Consumer Power

You’re wondering in times when this Pandemic has struck the world, why am I writing about saving the Environment? When tragic number of people are dying, people are fearful to leave their homes and economy is sinking, why is climate such a concern ?

Well… while the world worries about the pandemic (which I understand), changing fashion trends and politicians, there is something that is changing even more quickly, even more adversely and degradation of which will have much worse impact than any pandemic on humankind – our Environment. As Bill Gates recently said, climate change could be five times deadlier than COVID-19. And I agree. But sadly, this subject is given only a few minutes of thought and then forgotten by the people since you don’t see the immediate effects. In order to make our lives comfortable and easier, most of us have been destroying habitats and endangering the lives of every species possible in the future.

We have been studying these concerns since our schooldays in the textbooks. But then, instead of improvement, these situations have deteriorated to an alarming rate as if it was a conscious attempt. Our actions have resulted in unalterable problems like global warming, deforestation, various forms of pollution, loss of biodiversity, fading marine life, frequent occurrence of natural disasters in the form of floods, tsunamis and earthquakes, depletion of ozone layer, and many more. This has enormously affected human health directly and indirectly. This negligence over time has caused major ecological problems which will rise if we, as consumers, don’t start acting on our ‘theoretical discussions’ on saving the ecosystem.

The question that arises is – How do we do it? What difference will it make if, out of seven billion people, I alone take some measures to help the environment? No! It matters. Each one of us matter. What’s important here is before knowing ‘how’ we can save the environment, we must ‘believe’ that we can save the environment. If each individual start believing, forgets the herd mentality and makes a conscious effort to form their own opinion, everyone around us would surely take a step forward in saving our world.

We have been using resources from earth carelessly. It’s human nature to use one thing for its benefits and once over, they use another and then another. It’s now time to reconsider our lifestyles at each level – from our homes to the city, to the country.

Listed below are few of the thousands of ways in which you can contribute to this cause. These are no new ways, many people around the world practice these methods everyday, it’s time that we do it too:

Treat your water waste.

Architectural designers of our homes should analyse its impact of the intervention on site and focus on ecologically positive construction processes. They can incorporate various water management systems which helps in reducing quotidian water usage and will eventually mitigate water pollution. The rainwater from clean roofs and terraces can be filtered and stored into a tank, while the excess can be led to recharge wells. Grey water is the relatively cleaner wastewater collected from bathing area, kitchen sinks, washing machines and wash basins. Since this water does not contain any waste solid matter, it can be treated through bio-filtration involving reed beds (a reed bed system occupies little space and can be placed on the terrace or in the backyard). This treated water can be used for gardening and flushing purposes.

Buy most of your food locally.

It’s important to understand how and from where does your food reach to your kitchen. Keeping this food chain as small as possible will save tremendous amount of energy and create less waste. That’s why it’s also important that we try to grow our own food, whatever and how much ever possible.

Another waste that’s being generated daily is while we cook and after we cook.

The fruits and vegetable peels, eggshells and probably the tea that you just filtered, all go into the organic waste bin and then to the dump yard. But why not decompose it at home and use it as manure in our gardens when there’s a guaranteed nutrition for the plants which would also enrich the soil. All we need to do is get a clay pot with lid. Add dry leaves and composting mix over it. This mixture will help to absorb the water that is released during the decomposition process. Empty your organic kitchen waste between layers of composting mix and then cover it with a newspaper and then the lid. This will prevent flies around the composting bin. Repeat this process and once its full mix it with a rake, add some microbes and cover again. After few days your compost is ready to be used in your garden.

In India, most homes wash utensils with hands. Washing liquids and detergents sometimes cause skin problems due to frequent exposure. Not many people know this, but dish washing liquid detergents were first produced only in the middle of 20th century. Ever wonder how were the dishes cleaned before that? Today, instead of contaminating the water with the chemicals that detergents contain, there are many alternatives we can adopt to clean our utensils. You just need to pick the right alternative. Things like ash, sand, baking soda, dry grass and many more, can easily help you remove oil and grease from the dishes. Once that’s done, rinsing the utensils with hot water will decontaminate them and make them as clean as new.

Our food industry has created the largest amount of wastes.

According to Mordor Intelligence team, the global potato chips market is forecasted to witness a CAGR of 4.40% during 2019-24 period. Chips are widely consumed all around the world. Equal is the amount of plastic waste generated. This is just one example of numerous packaged food that we buy. Can we control this consumption?

When it comes to food, more than one third of the population eat out every day. Almost all food outlets serve food and drinks with plastic spoons, forks or even straws. These little plastic products are difficult to treat or recycle. If each individual start keeping their own portable set of a steel (because its washable and reusable) spoon, fork, knife and straw with them all time, in a case, it would immensely reduce the amount of plastic consumption in the country.

When you go for shopping, many stores serve packaged water bottles as a complementary for their customers. If I went with three other people, we would each end up picking a bottle contributing to the plastic waste. Is this really necessary?

The more we consume paper, the more deforestation leading to increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.

Use of public libraries (definitely a post-pandemic thought) have been declining over the years. May be instead of buying new books for our kids, it’s time to share/pass on. Moreover, public libraries help you focus better and at the same time, connect to other people and communities, gain extra knowledge and not just the one from your textbook.

School and offices use a lot of fresh paper, especially the design fields. Once the project is completed, these large sheets of paper are either stored in the house/office for few years or thrown away immediately. Instead, if these papers are reused as small notebooks, packaging sheets or may be kids’ origami papers, it would save millions of trees. We should also look at the possibilities to go digital when it specifically comes to design schools and colleges who have been using a large amount of paper per student.

These are few of plethora ways we can contribute in saving our environment.

The best way to control waste… 
… as I see, is by controlling our needs and desires which are causing irreversible damage to the ecosystem. Along with taking advantage of our earth, with a lack of concern of the damage it may cause, we have been yielding anything and everything that we desire. Its time when we should take a step back, think and see how we are shaping our future, our kids’ future… the future that might not even exist if we don’t stop centering ourselves and practice control measures right now!

It is our responsibility to leave for future generations,
a planet that is healthy and habitable by all species.

– Sir David Attenborough

Start today for a better tomorrow!

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