Why Minimise

There are so many stories we can tell ourselves to justify doing nothing about the impending climatic catastrophe, but perhaps the most insidious is that, whatever we do, will be too little too late.  That it will take the Government and the Big Corporate to make any difference.

Climate change has arrived well ahead of schedule. Scientists’ projections that seemed dire a decade ago turn out to have been unduly optimistic: the warming and the melting, and the positive feedback loop connecting them, is occurring much faster than the models predicted.  It is true that laws and money is necessary.  And yet, laws and money cannot do enough either.   It will also take profound changes in the way we live.  Because at the bottom of the climate-change crisis is another crisis - that of our lifestyles. The Big Problem is nothing more or less than the sum total of countless little everyday choices, most of them made by us consumers, and most of the rest made in the name of our needs, desires and preferences.

Striving to live in harmony with Nature is not a new endeavour. In the past, the reasons for doing so have been different – like the Gandhian values of inculcating self-sufficiency.  However, since the time of Adam Smith, we have moved inexorably towards “division of labour”.  Unfortunately, this move towards specializaton has also proved to be a move away from personal responsibility. We have abdicated responsibility for everything except the very narrow range of products/ services whose “producers” we are.  The rest of the time, we are just “consumers”. Virtually all of our needs and desires we delegate to specialists of one kind or another — our meals to agribusiness, health to the doctor, education to the teacher, entertainment to the media, care for the environment to the environmentalist, political action to the politician.

This division of labor has given us many of the blessings of civilization Yet this same division of labor obscures the lines of connection — and responsibility — linking our everyday acts to their real-world consequences, making it easy for us to overlook the coal-fired power plant that lights our computer screen, or the mountaintop that had to be destroyed to provide the coal to that plant, or the streams running crimson with heavy metals as a result.  Specialists ourselves, we can no longer imagine anyone but an expert, or anything but a new technology or law, solving our problems. As the closing credits roll out at the end of “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore asks of us only that we change our light bulbs, because he probably can’t imagine us doing anything much more challenging, like, say, growing some portion of our own food.

The reasons not to act are many and compelling.  But here are a few reasons that we might put on the other side of the scale:

If we do act, we will set an example for other people. If enough other people act, each one influencing yet another in a chain reaction of behavioral change, markets for all manner of green products and alternative technologies will prosper and expand. (Just look at the market for hybrid cars.) Consciousness will be raised, perhaps even changed: new moral imperatives and new taboos might take root in the culture. Driving a gas-guzzler or setting the at AC at 15C might come to be regarded as outrages to human conscience. Not having things might become cooler than having them. And those who did change the way they live would acquire the moral standing to demand changes in behavior from others — from other people, other corporations, even other countries.

How do you know you have it right!

Deciding to take responsibility for one’s consumption choices is only the first step in minimizing our carbon footprint.  While the implications of some choices are fairly well evaluated – like using less electrical power from the grid; for others, the information is, at best, incomplete, and at worst, misleading and confusing!

What to buy!

The past few years have seen an explosion of green marketing.  While this has made available to the consumer more choices, consumers may find themselves perplexed by how to gauge the environmental impact of the many products that claim to be eco-friendly. For one, as of now, it is very difficult to evaluate the claims of products that say they are biodegradable, carbon neutral or made from sustainable materials. Even if one were to take the green-claims of the various manufacturers at face value, there are still many processes whose Carbon footprint implications cannot be clearly evaluated. Is eating local or walking to work really going to reduce my carbon footprint? According to one analysis, if walking to work increases your appetite and you consume more meat or milk as a result, walking might actually emit more carbon than driving.

Perfect knowledge, that takes into account the sourcing of the raw materials, the manufacturing process, the transportation involved, and the final disposal, is many years away.  The best we can do for now, is to make informed choice with the limited information we have and to realize that instead of buying three pairs of organic cotton jeans, it is better to buy just one pair, and even better to make do with our existing pair of ordinary jeans

How much to buy!

Conspicuous consumption is a significant part of the Global Warming problem. Therefore, it doesn’t require too much intelligence to hypothesize thus: it is a misconception that by buying anything, whether Green or not, we are solving the problem.

