Thursday, June 18, 2009

Child Labor! What would you do?

Picture courtesy GMB Akash.
Heres a set of very compelling pictures a friend sent me

I get worked up sometimes when I feel helpless about certain issues feel strongly about. Child labor is one of those. But really, we can make a difference, even if it is just one person we can reach. We decided to get some current situation updates and had this discussion with a bunch of friends in India. According to them, most industrial places now do not have child laborers because of the stringent laws and fines. This is good to hear.. but i am sure there are small scale places which still employ children and what about domestic help?

For example, another friends family recently replaced their domestic help by a 11-12 year old girl. Reasons for getting that young a girl
- Cheaper labor (she is taking home 1/5 th price of 17-18 yr old)
- young children are more honest, dont necessarily steal and dont keep switching jobs.

Of course that was enough to get me to figure out ways to convince them that it is not the right thing. But then the discussion came up with some more points
- They are also giving her a better place to live, better clothes, better manners, teaching her household work, a little bit of math etc
- She is anyway going to work some place or the other, plus as she gets older it gets more unsafe for her to just work anywhere.
- They got the older girl (previous domestic help) married into a good family, to a man with a stable job. if she was anywhere else, she might have been married off earlier to anyone because her family was always in need of money!

Though, I would have wanted them to also send her to school, but the argument remains that when will she work if she goes to school. I am sure there could be options of a few days a week school, but we were in general losing the argument. She sure is getting a safer home!

What would you do, if faced with a similar situation?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Go Greeeeeen!

We 6 billion humans are clogging up this beautiful planet.. not just with our population and buildings and cars.. but with the GARBAGE! And are using up all the resources in excess like there is no future!!

We, as Indians, have come from a less consumer oriented background. I remember mom always saving evverything from food and water to clothes and bags for reuse. We have always been taught to reuse and never use in excess, hence automatically hardly using things like plastic bags or bottles. After being in this country of excessive consumption and consumerism and accessibility( plastic water bottles everywhere!), I think we have forgotten our roots and all the knowledge that was imbibed in our growing brains just a few years back!

It is high time that we and everyone we can reach, make some changes to save not only our beautiful planet, but ourselves and our future generations!

So here are the things V and me have already done
  • Grocery Totes ( we end us getting 5-6 plastic bags each weekend. Thats 312 plastic bags each year per family of our size. Just within our friend circle , that is 5000 non bio-degradable plastic bags, which will end up clogging some beautiful place like the pacific ocean -The Great pacific Dump )
  • CFL bulbs: Use 75% less energy and lasts 10 times longer!
  • Environmentally friendly Seventh Generation Carpet Stain Remover -( house hold cleaners add toxic materials to the air, water, your house and your body. Some of them have already been connected to autism, brain disorders, allergies, cancer!)
  • Simply Green all purpose cleaner for kitchen and bathroom.
  • Bio-degradable poop bags for Chewie( he poops twice a day and he has been with us almost 15 months.. Thats 900 plastic bags saved!!! cost: only 8$ for 120 bags on amazon)
  • Toilet flush (Added a leak sentry and controlled water flow fill-valve assembly. Half of the world does not have water to drink, and we here waste water in things like a leaky flush or tap and have bubble baths! As the saying goes, A drop at a time will make an ocean. Save Water!! Cost just 6$ more than the usual fill valve)
  • Reusable water bottles!- This is the simplest step to eliminate plastic water bottles from daily use!
  • Recycle, Recycle: Paper, Cans, plastic!
  • This is the current list that comes to mind. Will add more later.
What all we have to do: Working list
  • Put in aerators in all taps( Aerators reduce the water consumption of the house, but you will still get good pressure from the taps/shower heads! Reduced water consumption and reduced water heating bill!!
  • Change our laundry detergent and dishwasher soap to environmentally friendly brands.
  • Bio-degradable Trash bags( once the huge costco set gets over)
  • Smart power Strip: it switches off when connected appliances are not in use.75% of the power used in home electronics is used when they are turned off.. the computer, TV, monitor etc!!
  • Recycled paper towels, paper napkins
  • Biodegradable food storage and cutlery: Whenever we have a party we end up using a lot of plastic disposable plates, cutlery, cups etc. The aim now, is to eliminate as much plastic as possible from the Kitchen!
  • Energy efficient appliances: This is a big step, so we have to plan this depending on how long we will be in this house:)
  • More to come!
Some more ideas at
and lots more.. Bing "go green" or "living green" !!

The blue marble: Picture courtesy NASA