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Eco-friendly art that explores the dichotomy of human nature


Arts have traditionally not been big on environment, but Iram Wani and Aleem Dad Khan take pride in their techniques being eco-friendly. Their choice of symbols — fetus for Wani and Yin Yang for Khan — serve to shift the viewer’s focus heavily on their techniques.

But this is not to say that their techniques are similar. They could hardly be more different from each other. While Wani’s approach is more sensitive and theme based, Khan’s is more technically inclined and experimental.

Wani explores the duality of the conditioned and unconditioned self and exalts the primal and overpowering part of human nature that socialisation tries to curb. “The fetus, for me, is the symbol of our most unconditioned self,” said Wani. She added that she believes all great art is an exploration and expression of the unconditioned self.

Her work use techniques such as linocut and chine-colle heavily which add a quality of cleanliness and focus to her work.

Khan, in contrast, borrows more from reductive and collagraphy techniques that are more experimental and overlapping. Ironically Khan uses the symbol of balance, Yin Yang, in a somewhat chaotic way — separating the two components of the symbol in some paintings while joining them together in unexpected permutations in others.

Referring to his painting “Yin Yang Bang”, Khan said, “I’m trying to show the balance and imbalance in the universe, the organised chaos that is responsible for our evolution.”

The two artists do also try to look to other sources for their paintings. Wani showcases a scene of urban life with buildings in her piece “Contrived”.

“This is a depiction of the conditioned life we all lead, it is not natural but man-made, hence the title,” said Wani.


Similarly Khan too has used the image of buildings in his “A depiction of the city Swansea in Wales”. He shares it is a collaborative piece with his teacher Sara Hopkins.

Both artists have shown their work in numerous exhibits and have done their Bachelors of Fine Arts from the National College of Arts, Lahore. The exhibition will continue at the Nomad Gallery till May 31.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2012.

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Mitsubishi i-MiEV Eco Tourism Pilot Demo Program starts – EV is now available at Four Seasons Resort, Langkawi

Langkawi seduces, not for the first time. Peering out from MH1438′s window, the cluster of 99 islands in the blue sea that make up Langkawi immediately calms the mind, and brings a smile. And when the Four Seasons Resort is your home away from home, you’ll want to stay for awhile. But we got work to do, so time to get down and dirty.

Or not, because the car we’re here to drive is as clean as they come. Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia, which in October last year became the first to register a full electric vehicle in Malaysia, is launching its Eco-Tourism Pilot Demonstration Program, starring the i-MiEV.

If you don’t already know, the i-MiEV is based on MMC’s i minicar, but there’s no internal combustion engine and no need to refuel, because it’s 100% battery powered and rechargeable. Zero tailpipe emissions, too.

And it’s no fancy concept either – the i-MiEV is a production car already on sale elsewhere, and hopefully one day, Malaysia. It was first sold domestically in 2009, before European sales started in 2010. The little car was launched in North America late last year.

Here’s how the program works. MMM is loaning one unit of the i-MiEV to Four Seasons Langkawi, where guests of the five-star resort can use around the island, for free. No money required, just feedback.

This will go on for two months from 23 February. The stated mission is to gain better understanding of customer behaviour and expectations from an EV. There’s some prestige to be had for both parties too, in my opinion, since everyone is flashing their eco credentials these days.

“Fundamentally, eco tourism means making as little environmental impact as possible and encouraging the preservation of environment when visiting a place. 100% electric with zero emissions, yet offering surprising power and a smooth quiet ride, the i-MiEV is the greenest way to drive in Langkawi,” Tetsuya Oda, CEO of MMM proclaimed.

“This fits perfectly into our philosophy of engaging in sustainable practices that conserve natural resources and reduce environmental impact,” Philippe Larrieu, Four Seasons Langkawi Resort Manager chipped in.

We understand that after its stint at Four Seasons, WVY 159 will continue to serve Langkawi at another location. By the way, MMM, as pioneer, went through nearly one year of working with various authorities to help chart a new course in a system where tax is charged according to engine cubic capacity (the i-MiEV has none, remember), among other obstacles.

And of course, there’s the usual process of getting type approval etc. If you’re wondering, road tax for the i-MiEV is RM10 per year, after a 50% EV discount. Not sure how they arrived there, though. Notice the road tax sticker says “49000 W” in place of where the engine cubic capacity normally as – it reflects the i-MiEV’s 49kW motor power.

