Sharayu Mishal

A nature enthusiast doing her best to make a difference.

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For the love of Mountains: Harishchandragad Clean-up trek

Harishchandragad Clean-up Trek: Let's make a difference at the mighty Kokankada!

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What?

Clean-up Trek

Where?

Harishchandragad-Kokankada
(From Mumbai)

When?

6th February 2022

Endurance:

Easy

Trek Difficulty:

Easy to Medium

Fee:

With Travel: 1200/-

Without: 200/-

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About the Trek

If you’re an avid trekker or even just a beginner, Harishchandragad will positively impact your interest in trekking. Serenity, peace, flora, and everything in its geological surrounding are blessed abundantly. It will perhaps convince you to keep visiting its aura over and over again!

Atop lies the temple of Harishchandreshwar, paying homage to Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha. It also has an inbuilt natural spring that provides potable water to the surrounding village. Next to the temple, you will also find several ancient caves; one such cave has a natural pool. A dip in this pool of organic cold water will rejuvenate you and quell the aches of a long tiring trek.

 

Why Trek For Nature?

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Waste found on the mountains due to irresponsible trekkers.

This collage summarizes everything. The trend of trekking and the waste it generates are both increasing. Inconsiderate trekkers leave behind mindless traces, interfering with the natural tranquillity.

Therefore, Ecopurple, with its ‘Trek for Nature’ initiative, started organizing Clean-Up Treks in the Sahyadris since 2020. We trek for nature to address this pressing issue and raise awareness. After the success of our clean-up treks at Mount Kalsubai, Fort Harihar, and Devkund Waterfall, this time, in collaboration with the zestful team of Travelhood, we have organized our fourth trek at the mighty Harishchandragad-Kokankada! 

We are looking for true nature and trek lovers. If you identify as one of them, then this is the right event for you. With Travelhood’s trusted assistance, Ecopurple ensures you a safe, joyful, and fulfilling experience. Our policy? Trek-Chill-Clean! Your service to nature will leave you feeling nothing but proud.

Read about our past experiences here:
Impromptu eco-trekking at Devkund.
Ecopurple’s first official Clean-up trek at Mount Kalsubai.
Our second trek at fort Harihar.
Our third Clean-up trek at Devkund Waterfall

 

Itinerary

Pick Up Points: (Saturday Night – 5th Feb 2022)

  • 8:00 pm – National Park, Borivali
  • 8:45 pm –  Andheri Highway
  • 9:00 pm – Hanuman Road, Vile Parle
  • 9:20 pm – Vakola Police Station, Santacruz
  • 10:00 pm – Kalanagar, Bandra
  • 10:45 pm – Sion Circle
  • 11:20 pm – Mulund Highway
  • 12:20 am – Thane Highway
  • 1:00 am – Kalyan Bypass
  • 5:00 am – reach base village
  • 5:30 am – breakfast
  • 6:00 am – start the trek
  • 9:00 am – reach Kokankada
  • 11:00 am – start descending
  • We will begin with the Clean Up once we begin descending. Gloves and Eco bags for the same will be provided to you.
  • 3:00 pm- reach base village and have lunch
  • 4:00 pm – start return journey towards Mumbai
  • 10:00 pm (approximately) – reach Mumbai.
  • Mask and Sanitizer
  • Trekking shoes
  • Water 2 liters (use reusable water bottle)
  • Sweaters/ jackets
  • Torch with extra batteries (must)
  • A haversack to keep hands free
  • One extra pair of clothes
  • Ready to eat snacks
  • Camera (Optional) – Get a Dry Bag to keep clothes and electronic gadgets dry
  • Electral powder or  Glucon D 
  • Personal medicines. 
  • Please do not carry handbags or jholas for this trek
  • Please keep personal tea mugs, spoon, and a small Swiss knife handy
  • Identity proof (must)

PLEASE NOTE THAT DRINKING AND SMOKING DURING THE TREK ARE PROHIBITED.

Transportation (To and From Harishchandragad)

Entry fee

Trek guidance

Food [Breakfast and Lunch]

Eco Bags and Gloves.

Everything that is not mentioned in the inclusions.

