A CALL TO OPEN OUR EYES

We finished one more very interesting week discussing about the shortage of food, water and energy etc. and how we waste them in different ways knowingly and unknowingly. When I sat down to write final note I thought of doing a little research on the shortage and wastage in regards to all the aspects before concluding this week. I found some amazing websites which are dedicated to all these issues.

Let’s check them one after the other…

The very first site I stumbled upon is ‘World Hunger Education Service‘.

I loved their mission statement which goes like this:

  • educate the general public and target groups about the extent and causes of hunger and malnutrition in the United States and the world
  • advance comprehension which integrates ethical, religious, social, economic, political, and scientific perspectives on the world food problem
  • facilitate communication and networking among those who are working for solutions
  • promote individual and collective commitments to sustainable hunger solutions.

You can actually get all the updates by LIKEing their FB Page HERE.

Something drew my attention which I want to mention here. They describe the causes of world hunger as follows:

1. Poverty is the principal cause of hunger.

2. Harmful economic systems.

3. Wars & Conflicts.

4. Population Growth.

5. Food and agricultural policy.

6. Climate change.

Apart from the last cause, “Climate change” all are in our hands. We can control and manage poverty, economic systems, conflicts, agricultural policies and population growth. Some countries have succeeded in some areas. It is our turn now.

Next website which caught my attention was, ‘Water‘. I liked their caption:

Water has the power

To break the cycle of poverty.

To protect and save lives.

To make a bright future possible for all.

They have impacted worldwide. They work in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

I loved their approach. Why? Because –

  • They use microfinancing to bring small, affordable, easily repayable loans to those who need access to affordable financing and expert resources to make household water and toilet solutions a reality.
  • By bringing local, world leaders and everyday individuals together to make strides on the ground that turn into lasting transformation.
  • Exploring every angle on the water crisis and building, testing, and iterating on approaches that make the most of the resources they have while giving back the most to the people they serve.
  • They get local, they educate and they measure strategically.

I think whoever wants to DONATE them can do so to help them do what they are doing.

There are few interesting websites which drew my attention and I have listed them out as under for all of you to read and learn the strategies to save food, water, energy and human resources.  

  1. Save Energy
  2. Energy
  3. Switch On
  4. Acumen

Loved the last one in the list: Acumen. They literally do everything and providing service to products. Do not just omit it but go through what they are doing. I was so so impressed. 

You might ask why I am highlighting other companies, organisations and websites on Candles Online. We don’t promote others also… then why am I doing it???

I just wanted all of us to know and get aware of what is the condition of our world… what people are doing around us What can we do now 

The scripture says, 

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

God created us and given us authority over all. He wanted us to rule over everything and take care of everything as well. The word ‘Subdue‘ means owning, taking control over. We love to own things but never like to take care of the same. It’s not about you but about me also. So many times I also don’t take care of the things I own. 

Now is the time we need to respond to the call, a call to open our eyes and see clearly the things happening around us.

Keep thinking and keep giving feedback, 

Stay Blessed!!!

WATTAGE: SAVE POWER, SAVE ENERGY!

Night I was sleeping on my couch when the television remote slipped from hand and crashed on the floor, startling me, breaking my blessed sleep and beautiful dream. I woke up rubbing my eyes and yawning wide. I looked at the time, 4:00 AM. What??? But it’s day!!! I was shocked and looked around the room. And then I realized my mistake, it wasn’t a day, I had slept with all the lights switched on, the television on as it blasted my ears. The DVD player running flashing lights in my eyes. My laptop was on, my fully charged phone was still plugged in. The AC and fans all were on (damn, my bones are sore from the cold), to my horror even the fridge door was a bit ajar, the light from the inside of the fridge lighting the kitchen. (I hunted for food before dozing off) Scary sounds came from the washroom, oh damn! The washing machine was still on. I got up and thought for a second, and closed them all one by one. The house fell silent and it felt like night again. But I went to sleep with so much of guilt. (the bill, my dad, OMG !)

