Tuesday, July 6, 2021

When a short holiday became a working holiday…Feeling is “relaxified” (relaxed and satisfied)

 

Month of April – Experienced the Covid-19, feeling was “facing as it is”

Month of May – recovered and waiting to go to Sri Lanka, but no luck as Sri Lanka closed entry gates for us even as Sri Lankans living in India. Feeling was Disappointed, sad but what to do? as there is nothing we could do!

Month of June – Others celebrating World Environmental day (While I was celebrating throughout the year). Feeling was “oh…well…time to share the work”

All past months were so crazy and not like any other year, the Environmental day celebrations were overwhelming!! Invitations for conducting sessions via zoom, Teams or Google. Most were accepted but few were refused as they were overlapping with other sessions.

So, it was a high time for a holiday. Still could not go for long holidays due to pending work.

Anyway, we decided to go just out of Delhi and spend two nights. Without thinking much, we decided to go and stay at Karma Lakelands; (https://www.karmalakelands.com/) a place that we always wanted to experience. The place belongs to one of our good friends who is very much eco conscious.  

When we arrived there, we were so happy about not choosing a hotel room to go and stay as we really enjoyed the setup of our villa. I started enjoying the Nature, riding bikes with my son Nipuna and watching birds and ants, walking, enjoying wildflowers and night sky which we can’t do in the city) and of course reading a book while Thushara was busy with meetings online until late night.

Next day morning my friend Diki texted me and asked whether I can run a Nature walk to their staff. This was an agreement between us at the time I told her we were coming to stay in their resort. So I was not surprised by the invitation.

Since it is like an oven during day time with 42 degrees Celsius these days, we agreed to run it at 5.30pm.  Diki came to pick me up from our villa. Bunch of youth with nice smiles were already there. You know all were wearing masks as it’s mandatory nowadays. So how could one know that they had nice smiles? Of course, I could not see the smile but I saw their smiling eyes!!

Then some parents and kids who are residents within the property arrived, I thought that’s all! Surprisingly so many of their staff members kept on arriving. It was a big group but I was so happy as it’s one of the most divers groups I have ever met to run a Nature walk to connect with Nature. Unfortunately, two sensory organs were blocked by the mask but all took a chance to lower the mask and smell and taste when it was the time to connect via nose and tongue.  













Karma Lakelands is full of biodiversity and we only could walk about 50-60m and already one hour and thirty minutes was passed. Since it was getting dark by that time, we decided to finish the walk.

It was very interesting crowd who got actively involved with the walk, connecting with Nature using five sensory organs by following my instructions. Next day morning too I had a meeting with Ashwani Khurana founder of karma Lakelands and some invitees to share some ideas for eco resort that they were developing these days. I was happy to give some suggestions there too. It was just before we left Karma Lakelands.

So, this is how my relaxing holiday became a working holiday but the feeling was very satisfied – so the final outcome was “Relaxified”  

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Covid-19 is another living being on this world! - Our own story of experiencing it's presence among ourselves!

 

Many of our friends, members and supporters got to know that we too got infected by Covid-19. An article written by me in Sinhala medium went bit viral in Sri Lank via social media and electronic newspapers, and many people got to know about our story through that. The best part of it is, many of our friends got concerned about us soon after they read the article as they were not aware of what we went through and asking us to be careful. By that time all over and we were back to normal. Many unknown people contacted me and said it was very useful to read it and be ready for any situation. 

Therefore, I am sharing my experience with you all as it might be helpful for some of English speaking people. Here it is....Thank you for reading!!! 