  • Each member of the group (participants/leaders/ clients & staff) wears a protective mask while on interaction with each other. Do carry few unused, reusable face masks.
  • It is strongly recommended to wear caps, full sleeves shirts, and full trousers and shoes for adventure activities. It reduces exposure to your body parts.
  • It should be ascertained from the participants that they are not residing / have not traveled in a containment zone and have not come in contact with any person who was tested positive in the last 14 days.
  • Ascertain whether any participant has any symptoms of Influenza-like illness (ILI) like fever, dry cough, weakness, severe body ache, etc. at the time of the beginning of the activity. If it is so then he/she should be asked not to participate actively and be evacuated on medical grounds and should be asked to report to the local health authorities with his own expenses.
  • Strictly avoid eating gutkha, pan masala, cigarette, or sniffing which induces spitting, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching external surfaces and touching your face when outdoors.
  • If the location of your adventure activity is too crowded then be prepared to leave or wait for the crowd to disperse/for your turn.
  • It is mandatory that a participant informs the organizers if he tests positive for COVID within 14 days of returning from adventure activity. It will help the organizers to inform and alert all other persons in the group so that they can follow the medical/government norms in this regard. Here it is absolutely essential that the participant observes transparency and informs the organizers/group leaders about his COVID test results.
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A Day at Devkund Waterfall – Ecopurple’s Third Successful Clean-up Trek

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Devkund waterfall - a must-visit place for a Clean-up Trek!

On 24th October 2021, Ecopurple organized its third successful Clean-up trek under the ‘Trek for Nature’ initiative. After making a difference at mount Kalsubai and fort Harihar, this time, we chose the crowd-favourite destination – Devkund Waterfall.

I am super grateful to have been able to make a difference with these 21 amazing earthlings! Together, 22 of us collected 14 huge bags of trash from the waterfall to the base village. We trekked, chilled, and cleaned! 

Despite being such an exquisite place, the trail was littered with tons and tons of trash! We found the same-old waste items – food wrappers, single-use bottles, masks, slippers, shoe soles, polyethene bags, and much more! To say it was disturbing would be an absolute understatement.

It is saddening that people consider nature a good place to dump their ‘kachra’ and not care for the consequences. The 14 bags we collected don’t even constitute 1% of the total trash that must be lying in and around the forest. So much of the waste was inaccessible to us. We certainly need thousands of participants to clean this beauty of a location.

Nevertheless, we feel proud about the fact that we did our part. We left the place cleaner than how we found it. Our intent to create awareness was pretty successful, thanks to all the volunteers!

As always, we ended our clean-up trek by donating all the trash to Sangam Pratishthan (a waste management NGO), making sure the waste is taken care of responsibly.

Ecopurple looks forward to organizing more clean-up treks in the near future. If you are reading this, we count on your valuable participation 🙂

Watch this reel to get a glimpse of how Ecopurple's clean-up trek looks like 🙂

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Medellín’s Green Corridors Project: a Blueprint for a Sustainable World

Here's how Medellín's Green Corridors Project is helping the city to control rising heat levels

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Source: Business Insider

Colombia’s second-largest city – Medellín, turned to nature-based solutions to tackle the rising urban heat levels. The city faced the urban heat island effect, as the concrete and asphalt infrastructures kept the city warm by absorbing and radiating the sun’s energy.

To deal with such elevating temperatures, the city officials decided to increase their town’s green cover. As a result, Medellín’s Green Corridors Project came into action. Through the initiative, the city turned 18 streets and 12 waterways into mini forests. They converted several isolated dumping areas into beautiful gardens. The community cherishes and voluntarily looks after the gardens.

The afforestation helped the city to reduce its temperature by 2 degrees! Moreover, the natural cooling effect of these 30 Green Corridors introduced bees and birds back to the city.

These are actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems, that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits.

– The International Union of Nature Conservation

Medellín’s Green Corridors project, promoting green infrastructures, is an excellent example that proves adaptation to and mitigating climate change is possible. All we need to do is to live in harmony with our natural world. A sustainable world would not be a pipe dream if only we decide to listen to nature. 

Also read: The Bio-architects of Mumbai – Put Your Hands Together

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Spirit of Youth – Appreciating the Inspiring Young Environmentalists

Young Environmentalists are Leveraging their Time and Social Media to make a Difference and I'm all for it!

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Thanks to the climate crisis, environmentalism has long left the school textbooks and finally found its way into most of our lives today. A part of this progress is also due to the relentless hard work of activists all around the world, causing this much-needed push in the green direction. Delighted to witness that the younger generation is also participating in, even spearheading, the awareness campaigns in large numbers.

