Using watermelon rinds

Anyone who does composting knows that the remains of watermelons, consumed every other day in summer, could fill your compost pots in no time. Cows love the watermelon rinds. Feeding cattle-edible food to cows is a great way to reduce the burden on our composting infrastructure, and it also ensures that we minimise what we call “organic waste”, but for this you’ll need to find a cow.

As the name suggests, watermelon is mostly water – 92% in fact. Not many are aware that apart from the red fleshy part of the watermelon that we all love, the rest of the watermelon is edible too. It is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is recommended to those with high blood pressure, as also to those who want to maintain lower levels of sugar and cholesterol. Just google search and you’ll find all the benefits of watermelon.

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Pocket framed

A few weeks ago, for Shivaji Jayanti actually, one of our building helpers, Mangal, was looking for a child’s white shirt. Her 8-year old son had been selected for a dance that was going to be a part of the birth anniversary celebrations, and white shirt with white dhoti / pyjama was the costume specified.

Our neighbourhood Lokhandwala Foundation School’s uniform has a white shirt so getting one of the right size was not difficult. I just needed to ask around. The only problem was that the pocket of the shirt is customised, with the school name and logo. This wouldn’t look good in the dance, so we decided that the pocket had to come off. The seam ripper is a really useful tool to have, but it still took a while to take out the stitches without damaging the fabric. Now the shirt was just right for the dance, and Mangal was happy that she didn’t have to shell out a hundred bucks to buy a new one.

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Waste Management Diaries – 5 (Footwear)

In our childhood, the cobblers were kept really busy.  Each of us would have just a couple of slippers/ shoes. If our slipper straps tore or soles came off, we’d need to get them fixed to prolong their use. We’d even get our shoes with worn out soles resoled to delay spending on a new pair.

These days, we find that people have many pairs of footwear and fewer people repair their footwear. They’d rather buy new pairs. This is one reason why the Indian footwear industry is expected to grow at a CAGR by 10-20% by 2020.

Despite being the second largest producer of footwear (after China), there are still many people in India who cannot afford decent footwear. So there is always someone to take the footwear we discard, either to wear as is, or to repair and use. The rest that can no longer be used as footwear, more often than not, land up in rubbish dumps and landfills.

At our society, Whispering Palms Xxclusives, I estimate that we collect over 2000 pairs of footwear a year. Volunteers and housekeeping staff periodically sort the footwear into those wearable and not. All are free to take any they want. We’ve had many housemaids, security guards, housekeeping staff, delivery boys, vendors and even residents pick up footwear, sometimes sparingly used or almost new.

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Looking at Upscaled Art on Environment Day

On this World Environment Day, thought of sharing some pieces of art created out of things that would have probably been trashed. “Upscaled” is what this is called today. They’re exceptional enough to have made it to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum in Copenhagen.

Made of used automobile parts, this futuristic robot was created by Simon Blades of Italy, inspired by The Terminator. It was fun trying to identify parts of vehicles that went into the assembling the robot’s anatomy.

terminator robot

The wedding dress looked elegant and dignified and I’d have been happy to have worn it some 22 years ago! It’s made of recycled trash including plastic bags, egg cartons, cotton balls and toilet tissue. Susan Lane of USA also makes bouquets out of trash.

Tissue dress

Despite the face being partly hidden in this pic, one can tell it is Abraham Lincoln. What makes it different from other statues is that it’s made of worn-out dollar bills that the US government threw in the trash. The Indian government has something to replicate here given that they have crores of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes with them.

Lincoln dollar bills

All those torn clothes we’ve thrown out surely had buttons on them. Where did they all go? This Button Woman statue was created by Irene Freidhof and her daughter Theresa of USA. It took them 960 hours over six months to assemble and has exactly 7,989 common clothing buttons.

Button woman

Almost everything we tend to throw away can have a new life somewhere. By saving them from landfills we’ll be doing a small bit in saving our environment. A little creativity is all we need.

Information gathered from the museum
Pics taken in Copenhagen, May 1 2018

Pretty as a picture

CapsToKeep, the bottle cap-driven reuse initiative, began as a hobby more than two years ago. Cap fridge magnets has been the main focus, but the diverse possibilities of the things that can go into the caps continues to make it a fun pastime. Of course, take away the magnet and the cap could well become a keychain or a bracelet or a part of a dangler.

Recently, a young lady who found us on Facebook placed an order for a photo dangler, for a special family. The only demand was that “it should be best!”. She mailed us the photos that we resized before printing, to fit in the caps. Everything else used to complete the product could well have been picked from a trash can… material from a tailor shop, formica board from an aluminium-frame door fabricator (the board goes inside the fabric sleeve to provide stiffness), chord that was unnecessary in the waist of a pair of shorts, used refil of a gel pen (yes, that’s the rod) and two beads left over from a craft assignment. A few rows of stitching, sawing the board to size, a bit of gluing, and hey… here is the result. When she picked it up today, “It is best! So pretty! They will be so happy.”, she said.

(Caps shown are representational)
(Caps shown are representational)

All the best Team India!


As the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 begins on 14th February, wishing our 15 Men in Blue all the very best. May the champion be INDIA!

Men in Blue
Our 15 Men in Blue – Dhoni Kohli Ashwin – Rahane Rohit Dhawan Jadeja – Rayadu Raina Binny Mohit – Patel Yadav Shami Bhuvneshwar

It took a fortnight to collect these lovable illustrations by Siddhant Jumde. Just the right size to fit into a cap, the pictures on these fridge magnets are cut from the Hindustan Times newspapers’ Page One Plus (except for three that were not featured on the first page). A Recycle-Reuse initiative by CapsToKeep.

From Cutlery box to Key rack

The need: For PNLIT at Puttenahalli Lake – A wall-mounted lockable box to hang about 20 keys in a systematic way, making them easy to store and find.

The ready-made solution: Key racks / key hanging boards sold by PAN and other vendors. Rs 2250-odd.

An alternative solution: A wooden cutlery box (minus the spoons, forks and knives!), fitted with a simple hinged latch. And keys on properly labeled key chains. Continue reading

CapsToKeep – reusing crown caps

How did you think of such a thing? Why only crown caps? Did you really make them? Can’t believe it! I thought you got them from somewhere! It must have taken quite a while to make them! Are these used bottle caps or unused ones? Did you buy the small things that you’ve put into the caps? How does the cap look so shiny? Don’t tell me you’ve used discarded stuff! Amazing! I would never have thought a broken toy car had a use! Continue reading

My Tide bag

These days, several FMCG products, like washing powder and atta come in good quality plastic packaging. If properly segregated from other waste, these plastic wrappers fetch a good rate when sold to recyclers.

Sometimes (not always*) reusing is better than recycling. So another way ensuring that these plastic bags don’t go to landfills is by reusing them. How?

Check out my “Tide” shopping bag.