Nepali Times
Life Times
Green on the inside

No plastic

Order water at any restaurant in Kathmandu, and chances are that you will be served water in a plastic bottle. However, at Kantipur Temple House, the waiter will graciously hand you a metal flask. No plastic, no non-degradable waste.

The guests are discouraged to use mineral water bottles and plastic bags. Instead, the hotel lends them reusable water bottles and cloth shopping bags free of cost.

"Our aim is to minimise plastic usage in the hotel," says Subechhya Basnet of Kantipur Temple House which saved 8,000 mineral water bottles from ending up in landfill sites last year alone.

Even though it is a four-storied building, the hotel's owners decided against installing an elevator. And as most guests are trekkers, they don't complain about it. Kantipur Temple House doesn't have power-hungry ACs either. The greenery of the hotel's garden is an oasis in built-up Thamel. The hotel uses compost from kitchen waste in its own organic vegetable garden.

Basnet says, "We are trying to promote responsible tourism and our guests have come back because they value what we do."

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Handy waste

Fuel prices have increased again and people are finding it more and more expensive to heat their homes and businesses. "An alternative to traditional energy sources for heat is briquettes," says Sanu Kaji Shrestha of the Foundation of Sustainable Technologies (FoST), which has been advocating the production and use of briquettes since 2004.

A briquette is a block of combustible material made from biomass waste that has the same utility as firewood. Fuel briquettes can be produced from bio-degradable residues including paper, sawdust, scrap wood, dried leaves and weeds, rice husks, and kitchen waste.

A two-inch thick briquette six inches in diameter can burn for about 40 minutes. Shrestha says that a briquette emits 70 per cent less smoke than wood, thus reducing indoor air pollution. FoST gives training courses on briquette production and usage in 40 districts. A briquette pressing machine costs Rs 7,000 and can produce over 20 kg of briquettes a day.

Briquettes are priced at Rs 20 a kilo. FoST has been encouraging its trainees to start commercial production so that they can generate income from briquettes. Shrestha has shared this technology in Afghanistan, Cyprus, Cambodia, India and the Philippines.

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Green thumbs

Some of Kathmandu's youngest green thumbs in a Balkot children's home have ditched the 'orphan tag', and replaced it with a 'green tag' in an effort to give Nepali children a more sustainable future. Chairperson of the Maya Children's Organisation, Bikash KC, says his ambition was to develop a home and a schooling system to support the children from the 'grassroots'.

KC has transformed a handful of Balkot's orphan children by introducing them to a more sustainable lifestyle. "We're trying to make the kids think greener," he says. "We also want to make the children's homes more homely rather than have them live in institutions." One of the three children's homes that KC is involved with is called Hamroghar Children's Home, meaning 'our home'.

Green thumb and orphan Sagar Magar, 15, lives in an Australian-funded orphanage called Meg's Home in Balkot. He's been trying to set up a green club at school as a result of KC's mentoring. "We are learning how to manage crops and the green club will help in recyling," he says. "The degradable products will go into a compost pit, plastic goods will be recycled."

1. Sanu Kaji Shrestha
Thanks a lot for timely featuring on FoST efforts. 

2. Bhagawat Bhakta Khokhali
This is a well effort to publish the green efforts done by various institutions in kathmandu valley. Keep up the good work.

Bhagawat Bhakta Khokhali
Architect/ Urban planner.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)