Written by Aradhita Saraf (Weloquent)
I had watched many documentaries, read many books, and passively witnessed many protests that preached against global warming and environmental pollution. However, the importance of how each one of us must act on saving our planet at the very earliest, didn’t register to me until I witnessed the effects of environmental degradation personally.
When I went scuba diving in Mexico for the very first time, I was told that the reefs were dying due to increased ocean temperatures caused by unhealthy levels of carbon dioxide in seawater. Sure enough, instead of a myriad of colourful sea life, I saw plastic bags floating around me.
When I went jogging in my local park, I was alerted by a bird squealing in pain as her wing was trapped in the neck of a plastic bottle that was carelessly thrown around.
Today we’ve all been quarantining at home for almost nine months, unable to resume daily activities such as going to school, work, gym and/or celebratory events. In all probability, this too is a direct consequence of human’s disregard towards its environment
We must remind ourselves that our houses aren’t the only homes we live in, our planet is the larger home that sustains life as we know it. While it seems like a humongous task to revive our environment, it is not. A global transformation merely requires each one of us were to embrace a sustainable lifestyle in the following six simple ways:-
1. Eat Clean
Not only are plant based foods healthy for your body but also for the planet. When you choose a plant-based diet, you choose to give back an animal its life. Additionally, by avoiding processed food you say “no” to bringing home wasteful cans and boxes and “yes” to healthier, home-cooked and fresh alternatives. To take it one step further, consider growing your own vegetable patch in your backyard or terrace garden and herbs in your balcony.
Choose to eat local foods so that you don’t build the demand for export of foods - which results in bad agricultural practices, and an immense amount of pollutants released due to transportation of your food product across the globe.
Last but not the least, eat clean using reusable utensils. Just like you don’t forget to take your keys, mobile phone, (and now, mask), remember to carry your reusable water bottle, a steel straw, and your food container.
2. Shop Smart
Choose to bring home only environmentally-friendly products and only if you really require them. When it comes to shopping for clothes, try to buy material that requires fewer chemical processes to manufacture than others. For instance, cotton and bamboo are planet-friendly and comfortable alternatives to polyester. While materials like leather and wool might keep you warm, they are not animal friendly and feed industries that factory farm animals for their skin. Nowadays, vegan and faux leather keep you just as warm and look just as stylish.
Lastly, recycle old clothes and give them a longer shelf life. Convert your old worn clothes into cloth bags, and use them for your groceries instead of throwing them in the trash can and bringing home carts full of plastic bags.
3. Recycle and Reuse
One can use the flood of information and videos online to their advantage by looking up creative and innovative ways to recycle things they would’ve otherwise thrown. DIY tips and tricks not only keep you engaged but also help reduce waste production.
Old tyres can be made into plant holders, broken clothes hangers can be made into photo frame holders, junk mail and cards can be used to make paper-mache products - and the list is endless. Get your creative juices flowing, and think twice before you put something in the dustbin. Ask yourself - how can I use this in my next art and craft session?
4. Manage Your Waste
Don’t fret if you don’t have the time to personally recycle items in your house. If you can segregate your waste, you’ll make it easier for others to make productive use of your waste that may be less damaging to the environment.
Divide your waste into three components - recyclable, compostable, and plastics. Try to minimise the amount of plastic waste you generate, and ensure the other two waste segments reach local organizations who are working towards more effective waste-management. If your residential compound, building, neighbourhood, locality does not have a waste segregating system, introduce one to them.
A simple daily habit of putting your waste where it belongs will help decrease the size of garbage piles in landfills thus drastically reducing the amount of poisonous gases like methane released in the environment.
5. Use Energy Saving Means of Transportation
While most of us are currently quarantining at home, for those of us who are stepping out, consider walking or biking if you are traveling short distances. For longer distances, carpooling or using public transportation are more environmentally friendly alternatives than using your own personal car.
The future lies in electric and solar powered vehicles, and until that time, we must ensure we keep our planet in mind while moving from one place to the other.
6. Spread Awareness
Once you embrace eco-friendly habits and are able to reduce your carbon footprint, be an example to others around you. Educate others on how easy it is, and how good it feels to enjoy a lifestyle that is as healthy for you as is for our planet.
Remember, every drop makes an ocean. Every initiative you take towards preventing environmental degradation adds up to a greener future for the next generation. So, do your bit, and others will follow in your lead.