The Love Of Quartz

Quartz might be the second most abundant mineral on the planet; but there aren’t a lot of Quartizians striving every single day for a better and greener tomorrow. Sobha Quartz has shown exemplary grit in developing a spirit of sustainability as the very essence of their community. They show us the varied facets of sustainable living – the environmental and the social.

Sobha Quartz has been around since 2004. Around 2010, seeing the rapid urbanization and development of the Outer Ring Road in the Iblur-Bellandur-Sarjapura area, it recognized that water, safe transit, power, waste management will all be a challenge progressively. It was captive to the water mafia, victim to bureaucratic red-tapism that did not provide predictable power at fair rates, could not provide water or sewerage lines, had no predictable waste pickup service, did not provide good quality motorable roads for efficient and safe transit.

Consequently, successive Management Committees (MC) of Sobha Quartz (SQ) decided to drive initiatives within and outside the community that helps reduce dependence on government services, and improve the quality of life of Quartz residents. A fabulous STP, rainwater harvesting, comprehensive waste management, zero waste generating community events, adoption of eco-friendly habits, and community outreach are examples of exemplary contributions to the Quartzians in particular, and to the larger community in general.

Say No To Waste In Landfill

Their Solid Waste Management initiative, started in 2014, today takes away 42 tons of wet waste per year from landfills. They compost this waste (roughly 100-120 kgs per day) to produce high quality compost that is consumed, sold, and stored for future use. They responsibly dispose hazardous and dry wastes by contracting with vendors vetted for responsible business practices.

Implementation is always a challenge. Colorful presentations with pictures, visual demos and constant follow up were tools used to educate the staff and residents about their objectives. Compliance and adoption now is 100%.

Home Composting as an initiative is three years old. Over 30 homes are very mature and form the backbone of the self-help group that supports other newbies. Home visits, WA chat groups, and sharing of compost is slowly enlarging this circle of “home composters”. They battle complaints of odour, flies, creepy crawlies, etc. but the volunteer group typically address every issue brought up in less than 8 hours. This speed of resolution makes adoption easy.

The Community Compost initiative is more recent. After a successful six-month pilot, Stonesoup Aaditi was picked as the community composter of choice. They have so far composted over 8 tons of waste over the last 6 months, composting nearly 30% of the wet waste generated.

What helped make community composting work was diligent planning, process documentation, and excellent record keeping. There’s a team responsible for maintaining data – on volumes loaded daily, quantities of additives used like dried compost, sawdust/cocopeat, microbes, etc. Another team is responsible for raw material inventory, ordering supplies on time, and working with the compost vendor on everything from troubleshooting to product design improvements. A third team is responsible for daily inspection and performing the ‘smell test’ thrice a day to make sure the composting has not gone wrong. And the fourth team that documents processes, educates housekeeping on segregation guidelines, gardeners on loading & unloading processes, and residents on their responsibilities. This 15-member Quartz Green Team (QGT) is the lifeblood of the home & community composting success.

Similarly, the first Zero Waste Onam Sadhya Community Event in 2015 in the building lit the fire to becoming a zero-waste-events community. Zero-waste is now an established culture in Sobha Quartz.

Every Drop Counts

Water Management was one of the early initiatives. Beholden to water tankers for over 10 years of the 15 year community life, they looked at ways to reduce tanker water usage, reduce consumption, and create storage area rain water. After a successful pilot of roof-top rainwater harvesting in 2013, they expanded it to 100% capture of rainwater on roof in 2016, building a network of pipes and new storage sumps, to store over 2L liters of rainwater.

The community is in the process of increasing the number of recharge pits. They completely revamped their under-performing STP in 2015. Today, the STP is a model in the neighborhood, producing odourless, colorless, and suspended-solid-free water, that is used to water our garden spaces, given free for neighborhood construction projects, and to water plants during the parched summer months in the neighborhood Iblur Lake.

BBMP has permitted Sobha Quartz to discharge excess storm water (that cannot be directed to the recharge pits) to Iblur Lake. This will help bring additional water to the lake, is synergistic in that it meets both the community and the lake’s needs, and is an example of community-government partnership.

All Quartz homes have taps fitted with aerators to reduce water consumption. All homes with RO water filters are encouraged to use the water for their cleaning use, failing which they have the option to give it to the housekeeping staff for their daily cleaning needs.

Since 2015, their water needs are fulfilled largely by BWSSB supplied Cauvery water, occasionally supplemented by tanker water. Their water saving initiatives have helped reduce water consumption by at least 15%.

Green Is The Colour Of Quartz

With just 2.76 acres at Sobha Quartz’s disposal to house 146 apartments and approximately 500 residents, the community is land starved. In six short years, Quartz is one of the greenest communities, with dozens of large growth fruit & flowering trees, some fruit trees, and hundreds of shrubs and bushes, providing a soothing environment in the midst of all the bustle. They also have a herbs garden, with dozens of medicinal plants.

Building an eco-friendly community is always a challenge, balancing between our needs and responsible behavior with a small carbon eco-footprint. In 2012, they stopped using pesticides to remove the large number of beehives on campus. They smoke out bees, remove hives, sell the honey within the community, and let the bees build new hives. The large flower population is a natural attraction to these insects, and they have learnt to co-exist.

Since 2015, they have started using chemical-free spraying of mosquito repellents using a mixture of citronella, neem, and soap oils. Coincidentally, the restoration of Iblur Lake with active financial & volunteer participation by Sobha Quartz has resulted in significant reduction in the mosquito population.

As an extension of their “small eco footprint” initiative, Women Of Quartz embarked on a Green the Red initiative, with an intent to make menstruating women switch from sanitary pads to reusable and eco-friendly menstrual cups. Personal chats, evangelising, and demos to residents & to staff like maids & cooks, has had significant impact. More and more women in Quartz are now adopting these practices.

Not for ourselves alone are we born.

Finally, Quartz sees itself as an intrinsic member of the larger community. Quartz Music Club members spend time at neighborhood old age and destitute homes spreading music, dance, and joy. Quartz members have unofficially adopted Santosh Charitable Trust and its 25 young orphan residents, helping them financially, providing personal coaching, and asking them to participate in Quartz community events. Quartz members are actively involved with lake activists, and BBMP in volunteering their time in the rejuvenation of Iblur Lake, and later funding the upkeep of the lake and its environs. Today, the lake is a hubbub of activity, with hundreds of joggers, walkers using the bund around the lake, and dozens of seniors taking in the pleasure of sitting by nature in the midst of the densest ward of Bangalore.

Sobha Quartz very early in its life decided that as a responsible community member, it should fulfill its community & environmental responsibility holistically, and address every one of them with total commitment, vigor, and urgency. Sobha Quartz carries its residents along in this journey using every tool available at its disposal – data to support its argument, persuasive skills, and the larger benefit it brings to them and the larger community.

Sobha Quartz – Rise High Awards 2019 Nominee

Category – Waste Management, Water Management, Green Initiatives, Initiatives Outside The Gate

See you on November 9, 2019 at Royal Orchid – Regenta, Bengaluru. Register TODAY!

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About the Author: Karnika Roy

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