Entrepreneurs make lives eco-friendly

`Green entrepreneurs` in India are making people environment-conscious.

New Delhi: As world leaders gather in Cancun for a week beginning today to brainstorm on cutting down greenhouse gas emissions, several individual `green entrepreneurs` in India are displaying techniques that help mitigate effects of climate change at the grassroot level.
From upcycling the daily garbage in Delhi to making compost out of the daily organic household waste, the `green economy` is not only making people environment-conscious but is also proving to be a beneficial business model for innovative businessmen.

Conserve India, a Delhi-based NGO uses upcycling technology to make fashion products made out of Delhi`s garbage. The desire to reduce India`s mountain of waste, improve energy efficiency, and help some of Delhi`s poorest out of the city`s slums to improve their lives was the driving force for birth of Conserve India.

"Attitudes are starting to change amongst masses in India. More and more, Indians understand the importance of preserving as much of the world`s resources as possible, and want to make the statement that they care about the environment," says Anita Ahuja, who founded `Conserve India` with her husband, Shalabh Ahuja in 1998.

Recycling is downgrading as the virgin material is more costly than the recycled product but upcycling adds value to the end product which is more costly than the virgin material.

"We observe fair trade practises that contribute to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of marginalised producers and
workers," says Ahuja, who has obtained a patent for her technology from the Government of India.

Such individual efforts are necessary for a green future as international reports predict that India is slated to become the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases by as early as 2015.

Bangalore-based Poonam Bir Kasturi, has designed a system called Daily Dump - a three-tiered terracotta container that makes compost out of organic daily household waste.

The system works on the principle of aerobic decomposition and produces dark coloured, sweet smelling and nutrient rich soil material, compost, in about 90 days.

"I wanted to change the widespread perception of waste management as something that is to be done by the Government. People think composting is not my job," says Kasturi, a
graduate from National Institute of Design who initiated the project in 2006.

"Our home waste is 50 to 70 per cent organic, so keeping this off the streets can reduce the mess on the streets by 60 per cent, that``s a big impact," she says. There are around 5,000 customers using daily dump all over India and for a family of four, it takes one time investment of Rs 1,800 to get the system installed.

"Composting helps prevent global warming by reducing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas which gets produced when organic waste decomposes when buried in landfill sites," she says.

As far as Kasturi is concerned, creating awareness is more important than making profits. For now, at least the Daily Dump prefers not to go the franchisee route for scaling up its operations.

"My interest is to try and change behaviour of people towards climate change. Creating a large centralised business is not the priority. So when you set such a goal, then you view traditional ideas of competition, market share, wealth etc through new ways," says Kasturi.

"Its all about making a difference at your own level. Individual behaviour does change and we need to make them aware of effects of climate change," says Kasturi.

Puneet Ahuja founded ``Urja Unlimited``, a solar energy solutions manufacturer to encourage people to use solar power as an alternate source of energy.

Around 300 hawkers in Faridabad, Palwal and Agra have in the past few years switched to solar lamps provided by `Urja Unlimited` which is not only good for their health and
environment but also saves a lot of money for them.

"Solar energy has significant potential in resolving the climate change crisis. The sun has sufficient helium mass to provide the earth with energy for another five billion years. We need to harness this potential for a better, secure and green future," says Ahuja.