The young environmentalists are making sure their online presence is not merely about their food and travel adventures. Significantly, they’re also dedicating their time and effort to talk about issues that matter.

Dana Fisher, a sociologist studying activism rightfully said,

“Young people have been talking about climate change for decades. But the latest generation of protestors is louder and more coordinated than its predecessors. Young people are getting so much attention that it draws more young people into the movement.”

A global survey involving 27,000 people found that about 59% of gen-Z desire to live more environmentally-friendly. Not just gen-Z, even Millennials (55%) desire the same. 

As you can see, not only does the youth cares for the planet they are also passionate about helping others and living a healthy life. Hence, it is safe to say that we are nurturing a promising and considerate set of future generations.

In 2018, too, it was a 15-years-old activist – Greta Thunberg, who garnered global attention to the climate crisis. Her powerful voice inspired millions around the globe, leading to the foundation of the ‘Fridays For Future’ (FFF) campaigns. FFF is a youth-led grassroots movement.

Today, every country has its own FFF groups set up to engage people in taking climate action. In India alone, almost every state, every city has its own FFF team. Almost all volunteers here are young environmentalists trying to mobilize the masses to take urgent climate action.

Even before Greta, young activists such as Autumn Peltier (Canada), Ridhima Pandey (India), Leah Namugerwa (Uganda), Xiye Bastida (Mexico), and more have paved the way for people like us. 

It’s hard not to get inspired when you come across such dedicated young individuals, isn’t it?

Times are changing. More and more people are willing to make sustainable changes to their lifestyles. If you, too, are looking for some inspiration to start your eco-conscious journey, look no more.

Allow these young changemakers, who are leveraging their time and social media to push for a sustainable change, to guide you. Be sure to click that follow button for your daily dose of sustainability education and eco inspiration.

Inspiring Young Environmentalists and Sustainability Enthusiasts You Must Know

Talk Dharti To Me (TDTM)

TDTM is a team of youth educating people on pressing environmental and sustainability issues through their blogs and engaging online presence. 

Their insightful content and webinars will convince you to start important conversations that our society needs to discuss today.  

“Talk Dharti To Me emerged out of a pursuit to inspire and support the community, and a desire for conversations about sustainability. We seek to inspire people and communities to act for a better self-sustainable future.”  

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Arushi Kaushik

Going by the username @green_fille, Arushi Kaushik is a student of environmental science and a passionate sustainability enthusiast. 

She creates fun, engaging, and informative content for educating her audience on environmental sustainability. 

Her posts will also keep you updated with the latest environmental issues, so that you realize why you must take action. 

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Saniya Malhotra

With @didyousaykabaad, Saniya, an architect by profession, teaches how to live an eco-friendly life without having to change much of your existing lifestyle.

She offers content full of tips and tricks while making you aware of sustainable alternatives to conventional products. 

She highlights sustainable businesses, posts easy DIY videos, and fun reels, all of which will help you live an eco-conscious life for sure!

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Tejas Talware's Nashik Ploggers

Tejas Talware’s @nashikploggers is a community that is on a mission to work for a cleaner Nashik.

While plogging is at the center of their initiative, that’s not all that they do. They also organize tree plantation drives and several other social awareness campaigns, which you, too, can be a part of.

Following up on their work and the initiatives they take up will certainly provide you a source of green inspiration. 

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Vyshnavi Gudivada

Vyshnavi’s @theindianminimalist is a one-stop profile to know all about veganism, minimalism, low-impact living, and much more!

She’s a sustainability influencer and an entrepreneur, doing her best to promote an ethical and responsible lifestyle. In addition, Vyshnavi’s expertise in skincare is a bonus that might help enhance your self-care regime as well!

Follow her to know every good thing she does for the planet. Let that be an inspiration for you.

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Urvari

Urvari is yet another youth-led organization working for a better tomorrow. 

Be it cleaning up beaches, planting trees, upcycling plastic waste, or donating food, these young changemakers have everything covered.

Know them, follow them, and join them in making a positive impact. You can also volunteer and work with the team to together make a difference. 

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These are only a few of the many young environmentalists and youth-led organizations out there who are doing their bid for our beautiful world. 

