Is This The World’s Most Sustainable Village?

Picture a human female nursing a stray doe with her own breast milk. When I first saw this video in a BBC documentary, I was speechless. It was filmed in a village in Rajasthan, India that I had never heard of before. The lady’s husband found a baby deer who went astray, brought it home, and took care of it until it was ready to go out into the wild again. The documentary showed the close quarters humans and animals share and the loving relationship they have with one another in this village.

My tour group to India in March 2016 and I went to witness this firsthand. We hired a jeep that took us on a half day safari through the Bishnoi community near Jodhpur, gateway city to India’s desert.

bishnoi village

At first glance, we saw nothing unusual. Thatched huts, modest brick homes, dirt roads, open grasslands, cows, farms, etc. School kids waived at us as we drove past. They screamed out all the English words they knew, “Hello, dollar, pencil, I love you, bye!” We passed by the little one story building that was their school. Then we saw wild camels grazing in the field next door. A few deer and antelopes. More cows and buffalos.

Bishnoi is a religious group found in the Western Thar Desert of India, and areas of Punjab, and Sindh in Pakistan. Founder of the religion, Guru Jambheshwar gave the message to protect trees and wildlife around 540 years ago, prophesying that harming the environment means harming yourself. He formulated twenty nine tenets. The tenets were not only tailored to conserve bio-diversity of the area but also ensured a healthy eco-friendly social life for the community.bishnoi village india

It turns out one of the tenets includes providing protection to all animals. Which means that the Bishnoi people allow their agricultural crops to be grazed on by wild animals and predators, only to gather what is left for themselves. This is hard to imaging because the area is dry, people are poor, and there is not much food to go around anyway.

Black bucks migrate from far off lands to the lake in this area, where they are provided ample food and protection against hunting.

black bucks in bishnoi

They are also strictly vegetarian and do not allow the killing of animals. They go to the length of removing each ant or bug from firewood before using it for consumption.

Bison are also known as tree huggers due to an incident that happened in 1730. A local lady, Amrita Devi protested against the Maharaja to not cut trees in the area. 363 villagers died while protecting nature. They do not wear blue clothing as a large quantity of plants are harvested to make blue color dye.

carpet weaver in bishnoi village

During our visit, we stopped at the homes of a potter and carpet weaver to learn about local arts and crafts. Then we ate lunch at the home of Mr. Tulsiram, a Bishnoi villager. We welcomed us to his mud house with warm hospitality. We sat on woven beds and enjoyed a simple yet delicious meal of bajre ki roti (millet bread), daal (lentils), and ker sangri (capers and greens).lunch in bishnoi village Tulsiram encourage me to eat more as he commented, “The only thing I bought for this meal was salt.” Like most people in the village, he grows everything he needs, including oils and spices. Though he doesn’t have much in terms of materialistic things, he is living a very sustainable and fulfilling life. Tulsiram in bishnoi village

29 Rules of Bishnoi Faith

(source: Wikipedia)

  1. Observe 30 days’ state of untouchability after child’s birth
  2. Observe 5 days’ segregation while a woman is in her menses
  3. Bath early morning
  4. Obey the ideal rules of life: Modesty
  5. Obey the ideal rules of life: Patience or satisfactions
  6. Obey the ideal rules of life: Purifications
  7. Perform Sandhya two times a day
  8. Eulogise their God, Vishnu, in evening hours (Aarti)
  9. Perform Yajna (Havan) every morning
  10. Filter water, milk and firewood
  11. Speak pure words in all sincerity
  12. Adopt the rule of forgiveness and pity
  13. Don’t steal and not keep any intention to do it also
  14. Do not condemn or criticize
  15. Don’t lie
  16. Don’t waste the time on argument
  17. Fast on Amavashya and offer prayers to Vishnu
  18. Have pity on all living beings and love them
  19. Do not cut green trees, save the environment
  20. Crush lust, anger, greed and attachment
  21. Accept food and water from our purified people only
  22. Provide a common shelter for male goat/sheep to avoid them being slaughtered in abattoirs
  23. Don’t sterilise ox
  24. Don’t use opium
  25. Don’t take smoke and use tobacco
  26. Don’t take bhang or hemp
  27. Don’t take wine or any type of liquor
  28. Don’t eat meat, remain always pure vegetarian
  29. Never use blue clothe

