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A Useful Waste

“trust that the five whites that ought to be avoided are rice, milk, sugar, table salt and maida.”

Harika Balam

Urban India generates around 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste each year, of which 31 million tonnes is dumped in landfill sites and only 11.9 million tonnes (20%) is treated. Waste production and management is a massive challenge faced by the country.

Zero waste management is one of the simplest solutions to tackling this crisis, and that is the vision of Green Hands, an initiative by Velu Jayaprakash’s of Swarna Prashana. Swarna Prashana was started with the intention to revive ancient wisdom and holistic living. By a way of encouragement for future generations to come, they embolden a chemical/plastic-free way of life.

Harika, a pharmacist, says she quit her job because she has to look after her children. She started off by doing her research on Swarna Prashana. She tried to adapt to their holistic parenting lifestyle which she religiously followed for about a year. Roughly when her son was about two years old, she went ahead and tried out a few home-made remedies such as adding a garlic pod to mustard oil to treat colds. She switched from allopathy to Siddha medicine. She swears by food as the best immunity medicine.

Courtesy: Harika Balan

Healthy eating revamps a healthy lifestyle. Harika makes her own liquid detergent using only kitchen waste. One kilolitres of polluted water can be converted to freshwater using 1 litre of citrus bio enzyme. She says any kitchen waste can be used excluding onion, garlic, tamarind and chillies. This concentration can be used as a floor cleaner, fruits/veggies wash, car wash, natural disinfect, plant fertilizer, garden pest repellent, pet wipe. This bio-enzyme is made by adding jaggery to water (in a 1:10 ratio). 

The concentration initially floats around on the top after which it slowly starts settling down. After 90 days, the fermentation is done and the liquid is ready for use. If the yeast is added to the concentration then the wash is ready in 30 days. The thick pulp can be used to clean chimneys, bathrooms, toilet surfaces and bathrooms. There is no expiry; shelf life is not limited to any time period. 

However, the reason why people are finding it hard to adapt to this is because of the non-soapiness in this home-made natural liquid wash. Upon the usage of chemical liquid washes, self immunity is lost.

“The question on my mind is – when we have the option of eating healthy and living healthily, why do we not choose that? This liquid wash has been tested by Prana Poorna, a community that promotes a chemical-free lifestyle. “

Harika Balam

Some of the feedback Harika received after selling the liquid detergent was regarding why essential oils were not added. Her answer to this was that the price would increase if extra ingredients were to be added. She used to tell her children’s friends’ parents that you just have to gather some lemons and you can make 2-3 litres of the liquid wash. Takes not more than 5 minutes, why waste, do it!

“avoid using this liquid wash on marble flooring as it might get rough.”

Harika balam

By now, Harika was on a spree, and she wanted to do something to reduce the waste falling into the bins during any birthday parties and other social gatherings. As a result, she purchased 50 pieces of crockery and started renting it out for a price according to the purpose of the event. She said during summer, her neighbor used to offer buttermilk to the nearby people and she used plastic glasses for the same. Harika offered to rent out her stainless steel crockery to her for free for the same purpose.  

It has been eight months since the co-founders started this venture. It is their fondest hope to see people switching to this method. Sustainability is in Harika’s blood; her father’s current occupation is farming for a living in Hindupur, which is 100 km from Bangalore.

  • Dr.Rajshree Raghunath

    Good one

    January 5, 2020
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