Every year, we use more energy than we did the year before.

Energy isn’t free. The breadwinner in your house pays for the all the electricity you use. So wasting energy is the same as wasting money – and we know that’s not a good idea!

Wasting energy isn’t good for the environment either. Most of the energy sources we depend on, like coal and natural gas, can’t be replaced – once we use them up, they’re gone forever. Another problem is that most forms of energy can cause pollution.

There are several things you can do right now to fight energy vampires in your home:

  1. Get a power strip: Speakers, TVs, and other entertainment gadgets consume electricity when you’re not using them. Plug them into a power strip, and you can flip them all on or off in a split second.
  2. Use sunlight wherever possible. Turn your refrigerator down. Refrigerators account for about 20% of Household electricity use. Set your clothes washer to the warm or cold water setting, not hot. Select the most energy-efficient models when you replace your old appliances. Look for the Energy Star Label
  3. replace-old-bulbYou can say goodbye to the standard incandescent light bulb.Typically uses about 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescents, saving you money and Can last 3-25 times longer.
  4. Solar panels can be used to generate a portion of your home’s power in order to reduce your dependency on traditional power sources. For instance, you can install panels to provide electricity just for appliances or lighting, to reduce your dependency on the utility company, as well as lower your bill.

Energy, lack of it or struggle for it has been a reason for most wars in the world. Sufficient supply of energy is the biggest need for developing a country or economy. We are in such a phase in this world where energy crisis is looming large on us. For India to achieve sustainable growth, we need to make sure that we do not suffer from an energy crisis. So it is very important that we start using energy or electricity efficiently so that we save it without losing comforts in our lives. Even a small effort from all of us collectively will help our country develop in a sustainable manner. Knowing this, we now understand that saving of resources is equally important and in fact same as saving money. As our parents did, we should also save and pass the habit of saving to our next generation for a better present and future.

Let There Be Light !

CONVENIENCE OR WASTAGE ?

Tissue paper: This is invented for CONVENIENCE . I too find it very convenient to use. But, do you know that to create tissue paper for a family of four, for a year, it would take two fully grown up trees ? Now, can you imagine how many trees are cut off every year ? The time to make a tree grow completely is much more than one year, so we are losing a vast area of green land for tissue paper. Now, the tissue starts to sound like an issue.

In the last 10 years, I sparsely used tissue paper to dry off my hands after lunch or dinner. I would let it dry naturally. I keep a watch on how much tissue is being used at home and I switch over to cloth when the limit reaches. A lot of tissues reach dustbin even when they aren’t used.

  • Try using a sponge or cloth to clean non-viscous liquids
  • Use a towel to dry off your hands instead of tissues
  • When at food joints, take only those many issues that you may need.

Refrigerator: A few years ago, there was no refrigerator. People used to buy fresh produce and eat them. We wanted to preserve food so that there is no WASTAGE, so we invented the refrigerator. We wanted de-freezing capability. So, we added that feature. With the addition of that feature, instead of switching off the refrigerator for some time for melting the formations of ice, we have to press a button, more usage of electricity but it’s CONVENIENT.

I can understand this feature for hill stations or during winter, but in reality, there is no real need of using this during summers or in areas where the temperatures are normal. Don’t you agree ? If you are thinking that there can be food items in your refrigerator that may get spoilt in an hour or two while you switch it off, it’s better to throw them off than to consume. They are not going to do any good for our health.

  • Use the additional features on electrical and electronic appliances on the need basis. That saves a lot of energy that otherwise could be saved and put to a better use.

I have added my two cents. If we carefully think over, we would find numerous ways of saving natural resources.

Shortage arises from wastage many times. Mother nature has given us abundant resources to have a comfortable living. We need to keep in mind that future generations are dependent on us, the less we waste, the less would be shortage we create. 

