The Indian civilization has a very rich and revering environmental ethos where mother-earth in its various forms like plants, trees, rivers, mountains and more, are worshipped. Our resilient cultural values have inculcated caring for the environment in our daily lives. It stems from the belief that the universe is made up of five basic elements, namely, earth, air, water, fire and space. We worship these five elements (Panch-Bhutas) in their various manifestations like trees, air, soil, rivers and mountains; and care for animals. This environmental-cultural ethos is one of the best environmental values which we can advance in the world community which is nearing a climate catastrophe.
Even the Constitution of India enshrined these values through the chapter on fundamental duties which clearly assigns the duty on every citizen to protect the environment. Article 51-A (g), says that “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.” But, due to the rapid growth of consumerism, there is an emerging gap between the environmental value-system of the Indian culture and its practical following. And sadly this gap is increasing day in and out leading to a climate emergency. Resultantly, we have polluted our food, soil, air and even water. As per one study, the average waste generation per capita per day in big Indian cities is 0.62 kilograms! The moot question is whether the degeneration of the environment is the sole realm of Government and the ‘execution’ of its policies; or it is the ‘education of the citizens’? Can I do something at a personal level? Can I reverse this situation? If yes, then how? This can be done by the citizens by following Green Habits which are small actionable and doable steps in the direction of making India a Green Country.
11 Habits for a Green-Nation
Green Habits are environmentally-positive habits that can minimise the impact of individual action on the environment and reduce our carbon footprints. Further, it can also help in restoring our lost balance in ecology. The following can be the 10 National Green Habits.
Habit of Switching Off Unnecessary Electric Equipment
If you ask me what should be one national habit which should be included in school-curriculums, homes and practice at the workplace; it is this habit. Do you know approximately 40% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are emitted from electricity generation? This habit requires that we should turn off electric equipment, appliances or lights, which we are not being used currently. These electric gadgets can be at home, the office, public places or any other place. Turning off the lights, equipment and appliances when you are not using them is a simple, cost-effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. On average you can save Rs 3240 per capita by switching off 10 bulbs! Imagine the total national savings- which can be Rs 42400 crores per year.
Minimise your food waste
Do you know that a third of all food globally goes to waste? That’s enough to feed 3 billion people! As per one study, the average person in India wastes 137 gms of food every single day. That’s 0.96 kg per week or 50 kg per year. In India, 40% of the food is wasted, which is equivalent to Rs 92,000 crores a year. You can fathom the food wastage seeing the food wastage on social functions like marriages and other ceremonies. We can be more conscious about our food waste. We should check our portion size when ordering at restaurants, check your food serving at home, unused and untouched and safe food should be donated to food banks to help those in need.
Habit of saving water
We are experiencing a water crisis where drinking water has become a scarce commodity. The steps can include eco-car washing, less use of showers, using the left-over water for watering the plants, checking the serving portion of the glass, immediately fixing a leakage if you notice at home, workplace, or a public place, turn-off running water taps and so on.
Carry your own reusable carry bags
If you can carry 250 gms of smart-phone, 300 gms of power-bank in your pocket and 120 gms of watch with you, then you can definitely carry a 30 gm paper/cloth bag with you? Plastic bags are becoming a health-menace. They are choking our waterways, polluting our earth’s crust, killing our animals, birds and marine life. The best way is to take your own bag when you go for shopping of grocery and other household stuff.
Get rid of single-use items
A single-use disposable item is meant to be used once and thrown. Then that item goes to the landfill to add to the burden of the planet. Replace plastic bottles for water, beverages and soda, etc, with reusable metal and or other durable plastic alternatives. Do use reusable cups for soda, tea, coffee and other beverages. Personal care and toiletries: You can reduce 93 % of toothbrush waste by replacing the head on these reusable toothbrush handles.
It is using the kitchen/organic waste for the purpose of soil. Composting is the best way of reducing and reusing, as organic material contains 30 to 50 % of household waste. Composting should also be done at the workplace and one must develop resources and manpower to do that in their office, factory or some other business place. Schools are a good place to work so that the children may also learn these green habits and carry them forward in their lives ahead.
Collect Seeds at home
One of the simplest ways to increase greenery is to collect seeds from leftover fruits and vegetables and use them to grow plants. You can use these seeds in your pots, gardens or at public parks. These days, a new concept of seed balls has become very popular, in which seed is wrapped in clay with nutrients and dried.
26% of global greenhouse gases are attributed to food chain supply. Processed foods include any food that has been deliberately changed before we consume it and has a huge environmental cost. Buy local wherever possible so as it minimizes your carbon footprints.
Plant a Tree and a Forest
It is said that if you want to live even after your death, do two things a) write a book b) plant a tree. Planting a tree is one of the best things you can do in your life for yourself as well as to give back to this mother earth. It is the simplest step you can take to heal the planet. If each citizen of India plants just two trees in a year, we will have 280 crores trees in a year!
Habit of Being Paperless
You can cut down the use of paper by one simple habit of printing both the front and backside of the paper. For this, you have to set your default command as “both sides’ in your printer. If executed properly in offices, it can bring down your paper bill to half and can drastically reduce our demand for papers. Also, you can replace the use of paper tissue with that of a cloth napkin. Non-paper napkins are durable, easy to wash and much more eco-friendly than paper tissues.
As per ancient Indian wisdom, the plant of Tulsi (Indian basil) is always kept at the entrance of every house so that it purifies the incoming air. As per a study by NASA, houseplants can remove up to 87 per cent of air toxins in 24 hours! They can increase productivity up to 15 per cent and can reduce stress levels and boost your mood. This habit requires that we should have a personal sanctuary of plants in our home.
The writer is an interior designer. She is also an environmentalist and has co-authored a book by the name ‘Gift Lungs to Future Generations’. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.