Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Green Zone with Gurmeet Aunty - My articles for green children

As I write to you, millions of gallons of oil have leaked from the well and are spreading across the Gulf waters, reaching close to the shores of the states of Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. Millions of birds and marine life are at risk of suffocating in the oil and their food sources have been contaminated..... Click here to read more

When we throw away those bottles and bags, they take many, many years to completely break down. Until then, they occupy the precious land in the form of litter and trash.
Most times this trash finds its way into the waterways and oceans. Little animals eat pieces of plastic bags or bottles. Over 100,000 birds, land and marine animals die each year either by suffocating from the bags or getting sick from eating the plastic. Click here to read more...

There was a huge banyan tree in our neighborhood right across from our home. It was probably hundreds of years old because its trunk was really big. Throughout the year, green parrots with red beaks would come by the thousands and sit atop the canopy of that giant tree. They would sing loudly. We had so much fun dangling in the air from the low hanging roots of the tree. Its many hollows and low branches were great for playing hide and seek. Click here to read more...

At first, I was a little hesitant wearing used clothing, but then when I realized that by being a part of the consignment cycle (both by donating and using) I was helping the environment, I was gladly a part of it.
How do consignments save the environment?
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Simplicity – “Why is it important?” you may ask. “What’s wrong with fancy living?”
The problem with fancy lifestyle is that need way more resources. If you think about it there are a finite amount of resources on this earth. Having more for ourselves means taking basic things away from others. Click here to read more...

So the next time you are tempted to purchase a furry looking coat or purse or shoes, remind yourself what goes into it, and ask yourself if you really want to be a part of and contributor to the animal cruelty business.
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Friday, March 5, 2010

What ever you eat! Eat with consciousness! - There isn't enough for everyone!

Germany : The Melander family of Bargteheide Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

Japan : The Ukita family of Kodaira City Food expenditure for one week: 37,699 Yen or $317.25

United States : The Revis family of North Carolina Food expenditure for one week: $341.98
Italy : The Manzo family of Sicily Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11
Poland : The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

Mexico : The Casales family of Cuernavaca Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

Egypt : The Ahmed family of Cairo Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyp tian Pounds or $68.53

Ecuador : The Ayme family of Tingo Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

Bhutan : The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

Chad : The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Green Zone with Gurmeet Aunty 2: Green Jeans

“What’s your favorite thing to do when you have free time?” I questioned the kids at a Youth Camp. You would be surprised to know that over 50% of the girls (and many boys) answered “Shopping.” When we discussed what they liked to shop for, most of them said clothing.I was not a bit surprised. We Punjabis have an obsession for shopping for clothes. It is one thing that has not changed over generations. Sometimes we go beyond our means to show off our collection and to be up to par with the current trends. When I asked the kids what they did with the clothing they didn’t wear anymore, thankfully a lot of them said they gave them to the poor. Yet a significant number of them just discarded them in trash. It made me and some other earth-conscious kids unhappy. We talked about why.

Until a decade or so ago, I was one of those people who would run to the mall to kill my free time or combat my loneliness. Then something happened. There was a community project that I got involved with helping people who did not have food, clothes or shelter. It required time and a lot of money. Where would this money come from? As I walked out of a mall, I thought about the project, and I looked at my shopping bag. They were full to the brim with luxuries, not necessities; and even though I had spent $200, I had not purchased the one item I had come to the mall for. And there, was the answer to my question! I decided that I would stop visiting malls for the whole year and use that money and time for my project. If I absolutely needed anything in the meanwhile I would go online and buy it.