It was Sunday, 18th of April 2021. Early that morning our second son, Nipuna, came to see us, and announced that he was feeling feverish! I was alarmed, as it was the weekend that the New Delhi government announced the second lock-down due to Covid. Then again, I thought, well, it can’t be Covid; Nipuna does not go out much- I’m the one who usually goes out and brings home the groceries. Anyway, I advised him to take paracetamol and to try to sleep again. In accordance with the advice we had received from the authorities, we decided to act as though he definitely had Covid. We gave him paracetamol for the fever, many liquids, such as ginger/lemon tea and warm water, and healthy food. Getting a PCR virus test was very challenging as the prebooking system was always full. Somehow, we managed to all get our PCR tests done on the 5th day, the 23rd of April. Results: Nipuna was positive for Covid, the rest of us were negative. But my throat felt slightly sore, and I knew that I was going to come down with Covid as well. So, I too, followed the same instructions given by the World Health Organization and the doctors. This was the time that Delhi had the highest number of Covid positive cases (around 28,000 per day, with a death rate of about 400 per day). We knew that even though we needed to go to hospital, getting in to one would be a huge challenge. Hence, we decided to look after ourselves somehow. One helpful factor was that we had had our first jab three weeks before. So, we were feeling positive, and kept following all the instructions faithfully. After 5 days from my first symptom, Thushara became feverish. The next day Henry, our Indian helper, had a fever, too. Then I knew I should get myself ready to run the house, even though I still had a fever, as there was no-one else to cook and feed the family. At least by then Nipuna was clearly recovering, and even able to attend online classes at school.

How I managed three active Covid patients (Thushara, Henry and myself) seems unbelievable when I think about it now. I would get up in the morning, wash myself, and get ready with new cloths. I would cook some rice and Dhal curry for breakfast and lunch. Other than this, we had bread, eggs and fruit at home. So, I fed them whatever they wanted to eat. I started two separate charts for Thushara and Henry, measuring their temperature and oxygen level every four hours using the pulse oximeter. Whenever they had high fever, I did this more frequently.  We were told that if the oxygen level went down to 93% we should contact a doctor. Luckily, their concentrations both stayed above 96%.

While managing patients at home, we did the following:

1       We asked Henry to leave his quarters upstairs, and come and stay in our front room, so that he was not alone, and we could monitor him closely.

2        I stopped browsing social media, and put the phone into silent mode. Even before we got Covid, we were getting so much negative news about deaths, no hospital beds, corpses lining the roads without enough wood to cremate them, etc. I wanted to avoid getting scared or frustrated from watching or hearing this type of news. I asked the others to do the same. I only spoke with my parents and eldest son (who is in university) to show them that we were all doing great, even while having Covid. It was only a half-truth, but I never wanted to scare my parents or son who are so far away from us. 

3       When I worked in the kitchen, I felt extremely tired, but took a lot of rest in between, and did breathing exercises. These were very difficult, as I felt a slight pain in the lung area when taking a deep breath. Also, I had severe coughing. But I kept on doing breathing exercises and meditations, which helped me to stay calm and breathe comfortably.

4       I had no smell or taste- but I had to cook and eat. I kept on tasting and inhaling many fragrances, even though I could not feel them. That way, I thought, I should keep reminding my brain about these fragrances.

5        I drank loads of herbal drinks and warm water, and ate lots of fruit in between main meals. I also took vitamin supplements.

6       Once only, I got a panic attack when I started thinking about what would happen if one of us had to seek a hospital, or need oxygen. I started sweating, with palpitations and blackout. Somehow, I managed to realize that I was panicking unnecessarily and should not continue thinking like that. I opened the door and went into my small front garden and started breathing deeply, and thinking about all the good work I had done so far: planting trees, rescuing animals, growing organic vegetables, sharing with neighbors, teaching kids about Nature, looking after stray cats and dogs, feeding birds, etc. Whatever came into my mind, I started giving the loving kindness and blessing to them. This is Metta Meditation in Buddhism. It was very useful for helping me to calm myself down, and in this way I managed the panic attack.

7       We watched movies- with positive messages only- on Netflix, and watched musical shows. We rarely have time to watch movies in our normal life, but we thoroughly enjoyed them during those days.

8        I mainly passed my day with doing breathing exercises (Pranayama Yoga), meditation, watching Nature, watering my plants, talking to plants (I was already doing Horticulture therapy before Covid) and the stray cat who visits my garden, listening to songs and watching movies, and looking after others.

9        There were very few friends we answered the phone to, or read text messages from. A few friends who had Covid before us were very helpful, sharing advice and keeping our morale up (None of them had three patients at home, so they understood my crisis.)

