There were so many times, I recall, coming home from school I would run to get my hands on the remote before my cousins and siblings, just so I could watch National geographic on TV. It was slow with this deep voice saying something in an accent I didn’t understand, but it felt almost meditative. The vast forest then zooming into a bird landing on a tree. Then the monkeys cleaning each other’s backs, and frogs on the corners of streams. The closest I could get to this, was going to Cubbon park every Sunday for a morning walk, (whining that my calves hurt) I would love sitting around and just being in the greens, watching pet owners getting dragged by their huge dogs and some people feeding the parrots. We even went for picnics there, sometimes in the evenings, more than 20 of us carrying sandwiches, samosas and ‘jhal mudi’ along with flasks of tea. Frisbee, badminton and football was the recreation. On an everyday routine, evenings were at the neighbouring ‘Jhula’ park and then an hour of cricket outside the house. I relish every second of my childhood that was spent outdoors in the folds of nature.
Over time things moved to drowning into books and burning candles to study for exams (getting better grades meant you’re smart). Short and long conversations over the landline; finding internet cafes to do projects; rest was still simple. It was still those off-white boxes for computers in the school labs and no one had seen a laptop. I still recall winning a prize from WWF (World Wildlife Fund) in school for making a poster for a competition, with the topic ‘environment damage’. My sister helped me write the ‘GARBAGE CITY’ in bold. Now spread out on my bed, as I’m writing this, on a word document, with a remote to control the temperature, wires all over to charge these gadgets, a room for myself, UPS/Generator incase the electricity goes off; I get distracted watching videos in between on Instagram, of people basking in the sun— and I am wondering if I should stop writing altogether and just go back in time.
Go back to those local holidays to Coorg sitting by the river and spotting birds all around. Go back to the times when we didn’t need air conditioners and fans. (I don’t know if this is universal but I still forget to switch off lights and fans when I leave the room). Go back to the times when we did not need anything, and having little was enough because everything we loved was outdoors. Today I travel around in a car and I am so dependent that I can’t imagine restricting myself to using only the public transport. I normally take flights to wherever I travel because #travelgoals (it is cool to be everywhere around the world). Be everywhere and still feel choked in the cities we live, with the smoke, dust and pollution. Everyday life is just not the same as back in the nineties and running away on long weekends just doesn’t seem like a permanent solution.
Everyday-life was my focus and ‘what is it a layman could do to make this place earthlier, than we were born into?’ was the question I kept gnawing at. At snail-speed I kept discovering things that we can incorporate in a household, as an individual. There are so many things that we can do differently everyday. “Our power to make a difference lies in our everyday choices.” To start off things, I needed to look at what I can do and not what ‘they’ are not doing. I started composting or sending out the edible kitchen waste to the cows, stopped using plastic (95%), stopped using disposable pads shifted to menstrual cups, stopped buying plastic and almost a year ago turned to a vegan lifestyle. From the time I wake up, a wooden toothbrush, zero chemicals in my bathroom essentials, half a bucket to bathe, no plastic packaging of the soap I use and only DIY shampoo, no plastic tiffin or bottles and less water wastage in producing vegan food. Small little changes each of them going a long way, I’m hoping as way back to my childhood.
I wonder though, if the diaper I soiled at the age of two, could still be lying in one of those landfills? Have you ever seen a video of a landfill, if not actually been to one? We buy and use so many things today as an individual and everything we throw is landing up there. Everything we buy and use, is created by exploiting resources and in the process causes some damage to the environment. What can I do as a single entity? Cannot be simpler: CONSUME LESS. If we have to consume we should look at the approach of a ‘circular economy’ which aims at minimising waste and make most of the resources. Unlike the ‘linear economy’ which has a “take, make and dispose” model of approach”. You could probably choose a steel utensil than a paper cup (forget plastic), a steel straw over paper straw, a cloth wipe instead of tissue. I saw an interviewof Donatella Versace, for Vogue, where she said ‘minimalism’ is the one trend she hates and that shouldn’t come back. (I wonder)
“As consumers we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy” – Emma Watson
I leave you with one thought —when there will be a war for resources and lands that are still habitable, after another forty years or sooner — we would probably not be alive to feel the pressure of ‘being alive becoming a challenge’. However, we are going to be the generation that would be blamed for it. Every few days let go of an old habit and grab a conscious one. Remember it’s not easy, only because it’s a change. Once you’re in it, it’s a part of you and it’s more convenient than what we have been told wrongly. Living a sustainable and environmentally conscious life is easier, simpler and healthier. The hard part is the switch. So don’t get overwhelmed and just confidently walk right into it with baby steps. From the time you wake up till you go to bed, be conscious of everything that you do— that’s exactly what a layman can do. Maybe just a toothbrush can make a huge difference.
To list it:
- DIY if you need something. Google Ma has so many DIYs. I make my own shampoo.
- Share, lend and borrow- directly impacts the manufacturing of new products and use of new resources.
- If you cannot DIY and cannot borrow then ask yourself “Can I live without it?”. If you can’t, then buy only as much as you need to survive.
- Don’t throw- reuse it or give it away to someone else.
- Water, foodand Electricity should be prayed to literally. (Okay wi-fi too!)
- Plastic is demonized but it is also not the Santa Clause of our times. So be very cautious.