Environmentalists judge other people

Those moments when I judged people for throwing garbage out on the streets may classify as ‘micro-motives’ according to social scientists Todd Rose and Ogi Ogas.

Micro-motives are a collection of desires or a lack of them, hidden deep inside us. You can understand them by observing how you judge others.

People who care about the environment often resort to these sort of judgements. I did too. Who doesn’t judge though?

Here’s a recent picture that attracted harsh criticism in the light of severe air pollution in northern India and the controversy around fireworks ban.

Crackdown on crackers in cities, over 300 arrests in Delhi alone
Source: Indian Express

These judgements and their underlying micro-motives say something about the dreams environmentalists have hidden inside them. They dream of a better world, not just for them, but also for their family, friends, children, and their communities.

“Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be left waiting for us in our graves-or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.” ― Ayn Rand

Would you rather not have them judge you? Perhaps you are the one who is judging the government for not doing enough to keep the cities clean or judging companies for using toxic chemicals in the products you use. What do these judgements tell you about your desires? If you really know what you want, perhaps you could create a positive impact on the kind of world you want to live in.

Make your way through the noise


Noise can grab your attention, but it can also confuse you. Noise is a disturbance. Noise numbs our other senses. Noise can also be empowering, noise can be a voice, to make something known, to create a movement. Noise is too much information. Whatever it is, find your way through it or stop it all together. It’s your choice.

Social media may have made it easy to raise awareness of environmental and social issues, but it can be overwhelming too. It can be distracting. Simplify. Declutter. Remove the noise if you need to and focus on something simple and glide towards complexity effortlessly, making it look seemingly simple when you reach there.

Don’t let the noise stop you from doing what you feel is right. Or make noise for it. It’s your choice. You are in control. You can do it. Take that cotton bag to the grocery. Try a ceramic coated frying pan instead of the Teflon coating. Try this, try that. Or don’t. But, try, try that one thing that makes it right, for you, for your family, for the future generation, or for the planet. Then try another. Tell the world about it.

Neti pot


Neti pot is a device that you can use to irrigate your nasal passage with luke warm saline water. Something I learnt from my mother-in-law. I haven’t been unfamiliar with this concept as I have tried it before in another form prescribed by my doctor which simply was a saline spray. I tried neti pot also because I like to take things with a grain of salt, ha! But mostly because I caught allergies several times after being exposed to a new atmosphere two years back.

I haven’t caught allergies so often last year so I am assuming things are better now, perhaps my body got feistier. Nevertheless, the past few days I’ve felt nasal congestion and itchiness. I tried neti pot again today and I wish I had some eucalyptus oil to smell after. This oil was the only thing that kept me from freaking out after the Swine Flu breakout in India many years back.

We are constantly surrounded by home-made and natural remedies thanks to media. Do you listen to them all? Does it wake the skeptic in you? I always tend to try things if they make the slightest of sense, or if they come from my mom only if it has come from her mom and not from her phone. I now mostly tend to try things if it means not exposing my body to chemicals or pharmaceuticals (potato-potahto).

To not turn a deaf ear to whatever I read or hear from whoever, I always do some research. A good friend once said, “You will always find what you are looking for when you Google it.” Basically, if I’m looking for benefits of using a neti pot, I’ll find those. If I’m looking for dangers of using a neti pot, I’ll find those too.

My brother thinks neti pots can be dangerous if not used well. He is right. It can lead to infections and you may become a zombie. OK, not a zombie, but it can lead to amoeba’s eating your brain. It does sound scary but I tried anyway. I try it with utmost precaution.

Which are those remedies that have been passed on from generations that you have tried and have worked for you? Perhaps a favorite one you recall?

Should we abolish the nail polish?

Nail paints have been in fashion for a long long time now. I don’t see them going out of fashion ever, but wait. Are there any chemicals lurking behind the beauty? This is Anuja, pretending to sound like a journalist, from anujasawant.com :D

As a kid I had a bad habit of biting my nails. My mom tried to stop me but never succeeded until I started realizing how ugly they look. Back then nail paints were for my toes only. My toes however never took it so well, they’d almost always go yellow after I applied nail paints. Yellowing was caused due to the leftover dyes in the polish. The trick was to use a clear-base coat but I wasn’t that fashion savvy but I know this now.

Applying nail paint was one of the ways to deter me from biting them but out of desperation I would scrap it off with my teeth. I recently advised a friend to do the same but I wondered if any chemicals went into my mouth when I did that. A study led by Duke University and Environmental Working Group suggests that we absorb at least one potentially hormone-disrupting chemical every time we get a polish. What was I thinking putting my nails into my mouth like that?