10   Somehow, I was out of fever on day 5, and the other two, soon after that. I monitored them very closely until both were out of the risk period (during which pneumonia was a possibility).

11   We all spent 17 days inside from the last date of infection, which was the recommended quarantine period for us in Delhi. Then we slowly started our normal routines. Now when we look back, it was like a bad dream, and we’ve almost forgotten how we felt during that period. But what I have to say is that we never got scared about the situation, but we were very conscious and alert. At the same time, we never cursed or hated the virus, as we knew it was another living being, and we were fully aware that there was no medicine. We always stayed positive and lived consciously in that moment. We did not worry about what would happen tomorrow, or next week, or how bad it could be (except for the moment I thought about the situation in such a way as to bring on the panic attack).

The main lesson we learnt during the Covid-19 infection is: using our mind effectively is the main factor in helping us to face life positively and stay healthy!

If someone wants to read the Sinhala language article here is the link 

https://sinhala.newswire.lk/2021/05/23/%e0%b6%9a%e0%b7%9c%e0%b7%80%e0%b7%92%e0%b6%a9%e0%b7%8a-%e0%b6%af%e0%b7%94%e0%b6%a7%e0%b7%94%e0%b7%80%e0%b7%99%e0%b6%b8%e0%b7%92-%e0%b7%80%e0%b7%90%e0%b6%bd%e0%b6%af-%e0%b6%9c%e0%b6%ad%e0%b7%8a/ 

 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Celebrating 20 years of ECO-V - A personal note from the Founder

 

ECO-V is 20 years!! Can you all believe it? We started ECO-V on the 7th of February 2001. It was a very small meeting with my university friends; Sujani, Lal, Harsha and some of Thushara’s friends and my family members. We launched it officially as a new organization and then started working as a team. The first office was at the living room of our one-bedroom apartment in Moratuwa. I was 1 month pregnant with our first son Buhusuru, so ECO-V was our first child officially. We started working after winning the Rufford small grant from Whitley Fund for Nature (https://whitleyaward.org/). All happened just because I met Edward Whitley from WFN at the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Conservation leadership programme (https://www.conservationleadershipprogramme.org/) held at Natural History Museum in London in April 2000! It was like yesterday when Edward came to our table and had a chat with me during a small break while compering at the award ceremony.



At the award ceremony of WFN 



Our first working team, Harsha,Sujani,Sudharshi,Samanmalee and Lal

Being thankful!...

I should be very thankful to Catherine Gotto the Manager of CLP at that time for inviting me as the Mistress of Ceremonies to the event. If not, how could I meet Edward who suggested I should start an organisation while having a meeting at his home the next day? Also, I should be thankful to Cambridge 97 project team members - my dear friends Jules, Claire, Cathy and Chris who came to Sri Lanka after winning a grant from CLP in 1997. They were my mentors during the 3 months project around Sinharaja rain forest and later they supported me to attend Durrell Conservation academy in 1999 (https://training.durrell.org/). 

Meeting Claire and Jules in the UK, after 15 years of Sinharaja 97' 


Meeting Cathy in London during the visit in 2012

Me at Durrell in 2012 during a revisit. 


Going further back I should be in debt to my dear teacher/mentor Prof. Sarath Kotagama for selecting me to Sinharaja 97’ project as one of the Sri Lankan counterparts. All these people behind me were always remembered along with the ECO-V life story. Adding more to the story I should be remembering my dear father, Punchi Banda Weerakoon, my uncle Dr. A.T Ariyaratne and late Mr. K.D.R.N Wijesinghe the director of National Zoological garden who gave me advice, guidance and helped to select the honest and clear path in establishing the organization legally. How should I not be thankful to my loving husband Thushara for encouraging me to start the organization after Edward suggested but me having doubts about my capacity?

 Positive impact….

