination.'

I couldn't agree with him at start, because these words always made lot of sense to me. But then waste managment or sustainability is not only for people who are professionals in same field. It should be understood by all & then only it will be implemented in daily life by all people, which is the need of time! So I made a new poster of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle, which should be self explainatory & should make a reader think & act accordingly! And here that poster is, to share with you all, may be it will help some more people or some more workplaces to better understand mantra of waste managment....

Friday, June 24, 2011

Story of my Baby Plant

Hi guys, hope you all are leading a green life at your best. While doing the same, we had one incidence at home related to my baby plant. I have a tiny curry leaves plant. It's fresh green baby plant. I love smell of curry leaves & once in a while I use it's leaves in my cooking.

As our apartment is facing north, we don't get direct sunlight entering in our house through windows. This orientation is very useful for saving electricity for air-conditioning, but our plants don't get direct sunlight at all.

One Saturday when I was working & my husband was incidentally at home, I told him to keep our baby plant in the garden downstairs for a while, so that it will get direct sunlight hoping it will help the plant grow better. From my experience it is always better to show sunlight to outdoor plant specially early in morning when the sun is not harsh. However my husband, being short on time that day, did not want to wait with plant in garden. Instead he did the biggest mistake. He kept the baby plant in our locked car during afternoon time. After few hours when he remembered about the plant, he found a burnt curry leaves plant in car.

Because of lack of ventilation in car & in closed system like car temperature always increases beyond ambient, the plant was suffocated & burnt. Feeling guilty he brought the baby plant to home & watered it. I was quite sad after loosing my baby plant especially because of a un-thought of action. Later on we kept watering plant without any result.

Just as a last resort, I tried a trick, which I learnt in geography textbook in my school. I threw some sprout beans in that plant pot. I remembered learning about sprout beans; in India farmers, specially those who grow main corps like wheat, rice; once in two years grow sprout beans in the land, to refresh the land & add some nutrients in their farm land. The sprouts leave nitrogen in land adding fertility to it.

Miraculously my baby plant got some more stems with fresh green leaves within 5-6 days. Though the upper part of plant is still in burnt condition & may not get back to life. But these leaves at bottom stem prove the sprouts benefit of adding nutrients.

I felt this experience is worth sharing with you all, where we learnt few things 1st never use your car to store living things not just pets but not even plants, specially during summer afternoons. 2nd whenever you have to add nutrients to your plants (or give them new life) grow sprout beans in same pot. And 3rd never throw any damaged (or burnt) plant, you can revitalize it.

This was definitely our successful attempt of restoring habitat in window garden!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fully bloomed New Ecosystem- The Gardens in Dubai

UAE residents know it well, what the new ecosystem means! In all parts of UAE, where ever there are Green belts, parks, lush green golf courses & beautifully landscaped communities almost all are manmade! These year-round green ecosystems in the dessert of Arabia are definitely one of the man-made wonder! Of course the issue of water consumption to sustain these ecosystems is there, but the use gray water is evident!

In winter, we all go out to parks, which is home to migratory birds in the season. But recently I started going out of my home for a walk in Nakheel's Gardens community & I realized how this ecosystem is bloomed as if it belongs to this sand!
The landscape there is quiet natural, mix of different species, different trees & dense! The sound of birds, nest of birds, smell of fresh flowers & lush green natural looking lawns, it's unbelievable! This all stands on dry dessert sand! You could see the food chain of biodiversity unleash in front of your eyes. This is home to many birds. You can see these birds eating berries on trees or gathering thin stems of leaves to build their nests. You get to see many bird species here common myna, common hoopoe, parrot, red vented Bulbul, pigeon etc. The biggest attarction in the woods of Nakheel Gardens is finding of Sandgrouse. One afternoon when we were walking through the dense landscape, we found a big sandgrouse, a mother probably along with tiny 3-4 sandgroves. Not sure but it could be rarely seen Lichtenstein's Sandgrouses. The mother was very potective about the kids, possibly these birds don't fly. They just vanished in shrubs on ground. In next few visits we found same birds in same area, hopefully they have their nest in that area.

There are pedestrian path created which goes through the middle of community. Along these paths the swimming pools, grounds & tennis/ basket ball courts are located.