Only a responsible generation sows the seeds for a fruitful future. Considering the rise in youth participation in issues that matter, the future does look promising. 

Both Gen-Z and millennials today are increasingly showing concerns for the future of our planet. We do not need statistics to prove this, as we can witness this all around us. We are no longer afraid of demanding systemic change and holding those who are accountable. May this momentum keep going and growing with each passing day. It’s about time we stand up for our future. 

If you know some more young changemakers then do comment down below. Let’s acknowledge their efforts and empower them. 

Also, to know more about such eco-conscious people and stories, click here.

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How Can We Achieve A Sustainable Economy for A Better Tomorrow?

What is a Sustainable Economy? Why Do We Need it?

Take a look at this definition by the WWF,

“A sustainable economy is resilient and provides a good quality of life for everybody. It stays within the limits of the planet and helps keep global warming within the well below 2°C thresholds.”

Those in bold are the keywords we must take into consideration when discussing sustainability. But the questions to ask here are, are we chasing that quality of life? And, do our demands lie within the limits of our planet? 

Considering the current state of our planet, the answers to the above questions can be disappointing. Since industrialization, we have followed the suit of what’s called the “Brown economy.” To put it simply – Linear economy.

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For too long, we have been living in a world where our GDP is mostly driven by an economy heavy on our planet. In the race to identify ourselves as “developed, ” we have unsustainably exploited our resources. And so, it is not surprising that we are well on our way to the 6th mass extinction. Eco-anxiety surely kicks in here. And after much contemplation, it’s hard not to wonder, “what can be done differently?”

While making our lifestyle eco-friendly is indispensable today, our world needs more than individual actions. And thus, striving for a Sustainable Economy can be the solution here. For this, the “business-as-usual” or the Linear economy approach has to be revoked.

The sooner we replace the Brown economy with the ‘Green’ and ‘Blue’ ones, the sooner we will achieve a sustainable future. Let’s learn what these two sustainable economies are. 

A glossary to keep it simple:

1. The Green Economy

Coined in 1989, this model is the exact opposite of the brown economy. Here, economic, social, and environmental development is in harmony with one another.

“In a green economy, growth in employment and income is driven by public and private investment into such economic activities, infrastructure and assets that allow reduced carbon emissions and pollution, enhanced energy and resource efficiency, and prevention of the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.”

In this approach, there is sustainable consumption and production. There is circularity. In place of fossils, it is the renewables that drive energy. Society is inclusive, fair, and no one is left behind. Solutions are based on science. It is a state where our natural resources not only survive but also thrive and provide.

There are 5 principles put forth by a synergy of noble organizations to achieve this. They are as follows:

The Well-being Principle

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Prioritizing human well-being, health, and development will be significant in a sustainable economy. This will require us to think beyond the monetary gains. It’ll be about ensuring health, happiness, education, and progress are shared on a communal level. 

The Justice Principle

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A green economy must build a resilient society that celebrates inclusivity, equity, equality, social justice, and human rights. Here, the issues of citizens, especially those marginalized/ minoritized, are not only heard but also resolved in a fair and just manner. It strengthens the rights of workers, indigenous people, meanwhile strengthening the right to sustainable development. No one is left behind. 

The Planetary Boundaries Principle

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The functional, cultural, and ecological values of our natural world are recognized and nurtured. A green economy encourages development while safeguarding the biodiversity of the planet. Sustainability efforts are made by innovations and investments in the restoration of our natural systems. 

The Efficiency and Sufficiency Principle

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A sustainable green economy promotes SCP so that global demands are well within planetary boundaries. Goods and services are low on carbon and based on circularity. It provides for the basic upkeeping of human well-being and also addresses overconsumption trends.

It aligns prices, subsidies, and incentives with true costs to society, through mechanisms where the ‘polluter pays’ and/or where benefits accrue to those who deliver inclusive green outcomes.”

The Good Governance Principle

the-good-governance-principle-green-economy-sustainable-economySustainable Development seeks a resilient, transparent, integrated, and accountable governing institution. Good governance calls for leadership that acknowledges public participation and consent. Decision-making serves societal interests and shared communal well-being. It builds an inclusive and diverse economy that is science-based and ecologically sound.

These interconnected principles provide a holistic vision for going about the green economy that ensures the prosperity of both lives on land and in the water.