When I travelled through the memories while clicking on photographs in hundreds of folders in my external drive, I really can’t believe how much work we had done.  So many projects, so many activities took place within these 20 years. Numbers are not important to us but all stories we hear from people who have been following us, how they have made positive behavioral changes within themselves, individually and at family level, at working places and in the communities are the most important to us. We never had a permanent donor; we were depending on small grants, or some organizations who supported us short term. We never had a proper office like other organizations, it was only a dedicated area on a floor at our home (only twice we went out for a year but it was not the best environment for us). The team members were a family to us. My two kids grew up while watching our work. How we made plans for sustainable events attending to all minor details about minimizing our carbon footprint during such events, focusing on zero waste events or projects focusing its sustainability and long-term positive impacts, where our waste would end up and quality of work rather than numbers of attendees. In the early days Harsha and Lal helped me to carry my kids when we travelled to the field to do our work even during civil conflict in Sri Lanka. Kids were always around me when we had monthly “Thiresi” meetings for members. 

Kids enjoying water during our Leaf Monkey project

Lal carrying Nipuna during Pelican conservation work while Bandara helping Buhusuru

Today, I see the results of bringing up two boys in a very eco-friendly manner, when I see their leadership qualities in school or university clubs, their thinking on current issues, and their essays they write for university entrance applications or even for TED talks. One common comment I get from both of them is “Mother, thank you for making us feel guilty about what we want to do for fun!!!” Yes...it is very sarcastic comment but, I know that means they are thinking not only twice about their acts but many times before they want to get involved. Which is for me simply “conscious consumerism or eco-friendly thinking” what we have been preaching over 20 years. It is the behavioural change that we wanted to bring among individuals. Many past and current members of ECO-V must have got that thinking but for sure I know at least I have mentored two children where I see positive impact on Mother Nature! Of course, I can add my husband and myself into that list of people who changed positively via ECO-V activities. Whoever comes forward and says “I changed my one little behavior following ECO-V’s work will be an added bonus to our list of success stories!! This may sound like bragging about ECO-V, but to be honest, I know there are many like that as I have heard that comment so many times within these 20 years. We had beautiful time together learning and experiencing Nature during "Thiresi Charika" and monthly "Thiresi Meetings". 

 



Volunteers and my two boys experiencing a "Environmental Meditation" session during a "Thiresi Charika" 



During a monthly members meeting at our home - "Thiresi" meeting 


Bu and Nipu with me listening to our discussions of Nature during monthly "Thiresi" meetings 

Failures and challenges...

During these past 20 years, only one project ended up without a sustainability that was the Bellanwila-Attidiya sanctuary conservation work. It was due to government laws related to conservation status and then another project on Otters had to stop soon after we implemented as we could not secure funding. We regretted those two but all other projects ended up with very positive outcomes. Keeping and maintaining staff was always a challenge as we could not secure their jobs beyond the project period since we did not have permanent funding sources. So, nobody stayed with us beyond 3-4 years. We take it positively as we were able to train youngsters to do work faithfully and productively and also bring the behavioral change to themselves within the short period of work with us. Even today all my past staff members communicate, admire our days together and tell us how much change brought into their lives and many are still volunteering to us. Some have started their own organizations or movements. Isn't it great?? 

At our home based office, even team has to play with cats! 

Team meeting at home based office for Leaf monkey project team  



Planning team of Paapedi 2013 at our home based office 


Not a professional office but of course a skillful team - Team Paapedi 2013

I live outside of Sri Lanka now with my family but still ECO-V activities are taking place. Office is based at our home in Sri Lanka on an entire dedicated floor for office. There are no big projects currently but with activities with high positive impacts with services. Those services are not only for humans but also for other living beings! We don’t have huge grants but we have well-wishes who are supporting us in small ways (personally or as organizations) but just enough for us to bring the positive change. We still function as a voluntary organization, just like when we started and we will be, as our aim is to let people understand money is not everything. Just like Mother Earth giving her services to her children, we too try to give our services back to her and her children! 

Lessons learnt…

I am 20 years older than when I started ECO-V. When I look back, I have no regrets, but a huge satisfaction for being able to do so much voluntary work (Thanks to my husband, I never had a need to earn to feed my children). I might have done a little bit well in the finances side and found a big donor for ECO-V to do more work but….that was my capacity and may be this is what I was destined to do. Therefore, I take it as a positive karma!