When on Friday afternoon you walk along this path you could see people, especially children playing in pools or play grounds. This definitely doesn't seem like these people are staying in dessert region. All of the street & pedestrian walk ways in Nakheel Garden are now shaded with fully grown trees. The buildings are small & their outer surfaces are shaded & covered by these fully grown trees. Obviously the heat gain is less, which in turn adds less pressure on air conditioning units in this area. So electricity is saved. Not only this but because of these trees weather feels little less extreme. People staying in Garden will agree with me, when I say temperature here is always 1 or 2 degree less than other nearby area in Jabel ali. Humidity also is lesser & m0st importantly there is fresh air & more oxygen. This adds health benefits of people staying in Gardens. The lush green surroundings & shaded pathways also motivate people to go outdoors & increase the activity level of residents.

The best part of Gardens is that, it is landscaped in such a way, when you are there you don't feel that it is man-made. They avoided to do systematic landscape & using of same plants & repeating them in some order. There are different species of plants & planted randomly, which give feel of natural jungle. You can find trees like Neem, Gulmohor (peacock flower/delonix regia), bamboo, Palm in these landscapes. Some flowering plants like plumeria (chafa), oleander (kanher), Bougainvillea, cana, jatropha integerrima are also abunduntly used in gardens, they flower year-round. People staying here are definitely staying like as if they are back home. You can see bird feeders, water bowls for birds everywhere. And most of the balconies have their own small garden. The seating areas created in balconies shaded by trees can easily envy the rest of UAE residents.

The sustainability awareness is also seen. The bins for recycling materials are kept outside almost each building. The 4 separate bins are seen for glass, paper, plastic & general waste. Other than these bins, no bins are kept, which insist people to segregate their waste & recycle it. Of course the collection of waste & recycling is done on regular basis by Nakheel. The community is very clean & looked after very well.

This is the best example of landscaped community & new ecosystem of UAE. At same time from the example of Nakheel garden, some points are also educating for future development of such communities. first is high maintenance; swimming pools, play grounds etc are to be maintained regularly. Secondly high usage of water for watering such a huge amount of landscaping & for swimming pools. Though the gray water/recycled water is used for irrigation, the high evaporation rate in summers impacts badly on water consumption. But personally I think electricity is taken care nicely, less heat gain, promoted daylights in houses because of tree shades all over & district cooling plant this all decreases electricity consumption. Also Human health is taken care extremely well by fresh air because of trees & less pollution. Vicinity of Clinics, Ibn battuta mall, services inside mall, petrol pump & shops/ restaurants in Discovery garden promotes walking, reducing need of transport for basic facilities & make living in this community now very much convenient.

All in all I will say this is definitely a tempting place to stay, the long waiting list for rental for Nakheel Garden is obvious. If you are lucky enough to have friends staying in Nakheel Gardens, then from my personal experinece I will recommend you stay at their place in summer & have feel or experience of staying at a resort somewhere far away from the heat of dessert.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sustainable Australia!

Last year I have been to Australia for my vacation! While planning for vacation, I was dreaming of the Harbor Bridge, Opera House, beaches, trams, Victorian buildings, Kangaroos & Koalas. But as we touched the land 'down under', the sign boards, energy conservation measures on Sydney airport started telling us "Welcome to sustainable country! You are going to see environmentally aware society!"

The Sydney airport is making their existing building sustainable. The recyclers are kept everywhere instead of just garbage bins. Washrooms use recycled water, and it is well informed everywhere to all users with help of signboards. There is waste water treatment plant of Sydney airport, which treats waste water & use this recycled water for toilet flushing & cooling towers for air conditioning system. Sydney Airport saved 350 kiloliters fresh drinking water each day in 2009, by using this recycled water.

When we entered the city of Sydney, we were happy to see not just natural greenery in city but hoardings of Sustainable Sydney 2030 as well. In CBD (Central business district) of city is one of the good examples of sustainable transport. First & foremost you get maps of city in details with lot of guidance so you can decide very easily if you want to walk. There are enough walk ways & pedestrian crossings. Else you have numerous transportation options like bus, metro, monorail, light rail, cabs. Commuting by ferries via sea route from farther suburbs is also popular in Sydney. The maps are so well organized that it mentions the stops for all transport services & getting information about timing is easy as well. There are dedicated bus lanes & cycle lanes to avoid traffic congestion. We also observed that many cabs were hybrid cars & people owned lot of hybrid or electric cars & bikes. Most importantly people were using public transport as primary commuting mean. Or else working people walking or riding bicycle in their business suits to & from their offices was also very common scene here. Of course they are blessed with good weather, but they all were well prepared for sudden rain as well. We were stunned to see people walking & cycling to-from their offices in CBD to nearby suburbs by using Harbor bridge everyday.