At the event, we also learnt something new from Takayuki Yatabe of MMC’s EV Business Promotion Department. In a “did you know” moment, the Tokyo based exec shared that the i-MiEV is great as an emergency power source, since its lithium ion battery pack stores the equivalent of one and a half days of the electricity used by a typical Japanese household.

He added that MMC is developing tech that will allow i-MiEVs to supply up to 1,500 watts of electricity to power electric jugs, rice cookers, hair dryers, and other small but vital appliances. Not so useful here perhaps, but Japan is frequently hit by earthquakes, which could knock out electricity supply. In fact, 60 units of the i-MiEV were used for relief purposes in the earthquake/tsunami disaster last year, when gasoline supply dried up.

After all that, I hopped into the car for a spin round the block. Having driven various EVs before, including a pre-production i-MiEV, the stint wasn’t as eye opening as it could be, but it’s still a stark contrast from regular motoring. For one, you twist the key (same design as other Mitsus) but there’s no resulting sound or vibration, only a signal from the instrument cluster that the i-MiEV is ready to roll. Step on it and it glides off with a synthesised whirr.

Yes, the sound on take off and low speeds is manufactured and comes out from a speaker. This is for safety purposes, in case pedestrians can’t hear an EV coming. Apparently, the sound has been agreed upon by all carmakers, sort of like an “official EV noise” if there’s such a thing. Sounds very natural, and I wouldn’t have noticed if they didn’t say, honestly.

Keep your foot on the gas and the ample torque (180 Nm from rest) gets you to highway speeds in a blink. It’s like a powerful regular car, just without the engine/exhaust note we’re accustomed to. The rate of acceleration tapers off once you’re cruising along, but one’s not meant to race around in this anyway. Instead, keeping an eye on the Charge/Eco/Power bar becomes second nature. Lower is better, battery lasts longer.

Everything else feels regular, except that tyre roar becomes so much more apparent when it’s the only noise you hear. The steering felt a little heavy for me, although there’s no big issue with the regenerative brakes (some early hybrids with these brakes had odd pedal feel).

The i-MiEV is a great runabout, and I can see myself driving it everyday without compromise. Measured by the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) the car is capable of 150 km on a full charge. Even if we take 100 km as a realistic figure, many daily routines will be covered, and charging can be done overnight (eight hours at 230 volts). Can’t be that cumbersome, since some people charge their smartphones more often than that!

The only thing stopping MMM is cost. EVs and their batteries are currently expensive to make, and it will be uncompetitive without government incentives in the form of rebates and subsidies. If you’re wondering how long the batteries in the i-MiEV will last – Mitsubishi estimates about 70% capacity by the end of 10 years.

o give you an idea, the Japanese government gives a subsidy of 50% of the difference in price between EV and regular model. For instance, if a 660cc Mitsubishi i is RM100k and the i-MiEV’s natural price is RM200k, the subsidy will be worth RM50k. Currently, the G model i-MiEV is priced at JPY 3.8 million (RM145,017), but after subsidy, the price becomes JPY 2.84 million, or RM108,381. In the US, the i-MiEV is priced around $29k after rebate.

Norway is a great example of how popular an EV can be with support. Tax and VAT exempt, the i-MiEV also pays zero toll and can use bus lanes, making it the best selling A-segment vehicle in the country. Is the future electric? It’s all about the money, at the end of the day.

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Coca-Cola Pushes New Eco-friendly Labeling In China

Coca-Cola (China) has announced that the company has replaced the PVC labels used on its full-line of products in China with the new environmental ones to reduce the pollution risks caused by improper handling in the recycling procedures.

Chinese local media reported that starting from 2007, Coca-Cola launched a campaign involving many departments to develop new environmental materials to replace the PVC labels. From 2010 to 2011, Coca-Cola established a non-PVC films supply chain in China.

Bai Changbo, vice president for public affairs and communication of Coca-Cola Greater China, told local media that replacing PVC with non-PVC ones is a specific move for Coca-Cola’s realization of the sustainable packaging strategy on the sustainable development platform.

Coca-Cola is the first international beverage enterprise which removed the PVC labels from its full-line of products in China, said Zhao Yali, chairman of the China Beverage Industry Association. They hope more enterprises will pay attention to packaging innovation and environmental protection, and work together to promote the sustainable development of the entire industry.

PVC, which is the abbreviation for polyvinyl chloride, contains elements that can reportedly increase the risk of cancer. Incineration of PVC waste will also produce cancer-causing dioxin and pollute the atmosphere.

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Eco Chic

Left to right: Eco-chic designs from Helen Lee, Niki Qin and Camilla Wellton. Gao Erqiang / China Daily

China and Sweden come together for a new approach to sustainable style, Mary Katherine Smith finds out in Shanghai.

Trying to be fashion-forward while at the same time eco-friendly doesn’t mean wearing a burlap sack and 10-year-old T-shirts, at least not for the designers behind the Swedish Institute’s “Eco Chic – Towards Sino-Swedish Sustainable Swedish Fashion” exhibition, currently in Shanghai. Whether it is shoes that are made by hand and use naturally tanned leather, a coat made from recycled polyester or wool products that are locally and organically sourced, each of the Swedish designers featured in the exhibition demonstrate how even fashionistas can be green. The 20 Swedish outfits shown at the exhibition not only push the envelope in their designs and concepts but also show how those in fashion can be more environmentally and ecologically friendly in the way they make their products.

Kajsa Guterstam, the project manager from the Swedish Institute for the exhibition, says the theme is meant to inspire people to be more sustainable one step at a time.

“No one can guarantee to be entirely eco-friendly. It’s really difficult and they might end up not doing it,” she says.

That gives designers the encouragement to make small or significant changes to their production. “It’s a humble way and the only way to move toward a more sustainable way of living.”

While eco-friendly fashions may not be on the radar for most in the industry, Guterstam says it’s an important market. Environmental issues are something we all have to deal with, she says, “so we ask ourselves: ‘How can I contribute to make my living more sustainable?’ Clothes are something that applies to everyone”.

The Swedish labels included in the exhibition were picked based on how ecological the products are, whether they use organic or locally sourced materials, methods of production and whether they reduce the supply chain. Many are leading designers in the Scandinavian country; some have collaborated on special lines for international chains like H&M.

For a few of the featured artists, it is more than just making a fashion statement. “The way you dress yourself expresses how you feel,” says Camilla Wellton, whose fashions are featured in the exhibition. “In turn it shows how (you) treat the environment.”

“Beauty is not about being outwardly beautiful,” says Emy Blixt, founder and creative designer of Swedish Hasbeens, which sells handmade and eco-friendly clogs, shoes and other accessories. “Making goods that don’t harm the environment is also beautiful” she adds.

The exhibition, started in 2008, has already traveled to eight other cities around the world, but its stop in Shanghai is unique. Along with the 14 Swedish designers that make up the exhibition, seven established Chinese designers and two Chinese students from Raffles Design Institute of Donghua University are included in the show.

The Shanghai installment of the exhibition offers a mix of more practical and ready-to-wear items that are iconic, while the Chinese designs showcase how clothes can be fashionable and organic.

While finding organic materials is difficult in China, designers like Shanghai-native Helen Lee are making it their mission. She’s made changes in how and where she sources some of the products and reuses leftover material for other garments or accessories.

She says one way to start is by educating her customers about the value of sustainability. Like Blixt from Swedish Hasbeens, Lee thinks that fashion and beauty go beyond the surface level. “Fashion is about beauty,” she says, “and more importantly, inner beauty.”

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Eco-friendly garbage bins to manage waste

The bins have separate compartments to collect paper, plastic and organic waste

Saving resources
Dulsco has launched a line of garbage bins that have separate compartments to collect different categories of waste. -Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Does your office have a bin for recycling paper, in which you can dispose of unwanted printouts and documents? Conservative estimates put the weekly amount of paper thrown out at up to 50kg per 100 staff members, when it could be recycled.

Prakash Parab, director of Dulsco Waste Management Services, said many companies have reduced their paper usage and are adopting environment-friendly practices at the workplace but the waste generated depends on what practices are in place, and the type of business activity.

“It is very difficult to [state] the exact quantities with respect to the number of people working in an organisation. If an organisation prefers to rely on e-mails for communication and has a practice of printing on both sides of the paper, the waste paper (office paper only) generated is to the tune of 30-50kg per week for an organisation with 100 to 120 staff,” he said.

Reprocessing material

To help paper recycling and general waste segregation in the workplace, Dulsco has launched a line of garbage bins that have separate compartments to collect paper, plastic and organic waste. The contents can then be taken to any recycling centre across the country to help reprocess the material.

It is estimated that paper has approximately seven generations, meaning it can be recycled up to seven times. Each time paper is recycled, the fibre length decreases, which impacts its strength. Most paper recycling plants add some virgin paper with recovered fibre in the production of new paper and paperboard products.

According to, an online recycling directory, the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) reported that 57.4 per cent of the paper consumed in the US was recovered for recycling in 2008, in part due to recycling efforts taken at home. Every tonne of paper recovered for recycling saves 2.5 cubic metres of landfill space.

Precious resources

“By segregating the waste into recyclable and non-recyclable material, we can prevent precious resources from reaching landfills. Once sorted at the workplace, the recyclable waste can be deposited at any of the recycling centres run by the municipality, shopping malls, supermarkets, bus stations or petrol stations,” said Parab.

Dulsco also collects waste material from companies and organisations. The waste paper is taken to paper recycling mills in the UAE. A part of the collected material is also exported to paper mills in other countries.
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Bangalore City to get greener buses

Some 1,000 less polluting buses will replace the smoke-belching ones of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) shortly and Bangalore will be the first Indian city to have these new Euro IV-compliant vehicles. The BMTC board recently approved the purchase of 1,000 such buses to reduce pollution.

Even a city like New Delhi does not have Euro IV-compliant buses,” Transport and Home Minister R. Ashok said here after inaugurating the eighth Traffic Transit Management Centre (TTMC) in the city at Vijayanagar on Saturday.

The Rs. 58.1-crore TTMC, constructed under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme, will be named after poet-laureate Kuvempu, and a directive in this regard has been issued to the BMTC Managing Director.

Facility: The Rs. 58.1-crore TTMC at Vijayanagar, constructed under the JNNURM scheme, was inaugurated on Saturday

Five more TTMCs have been planned in Malleswaram, Jayanagar, Katriguppe, Indiranagar and Hebbal under public-private partnership (PPP) while those at Banashankari and Yeshwanthpur will be ready in a month and a half.

Stating that the TTMCs would fetch the BMTC and Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) an annual revenue of Rs. 30 crore, Mr. Ashok said that such steps had been taken to make these transport corporations financially independent.

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Surprise! Not All of the Most Eco Friendly Cars are Hybrid or Electric

eco friendly honda civicThe buzz about hybrid and electric cars being better for the environment may be loud and on the front page of all the news outlets, but here’s a fact: not all of the most eco friendly cars out there are hybrid or electric. According to the private American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)’s fourteenth annual  environmental ratings chart, it’s a gas-powered car that takes top honors.


The Honda Civic GX, a traditional gas-powered car, scored fifty-four points in the survey and took top honors for the eighth consecutive year. This year second place went to the Nissan Leaf and third place to another gas-powered car- the two-seater Smart Fortwo.

In fairness, the next three spots were taken by hybrids – the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic and Honda Insight, respectively). Ford’s new Fiesta SFE (Super Fuel Economy) and the Chevy Cruze Eco followed. Rounding out the top twelve were the Chevy Volt and three gas-powered cars, the Hyundai Elantra, Mini Cooper and Toyota Yaris.

Said ACEEE vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan, while announcing the results (which included five new models in the top twelve), “We’re seeing an increasing number of highly efficient gasoline options from both foreign and domestic automakers along with the first electric vehicles.”

It may be surprising to you that hybrids and plug-ins weren’t dominating the list, but as Therese Langer, ACEEE’s transportation director explained, it actually makes sense. “Vehicles running on electricity emit nothing from the tailpipe, but their ‘upstream’ emissions can be substantial depending on where they’re charged. As U.S. power generation becomes cleaner, these vehicles scores will rise.”

We love this survey because it’s not just about what comes out of the tailpipe, but a three-sixty look at fuel consumption, emissions that create global warming and climate change and pollution and emissions associated with battery manufacture and disposal. Hybrids actually lose points because of their batteries.

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