Environmentalists say some products marketed as green may pump more carbon into the atmosphere than choosing something more modest, or simply nothing at all.  Coming back to an earlier point - instead of buying three pairs of organic cotton jeans, it is better to buy just one pair, and even better to make do with our existing pair of ordinary jeans

This section of NO2CO2 will try to present and evaluate “Minimizing” options.  We strive to stay up to date with current technological developments, be as fair as possible while evaluating different options and state up-front if any issues are unresolved.  Any errors of judgments or facts is completely unintentional and we will be very happy to be corrected.


General Description

Composting is the decomposition of plant remains and other once-living materials to make an earthy, dark, crumbly substance that enriches soil. Compost is a superior means of adding nutrients to the soil relative to conventional synthetic fertilizers. Thus, composting has the added benefit of avoiding carbon footprint generation from fertilizer manufacture. Composting is not a new idea. In the natural world, composting is what happens as leaves pile up on the forest floor and begin to decay. Eventually, nutrients from the rotting leaves are reclaimed by living roots. This completes nature’s recycling process. While composting in rural environments or places with abundant supply of garden waste (dried leaves and twigs) is relatively simple, urban composting has always been a challenge. In recent years, tremendous research work in this field has resulted in the establishment of clear guidelines for successful urban composting without the use of earthworms (a previously favored component in composting systems). There are no more mysteries about how to make it work in the smallest of households without creating an undesirable odors or pest activity; troubleshooting guidelines exist for virtually any scenario that could possibly occur.

Footprint Savings
The average annual quantity of compost that can be generated from a 5 person household can avoid generation of 114 kg of CO2e from conventional fertilizer manufacturing.

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Segregating and Recycling Common Household Wastes

General Description

Recycling has been practiced widely all over India since ancient periods. Recently, however, growing urban ignorance about the virtues of recycling and reluctance to incorporate any changes in an entrenched, comfortable pattern of just throwing waste away has led to a rapid decline in recycling activities in many urban centers in India.
A movement to revitalize recycling has resumed in a few urban centers. It is now possible to arrange for pick-ups of all recyclable materials from your home / building by qualified professionals who will ensure the materials attain a safe and useful fate.
To begin practicing recycling, follow these steps:
1. Establish clearly marked separate bins at your residence for disposing a) recyclable materials (paper, plastic, glass, rubber, cloth, metal, wood etc.) and b) organic food waste which can be composted or disposed off in other ways.
2. Enquire in your neighborhood to identify persons who will routinely collect this waste and convey it to a local recycler. These persons are often referred to, in an unfortunately derogatory manner as ‘ragpickers’
Footprint Savings

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Recycling Electronic Waste

General Description

Just as regular household waste consists of recyclable components with immense economic and carbon footprint reduction value, salvageable through segregation as recycling, the same holds true for waste electronic products such as Computers, TVs, VCRs, CD players, DVD players etc. All electronic systems consist of many metals which are expensive to mine through resource-intensive processes which exert tremendous stresses on the environment. Salvaging these and other valuable materials of electronic systems results in sizeable reductions in your global warming impact through:

Reuse of metallic components by avoided mining and processing of virgin material.

Prevention of hazardous release of these metals into soil and groundwater which can occur in landfills; reducing the toxic impacts of garbage disposal on the ecosystem.

Footprint Savings


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Recycling old clothes/ shoes/ toys

General Description

Giving away your old clothes, shoes, toys etc. not only reduces waste generation, it also makes available these articles to people that need them.

In addition, many local charities, orphanages, churches will take old clothes for re-distribution.  Ask around and you will likely find something not too far from you.

Footprint Savings


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Reduced Packaging

General Description

Besides kitchen waste, which can be composted, urban household waste comprises materials made up of a combination of paper, plastic, glass, rubber, cloth, metal, wood etc. All of these materials have great value and usefulness embedded in them – through innovative processes these ‘waste’ materials can be reborn. For instance, broken glass can be re-melted to form new glass products. Sending these as parts of un-segregated ‘mixed garbage’ to landfills completely eliminates the opportunity to tap this hidden ‘wealth’ and increases your carbon footprint as it requires new goods to be manufactured from virgin material. Separating these materials from mixed waste, before they have been fouled by rotting food matter, greatly increases their value and recycling potential.
As urban shopping habits have shifted and gravitated towards branded, packaged goods – there has been a steep rise in the quantity of packaged consumed per urban household. Everything from green chillies to wheat flour now involves one or more layer of plastic or paper based packaging when bought from big-box grocery stores. Over half of the 45,000 tonnes of plastic waste dumped globally in oceans each year comes from packaging such as chip packets and polythene bags. Minimizing your packaging footprint can be achieved through the following simple interventions:

A gradual return to eating fresh unpacked food, buying grains and spices in ‘loose’ form (using minimal paper packaging) and use a cloth bag for shopping are some effective ways of reducing your packaging related footprint.
Buying certain routinely consumed substances in bulk can also help reduce your packaging footprint. For instance the packaging involved in buying 10 separate 1 kg packets of Basmati Rice is disproportionately greater than buying one 10 kg bag of Basmati Rice. Similar logic prevails in the case of oil, grains, toilet paper etc.

Footprint Savings

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Resouce Savings

Segregating and Recycling Office Wastes

General Description

It is now easier than ever to do your bit towards caring for the environment and building a cleaner future. Good waste management practices saves money and protect our environment for future generations.


1.Establish a policy that office reports, memos, internal manuals etc be double-sided copied to reduce paper

2.Place reminder signs at photocopiers and printers re: double sided printing

3.Maintain a centralized filing system instead of making multiple copies for multiple files

4.Send e-mail memos to save paper

5.Store data on computer networks or on disk instead of paper files

6.Review documents on-screen before printing to avoid waste

7.Update your mailing lists to avoid duplication, waste and added costs

8.Remove your company’s name from junk mailing lists

9.Order supplies in bulk or in concentrated form

10.Don’t use bin liners in bins collecting dry waste

11.Purchase durable equipment

12.Replace paper towels with washable towels or hand dryers

13.Use rechargeable batteries

14.Implement a stock purchase and rotation system so stocks are used within their ‘shelf-life’


1.Set up a draft paper drawer in your printer to print draft documents on the back of slightly used paper

2.Convert scrap paper into memo pads

3.Save and reuse inter-office envelopes, file folders and boxes. Use reusable mailing pouches

4.Reuse shredded newspaper / paper for packaging

5.Repair old or unused office furniture and equipment or donate it to charity

6.Give old magazines to libraries, hospitals or nursing homes

7.Use reusable memo boards for messages

8.Refill laser printer, copier and fax toner cartridges

9.Reuse ring binders, paper clips, rubber bands

10.Distribute and use ceramic mugs for beverages consumed in the workplace eliminating the need for polystyrene or plastic cups

11.Reuse incoming boxes for outgoing deliveries


1.Recycling glass bottles and jars, cans, cardboard and paper will greatly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill

2.RECYCLE ALL PAPER including envelopes, invoices, faxes, junk mail, magazines, telephone books, catalogues etc. according to your recycling service provider’s specifications

3.Recycle packaging materials: cardboard, chipboard, bags, plastics

4.Recycle food and beverage containers

5.Recycle the products of Spring Cleaning

Buy Recycled Products:

1.Research and buy products made from recycled materials to ‘close the loop’

2.Consider selling products made with recycled-content material if you are a retail outlet

3.Commit to buying paper, packaging material and office supplies made from recycled products

4.Buy items which can be recycled easily: envelopes without windows, non-glossy paper

5.Purchase paper and marketing items containing recycled content.

6.Buy reusable and refillable items such as toner cartridges and tape dispensers

7.Buy file folders, accordion folders and dividers made from recycled paper products

 In production environments:

1.Co-ordinate a review of waste production. This will involve identifying the waste streams and the volumes of waste produced as well as identifying areas where waste is a problem

2.Look for opportunities to prevent and recycle waste by purchasing reusable, durable and repairable equipment and supplies

3.Identify materials for composting or recycling and select and work with your waste contractor or recycling company on costs, pick-up schedules and other programme specifics

4.Set up a segregated collection bin system for recyclables in common work areas

5.Identify storage areas and develop a system for moving materials to storage areas

6.Network with other businesses and with local authority staff involved in waste management

7.Promote waste reduction and recycling in the work place and encourage staff to do the same at home

Footprint Savings

Cost Savings

Resource Savings

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