2. The Blue Economy - an Extension of the Green Economy

Set in motion by but not limited to the SIDS, it is the economy powered by our oceans. The sustainable and ethical management of our oceanic resources underpins the Blue economy. It goes way beyond the perception of assuming the oceans as a free resource where there’s no reimbursement on exploitation. It is about acknowledging and not undervaluing the economic contribution of the oceans to humankind.

Source: The Blue Economy Concept Paper
The Blue economy includes the mindful procurement of seafood, safe marine transportation, coastal and off-shore tourism, biotechnology, sustainable extraction of oils and minerals, bio-prospecting, sustainable energy production, and overall ocean conservation. In this approach, socio-economic development does not come at the cost of our invaluable oceans. 

General Significance:

  • It is estimated that about 3 billion people are dependent on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at $3 trillion per year or about 5% of global GDP.
  • The islands and coastal communities rely largely on maritime activities for their economy. Ocean provides them with financial as well as direct and indirect food security. This is crucial to learn because about 87% of global fish stocks are now fully or overexploited! Overfishing is particularly bad in parts of the developing world, where many people already struggle to get enough nutritious food to eat.
  • In the least developed countries, almost 50% of the population depends on fisheries as their primary source of protein. Not to mention employment. This makes investing in sustainable aquaculture and marine science to predict ocean productivity critical. 
  • Tourism is another sector which unless there’s a pandemic, will only continue to grow. In less developed and small island countries, coastal and ocean-related tourism continues to be a vital part of the national economy.
  • On average, the tourism sector accounts for almost 30% of the GDP of the SIDS, according to WTTC data. This share is over 50% for the Maldives, Seychelles, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Grenada. 
  • Offering sustainable tourism/ ecotourism can promote environment conservation on land as well as in water. This helps generate employment opportunities for the locals and also in preserving their cultural heritage. 

Environmental and Ecological Significance:

  • The Blue Economy complies with the 14th SDG: Life Below Water, and rightly so. If we are to stand a chance against climate change, the oceans are our biggest ally. 
  • Oceans absorb more than 20% of annual CO2 emissions and 90% of excess heat. They are responsible for the global climate and weather patterns. For the air we breathe and much of the food the world feasts.
  • Unfortunately, anthropogenic emissions, climate change, and waste debris are messing with marine biodiversity. Causing ocean acidification, stratification, reduced nutrient mixing, marine heatwaves, etc., to accelerate altogether. 
  • ‘Blue carbon’ sinks like mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and other vegetated ocean habitats sequester carbon up to 5 times as effective as tropical forests.
  • More than 25% of all marine life find their homes in the coral reefs. These corals not only look after the marine species but also the species on land. The corals and the blue carbon ecosystems act as natural barriers against coastal erosion, strong ocean currents, storms, hurricanes, and other cyclones. 
  • Another “green” significance of an ocean is its ability to provide multiple sources of renewable energy. We can harness wind, wave, tidal, ocean current, salinity, etc., into reliable sources of energy production. Of course, mindful deployment of systems is a must here to ensure less to zero environmental distress. 
  • If done right, oceans can generate about 20,000 terawatts to 80,000 terawatts of electricity; this is 100 to 400% of the current energy demand globally. 

How we manage our ocean and its resources determines our future. Reshaping the ocean economy whilst taking care of marine health is going to be significant.

What we need is stringent ocean governance within and beyond areas of national jurisdiction. Regulations on waste, emissions, resource use, IUU fishery, and other maritime activities must be in place. 

Oceans have great potential in helping us meet the SDGs. However, it is only possible if we manage to restore them to a healthy state. This could be why the UN has declared 2021-2030 as a “Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.” 

Finally, coming back to the main question,

How can we achieve a Sustainable Economy?

The solution to this question may look flawless on paper but its execution is going to be difficult. While we construct resilient sustainable economies, it is necessary to ensure that the transition happens in a just manner. This means addressing the pre-existing injustices as well as the injustices that might occur with the transition.

A just transition takes care of the workers who will be laid off once conventional systems change. Local communities will see the consequences of transition firsthand. Therefore, growth should be community-oriented where their concerns are heard and acknowledged.

Intersectional knowledge, education, participation of the public – mainly the youth has great potential in influencing policy-making.

