You may login with either your assigned username or your e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Water - Urban Dweller - Reduce personal impact - Traditional




I currently work for Arghyam (


I am currently working a personal project which aspires to map various ways by which an urban dweller can reduce his impact on the environment.One such source of information could be traditional sources of knowledge.


In the case of water, the various possible ways could be -

1. Finding more eco-friendly alternatives to using toothpastes, shampoos, soaps, washing powders etc

2. Are there ways by which an urban dweller, for instance, could reduce the "contamination" at the point the waste water leaves his house -at the sink,for instance


At the same time, its important that these alternatives are easily available to the urban dweller, and the dweller should also be able to "integrate" such practises easily into his day-to-day lifestyle with relative ease.


I shall be grateful, if you could share your experiences and knowledge with me or direct me to similar sources of information.


Thanks and Regards,







1. Dear Sanchayan,   In

Dear Sanchayan,


In principle, your idea of replacing some products by more eco friendly products; removing some pollutants at the house itself; is very good and laudable. But a person proposing a new idea must also analyze ihmself/herself “why it won’t work?”. Have you done that? Here are some possible problems.


  1. Acceptability. To what extent will people use it ? You mentioned toothpaste. I can tell you an eco friendly substitute here and now. Thin sticks of branches of Neem or Babool tree (in Hindi we call it “Datoon”. Commonly used in villages). Are you already using it? Can you convince all the Arghyam team to start using it from tomorrow? And if not, then you need to ask yourself why any one else would do it.

  2. Disposal. You mentioned reducing the contamination at the point where water leaves home. Suppose I give you a gadget that fits under the sink and separates all soap and toothpaste. Naturally, you will have to take it out and clean it periodically. Tell me, how will you dispose off the muck so that it does not find its way back in to hydrologic cycle again?

  3. Compliance. Suppose you come out with a way to dispose off the muck safely. What is your estimate of compliance by a few million citizens of a typical mid-size city?

  4. Red Herring. This last one is seldom appreciated by the Civil Society. Suppose you find a way to separate pollutants at home level, and also find a way to dispose them off. What worries people like me (the Executive) most is – you will manage to convince the local municipality to adopt your device under every sink; they will readily issue a dictate; now every one thinks the problem is solved and this diverts attention from centralized waste water treatment plants.


But in reality, hardly any one uses it, hardly any one disposes off the muck in specified manner, but now there also is no centralized waste water treatment either. The result is worse than the remedy.


We witness this happen often. e.g. a city falls in love with harvesting rainwater from rooftop and neglects to negotiate for water from a dam. And ends up with no water, neither from rooftop, nor from the dam. A city is sold on the idea of sewage treatment plants in the housing societies, and neglects building centralizes waste water treatment plants. But the society managements are incapable of operating such plants properly, and in due course you have neither local treatment nor centralized treatment. You only have the malfunctioning local plants polluting the aquifers beyond repair. (is that Banglore of future?)


Do test your ideas on “why it won’t work?”, and let me know what you come out with.


Chetan Pandit

Chief Engineer

National Water Academy

Central Water Commission,

Pune, India

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
13 + 5 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 India License.