“The future belongs to those who understand that doing more with less is compassionate, prosperous, and enduring, and thus more intelligent, even competitive.”

Paul Hawken

LET’S TWEAK OUR CUSTOM A BIT

If you belong to the upper middle class I think you are acquainted more with wastage than the shortage.

This is Diwali week, people can hear cracker explosions all around them. And all our activist friends talking about the amount of air pollution and noise pollution people are creating. That part is worrisome right but I sometimes marvel at the amount of money which is wasted on these crackers. I mean it’s literally putting a matchstick to thousands of rupees. Probably, to show our neighbors how much better off we are as compared to them.

During Navratri on Ashtami or Navmi, there is a custom of calling 7 or more girls and offering them food and goodies. The girls in my colony are really in demand then and they go to on average 5-6 houses and get Halwa, ChHole Puri from all. At times so much is collected in their house that they don’t know what to do about it. After all how much can a small girl eat ? Why don’t we tweak our custom a bit and give it to the girl begging on the street. They will appreciate it more. They need it more.

A friend of mine told me that whenever they have dinner in a restaurant they get the leftovers packed and at times order additional chapatis to go with it and give it to the first beggar they meet at the signal so the family outings end on a very warm note.

Remember, there is a demand somewhere for whatever we have in surplus. It’s just a matter of getting it to the right person. If we all make an effort we can make a difference.

Kuljeet Saini is a science graduate. She was a computer science teacher for more than 6 years but now she is a complete homemaker with two very beautiful energetic boys to look after.

WHOSE MONEY IS THIS?

Hi Everyone,

A political leader from a particular political party honoured with a garland of currency notes worth millions of rupees (Indian currency), crores spent on erecting statues of leaders, money collected from people for birthday celebrations of political leaders,  agitation orchestrated by political parties witnessing huge loss of both public and private properties…….

My question is whose money is it that is being gutted?  It’s mine, it’s yours.  Then why it is at the mercy of some XYZ political leader whom we have chosen as a citizen of a democratic country. The word “democratic” takes me into retrospect where in history subjects of a state had to oblige by the decisions of a king as a thumb rule and they had no choice.  So how a king would turn out is a matter of fate of the subjects.   But now we should be thankful that we are in the era of democracy where we have a right to choose our leader.  Isn’t it?  Are we doing it diligently?

To begin with the entire process of election that is the face of democracy is a very costly affair.  Billions of rupees are allocated for this process for every party.  Source – taxes we pay.  And after all the high voltage drama of elections are over we suddenly get a scrolling on the news channel announcing the next date for mid-term elections.  Again the national interest takes a back seat and national politics drives the “money wastage” drive.  And our concerns (read tensions) regarding policy changes be it home loan or pension is a bonus.

Question is why it happens.  Let’s take a look:
  • Just like every adult (18+) can vote any citizen of India can contest for the elections.  The problem is “any” is never scrutinized in detail which means a person with a tainted background could contest the elections which spells collateral  damage for the country in future.  That could be in the form of scams, haywire law and order, recurring elections.  In any case it is our money that is squandered away.
  • Responsible citizens shrugging away from their responsibilities:  Elections day is not just a holiday but its a day to carry out our most important duty.  Remember that silence of a learned man is more dangerous than the banter of a foolish. Vote bank politics is a result of our negligence towards our responsibility and eventually its only we who suffer.

Now that we have an idea on how and what causes wastage of national resource –  money, this is least that we can do in the interest of the nation:

  • Passing the buck won’t help anymore.  First of all respect and exercise right to vote diligently, this right is our duty.  Elect deserving candidates.
  • Give attention to indirect taxes along with direct taxes. I know what I am talking about is going to burn a hole in your pocket but our negligence to pay likes of sales tax gives rise to black money and parallel economy that in turn induces government to squeeze out more from your account in the form of direct taxes.  And that’s a double trouble.

Think about it.

SAVE WATER: LESSON LEARNED HARD WAY!

Every morning we hear the noises of women fighting for water outside on the road beside our apartment campus. It is a daily affair of metro cities in India.

The water crisis is acute everywhere in the country. Wikipedia gives a statistic that there’s 88% of the population in India had to access to an improved water source in 2008. So it is expected that the stats would definitely show a positive increase after 8 years, in 2016.

But who will believe that when people see the fights on the roads for water ? Let me explain our life story.

In our previous rented house, we were two families living together in a building sharing the same water source. But we could rarely get even 10 buckets of water in a day. Thankfully both of us were working people and we were only two in number. They were four. And we considered them to avail more quantity of water than us.

We bought different sizes and shapes of buckets and tubs to store water. Only in the morning, the water pump was being run and then I used to fill all the buckets before going to work as my wife used to leave for work earlier than me in the morning.

Sometimes we used to get less than 10 buckets of water too. That time we used to suffer more. My wife used to wash the clothes and keep the waste water intact to be used for toilets.

Huh!!!

But all those months were a learning process for us… It disciplined us. We understood the value of water much better than everybody else. In our present house, we have same water crisis but we never face the problem because we know how to save water by storing as well as avoiding wastage of water.

Watch this interesting video: “10 Tips for Saving Water in the Home

It is high time we all need to buckle up and stand for this cause with a slogan, “SAVE WATER TO SAVE LIFE”.

Stay Blessed !!!

FARM TO FORK: AS HUNGRY MOUTHS WATCH

Yesterday, while coming back from a relative’s house after distribution of Diwali gifts, my car was standing still in the bottleneck traffic jam of Delhi. I was looking here and there to distract myself when I saw a little boy holding the hand of an even smaller girl, begging for food. “We haven’t eaten in two days, please give food. Give anything that’s food”, they repeated this one line constantly making me shiver by their misery. Torn clothes, caked with dirt, empty eyes and hungry faces over a body that was nothing but skeleton wrapped in a thin layer of skin (not flesh). Like all Delhites I tried to give them a pass, and looked the other way, but their innocent faces drew my attention to them (we are bound to ogle at disasters, psychologically proven), and I felt my airway close as I kept some money in their hands saying “buy something to eat”. Just then I saw a restaurant emptying it’s dustbins into a garbage truck. And in there was food, food in huge quantities. I wanted to open my window and shout, tell them to not just throw it all away, instead give some to the little kids, but no use, the traffic moved just then and the food was in the dumpster, and since then I am not able to get those two conflicting sights out of my mind.

Wastage of Food, it’s a very serious issue that we face. How can we tolerate such injustice that’s happening day in and day out in front our eyes, in fact, we are party to it? I won’t lie, I myself have left food on my plate after I felt I was full or sometimes just because I served more on my plate or didn’t like the dish. Lately, I have been trying to get rid of this habit. The problem today is not world population, cause there is enough food being produced to feed each and every mouth, the problem is wastage.

Hunger is the biggest problem humanity is facing right now. All man’s fights begin and end with this one basic need of survival. Imagine how uncomfortable you are if you go hungry for an hour or two. Now think about what it must feel like for a day, two days or more.

According to a recent report by UNEP and the World Resources Institute (WRI), about one-third of all food produced worldwide, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems. When this figure is converted to calories, this means that about 1 in 4 calories intended for consumption is never actually eaten.

Usually, food is wasted like this : 

  • Leftovers – this is usually because too much food has been prepared or put on the plate.(moms love, I know)
  • Partially used food – this includes food not used but also leftovers which end up at the back of the fridge but never get reused.(bachelors special)
  • Passed its use by date – applies mainly to dairy, meat, and fish which wasn’t used on time.(vegetarians and vegans got an edge here)
  • Food went off – smelt bad, looked bad, tasted bad – this food had a chance but was managed badly.(time to show off my smelling power)
  • Passed its best before date – this usually impacts things like bread and other staples that waste away in the cupboard.(yeah, when you see the fungi)
  • Badly prepared – never easy to say it but sometimes the food prepared just didn’t taste great. (sorry Mom)
  • Change of plans – this happens but if you can manage the food you were going to use quickly then it can still be part of your future !(that’s my thing)

We have even been taught to pray before each meal with closed eyes and joined palms, thanking God for the meal He provided. But INDIANS waste as much food as the whole of United Kingdom consumes – a statistic that may not so much indicative of our love of surfeit, as it is of our population. Still, food wastage is an alarming issue in India. Our street and garbage bins, landfills have sufficient proof to prove it.

Weddings, canteens, hotels, social and family functions, households spew out so much food. According to the United Nations Development Programme, up to 40% of the food produced in India is wasted. About 21 million tons of wheat are wasted in India and 50% of all food across the world meets the same fate and never reaches the needy. In fact, according to the agriculture ministry, Rs. 50,000 crore worth of food produced is wasted every year in the country. Just imagine the farmer who plowed that field, his wife who spread the seed, his son who watered them timely, his daughter who was beyond herself to see it harvest. Can you face them as you throw that plateful of rice in the bin?

Few facts you might not know about food waste:

1. 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year (OMG!)
2. Just one-quarter of all wasted food could feed the 795 million undernourished people around the world who suffer from hunger (wow)
3. Food waste in rich countries (222 million tons) is approximately equivalent to all of the food produced in Sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons)
4. Food waste in Europe alone could feed 200 million hungry people (oh boy!)

Reducing wastage of food is challenging. It’s tough but not impossible, the only thing needed is that each one must bring the change. Solving world hunger requires people coming together from all career fields including agriculturists, nutritionists, economists, community builders, journalists and more. It has to be, it must be, a collective effort, a huge step taken in the same direction to end hunger and malnutrition.

The things that can be done to bring down food wastage:

  1. Shop smart and realistically: It sounds simple, but this is one of the most important things you can do. When you go food shopping, make sure you don’t buy too much food. “Plan out your meals, and make a detailed shopping list with the ingredients you’ll need, and when you’re in the store really stick to that list”
  2. When cooking, don’t over-serve food: The idea of massive portions is partly driven by restaurant culture, but it’s started to trickle into our homes. 
  3. Save – and actually eat – leftovers: In the same vein, make sure you save uneaten food when you either cook too much or you get too much food at a restaurant. 


  4. Store food in the right places: “Storing food in the right place is really underrated, It’s often surprising what kinds of fruits and vegetables want to be at room temperature versus in the refrigerator.”
  5. Avoid clutter in your fridge, pantry, and freezer: If we forget something’s there until it’s no longer good to consume, that’s a huge waste. Keep things neat and visible, and use the “first in, first out” principle: After you buy new groceries, move the older products to the front so you consume them first.
  6. Treat expiration and sell-by dates as the guideline: When it comes to expiration and sell-by dates, “Trust your senses instead of the date on the package. Trust your sense of smell and sight and taste,”.

  7. Keep track of what you throw away: Manage a waste log to keep an eye on what you’re throwing out, so you can prevent doing the same in the future.
  8. Donate to food banks and farms: Before you throw away excess food, look into food banks and charities where you can bring items you know you’re not going to consume before they go bad, and give them to people in need.
  9. Try canning and pickling: Canning is a great way to preserve food (especially fruit) and increase its shelf life for months.(I once preserved strawberries, they tasted yummy)
  10. Use helpful apps and gadgets: There are various tools and apps that aim to help people avoid food waste.
  11. Try composting, but don’t focus on it: Rather than discarding scraps, you can compost certain foods and turn it into nutrient-rich compost.

Remember, these small and little things, if kept in mind and brought into the daily habit can feed a hungry mouth, can warm a cold belly.

Easier said than done friends. Easier preached than practiced. Yet, efforts must be made and they will be made. I begin with myself, do you???

Bon Appetite!