Happy World Environment Day! 🙂 If you’ve been following me from a long time, you might be aware that the environment is something I care deeply for. Since my blogging schedule perfectly aligned with the 5th of June, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about it on my blog. Prior to the celebration of this day, the news of USA withdrawing from the Paris Agreement broke out, which caused a huge uproar and rightly so. But did you know that it won’t come into effect until November 2020? However, when it is clear that those with power are not even willing to acknowledge these important issues, it is up to every individual to make a contribution.
My Connection with Nature
Since the theme for this year happens to be “Connecting People to Nature”, I want to tell you about how I became interested in this area and hope that it will resonate with you as well. It was a mixture of the way I was brought up, the environment in my house and my education at school.
My beautifully constructed house has plants all around it (more about it here). My brother and I used to while away evenings watering the plants or pulling out the weeds. The cool air so graciously provided by the plants ensure that I only have to use the fan in my room for a maximum of two months in a year (which is a big deal in a tropical country). For all of that, I’m grateful and I feel like I’ve established a bond with the greenery around me.
Even before conservation became a hot topic, my mother taught me not to take anything for granted or waste what we have. Simple things like switching off lights, turning off a dripping tap, segregating waste and saying no to plastic were included in my daily habits since I was very little. When they were introduced in my environmental studies lessons, I felt so proud that I was already implementing them.
The school I switched to in fourth grade had a very nature-friendly environment and attitude as well. Every new student was required to plant a sapling to commemorate their joining. We had environmental studies as a mandatory subject throughout and even though we were “too cool” to appreciate the value of it then, it’s left a deep impression on me. We used to beg our teachers to take us on nature walks (i. e. walks around the campus so they wouldn’t start off with theory), which felt like such a clever ploy to escape from an hour of boring studies back then. Upon reflection, I’m sure every nature walk also did a thorough job of relaxing our minds, energising us and teaching us a little more about the flora and fauna around us. All of this combined to teach me to respect and have concern for nature.
Major Problems and Your Contribution
I’ve identified three major environmental issues that is plaguing my city currently and I want to highlight what little an ordinary person such as you and I can do about it. Some of the problems may not be a concern where you live, but I hope some of the tips can be modified to suit your situation.
1. Diminishing green cover
The stretch of road where my college is located once had a cover of trees on both sides of it. But the decongestion project has claimed all of those as its victims and the entire stretch feels like a burning hot cauldron, especially now that the construction has made it more congested than ever before. Once I waited so long at a signal that I thought my arm would reduce to ashes in the heat (I know my mind is prone to exaggeration). More often than not, once the project is complete (if ever), the trees that were chopped off aren’t replaced.
What you can do: Do your own planting to make up for that which is lost. Utilise what little space you might have in your house to add a bit of greenery. Attend tree planting drives or adopt a tree and take care of it. Sign petitions that hold the government accountable for the destruction of green cover caused by the development projects and raise awareness about such issues in your social circle.
2. Burning Lakes
A convenient answer to the city’s waste management problems, according to some people, is to dump it in the nearby lake. While it went unnoticed in the past, the large number of deaths of aquatic animals, foaming and burning of the foreign substances introduced into the lakes have brought to attention the several health and environmental hazards that such unchecked toxic waste dumping has caused. Some say that, many years ago, the Vrishabhavathi was a pure and stench-free river. I can’t imagine what that would be like since I was born much after that story became a legend. Lack of awareness of proper disposal methods, irregular collection of garbage and turning a blind eye to harmful practices have gotten us to the state where lakes have become some of foulest places in the city.
What you can do: Ensure that you follow the correct methods of waste segregation and disposal. Become aware of where and how the waste is treated once it leaves your house. Join communities that help in lake/river restoration in your neighbourhood.
This is a problem that can be easily tackled at a personal level. With the central government introducing cleanliness campaigns, there is now an awareness among the citizens to keep one’s surroundings clean. However, the problem lies in the mentality of the people. Most often, janitors and servants are tasked with cleaning and we ourselves take very little part in it, assuming there is always someone to clean up after us. Sometimes, we get lazy and toss garbage on the sidewalks or slyly over the compound wall, so that we don’t have to deal with it (I may or may not be referring to my neighbours here). The task of keeping our own work and living spaces litter-free is a job that we think is beneath us.
What you can do: Change your mindset and consciously stop littering. Always use the dustbin to dispose of even the smallest of waste materials. Take some of your old stuff to a recycling unit instead of throwing it away. Start a conversation about cleanliness with your near and dear ones and instil the habit of tidying up after oneself in all members of your family.
That brings me to the end of the post. How are celebrating today? Do you have any more tips to add? What is the best thing you’ve done for the environment? Let me know in the comments section below.