Written by Nirbhay Lumde
The news headlines in the recent past reads – Marathwada drought intensifies: only one percent water left in dams; Drought years may become more frequent in India, says study; Farmer suicides in Marathwada cross 400 mark in 4 months: toll reaches 1,548, and High Court orders Bengaluru to ‘divide and conquer’ the garbage problem; Large forest cover lost to industrial projects in India; Animals feed on plastic waste in India, and Wildlife under extinction threat in Eastern Ghats.
There’s something alarmingly wrong in India with respect to environmental degradation. The above-mentioned news headlines might be shocking but are, unfortunately, facts. In lieu of talking and debating, let’s make an honest attempt to prevent India from becoming a barren, lifeless and hazardous place on the earth.
World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June to raise global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet earth. The initiative is driven by the United Nations Environment Program. The celebration is also a reminder of a stark reality of deteriorating environment and ecosystem that drives life around. However, it is high time to note that environment needs attention every day and not on just one day of the year.
The current article presents four action items for every citizen and the concerned to adopt and make a difference. Every individual is a microcosm of a macrocosm called ecosystem and have equal and collective responsibility – as an individual in a family, as an active family in the connected community, as a locality in a specific geographic region and as a large corporation in the business world impacting the larger ecosystem.
It is easy to underestimate the power of individual action. It is no surprise to note that humanity consumes more natural resources than any other living being on the planet and denting the core of sustainable living. Each one of us as consumers, multiplied by billions, make a colossal impact on the environment, contributing to the further depletion of natural resources. It is extremely difficult to shift away being a consumer to become an agent of change on a quick gear. Immediate action line item for an individual is to adopt consumption patterns that use less energy, water and reduce food waste. But that’s the hard reality and life savior for generations to come by to protect fragile ecosystems.
Environmental awareness is an integral part of environmental protection. It is important to realize that the physical environment is fragile and indispensable and fixing the problems begins with well-informed family. A family is an utmost value importance in making that commit to change by adopting one simple way to reduce family’s carbon footprint by planting number of saplings equivalent number of family members.
The traffic on the road is huge and it does make sense to reduce driving few kilometers in a month. It also saves fuel and adds same number of hours to the family time. It is also possible to curb electricity use by half by turning off the lights, fans, television, computer and other electronics over weekends. It is a worthwhile activity to undertake monthly home cleaning drive. It helps in identifying toys, clothes and other household items to recycle or donate them for community use.
In the context of community living, surrounding pastures, water and air are considered as common property. Rational management of these resources is not only in the interest of one single individual but in the interest of all community in discussion. Therefore, communities have to recognize that individual participation is inadequate and larger community ought to have the opportunity to participate in the decision making process.
All individuals and families are part of a larger community. There are various action items that could trigger protection and saving of immediate environment on community scale. It is ideal to consider investing in appropriate clean power technologies, solar or wind, for powering water and lighting needs of the community. It is a matter of concern to note that 70% of Indian sewage goes untreated and it would makes a huge difference to invest in sewer water treatment plan. It certainly reduced water consumption and reduces chances of polluting local waterbodies
In an increasingly environmentally conscious world, large corporations have greater obligation to protect the environment. There are good number of businesses that have taken the lead by promoting and implementing green practices. They also support and encourage customers to adopt some of these best known practices. However, large corporations still can initiate several steps to ensure the environment protection is in everyone’s agenda.
One of the simplest forms of saving environment is adhering to environmental regulations and it also helps meet the legal obligation to follow rule of the land. The institution of green policies and adapting to green energy would certainly save production costs and in few cases helps in enjoying tax deductions. These also serve as role models to their own employees, suppliers, customers and increase awareness of environmental issues.
A single day of celebration is certainly a welcome move but it is critical to extend these practices to cover everyone, each individual to the largest business corporation, to sustain efforts to ensure next generation enjoys better and purer environment to enjoy a happy and dignified life.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR.