Eco-conservation should ideally begin at home: but how do you go about making your home eco-friendly? Hema Vijay reports
In an era of accelerating urbanisation, perhaps the way to ward off the looming eco-crisis is to turn cities into green hubs that rejuvenate the environment, rather than destroy it.
“We can't keep looking towards the government or the industries. Each home can help save the planet”, says M.B. Nirmal, founder, Exnora International. He and the enterprising Youth Exnora team have fashioned an eco-flat that demonstrates green living, with simple mechanisms to recycle water, reduce energy consumption and conserve natural resources. Incidentally, this is not a show-piece home. M.B. Nirmal actually lives here and the Youth Exnora team works from here.
Using vertical space
When we speak of space in a house, we generally think in terms of floor space. But this eco-flat makes optimal use of vertical space. Bamboo reeds (which have natural partitions at regular intervals) make for classy vertical planters. Carve out holes in the bamboo reeds and use just a couple of handfuls of soil mixture and coir pith (which weighs less) to raise the plants.
This way, a single bamboo reed can be used to grow over five plants. Likewise, create a vertical garden space by placing pots atop each other. Then of course, you can unleash your creativity by fashioning planters from discarded stuff bound for the garbage heap, such as thermocol packing material or worn out shoes!
That is how this eco-flat manages to create space for an incredible 400 plants to cool the house, absorb sound pollution, release oxygen, act as carbon sinks, and grow food. But of course, you shouldn't sleep next to a plant at night, as plants give out carbon dioxide at night.
Generating usable water
Can you generate at home that most precious natural resource, water? Try this: A water filtering unit (consisting of layers of gravel, pebbles, coarse and smooth sand and other materials) has been created inside a can kept beneath the wash basin. The wash basin water outlet is directed into this can. The water percolating out of the filter is clear water, and is used to water the plants. In fact, plants grow greener and faster in this water.
Moving over to the loo, you find a half-a-litre bottle filled with water lying inside the flush tank. So every time you flush, half-a-litre of water is saved. This solution is ideal for homes that have old cisterns which don't have the ‘mild' and ‘heavy' flushing options.
Create less waste
The trick to eco-living is in not creating more waste than you need to. So, don't cook more food than required. Use the beautiful terracotta “daily dump” or some such device to compost kitchen garbage and generate manure. Use organic stuff, be it food or detergents. Avoid paper and plastic.
And ‘pre-cycle' yourself. Before buying anything, ask yourself: (1) Do I need it? (2) Can I go without it? and finally, (3) Can I postpone buying it?” says this young team that includes Nisha Thota, Abdul Ghoni, Sabin King, Benjamin Lally, Rajesh Santosham, Manoj, Akthar Syed and Syed Shami. You can reach them at 9941006786/ 9444222786 for help to set up a green home.