I scavenge the net often for finding ways to lessen my carbon footprint (if you still do not know about it, read here for a very simple definition), sustainable lifestyle choices and easy do-it-everyday ways to greening your conscience. A good (and highly recommended) place to begin your reading would be the Indian arm of Al Gore's The Climate Project which has some doable, some extreme ideas you could read here (really, have a look). If you would like to understand the science of climate change, the University of California, San Diego's Global Change site is a simple, accurate place to go to, while for a more holistic approach the World Bank has a good site.
I have a few things to say that may or may not catch your fancy. It's not even about the environment sometimes. Its just about honing the skill of jugaad that is so inherently Indian. It is perhaps about wasting less in a country that's always needing more. Its about realising that our country with its multi-layered society always discards things that percolate through the layers: your old shoes go to the servant, his broken chappals to cobbler across the street who will repair them and eke out a few more months out of them, his worn out soles being picked by some beggar. We belong to a place where waste is not an option, reuse and recycling is part of the social fabric, want has necessitated thrift. However, that is changing now. We buy and we discard, We consume and we throw. New laptops, better phones. More clothes, another deodorant. Who goes by bus when one has a car?
But let's look through the smoke and jump into the fire (sad sad way of writing, but forgive me will you). Here are some things I do:
- My family enjoys ordering fast food every now and then. (Actually more now than then, considering that all the unhealthy fattening processed food outlets don't even cross check our address anymore since they've been here way too many times!). Apart from it's astronomically large carbon footprint, fast food leaves in its wake, a sizeable amount of waste. The burger boxes, and puff covers, the brown paper bags and flimsy menu leaflets, the pizza boxes and noodle cartons. Instead of throwing them away, for the past couple of years, we have been neatly flattening out all such recyclable waste (and I am not referring to the left over slice of pizza people, that goes into the fridge) and keeping it with the other stuff that the kabadiwaalla, so efficiently picks up. It's simple, you recycle, less garbage.
- Another trick I learnt from my Aunt is using things to the maximum. For example, face wash or creams. Most brands package their products into tubes with a small opening through which you squeeze out what you need. The catch is that a lot of it (I think around 30%) never gets squeezed out! So after wringing the damn tube, you just throw it away. The next time, before throwing the tube away, try cutting off the rear end and checking what's inside. You will be amazed at the amount of cream/wash/guck you find. So here's what we do. Once done contorting the tube into every imaginable shape, cut the...ok I'll just post pictures and you can figure out the steps.
Chop off the top
Peer inside to see all the stuff you were about to throw away
Use cut off end as cap!
No, the brand is probably by chance, I don't want anyone prosecuting for me for cutting up a tube. Excuse the ridiculously poor picture quality, I don't profess to be an artist, I'm just making a point. Which brings me back to what I was saying. Even if you weren't paying attention, you must have heard of the Copenhagen brouhaha, how the world was getting warmer and climate change negotiations colder. At the end of the day, it boils down to the choices we make as individuals. Voluntarily.