Moreover, bringing about sustainability in both socio-economic and ecological fronts will require feminism. Closing the gender gap by including women every step of the way will potentially speed up development.

A sustainable economy recognizes poverty, social injustices, environmental crises, overconsumption, etc., and works to rise above these issues. A strong collaboration of institutions that guarantees planet and people over profit will play a definitive role.

Having said that, individual participation in influencing decision-making to push for a greater change remains pivotal. Everyone has a role to play. 

Achieving a sustainable economy will be difficult. However, it is not impossible. 

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ElRhino Eco-Industries Makes Paper from Elephant and Rhino Dung

Exotic Poo Makes Exquisite Paper! Elrhino's Elephant and Rhino Dung Papers are Saving our Precious Trees

Yes, this is as intriguing as it sounds! The skillful workers at Elrhino eco-industries are converting elephant and rhino dung into aesthetic papers. Raising awareness for animal conservation has never been this fascinating!

Situated in Assam, this social enterprise is looked after by the father-daughter duo – Mahesh Chandra Bora and Nisha Bora. Since 2012, Elrhino is remarkably raising awareness for the conservation of elephants and the great one-horned rhinoceroses. Providing a source of income to the indigenous people, Elrhino is also making a progressive effort to end the man-animal conflict.

“The vision really was to say that we want to save forests, we want to give back to the community we come from, and we want to work basically towards creating a more sustainable future.”

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Image source: Mongabay

Making the Elephant and Rhino Dung Papers..

Other than the purpose of conservation, the poop of these two animals is also valuable from a paper point of view. Elephants and Rhinos, to a large extent, rely on long grasses and branches for their diet. Besides, they also have weak digestive systems. Both of these factors make their poop fibrous, making it an ideal raw material for producing papers.

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Image source: The Optimist Citizen

With the dung as the main protagonist, various supporting characters such as waste jute, banana bark, cotton rags, etc., also go into the process. The poop is first boiled, mixed with the rest of the ingredients, and made into a pulp with the help of water. This pulp is spread onto a wire mesh screen, physically dried, and just like that, the papers are ready!

The cherry on the cake? According to their estimations, every 1200 kilograms of paper ends up saving about 27 trees! Making paper but saving trees, what more can one ask for? One more aspect to acknowledge here is the use of zero chemicals in the process. Due to this and a basic filtration process, the team reuses the same water again. Plus, the low electrical usage helps the entire process to cause less harm to the environment. As a result, not only the papers but also the process here is eco-friendly.

Final Thoughts

  • Elrhino’s premium quality elephant and rhino dung papers deserve every possible shout-out. The concept of making papers with animal poop and raising awareness for their conservation is praiseworthy, isn’t it?
  • It is unfortunate to realize that animals are under the threat of going extinct. Hence, every effort to draw attention to the matter needs amplification. 
  • It is because of our needs these poor creatures are suffering today. And though we are the reason for their extinction, may we also be the reason for their prosperous survival. Here’s to being hopeful! 

Ecopurple would like to know your thoughts on this; thus, feel free to comment 🙂

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Ecopurple’s 2nd “Trek for Nature” at Fort Harihar

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For the love of Mountains..

After the success of Ecopurple’s first clean-up trek at Mt. Kalsubai, this time, we found ourselves on the mighty fort of Harihar in Nasik.

It was Ecopurple’s second clean-up trek under the initiative: ‘Trek for Nature’. Teaming up with the Trekker Warrior Organization, and having Sahyadri Rangers as our trekking partners, 9 of us hit the road on 20th March 2021 (a night prior).

On reaching the base village the next day (3:00 am), we devoured the ultimate breakfast of trekkers – Poha! More often than not, it is always one of the village households that provide such meals for the trekkers. And in doing so, they also hand out disposable cutleries. So, as we finished our meal, we made sure to collect those paper plates and plastic spoons in our trash bag. Therefore, kickstarting our clean-up drive.

Under a starry sky, as we made our way up through the foliage, we found very few hints of trash, wondering whether we chose the wrong location. But it wasn’t until the light poured in and we realized the scenario is the complete opposite!

Getting Started with the Clean-up Trek

By the time we reached the top, the morning hues begin to light up the place. It was all nice and bright and so was the very noticeable trash!