Ethical Chocolates, Both Delicious and Wildlife Friendly

As you begin to stock your pantries with chocolates and candies, pay attention to the list of ingredients listed on the package. Depending on the brand and quality of chocolate, it may be a product that is harmful to your own health, as well as to the environment and wildlife.
However, there is a chocolate brand that we like, as it surpasses all expectations of quality ingredients, refined taste, and global standards. Nuubia is a new ethical chocolate shop based in San Francisco that goes far beyond many other brands.
Ethical Chocolate from Nuubia
Hand Crafted and Environmentally Friendly
Nuubia hand-makes specialty confections from humanely sourced ingredients, without using either palm oil or GMOs. Founder, Alexandra Saunders, was born in Java, Indonesia, and has dedicated to life to conservation (cultivating palms for their oil is highly destructive of the environment so Nuubia has found a way to make ganache without the use of palm oil). Just a few weeks ago, Alexandra Saunders was an Honoree at Pongo Environmental Awards.
Nuubia is the first chocolatier to not only refuse to use palm oil but to ensure that what they make has no negative impact on the rainforests of the world. The company is also working to launch the Chocolate Wildlife Project which provides farmers with a viable source of income. For example, Nuubia purchases its ethical chocolate and ingredients directly from farmers who learn to produce sustainable, habitat-friendly crops.
nuubia chocolates made without palm oil

With Indonesia being the world’s 3rd largest exporter of palm oil, the production of palm oil has devastated the natural habitats of the animals and orangutans that inhabit the area. Founder, Alexandra Saunders, took a personal interest in orangutan conservation when she lived in Indonesia and studied them in graduate school at UC Berkeley. It was through this passion that Nuubia created the Chocolate Wildlife Project, which provides small farmers living on the edges of the Orangutan habitat with a viable source of income to abstain from destructive farming practices.

The Delicious Products
Nuubia Chocolate, Best Foods in the U.S
Some standout ethical chocolates from Nuubia include fresh-squeezed lime juice with vanilla bonbons, Caramelized Hazelnut Spread Sauce, that can rival just about any Nutella out there, and finally Johnny Walker Black Espresso Ganache Half Spheres! So when a box of chocolates is under the tree, you know that no orangutans were harmed to make your chocolate and that your treat can be enjoyed guilt-free.
Not to mention the OMG Candy Bar was awarded “Best Foods in the U.S.” by Esquire Magazine. Layers of hazelnut praline, sea salt caramel, rice crisps, and dark chocolate come together in harmony to create the perfect mood-altering balance. The chocolatier at Nuubia is Lionel Clement in 2011 he was named Chocolatier of the Year by Pastry Live.
nuubia choclate heart valentines day
Nuubia also offers a heart-shaped chocolate special (for pick up only), filled with more chocolate bonbons. This is the ultimate sweetheart gift for any special occasion.

Connect with Nuubia Today

In February 2015, Nuubia San Francisco opened its first flagship retail space in the newly built “Market on Market” inside the Twitter building, bringing fine chocolates, confections, natural spreads, macarons, handcrafted ice creams and seasonal specials to the city. Either take a selection of these handmade items home or stay and enjoy a chocolaty treat with freshly brewed latte in-store while sitting at Nuubia’s Chocolate Counter. The chocolates can be purchased directly from their instore location or ordered online. When ordered online they arrive very well packed with an ice pack and delivered within a couple of days directly from the store.

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Continue reading “World’s first four sustainable tourism destinations”

Travel with a Purpose and Change the World Today

We often don’t realize the carbon foot print we leave behind when we travel (Not just from airplanes but even at the lodgings). In fact, most people tend to use more water, electricity and toiletries on the road versus when they are at home. Continue reading “Travel with a Purpose and Change the World Today”