If we all work together to improve our relationship with the environment, India can serve as a model of sustainability for the rest of the world.
(FILE) A cyclist weaves his way along a road in smoggy conditions in New Delhi. AFP
Human ambition has increased dramatically over the past few decades, which has also led to a surge in development. However, we have begun to overexploit our natural resources rather than use the environment to our advantage, and to develop technologies and systems that can benefit both humans and nature. The result has been climate change, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, natural disasters, urban heat islands, pollution, health disorders and much more. When our wildlife and nature seemed much better off when humans were forced to stay indoors, it became clear that the environment was crying out for help.
With the resumption of development activities, it is important to keep in mind that we are already fighting against climate change and global warming. Our choices, actions and behaviors must be based on this premise so that we can come closer to reducing the impact of climate change.
What can you do? A lot! Although you may think that climate change policies and strategies are the work of government and political bodies, it reminds us that we are experiencing the impacts of climate change as a country. It is everyone’s responsibility to do their part to make the fight against climate change easier and more effective. Environmental healing begins in the kitchen, in our bedrooms, at work, and even in the garage.
To avoid further decline in our environmental health, we must be wary of every small action that can contribute to rising temperatures, rising sea levels, and pollution. We need to reduce GHG emissions, especially carbon dioxide, and design environmentally friendly substitutes for high carbon footprint products. In fact, knowing your carbon footprint is a great way to make small, easy changes around the home and office. To highlight the importance of this issue, organizations can encourage activities that limit emissions and reward employees for achieving a low carbon footprint. This could be an incentive to reduce polluting behavior and invest in cleaner energy choices.
A few changes in our travel habits can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This includes efficient driving, routine tire maintenance, limiting the use of air conditioners, carpooling if possible, using a bicycle, and less stealing if possible. While we can’t completely eliminate travel from our daily lives, we can choose methods of travel that have less of a negative impact on the environment.
Increasing energy efficiency and promoting renewable energies are also crucial to reducing the pressure on our natural resources. So many people in India still do not have access to electricity and depend on solid fuels for cooking such as coal, wood and charcoal, which causes harmful indoor air pollution. Switching to energy-efficient appliances, using LEDs and using renewable energy is a great way to not only mitigate climate change, but also let businesses know that the demand for renewable energy sources is increasing.
It might also be a good idea to eat less meat or replace regular meat with responsibly produced meat. The increase in greenhouse gas emissions from industrial agriculture can have a significant impact on climate change. Finding techniques to produce less waste is also crucial. Plan your meals, reuse leftovers creatively, freeze foods you won’t use, and compost at home. A wonderful strategy for producing less waste is to recycle more and reuse old jars, furniture, bottles and other containers.
Small changes at home can go a long way in the fight against climate change. Making cleaning products at home using bioenzymes is also a great way to discourage harsh chemicals used in common cleaning products. For example, jaggery, orange peel, and water combine to make a great cleaning solution for almost any surface.
If we were to adopt some of the things we were taught as children into our current lives, the environment would benefit greatly. For example, turning off appliances when not in use, carrying a bottle of water from home, not wasting water and sorting waste are great habits to pass on to our future generation as well.
India is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and will be severely affected by an increase in natural disasters such as floods, tsunamis, droughts and heat waves. Our country has already taken some progressive steps such as the clean energy target and reducing emissions by 22%. In fact, extensive planting efforts, the rejuvenation of water bodies, and the purchase of local and organic produce are already being encouraged and implemented. However, regardless of the policies and strategies implemented by the government, our environment will only heal if “taking care of nature” comes naturally to us.
Imagine if mindful shopping is all we know, if we don’t shy away from using second-hand goods, if we carry cloth bags from home when shopping, imagine if we all develop a state of environmentally friendly spirit. We would not need any rules or regulations to protect the environment because we would understand the necessity and importance of human-environment coexistence. We are just as responsible for slowing climate change as government is for creating effective climate change policies.
Let’s learn from our mistakes and stop exploiting the environment. If we all work together to improve our relationship with the environment, India can serve as a model of sustainability for the rest of the world.
The author is the CEO of Grow-Trees.com. Views are personal.