Their dedication to sustainability is seen everywhere, so much that every evening Opera House & Harbor Bridge do lit up after dark but not upto the level of creating light pollution around it.
As the city is growing further into 'bushes', govt. has planned proper public transports to these new areas like trains & buses. Car share is also promoted. The impressive trick is govt. give away special funds to people for building their houses in these new areas.

These communities around the city are made environmental friendly & sustainable. People of the communities are asked to segregate their waste. Waste collection & recycling is done by authority. In some suburbs people are allowed to plant only local plants in their yard. Recycled water, storm water is used for flushing & gardening on compulsory basis.

On manly beach we found a board 'Living with Penguins'. This is the only place in Sydney where small penguins visit regularly, the beaches are equipped with information boards for beach visitors guiding how they should take care for protecting these unique penguin habitat.

We were surprised to see use of solar powered equipments like parking meter, lights etc every where, especially because at least at that time it was clouded & generally rain is common there.

The sustainable buildings or Green buildings are picking up in Australia; we could see some green buildings in Sydney CBD, which were proudly displaying their sustainable status. Australia has developed their own Green Building rating system or standard, 'Green Star'. The buildings are certified by Green star on voluntary basis & given star rating as per their sustainability levels. Also a part of sustainability & conserving their culture & heritage, we get to see many old Victorian buildings in Australia which are preserved with some internal modification and are still used as shopping center, govt. buildings or tourist centers. The year of their construction is displayed on the top of nearly each heritage building. Preserving these building & using them for public use definitely meet Australia's heritage to modern world in CBDs of cities.

We also saw some banners of a political party named Green Party! Though I couldn't find out more about them, but hope they actually care for environment or sustainability.
Amongst all this, one appreciable point was' people living in Sydney were mostly aware about sustainability & knew what is intention behind this Sydney 2030 plan. So not just people or not just govt. or organizations, but making a city sustainable is a cumulative effect & needs participation from all.

We all know Sydney as a global initiator for starting Earth Hour, the sustainable movement in 2007. And this visit to the city made me believes that they truly care for sustainability & will be a good model for sustainable city.

During our visit to Melbourne, similar sustainability enthusiasm was seen with more culture & education added to it.
When we went to tourist information center, we were pleasantly surprised. We noticed a broacher for Sustainable buildings in Melbourne including list of Green buildings in Melbourne along with their location map for tourist! Pixel Building in Melbourne is Australia's Greenest Building.

Here in Melbourne, nostalgic trams add an amazing flavor to public transport. The tram are cleaner public transport as compared to fuel emitting vehicles, also choosing not to waste already existed infrastructure of tram network made complete sense to me in sustainability point of view. Same like Sydney the transportation in Melbourne is sustainable with lot of people using public transport, walking & cycling. Use of Recycling of water, Storm water Management & green-sustainable materials were widely present in Melbourne. People looked more aware about sustainability so names of business like Eco-plumbing etc were quiet common here.There is one UNESCO World Heritage listed site, which includes Royal exhibition building & Carlton Gardens dated 1980s. Some of the trees planted in Carlton garden in 1980 are still standing tall & looked after well by authorities.

We also visited one suburb, which is famous as sustainable suburb as the houses in that suburb made of environment-friendly materials & they use rainwater harvesting

These cities are full of greenery & parks. And govt. invested appropriate funds to maintain these parks, and also attract people to enjoy parks. This gives a good large open space to increase activity levels of residents.

We hear a lot about Australia's role in carbon credit & carbon offset. Climate control & sustainability is very much discussed on governmental & policy maker level in Australia. Frankly I don't know how much it is affecting on actual energy conservation or sustainability. I won't even talk about political part behind it. But it's effect on common people is environmental & sustainability awareness on great extent. Also many businesses & developers take interest in sustainability voluntarily. This is definitely a good effect.

Overall Australia looked very much open for all sustainability ideas & in near future it will definitely be a good model for sustainability.

Generally sustainable developments are asked to create facility for educating visitors about sustainability from certification bodies. But I found, walking on streets of Sydney & Melbourne will serve the purpose of sustainability education!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What is Sustainability?

