TA Writer of the Week: Lavanya Keshavmurthy on the ‘basics’ of sustainability

As an actual old timer (the kind who has seen it grow from garden to garbage city), Lavanya has tried her hands in all facets of the city from recreational hobbies, sports, art and social enterprise.


If you’re new to Bangalore or planning a visit very soon, get off the tourist trail and spend a day or two with Lavanya Keshavmurthy. As an actual local expert (the kind who has seen it grow from garden to garbage city), Lavanya has tried her hands in all facets of the city from recreational hobbies, sports, art and social enterprise. Here, she talks to us about how she continues her effort in living a 100% sustainable lifestyle.

Personal factsheet

I was born in Bangalore and have been living here for more than 3 decades now, having completed my education as well as working in the city.

I have varied interests, some very conflicting ones (cycling v/s driving/biking, health food v/s chaats, working hard v/s day dreaming). I have dabbled in yoga, running, Taekwondo, salsa, German, adventure sports, social enterprise, etc., at the risk of being labelled a “Jack of all trades, but master of none”. I find it very hard to say no to travel, theatre, movies and food. These days, I work as a Gardener at Eat Your Street.

I have a knack of getting into bizarre situations like sleeping on the footpath for a Schengen visa, and contrary to my cycle promotion, I have been on a road trip across the States.

Going back to the basics

I remember when I started cycling to work during my early working days; mine was the only employee’s cycle and the rest belonged to security and house keeping staff. I see a big change today in the corporate world. At the same time, there have been many people in the non-IT sector and rural areas, not necessarily captive cyclists, who have been living a sustainable life, be it cycling or water harvesting or growing a vegetable garden – just that we do not get to know much about them. But, maybe this trend is changing for the worse because of competition, while the IT/Corporate sector and urban areas seem to have woken up. I see many people taking interest in growing one’s own food, getting closer to nature, taking responsibility for our city, etc. At the same time, there is cynicism and scepticism, but I would like to stay positive.

Lavanya at “Eat Your Street”, a gardening workshop

Fascination with sustainability began…

Way back in high school. We were to write an essay on environmental pollution and I still remember how passionately I had worked on it. I almost went in for studying Environmental Engineering, but for peer pressure and job security. All along, I kept doing my own little experiments with recycling paper at home and making greeting cards, composting kitchen waste (back then, I did not know it was called composting), cycling of course…

Defining sustainability in my own life

For me, it is about freedom and independence from ‘outside’ systems for our needs. Though we harvest rain water, minimize waste, treat grey water, grow some food at home, I cannot say I am 100% sustainable yet. I still use the car, have a BWSSB connection, buy food, etc., and the challenge I face these days is to be able to be at peace with all these gaps. I have been realizing that there is another very important dimension to sustainability, which is about the mind – something we often neglect.

Readers find that they can relate to my posts and articles because I write it as it is – with all the challenges, failures and successes of course. I am not trying to paint an unrealistic picture which can be difficult to live up to. So, readers find it easier to reach out to me and discuss their failures.

The best thing ever read in The Alternative

Many, but if I have to pick, I liked the series on ‘Work with a purpose’ and Sejal Parikh’s article on alternatives for menstrual hygiene. Also ‘Greenprinting Your Home’, and the series on books and reading. The best thing I like about The Alternative is that it gives options, solutions and inspiring stories so there are no excuses for not doing it right. Sometimes, reading The Alternative makes me guilty that I am not doing enough!

Spreading the good news

By reaching out to schools and colleges, and catching them young – something that I had thought of earlier this year, but never followed it up.

The Alternative has a pool of writers and contributors who are remarkable in the wide range of topics they cover, their in-depth analysis, and the extent of their work on topics they care about. Every week, we will feature one such writer who has enriched our platform with interesting and diverse stories and views in our TA writer of the week section.


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The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. more

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. more
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