According to About.com, nail polish could be made of:

  • Nitrocellulose (CAS:9004-70-0) – a film former, the gloss giver.
  • Dissolved in solvents such as butyl acetate (CAS: 123-86-4) or ethyl acetate (CAS: 141-78-6). Toluene, xylene and formalin or formaldehyde used to be in nail polishes as solvents and are infamously toxic.
  • Tosylamide-formaldehyde (CAS: 25035-71-6) and triphenyl phosphate (CAS: 115-86-6) are resins that help the polish adhere to the nails surface.
  • Plasticizers such as Camphor (CAS: 464-49-3, it has some more CAS numbers. According to EPA, a chemical may also be listed with multiple CAS numbers when multiple numbers have been inadvertently assigned to the same chemical. This multiple assignment can occur when forms of a chemical are originally believed to be unique, but after further review by chemists, are identified as the same chemical.) prevent the polish from cracking.
  • A pigment that colors the polish.
  • Titanium dioxide (CAS: 13463-67-7) or ground mica for the sparkles.
  • Thickening agents such as stearalkonium hectorite.

Some of the tools I used to access toxicity of above mentioned chemicals are:

  • Chemical Data Access Tool (CDAT): I did not find this useful. Take the first one for instance and tell me what you see. It won’t even give me anything when I entered ‘nitrocellulose’, I had to look for its CAS number. So I’ve given you the CAS number to find out for yourself and in case you find a new tool and it needs a CAS number. Let me know if you find a new and better tool.
  • ChemHATBlueGreen Alliance has launched a new, free tool that is designed by workers for workers to make it easier to learn about chemicals: ChemHAT (Chemical Hazards and Alternatives Toolbox). With ChemHAT’s searchable database, one can easily read about the scientific findings on the short and long-term health effects of over 10,000 commonly used chemicals. It also lets you search by the CAS number. Couldn’t find nitrocellulose on that one. I have used this the most and have compiled the information of the chemicals below in the form of a slideshow. If you are unable to see let me know and I’ll change the format or solve the issue somehow.
  • Green Chemistry Toxics Information Databases: If you want to try more tools.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While doing this I wondered how would a common man would do all this. I really think it is the job of the authorities who are responsible for ascertaining the nature of the chemicals used, transparency, and safety of the people. There are people who are paid to do things like this, so why bother the common man with tools that are not even user friendly. There were some chemicals I didn’t even find the information for in those tools. Why? In spite of this, I don’t want nail polishes to be abolished because I like painting my nails occasionally. Here are some eco-friendly nail polishes one can use.

When you are done finding one, you can head over to my cousin’s nail art on Instagram for some cool nail design! She is really good at it.

screenshot-www.instagram.com 2016-05-23 14-54-27

And when you are done doing that let me know how going eco-friendly worked for you.

On anti-humanism in the environmentalist movement


What is anti-humanism? Anti-humanism is as we protect nature, we fail to protect ourselves. I fail to understand, aren’t humans a part of nature? Isn’t that the reason one of the pillars of sustainability is ‘people’? Are we teaching our children to destroy themselves or other humans as they learn to protect nature around them? When blaming each other for not having a consensus on climate change, what side do you think you are picking? Is this boiling down to the Marshmallow experiment? One side cares about the short-term goals whereas other care about the long-term goals.

Students reading books with environmental themes need to understand that showing respect for human worth and dignity goes hand-in-hand with showing respect for the environment, Smith said. The same technology said to impose negative effects on the earth also gives hope to people trying to survive. – Evolution News

Using clean technologies and educating people are two simple steps that can effectively lead to reduced emissions and the amount of wood used. Agree with this – but at what cost? Aren’t you taking away their culture, their way of life – just like that? Michael Pollan’s documentary ‘Cooked’ shows Australian Aboriginal Martu, who talk about the central role fire has always played in their culture. “We had bush sweets, not sugar,” one Martu woman says of their past diet. “Sugar has made us weak.”

We are mastering footprinting, but the risk is that applying water footprints could leave poor people poorer and more vulnerable. Are we making decisions for them now? Or for us? For who? I don’t know anymore. In Kenya, environmental activists threatened a boycott of the roses that Kenya exports to Europe for Valentine’s Day believing that flower production was using too much water from Lake Naivasha and damaging its ecosystem.

These systems reduce environmental evaluation to the bureaucratic application of abstract methodologies and, far from being neutral, they impose a particular humanist ideology on decision making processes which marginalises those who speak in a different voice. – From Michael Frederick Smith’s thesis

“She always knew nature was all around her, that nature was in her roots, she herself is a creation of nature.” Picture and quote via @DanteArcana on Twitter. However, anti-humanism prevails the environmentalist movement. Why?