Global impact…

With the experience gained through building up ECO-V, I managed to co-found Journeys for Climate Justice in Australia (https://www.journeysforclimatejustice.org.au/), and Edible Routes Foundation in India (https://www.facebook.com/edibleroutesfoundation/). I enjoy work at International level through these organisations and many networks that we work together to bring up positive change to the world of conservation.

  My interpretation….

Well for me, I was born to this world to do this service mostly as a volunteer. May be making money is not my destiny during this birth but the service to all living beings is what I have to do which I am happy about. As a founder of an organization this may be a failure. But I am not regretting as I have understood myself and anyway we have done our best to protect Mother Nature and will be doing it with money or without money. We used to make cloth tote bags and eco friendly greeting cards and sell them to raise funds and we still do such activities as raising funds vis such activities are very helpful for us to get developed our skills. 

Me painting the cloth tote bags to sell and raise funds. 

ECO-V is like a beautiful river still flowing 20 years! Sometimes splashing water, sometimes meandering, facing boulders steadily,   slowing down around deep puddles, running when needed flow silently along the valleys. Creating beautiful water falls down the hills and carrying and planting the seeds along its banks. Small streams keep giving water on the way so it will not get dried. That's just enough to see ECO-V as a river. It is there to drink water, take a bath, use for growing plants or just listen to the sound and enjoy but never stoppable by a dam because we will flow over the dam nourishing more lands helping more beings until it meets the great ocean.  Don’t know when. Until then May you all see it as a beautiful river and enjoy it!!

 













Monday, March 1, 2021

Sustainable Resource Management by following 10R

Waste is one of the main topics in the world! As an organization campaigning for sustainable Resource management and zero waste lifestyle for last 20 years, I wrote this article few years ago and modified again very recently with more details. 

Hope one can learn something out of this. I heard about 10R in waste Management when I was in Melbourne in 2010 and since then we at ECO-V adopted the method by modifying it in our own way. We always talk about "conscious consumerism and waste" together as waste is not a waste but it is a resource. 


Everybody knows about the 3R’s in Waste Management. I believe that simply following the guidelines of the 3R’s is not sufficient action to manage our global waste sustainably. I offer here a different perspective on waste management. We must stop generating further waste in order to get the issue down to a manageable scale. Human beings are the only living animal on this plant who generates waste. This is a self-created problem. Therefore, the solution must also be created by humans. I believe the only viable solution is a “zero waste” lifestyle (or to at least achieve 99% waste free). To enable us to lead a zero-waste lifestyle, we must follow the 10-R method. In other words, “consuming consciously or Conscious Consumerism”.  There is no such thing as “waste” unless we humans generate or create wasteful products. Therefore, what we are managing is “Resources”; once you manage resources wisely then there will be no waste products left. Let us see how we can manage resources sustainably.

 

Follow the 10R method to become a conscious consumer and zero waste generator!! It’s very simple, once you get the hang of it!

1.      Reject – Always buy only what you NEED. Reject unhealthy, unsuitable, unethical goods. Don’t buy more than what you need even if it’s cheap or on sale. This way you are saving resources for others who need to buy and also bringing less waste into your home. Moreover, it saves you money. Soon you will have created a list of permanently rejected items from your life. Some of such items that I have rejected in my life are: any kind of carbonated and sugary beverages, single use plastic or polyethene, artificially made or processed food like instant noodles and soup cubes, snacks, many varieties of biscuits, plastic straws, and tobacco. Rejecting these sorts of items has also helped our family to maintain healthy food habits, and has taught my two young sons how to eat healthier and eliminate waste from their lives. I have also rejected the purchase of any chemical detergents for cleaning and laundry. This way I know I am not polluting my home environment.

