Author – Subodh Jain
Great green ideas are emerging from India that can be replicated across the country. Sustainable development is no more a buzz word among policy makers and activists; it is the underlying theme of every new Jugaad Innovation in the rural parts of the country. Here are some additions to the growing list of simple yet innovative ideas that are not only eco-friendly, but also are economical. This is in continuation of our Eco-friendly Ideas compilation published earlier.
Idea – Manual Milking Machine
Raghava Gowda’s Milking Machine | Source: Jugaadu.com
Problem – In dairy farming, milking is the most crucial task. Manually milking a cow or buffalo, which yields 15-20 litres of milk, is a tiresome job. Farmers who milk continuously throughout a day may suffer stiff shoulder and weakness in fingers. In addition, finding skilled labour for milking a small herd of cows is a problem faced by many farmers. However, motorised milking machines costing around Rs.80,000 are unaffordable.
Solution – A Karnataka-based small farmer Raghava Gowda decided to tackle this issue by designing a milking machine on his own. He innovated a handy, low cost manual milking machine that can milk 1.5-2 litres of milk every minute. The machine can remove all the milk from the cow’s udder, yet the cow would not experience any pain. The suction assembly has two sub-assemblies with a set of nipples and a stainless steel plate on one side, and transparent conduit pipes and a regulator valve on the other. The machine can be easily operated with a hand pump or foot pedal, as well as with a battery, in which case, no human intervention is required.
Idea – Microfinancing Rural Off-grid Solar Power
Problem – The feasibility of solar power as a viable source of electricity is now well established. Since the launch of the National Solar Mission, the cost per kilowatt has come down drastically. However, the cost of a solar photovoltaic panel is still out of the reach of the lower middle class and the lower classes, who actually need it. Off-grid solar power is ideal for rural households that suffer from severe power cuts and load shedding. “Rs. 300 a month is expensive, but Rs. 10 a day is fine,” this typical comment of a street vendor highlights the fact that India needs not only an affordable low cost technology, but a proper financing mechanism as well.
Solution – Understanding this need, Dr. Harish Hande established SELCO India in 1995. It is a social enterprise that provides microfinancing to rural households and urban street vendors to buy solar powered lights and pay for them in instalments. SELCO India has installed solar PV light systems in 125,000 houses by 2012 and also sells solar thermal water heater, and efficient low smoke cook-stoves. The distinguishing feature of SELCO is its capability to offer complete package of products, service and financing to its customers through microfinance institutions.
Idea – Roads Laid With Waste Plastic
Problem – Waste polythene covers and plastic bags have become a huge menace today. Every year, thousands of tons of non-biodegradable plastic waste are generated, which are strewn across landfills and lakes across all major Indian cities. This leads to environmental problems such as drainage clogging, mosquito breeding, flooding during heavy rains, choking of grazing animals, etc. While good quality plastic material above 30-40 micron thickness gets recycled, the thinner sheets and bags are difficult to collect and recycle.
Solution – Bangalore-based K K Plastic Waste Management made a breakthrough by utilizing non-degradable waste plastic in road construction. This idea solves the problem by replacing high cost asphalt need for road metalling as well as effectively uses plastic waste. Waste plastic material is collected from rag-pickers and municipal waste collectors, which is then cleaned, shredded and mixed with bitumen. The first road was laid in Bangalore in 2002 and since then K K Plastic has laid out 1,400 kilometres of roads using about 5,000 tonnes of plastic.
Idea – Sustainable Global Eco-commune
Athithigriha at the Auroville Global Commune
Problem – Typically, we see various innovative green products being utilised independently. However, we never see all types of eco-friendly products such as natural dyes, organic cotton clothes, handmade soap, reusable handbags, biodegradable pesticides, solar lighting, eco-friendly building material, recycled paper, all together at one place. Unless that happens, the general public can never visualise the transforming power of environmentally sustainable lifestyle.
Solution – There is a place in India that has experimented with every type of eco-friendly product ever conceived. Since the early 1970s, entrepreneurs from across 40 countries have made Auroville their home, where they have created innovative products that are not only functional, but are also eco-friendly. Handmade recycled paper with flower petals, cotton threads and banana fibre lampshades are synonymous with Auroville. In their efforts to become a self-sustained global community, Aurovilians have created a cooperative system where money is not used for trading. Instead, they use a system named ‘Pour Tous’ account, through which almost all transactions within Auroville are processed. Another shining example of this self-sustained community is the oldest solar powered kitchen in India where nearly 1,000 people eat everyday!
Read more – Caleidoscope Eco Ideas compilation