Some days back I came across an article on The National, UAE's leading newspaper about 'resident's awareness about word-Sustainable'. The article says, third of UAE's residents do not know the meaning of Sustainable! Truly speaking, it was not a surprise for me...but this is not a case of only UAE for sure! Being a Sustainability Professional, I always come across the queries professionally & socially. What exactly sustainability means? and what exactly the nature of my work? These kind of questions come from people from all over, not only in UAE, but people from UK, Australia, Singapore, name few. I will say in general, sustainability awareness is still not countable in societies all over the world. Coming across people, who believe 'sustainability & green is just a new fashion or bubble' is very regular thing for professionals like me!

Then what exactly is Sustainability?

Sustainability is not just part of HSE or CSR or some environmental certification or campaigns on industry level but all these are definitely part of Sustainability. But be sure Sustainability is not some slogans, signs, green coloured things or marketing tact! On personal or social level, Sustainability is not only recycling or saving resources, but all this is necessary for sustainability. Finally Sustainability is not for Saving Earth, but on the contrary in big picture view, sustainability is for saving humans & our existence on Earth...'Sustainability would be long term survival of humans on the Earth'! Sustainability is philosophy, initiative, measure, plan, goal, action, process, result, quality, quantity, lifestyle & all inclusive best practice! Sustain means 'maintain', 'support' or 'endure'. So one will ask, what should be sustainable? & for whom it should be sustainable?

Sustainability is broad term which deals with Environmental, Social & Economic dimensions. Sustainability could be for humans, not for environment...but human depends on environment, so it would be feasible to say 'we need to have a sustainable environment to have sustainable future for us'. But can we sacrifice economy or development or society to have sustainable future on Earth...of course not, so we can have a sustainable living, in which we can make sure environmental sustainability, social sustainability & economic sustainability to secure our all inclusive 'sustainability' for now & in future. Isn't it a win-win situation? Does 'sustainability' sound like 'harmony' or 'balance'?

The simple definition of sustainability is 'Improving quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting eco-system'

According to definition by Brundtland Commission of United Nations "Sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs"

Sustainability is a scientific research, it can be measured, accounted, audited, reported & has reference standards. Environmental Performance Index, Carbon Foot prints, Ecological footprint, Life cycle assessment, Air Quality index, ISO 14oo1, Green Building certifications, GDP per capita, Sustainable Governance Indicator, Biodiversity indicator .....these are few scientific techniques to deal with Environmental, Social & Economic parts of Sustainability.

Business to business approach to sustainability varies & of course not all places on Earth can have same social sustainability approach! But I am very positive that society & decision makers in industries are being more open to sustainability now than the past years. When professionally & socially people discuss with me not only some concepts in Sustainability but also paper recycling, energy saving, carbon footprint, some signboards they see here and there & how sustainability is mentioned in their children's syllabus. I say people are getting aware of Sustainability idea! Can't say beginning is half done, but first step matters a lot at the moment!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Earth Hour 26th March 2011, 8.30PM

Hi friends, Earth Hour is here again!

Let's join the world on 26th March 8.30 PM like every year, let's switch off all electrical appliances & lamps!

This year Earth hour is back with some more feature, which says, "This Earth Hour, Go Beyond The Hour". As we already follow our Green Living mission, we can surely say that we are already doing beyond Earth Hour! In addition, we will keep adopting Green habits!

You can share, what you are doing beyond Earth Hour, how you are following Green Living, not only on this blog but also on Earth hour website. I have shared my action for the Earth, will you share your action?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Two Years of Leading Green Life!

Hi friends, I have been talking to you all through this blog since 2 years now! Firstly, thank you all for reading, following 'Green Living'; giving continuous feedback & supporting this mission of 'Leading Green Life'! Our common passion for going green on personal level & love for Nature have kept us all together for 2 years! So I thought it is time to celebrate our successful 2 Green Years!

Let's cheer together for Green Living by adding all of our personal touch to it, by sharing our Green stories! These green stories are not supposed to be grand or CNN style green stories....but whatever we do in our routine life in line with our Green living mission, we can summarize. If we save energy, recycle paper, take stairs instead of lifts or do anything which shows that we care for environment, doesn't matter how small or big... Let's share how we lead our green life!!!

Let's show the world what we do, how we are leading a green life! Believe me, your stories will be inspiration for many others!

Awaiting your comments or emails with some photos if possible. I would appreciate if you can take out few minutes. Let's make colaz of Green Living leaders!

Note: This is not for any commercial purpose, the intent is public awareness. Also if you want your name to get published or not is all upto you.