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Toxic Realties - Information Transformed

Toxic Realties

Toxic Realties - Information Transformed

Our world is being devoured by demonic agents - the toxins, which are omnipresent in the environment, but there are alternatives to overcome the menace. ‘Our Toxic world’ is a guide to hazardous substances in our everyday lives.

A graphic guide book by Toxics Link, the book exposes the hazardous toxins that come in various forms like construction material, automobile pollutants, industrial pollutants, chemicals, electronic waste, plastic, heavy metals, food, household waste, and chemicals used in festival merchandize, and alert the readers to challenge the pollutants which were otherwise thought to be indestructible.

The Purpose
Everyone of us is a potential activist, who can bring about a small change in the way we live, however average citizens are “like helpless hares, ...... frozen in action, hypnotized by the snake, which is about to devour us” says Ravi Agarwal in his forward. The book encourages us to do our little acts, because “this power of influencing change has been demonstrated time and time again and it cannot be underestimated.”

The Content 
With graphic stories set in the Capital city of Delhi, ‘Our Toxic world’ is comprehensive, providing meticulous details about every aspect of the toxic materials that eat into the life of city dwellers. A chapter each is used to provide an insight and to inform and educate citizens about toxic substances in their everyday life. There is also a chapter educating the readers about the environment laws of the land and Right to Information Act (RTI).

The problems and solutions are narrated through the life and activities of fictitious Sachdeva family and the people they come in contact with. Some characters are quite revealing, like the rag pick Shankar, who unknowingly becomes an eco-activist, playing a crucial part in keeping the environment clean. And the vegetable seller Ballu who sells toxic vegetables and add to the poison by using unethical means to make products attractive, fresh and saleable.

After each illustrated episode tips and information are provided to deal with the particular pollutant. For instance in the chapter on construction pollution, information is provided in the end of the chapter about the difference between conventional and green building techniques, and economic viabilities for taking up greener construction methods. 

The graphics by Priya Kuriyan are praiseworthy, as she has spared no effort to illustrate the dangers of toxic elements found in and around human habitation. One unforgettable representation is that of Sachdeva’s maid Bindu’s husband who suffers from bronchial infection as a result of working in construction sites. The narration tells that the ‘dust has eaten him away, transforming him into itself’; the graphics depicts in a sequence of pictures, the man gradually being swallowed by the dust. 

On the other hand there is information overload, and as a result the focus is sometimes lost as more than one medium is used to convey information. It would have been better if the information and argument were provided only through graphics. However the merit outweighs the glitches as this book is meant not to delight or entertain but to inform and enlighten.

The Inspiration 
The source of information for this innovative book is the result of 15 years of sincere effort of ‘Toxics Link’, a Delhi-based environmental NGO researching and documenting waste and hazardous substances. Through the book they attempt to spread the message to a larger audience. Text was put together by Alison Purdy, a volunteer placed by Challengers World Wide at Toxic Link; scripted by Aniruddha Sen Gupta; and published by Sage publications. 
‘Our Toxic world’ is relevant for residents of major cities in India, where construction works and the intensity of pollution are growing at unprecedented levels. Through individual stories the book looks at how each one of us can be an agent of change.

Project by: Toxics Link
Script by: Aniruddha Sen Gupta
Illustration by: Priya Kuriyan
Publishers: Sage Publications 
Rate: ` 395

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