Puppies have more legal protection in the U.S. than new mothers. Why? As we protect nature, why are we failing to protect ourselves? Are we the enemies of this planet? A plague? A destructive species? Cancers? Would you really call yourself that? I won’t. I am a part of nature just like every other bird, plant, bush, bacteria, parasite, maggot, tiger, fish, sand, rock. So what if we are different from them? Well, they too are different from us and we just want to live in harmony don’t we? That’s how I envision the environmentalist movement to be – without having to burden the responsibility of ‘Planet Earth’, because we are a part of Planet Earth. It would still be Planet Earth without us – without the dinosaurs it is still Planet Earth. We are only humans. A part of the connection and the disconnection throughout the journey of evolution. Can we strike a balance?

We should oppose Green anti-humanism wherever it is advocated precisely because we support good earth stewardship policies that promote liberty and allow us to reach the level of prosperity required to properly protect the environment. – Anti-Humanism Infects Environmental Movement by Wesley J. Smith in Legatus Magazine The reason I oppose the growing anti-humanism in environmental advocacy isn’t because I oppose good environmental policy, but because good practices require human thriving and prosperity. Calling us a cancer doesn’t cut it. – World Notices Environmentalist Anti-Humanism

You can read Michael Frederick Smith’s thesis here, submitted by him for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the University of Stirling. This thesis identifies a family of humanist presuppositions which, the author argues, pervade modern Western society and are partly responsible for our inability to escape from a spiral of environmental destruction.

“You wanna know how the planet’s doing? Ask those people at Pompeii, who are frozen into position from volcanic ash, how the planet’s doing. You wanna know if the planet’s all right, ask those people in Mexico City or Armenia or a hundred other places buried under thousands of tons of earthquake rubble, if they feel like a threat to the planet this week. Or how about those people in Kilauea, Hawaii, who built their homes right next to an active volcano, and then wonder why they have lava in the living room. – George Carlin on the arrogance of mankind


I’m cooking like I’ve never cooked before – adventures in the new land

I made the paratha but not the ketchup.

I always liked cooking – not the kind that is forced upon by society as a ‘women’s’ thing, or the kind that you want to do seven days a week. My generation – my friends and family – have enjoyed the luxury of eating out every once in a while. But many of us, especially the women in the family, are still proponents of healthy home cooked food.

Ki and Ka Official Theatrical Release Poster, January 2016.jpgKi & Ka (English: Hers and His) is an Indian romantic drama film that follows a young, married couple contradicting the gender roles placed upon women and men in Indian society. Did you watch it? Arjun Kapoor cooks in it!

My need to have more of the home cooked food developed when I was pursuing my Bachelor’s degree. The place I got admission at was dull and lacked the food options that my hometown Mumbai had to offer. Tired of this, I longed for going back home on weekends and have food cooked by my mother. As my mother got busier with her job, we started buying local tiffin services – still close to home cooked food as compared to restaurant food.

Now that I’m married and living a different lifestyle in a new country, I long for Indian food – home cooked still. I try new recipes and take a monthly trip to the Indian grocery store. I still get to relish packed Indian foodstuff from there, something I used to share with my elder brother back in Mumbai. Yes, I am definitely also talking about Maggi noodles. We get them here, considering a lot of Indian reside in the state of New Jersey, also in and around my area.

So, I’ve learnt to cook more at home and eat less outside. I wish I could stop it all together, considering the chemicals being found in outside food, but hell it is hard. There’s a restaurant here called Chillis that had a ‘El-Nino’ Margarita. Haha.


After I moved to the US, I initially bought a lot of packed food from the local stores. For example, orange juice. My husband showed me how it was loaded with sugar, so I stopped buying it. I bought fresh oranges instead. A simple nudge did it. I now have fresh orange juice, loaded with pulp fiber and no added sugar. Guess what, I even got a bonus! I dried the peels and crushed them to make my very own facial scrub. This way, I’ve managed also not to use the microbeads in synthetic scrubs that cause marine pollution and death. These are banned in some countries including the one I reside in currently, but need more awareness and legislations worldwide for a blanket ban.

I’m now watching ‘Cooked’ by Michael Pollan on Netflix. Explored through the lenses of the four natural elements – fire, water, air and earth – COOKED is an enlightening and compelling look at the evolution of what food means to us through the history of food preparation and its universal ability to connect us. Highlighting our primal human need to cook, the series urges a return to the kitchen to reclaim our lost traditions and to forge a deeper, more meaningful connection to the ingredients and cooking techniques that we use to nourish ourselves.

He says cooking makes us human. He mentions how we have lost touch with how the food gets to our plate. For all we know, there are people like me, providing environmental services, that calculate footprints for such a thing. I eat chicken, but I don’t dare bring it home to cook myself. Over time, I’ve been bending towards home-grown as well as home-cooked food. However, it is a big challenge – but we can at least start. I want to. By not cooking, we are losing on the knowledge that comes with it. I highly recommend you watch the series ‘Cooked’, it is truly enlightening.