Welcome to blog of the month – March 2020
This is the very first blog, a baby step towards collective intelligence, knowledge-sharing, idea collaboration platform.
Every month, we will introduce a challenge, provide a few inputs for the solution and discussion begins. Members are encouraged to comment, share their idea, help other members refine their idea and take the discussion forward all through the month.
Shall we start?
THIS MONTH’S TOPIC IS COCONUT LEAF.
Coconut, the word is derived from 16th century Spanish and Portuguese word, coco. Word coco means head or skull. The 3 holes on the coconut fruit somewhat resemble a human face, with two eyes and nose.
Having a coconut palm in the premises is of course, convenient.
Coconut palm has fibrous root system. Roots when confronted with a hard object, they grow along, instead of penetrating the object. So, the roots do not harm or endanger the foundation of the building.
It also does not block the sunlight as hardwood tree species.
Coconut is a popular ingredient for many Indian recipes. It also is favorite as garnish, along with coriander.
Probably that is the reason it was planted in such a large number, in out cities. In my native city of Pune, Maharashtra, a look at the cityscape from a hill, provides extent of it.
This all seems all good. Now let’s turn to the other side of the coin, or in this case, leaf 😊
Here is some trivia about coconut leaf.
The leaf consists of many leaflets arranged obliquely on the mid-rib or rachis. Each leaflet is long, linear, has a strong mid-rib with narrow lamina and parallel venation
An adult palm produces 12-16 leaves each year. A mature leaf is 3-4 metres in length and can have around 200 leaflets. Leaves are shed from the palm. A leaf remains on the palm for about 3 years.
Okkay, now what is the problem exactly?
In coastal areas, leaves are used for roof thatching.
In urban area, well, with all that concrete, there are no roofs to thatch. 😊
And that’s where our challenge of the month emerges.
WHAT TO DO WITH COCONUT LEAVES?
The leaflets, if we strip away the mid-rib, can be used for mulching and composting. But stripping leaflets from id-rib is a laborious task. During leaf-fall, leaves of other trees available for the purpose anyway. So, coconut leaves are not very favorite and convenient for mulching and composting.
What is the current practice for managing these leaves?
Well, in some cities, these shed palm leaves are collected by the municipal corporation. They are sometimes sent to the shredder, if the facility is available. Shredded mulch is accommodated in the compost or is sent to the dump yard.
In absence of shredding facility, collected leaves are sent to the dump yard.
Where municipal corporation is not equipped to collect these leaves, the owner of the tree simply keeps them by road-side, on a footpath or dumps at any empty plot/ ground near-by.
Or they are simply gotten rid of by open burning.
WHY OPEN BURNING IS A PROBLEM?
Smoke is inhaled by people around. Smoke is carried by winds and reaches even people quite far from the place. Burning of dry leaves generates a large quantity of particulates. These particulates are carried by the wind. They can reach deep in lung tissue of people around and can cause
•Shortness of breath
•Long-term respiratory problems
For the people who suffer from asthma or other breathing disorder, leaf burning is extremely hazardous.
Life on earth is carbon-based. We all, i.e. all the living things are made up of carbon.
So, when any organic matter is burnt, that carbon combined with oxygen is let out in form of carbon dioxide.
If the leaves in the heap smother, i.e. they do not get enough oxygen, then Carbon monoxide is released.
Carbon monoxide is dangerously hazardous gas. It gets absorbed in blood where it reduces oxygen-carrying capacity of the Red Blood Cells (RBCs).
It also is one of the greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming. Its impact towards global warming is more than other common greenhouse gases, like Carbon dioxide and Methane.
Fire can always spread with wind. So, there is a risk of fire spreading to surrounding areas. It is risky for people and properties around. Green trees, plants nearby get damaged due to fire.
SO, OPEN BURNING OF LEAVES IS HEALTH AS WELL AS FIRE HAZARD.
Challenge for this month is “How to Many coconut leaves in manner that is not harmful to the environment and the living creatures around”.
A few solutions we have come across are below.
SOLUTION 1: CREATING BROOMS USING THE MID-RIB OF THE LEAFLET
Mid-rib of the leaflet is taken out by stripping off the leafy part. Mid-ribs are collected in a bunch and a broom is made.
PROBLEM: People who make these brooms roam around looking for the fallen coconut leaves. When they find a leaf by the roadside/ footpath, they find a place nearby to make the broom.
These places are usually on the footpath, by the roadside, by the bridges. These places are dirty, dangerous with heavy city traffic near by. With no other option, these broom-makers work in these unhealthy, dirty and sometimes dangerous conditions.
And that is not the only challenge. Once broom is made, it is upon them to sell it.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Can any general store (which sells brooms) offer a corner in their premises to the broom-makers and then buy the brooms from them, once it is ready? So broom-makers get to work in safe and respectable conditions, and they have assured source of income.
If such a hub is created, coconut palm owners in the vicinity could be encouraged to bring their fallen leaves at that designated corner in the shop premises.
It is a WIN-WIN situation for the broom-maker, coconut palm owner and the shop keeper.
Image Courtesy: https://www.indiamart.com/proddetail/coco-brooms-2580423312.html
SOLUTION 2: MAKING ARTEFACTS FROM THE LEAFLETS.
Various artefacts like baskets, boxes, lanterns are made from the leaflets.
SOLUTION 3: MAKING PAPER FROM THE LEAFLETS
Here is a paper suggesting this idea.
SOLUTION 4: LEAF MID-RIB/ RACHIS AS FUEL
There are many families in lower income strata, who use LPG cylinder for cooking, but cannot afford the same to warm the bath water. They are dependent on challah for the same. Chullah operates on wood. They often need to look for the fallen trees/ branches and stock up.
Can the rachis be used instead of fuel-wood? Rachis any way cannot be used for anything else. It decomposes very very slow.
Instead of it rotting away in some dump yard, can the same be made available to people who depend on fire-wood?
Here is a rocket stove designed by Mr. Niranjan Upasani. Including his comment here in the blog.
We at Sustainable Lifestyle Store and Experience Center have been working on stoves that can use the Woody part of the coconut leaf as Fuel.
We accept these Woody part of the leaf. The store can also give a discount on the products you buy in lieu of the leaves you donate at the store.
One of the sweepers at our store uses it for cooking.
We have also manufactured a ticket stove that uses this wood as fuel.
These stoves are available commercially too.
DO COMMENT, DO ADD.
LET THE BRAINSTOME BEGIN