With our green bags and purple gloves, we fanned out and began with our drive. We found almost all kinds of trash; there were flip-flops, plastic bottles, wrappers, wet wipes, tobacco sachets, plastic straws, single-use bags, some metal, etc. Indisputably, we did not doubt the choice of location anymore. The sad part was, we were just 9, compared to our previous clean-up trek where we had over 20 participants. Also, most of the waste was in places inaccessible to us; this was saddening, and we could not do anything about it. Yet, we did manage to create some much-needed awareness.

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As we were busy cleaning up the irresponsible mess, the people around were cheering, applauding, and even thanking us. Some even asked us for bags to collect trash themselves; that was the best form of appreciation. Instead of all the cheering, when people get involved, that is one of the best acknowledgments of your work. You know you made an impact when people around you get influenced to do their rightful duty. You’ve made a difference, and this makes your efforts worthwhile.

But What Happened to the Trash? What did we do with it?

While we trekked back to the base village, our green bags drew a lot of attention. It was clear that our intent to spread awareness against irresponsible trekking was pretty successful. But this wasn’t all. Our clean-up trek isn’t just about picking up trash, it is also about diverting that waste to a responsible destination. And we ensure this by sending the trash for recycling, thanks to the folks at Sangam Pratishthan. We brought all our trash bags back to the city and donated them to Sangam Pratishthan, a waste management NGO. This simple gesture helps us to end our clean-up trek on a responsible note, for we did not let our efforts go in vain – in a landfill!

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Our volunteer, Raj, uploading the trash for sending it to recycling.

In Conclusion..

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  • It is visible that the amount of waste collected was not enough; this is where the lack of volunteers affected us. We could’ve collected a lot more had there been more volunteers. This factor did affect the impact we could’ve made, the waste we could’ve collected. Yet, the low participation did not in anyway demotivate us. That’s because the energy is a whole lot different when you work together as a team. The enthusiasm does nothing but fuel the motivation.
  • It’s a grateful feeling for all the support Ecopurple receives for such a noble cause. While we appreciate the acknowledgment, this is not something we desire. We aim for your participation. We count on responsible people such as you taking a stand, taking action.
  • Almost always, we overlook our mountains when it comes to arranging a cleaning drive. Since most authorities do not reach there, the villagers tend to burn the waste they both create and stumble upon. There are very few communities taking up the initiative, and we need to change that.
  • Let’s do our best to make that change happen and drive waste away from our beautiful nature. Let’s trek for nature, one mountain at a time!
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The Bio Architects: Put Your Hands Together (PYHT)

Meet the Bio Architects of Mumbai

‘Put Your Hands Together’ (PYHT), a team of bio architects is a firm that aces when it comes to constructing eco-friendly infrastructures. What sets them apart from the conventional architects, the very essence of bio-architecture, is the choice of working with natural materials, thus practicing eco-friendly architecture.

When asked about the philosophy behind their work, this is what Shahveer, one of the co-founders, had to say,

“To design spaces that bring a sense of peace and calm, the materials we use contribute a great factor to this too. So we design with the ecosystem and build with natural materials.”  

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Image source: Scale

'Put Your Hands Together's' Eco-conscious Approach

To talk about their environment-friendly process, it all begins from sourcing what is available locally. For this, PYHT mostly relies upon the site and its vicinity.

“First choice is the site itself, and then we keep spanning outward to get material from as close to the site as possible.” 

Also, as opposed to cement, PYHT prefers to work with the natural binding material – the earth. This rustic COB house built at Kamshet, with materials sourced on-site, makes a good case in point.

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Not just COB, but PYHT also crafts and works with other natural materials such as adobe, rammed earth, CSEB (compressed stabilized earth blocks), bamboo, etc., every material, inspired and sourced locally. As a result, each design complements the ecosystem it is within.

Also read: Upcycling at its Best – Studio Alternatives

Challenges are a part of everything one does in his/her life. And these bio-architects are no different. They, too, have to deal with them in executing this eco-conscious concept.

“There are a plenty of challenges, books can be written on the same, as designers our job is problem solving, sustainable or not. Some of the ones we face regularly are, resistance/skepticism from people of the idea and feasibility of what we do.”

Intentionally or not, it is safe to say that Put Your Hands Together is reviving the ancient art of architecture in this modern world. A technique that was kinder to our ecosystems. Be it building an earthquake-resistant home in Nepal or a homestay at Manali, PYHT’s confidence in natural materials is meritorious. 