 

2.      Refuse – Say no to plastic bags always…be brave enough to Refuse on the spot. This R is bit more flexible than Rejecting. Depending on the occasion you might need to take some of the items you want. For example, if you are really thirsty and you have forgotten your reusable water bottle you may need to buy a bottles water from a shop. Then you may buy it but the bottle will be given for recycling. Therefore, you must be conscious about your choices.  This means you might buy or take items only when they are absolutely needed. Some items I have refused personally are paper bags, cloth bags, any wrappers including cardboard boxes, paper straws, milk packets, yoghurt, ice-cream, makeup, perfumes and even take-away food, online purchases etc. So, I will buy them only if I know how to manage the left-over waste that comes with the item. Otherwise, I will not buy or accept them.

 

3.      Reduce – think twice and reduce consumerism. When you practice the above-mentioned two “R”s you are automatically reducing loads of waste and also saving many resources. Still, you can reduce using paper, cloth, shoes, clothing, handbags, jewelry, perfumes. Always try to avoid using wrappers when you give a gift item. If absolutely necessary then use a compostable paper wrapper or a reusable wrapping like a muslin bag. Be aware that many trees are cut down to make paper; we are losing vast amounts of forest land because of paper production and agriculture.  Use less detergent, shampoo or soap and strive to completely eliminate all chemical products. You have plenty of natural alternatives now. Also, and importantly, be aware of the amount of food you consume daily. Wasted food feels like a crime to me. We must pay respect to our farmers by avoiding food waste. Also, we must be aware of how many resources, such as time, water, manure, and land, went into growing our food. Food wastes in landfills create methane gasses and are contributing to climate change. Each of us are obliged to consume a healthier, smaller quantity of food and to purchase food that has been grown through sustainable agricultural methods. Another resource we should treat with greater respect is water. Be conscious about how much water you are using when you bathe. Reducing water usage is an important step in the 10-R’s, especially as the planet is experiencing droughts and water shortages globally. In this same vein, we must reduce our global consumption of electricity and other sources of energy, fuels, etc. through frugal personal energy consumption.

 

4.      Reuse – Use a cloth bag and reuse hundreds of times. Even paper bags or plastic bags can be reused multiple times. Use reusable cutlery, crockery, or wrappers. When somebody gives you, a present wrapped in wrapping paper, remove it carefully and save for reuse later. This applies to bubble wrap, brown paper, commercially-made wrapping paper and other packaging. Before you buy an item, think twice about whether you can reuse it or not. Always reuse and upcycle whenever possible. When up-cycling, you should remember to upcycle something with no waste generated or whatever waste generated is recyclable. In the meantime, do not up-cycle an item where the end product is going to be waste.  For example, people like to upcycle plastic bottles (PET bottles) into growing/planting containers. When they cut them to make a planting container, loads of micro plastics are released into the environment and these small pieces of plastic are not recycled. Furthermore, the upcycled plastic growing container is then filled with soil and, over the growing period, this plastic breaks down into smaller, now contaminated pieces which are no longer recyclable and becomes a waste product that will not break down for thousands of years. It would have been better to return that water bottle for recycling when not contaminated, and even better to not purchase it in the first place. You can use other types of garden containers (even plastic pots) which are designed for growing plants and are durable so that you get years of use out of them before they become waste.  Never reuse plastic PET bottles for storage of food or liquid as they might be releasing Bisphenol- A (BPA) chemical over the time. In plastics, only type 4 (LDPE) 5 (PP) and 7(other) are meant to reuse for food and liquid.

 

5.      Repair – rather than simply discarding damaged bags, cloths, shoes, furniture, tools and other utensils, seek to repair them.  If something is broken, be creative and see if there is another way to use it if it can’t be repaired. This way you will be saving money and reducing the energy used for recycling.

 

6.      Replace – replace parts rather than buying new. Before you purchase anything new, always think about whether those items are reparable or replaceable. For example, if you buy plastic furniture, you will end up having to recycle when broken. Wooden and metal furniture has several other options when broken such as repair, replace reuse, and recycling.

 

7.      Recycle – always separate your waste and submit for recycling as almost everything, except for a few types of polythene, plastics and hazardous wastes, is recyclable. However, recycling is not always the best action; recycling requires a large amount of resources like energy and water and emits pollutants into the environment. Some areas accept recycling but don’t have the resources to actually recycle and so these items end up in the landfill. Hence, we must consider reducing recycling too. For example, you may feel that it is fine to use paper wrappers as they are compostable or recyclable. But never think that way.  Always be conscious about the original resources that went into making these items, and the resources that will be required to recycle them. If you use more recyclable items, and find yourself with large amounts of recycling, that means you are wasting natural resources.