You wouldn’t believe how much money and time I saved: over $1500 in one year. That made a lot of needy children very happy. In addition, I got way more satisfaction spending my time with the needy families than I had visiting shopping malls. For my project I would have to visit this consignment shop (it’s a name for shops that recycle gently used clothing in a great condition and sell it for really low prices) where I would buy clothes for the families that I had adopted. And guess what? I found such cute clothing (sometimes good brand names) at a fraction of the mall prices, that occasionally I found something to meet my own clothing needs.
Furthermore, since my closet was already overflowing, I became a supplier to the shop by donating and completing the cycle.At first, I was a little hesitant wearing used clothing, but then when I realized that by being a part of the consignment cycle (both by donating and using) I was helping the environment, I was gladly a part of it.
How do consignments save the environment? Consider this: Most clothing is made from cotton and we usually don’t see cotton as a "dirty" (not- environmentally friendly) product like plastics, but cultivating cotton involves high amounts of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides accounting for approximately 20% of all chemicals applied in agriculture. Further, more chemicals are used in the bleaching and dyeing. Finally, in every stage of cotton (from growing it to processing it) water use is intensive - often in areas of the globe where water is not in plentiful supply. If the clothing is going to end up in a landfill after a couple of outings, it represents a huge waste of environmental resources as well as pollution of the earth.Another advantage to buying consignment clothes is that after clothing that has been washed a few times, any excess dyes and chemicals that your skin could be absorbing are gone. So, in short, the older the clothing, the healthier it is.
Finally, consignment supplying and buying lets you help the local economy by being a part of the economic cycle. Most shops employ locals and provide job training to otherwise unemployed people. So kids, it’s okay to dress cool but do consider being a part of the consignment circle. Donate or sell your unused clothing and consider buying from these shops, too. You will not only be helping the environment; you will be saving money that can be more meaningfully spent. It is not too early for you to get engaged in community projects and help out the underprivileged. Many kids your own age need your help.

One aspect of a Sikh’s life demands that we give the utmost reverence to the environment while heeding the needs of the less fortunate. Consignment shopping is just one practical way to live our ethical values; we can conserve our planet’s resources and simultaneously do seva for our fellowmen.

Visit our Create section, to see Coloring Pages which include Guru Ji says...

And lastly, don’t be shy to share with your friends where your next ‘Green Jeans’ came from and how the money saved went to help a poor kid buy his books or even his meals for a month. That is one cool thing to share.To search for consignment shops in your area visit
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Green Zone with Gurmeet Aunty - 1

This is the first of my green articles for Young readers. If you enjoy it, please share it with your children, students, nieces and nephew - spread the green color and conscious living.

When I was a little girl, my parents and I went on a vacation to the beautiful valley of Kashmir in the Himalayan mountains. I was fascinated by the street shops selling colorful Kashmiri handicrafts, but one item in particular that kept pulling my attention was a white purse . It looked so cute, like a little rabbit. It felt so soft and beautiful. That was the only thing I wanted. Its closing flap was even shaped like a face of a little bunny. I was a well-behaved girl and it would have been rude to ask for anything that I didn’t really need. Day after day in Kashmir I was drawn to the shops that sold those white purses; I would quietly stand and admire them. I think my Mom and Dad saw this and quietly bought one for me. I was so excited and thrilled. My exhilaration quickly turned to heartbreak when a wise man in the train explained to me what it really was and how it had become a purse.

He told me how animals are skinned for fur. The smaller the animal, the more precious the fur. I was literally carrying a cute baby bunny who had been taken away from her mommy and daddy, most likely destroyed in an inhumane way only to be sold for a few rupees.I did not want to part with my purse, yet I did not want to be a part of the cruelty business. What was I to do ? What was my redemption going to be?

Teary eyed and heavy hearted, I asked the wise man for advice. He told me that my redemption was to never again buy fur and to educate others about the cruelty to animals associated with the fur business.My return trip home from that vacation was ruined.

However in looking back, I am so thankful for the experience and for what I learned. Someone once said, “Experience is not the best teacher – it’s the only teacher”. I promised that wise man and myself that I would become an advocate for the Earth, its animals and their lives.I have since learned that today, fur continues to be the fancy for girls and women across the world. The multi-billion dollar fur industry is a consummate advocate of animal cruelty. Animal right activists have shown that many animals are destroyed by inhumane ways, listing France, China and Canada as examples.

So the next time you are tempted to purchase a furry looking coat or purse or shoes, remind yourself what goes into it, and ask yourself if you really want to be a part of and contributor to the animal cruelty business. At a very minimum, you should say no to fur. If you want to do more, here is what I recommend:

  1. Write to your favorite designers who continue to sell fur. Tell him or her that you will not buy their brand until they go fur-free. There is great power in an individual voice when it comes from the heart.

  2. Educate your family and friends about the cruelty of the fur business.

  3. Join an Anti-Fur cause on Facebook or Twitter and make your voice heard with thousands of others.

    Guru Nanak says:

Hans haeth lobh kop chaarae nadheeaa ag, Pavehi dhajhehi naanakaa thareeai karamee lag.
Cruelty, material attachment, greed and anger are the four rivers of fire. O Nanak! Falling into them, one is burned but saved by holding tight to good deeds. SGGS P. 147

Incidentally, I gave my purse a respectful burial and made a promise to be kept for as long as I am alive.

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