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Kalsubai Clean-Up Trek, a “Trek for Nature”

The One where We Trekked for Nature..

Till now, Ecopurple has been blogging about several communities that are doing their bit for the environment. But today, this blog post is to highlight Ecopurple’s very own initiative: Trek for Nature. 

On 25th December 2020, Ecopurple organized a Clean-Up Trek under the initiative – “Trek for Nature”. Teaming up with one of Mumbai’s trusted trekking communities: Trekmates India, 24 of us set off to the highest peak in Maharashtra, mount Kalsubai. 

Clean-Up Trek, a Quick Overview..

Kalsubai, although being a beautiful mountain was loaded with trash! We found numerous single-use bottles, bags, wrappers, slippers, shoe soles, metal scraps, etc The most amount of trash was unfortunately in places inaccessible to us. It was disturbing to see such irresponsibility. However, we did all we could and collected as much waste as possible. Together, we managed to collect 7 big bags of trash. People were noticing us. A few even picked up wrappers and discarded them into our eco-bags. This showed us that our job was done. Our Clean-up trek managed to spread awareness!

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Waste Segregation after the Clean-up

The Initiative didn't End there though..

A cleanliness drive makes more sense when you not only clear the trash but also discard it to its rightful place. Happy to say, our Clean-Up trek stayed true to this ideology.  

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Handing the Trash to Sangam Pratishthan NGO

After the waste segregation, we carried the trash bags back with us to Mumbai to donate the waste to Sangam Pratishthan.

Sangam Pratishthan is an NGO that educates and works on environmental issues and waste management. It was generous of them to provide a pick-up service for waste collection and in ensuring that the trash will find itself where it belongs.

Although we collected only 6 bags of trash, Ecopurple acknowledges the efforts put by the participants. What’s more satisfying is that Sangam Pratishthan made those efforts even more meaningful.

In Conclusion..

Trekkers can be significantly irresponsible and disrespectful to our beautiful natural world. Mount Kalsubai is one of the biggest evidences to prove this claim. Nevertheless, Ecopurple‘s initiative to Trek for Nature intends to shed light on this issue. One mountain at a time.

That said, Ecopurple isn’t the first to do this in India; there are other communities who have taken such an initiative that, too, on a larger scale. A part of the inspiration to organize this Clean-Up trek stems from those handful communities (Healing Himalayas, Trekker Warrior, Indiahikes, etc).  

You see, when it comes to organizing a cleanliness drive, beaches and cities get most of the attention. While that isn’t wrong, mountains, however, rarely make the cut. Thus, such clean-up treks although small, are important to create awareness and induce the ripple effect of acting responsible.

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Devkund Waterfall: An Eco Trekking Experience

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Leave No Trace! - My Eco Trekking Story

My recent trek to Devkund was yet another fulfilling trek I did since Rupin Pass. It’s a popular picnic spot known for its magnificent waterfall. And thus, hosts a large number of tourists and trekkers all around the year, especially during monsoons. I had always been keen to visit at least once, and so I finally did with the Trek and Trails team. One thing I kept in mind beforehand was to practice what I had learned from my previous green trailing experience: Eco Trekking. 

Before we began with the trek, I had asked the trek leader to practice a cleanliness drive. Being an environmentalist, I wanted to make sure we were responsible and kind to the ecosystem we were about to enter and as we were heading up to the waterfall, we could see the upsetting human menace – trash! The need for eco trekking became unsurprisingly obvious.  

After spending a good time goofing around the waterfall, on our way back, we began with our eco trek. We started picking up the trash we had come across earlier. I am thankful for the support my trek-mates showed and joined in to do their duty. We found a lot of waste; however, we picked up only those we were accessible to. Heads turned and whispers heard. A few people even asked and I quote, “Aap koi social worker ho kya? Kisi Ngo se ho kya?(Are you guys social workers? Do you all belong to some NGO?)”; it gave a sense of pride to answer, “No.”

What started with just a single bag, ended up with 4 bags and one big sack full of trash. We collected food wrappers (mango-bite seems to be the favorite candy there!); single-use bottles and caps; some torn slippers and shoe soles; and lots of other plastic waste. Thanks to my amazing trek mates, we left the trail cleaner than what it was before.

It was a wonderful team effort that gave a liberatingly “fulfilling” experience.