 

 

8.      Rethink – You must think over and over again about how much you are consuming. Rethink your choices and choose Nature-friendly innovations. Be mindful about all positive action by practicing the above “R”s. Even though you may avoid many wastes coming into your home, you may still have some items that you can’t prevent from entering your life or home. So, the best solution to Rethink is having your own ECOBRICK. It’s the best solution you have at the moment to go towards a zero-waste lifestyle. I will give you one example. As I said, I have rejected buying unwanted items, but occasionally I buy a dress. The dress has a price tag, brand tag and sometimes many plastic labels. So, when I purchase my cotton dress all these tags are coming along with it. I cannot reject them and drop them at the shop. It would be a very extreme act too and I would lose the opportunity of exchanging it later if there is an issue. Even if I were able to leave the tags at the shop, they will be thrown into a waste bin at the shop.  Therefore, the end result is trash going into a landfill (nobody recycles such tiny tags). Trash often ends up in the ocean where it is responsible for killing many ocean creatures and ultimately ends up in our bodies where it can cause hormonal imbalances and cancers. What I believe is, if I purchase an item whatever labels, tags coming along with that product is my responsibility. So, I have decided that the best option is to bring the dress home with its tags, remove them carefully and collect all the tiny pieces and insert them into an ECOBRICK. By taking this small action you keep in mind all living beings, and rethink your own waste generation.

 

9.      Remember – to consume consciously, remember to take your own reusable bag, refillable water bottle, and reusable cutlery set when you go away from home. Always remember to keep extra bags or containers with you and in your vehicle, and remember to tell others of your good actions as inspiration for how they too can become more eco-friendly. By following the 10R’s and telling others about them, you will create many positive ripples in society. Remember to walk and talk your beliefs. If you forget today, be sure to remember right away and take action Now. We may not have time tomorrow.”

 

10.  Repeat – repeat all above actions every day in your life. Make it a habit like breathing in and breathing out. Make the 10R’s a beautiful song that you sing every day! Healthy consumerism, Healthy life and Healthy Planet with no waste!!!! The Planet will thank you by healing and thriving. For truly, we cannot thrive if the planet dies. This, then, should be our walking meditation from the time our eyes open until we close them at night: If not me, then who? If not now, when? 

 

Concept adopted and modified by Kanchana Weerakoon

Founder President of Eco Friendly Volunteers (ECO-V)  

www.eco-v.org

kanchanawr@gmail.com


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

When Nature wanted to keep us inside our homes…..need to find a way connect with Nature and continue the business as usual...

It’s been almost a year since I did my last training session inside a room with an audience which had a physical presence. It was February 2020 and I was running really great training sessions in Myanmar and in Sri Lanka. Since then, I could not run such programmes till today. I really miss such and I know all my colleagues must be feeling the same way.

Now it’s 2021 and I don't know what will happen next month as such uncertainty is in front of us. People say once you have the vaccine you will be free to move like before but who knows what kind of virus will meet us next??? Anyway...other than the whole virus-related negative experiences such as people getting sick and listening to the increasing number of death toll there were so many positive things happening during the past 11 months. I am sure you were aware of many such positive moments.

Among many positive moments and happenings in my life, one good thing is that I started teaching online!!! I was a person who did not like or enjoy much online work. I always had issues with technology and was preaching to use it consciously. Don’t worry, I still say that.  Somehow, I changed a little bit and started enjoying the technology for some useful work. So I started connecting with Nature while connecting with technology…..




Well....I had to think how to do such because I was conducting “connecting with Nature” sessions while taking a bunch of kids or adults to a park or a wetland or to a forest and letting them touch, hug or smell the trees, flowers or plants and watch animals very patiently. So how could I do such via technology was a bit challenging. When I did some kids workshops last year...I brought “Nature” into my home. Had to do this in many ways without damaging Nature. So, I made videos in the park (soon after the initial lockdown was eased out in June).

Buhusuru helping me on technical stuff 





Brought fallen leaves and flowers, plants in the pots into my living room which became the training venue for “connecting with Nature”. Did some art and craft sessions for kids. Collected soil, twigs, plastic wrappers, polythene...all sort of so-called waste to run sessions on sustainable waste management. Even dug my own garden where I grow Earthworms and carefully collected some of them and brought them to my living room to talk about composting. My sons helped me in operating my mobile camera when I wanted to run some practical demonstration other than the slide shows. Wow….it was such a mission...but we loved it and most importantly the participants loved it. So, we used the technology and tried our best to stay connected with Nature!!


10R in Resource Management to avoid waste  


Buhusuru using the mobile camera


Now it’s January 2021, A New year!! Not a new beginning yet as still I am trapped in New Delhi as Sri Lanka is not open for visitors to travel yet. Until they open and let us travel freely, I will continue my mission using the technology!

P.S As a tradition I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!! I truly mean it this year!

Also, I wanted to mention that I could not meet you all via our blog and that did not mean that we at ECO-V or me personally as a conservationist did not work for 2020. It's just we were very active on face book and after making posts for face book I felt not to repeat on the blog.


Saturday, October 17, 2020

Covid-19, Lock Down and Rajesthan India.

After being inside for 7 months without traveling, we just came back from a 4-day trip to Rajasthan. It was a great trip with a 17-hour straight drive from New Delhi to Jaisalmer and spending some time around Thar Desert and understanding the history there. Here are some interesting places we traveled and what we saw. I decided to share those experiences and talk about some issues in a conservationist’s perspective.

  


This is the Jaisalmer lake in Rajasthan, India.

We had a visit there as it’s in the middle of the city. While others were talking about the beauty of the lake, I was looking at the surrounding trees, birds and then water. I caught a piece of polythene at the edge of the water body. It was moving a bit oddly. So, I had a closer, careful look.







Oopppsss…. automatically I was counting. One...two...three, four five six oooppss….one fell back to water and including that altogether seven frogs...I was surprised, smiling and murmuring of course taking pictures...while others were talking about the lake and its history. I was thinking how these frogs are getting adapted to the pollution and taking advantage of the polythene as a surface to climb up and breath...poor little frogs…. I was thinking while I was coming back.

Next day we had another 45 minutes travel from the city towards the Thar Desert. That was for organised Desert Safari.

When we were planning the Rajasthani trip last week, I was pretty sure I was not going to go on a camel safari. It was my personal ethic that I never want to enjoy sitting on a trained animal back as I know there is some animal cruelty involved in that. But I did not force others not to go. When we went to the place for Camel ride, a Rajasthani man pointed out two camels who just finished a trip and lay down on sand and stretched their legs, saying they were for us. Not having a much break for them it was the turn for our group. All preceded. I was sitting on a local bed. The man in charge was repeatedly inviting me to come while pulling the string coming through the nostrils of the camel. I was watching away as I could not see the pain of that animal.....then I heard a voice behind me saying “we are not coming, you all go”...that was my husband Thushara Ranasinghe . I looked back and saw Nipu (Nipuna Ranasinghe) also standing behind nodding his head saying no. I was not too surprised but a bit anxious to find out what’s the reason behind them for not going….Anyway all others went... we three were deserted in the desert….


People enjoy while animals suffer 

Soon after a ride they try to get a rest but....


While watching on our own shadows in the desert 

I looked at Nipu. He was patting on a cute, innocent doggie who came towards us by limping a few minutes ago. I approached them. “Putha, why didn’t you go on Camelback? With a little pause Nipu replied…. “It's the same reason as amma’s” and he continued petting that unknown dirty looking doggie girl. My heart melted, I walked away with wet eyes...not just because I was feeling sad, I am sure.






I looked at the horizon and it was almost sunset. I was watching the beautiful colours of sunset and thinking...If all kids are having this kind of METTA - Loving kindness and KARUNA - compassion for suffering, this world would have been a better place for humans and animals…..I have a hope..