We Have a Responsibility to Protect the Environment!

We Have a Responsibility to Protect the Environment!
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Dr. Shahid Amin Trali

I have a dream to go back to the ages when our paradise Kashmir was neat and clean. I cherish the time when we had ponds, springs, lakes, streams, fresh and soothing. I still feel the beauty of the mountains and our rich forests, flora and fauna that is hard to forget. Ah! The sweet snow and icicles in the glorious past makes me feel cool today although Sun has turned wild now. For anyone visiting Kashmir and exploring its vast resources has proven as a therapy for many ailments. Alas! Our pure environment is no more pure now and our springs, lakes have dried up. Our rich streams have been filled with dust and dirt and a big hole in nature has occurred. Man’s foul play with the nature and self centric interests is not going well with our present and future. Our growth and development will be short-lived if we didn’t safeguard the natural environment and its resources. Our environmental problems are alarmingly mounting but we are yet to recover from our deep hibernate/sleep mode.
Environmental pollution has existed for centuries but increased at an alarming rate after the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. Pollution is one of the biggest global killers, affecting over 100 million people. We must join hands across the globe and help save our beautiful planet before it is too late. As a good citizen don’t expect results only from the agencies involved for everyone must show huge love and care towards the environment. A strong belief system needs to be developed that our citizens at any levels can make a huge difference with simple and small choices in life.
The world is overburdened with population and its vast resources are being overexploited. There is greater need that we must promote better and efficient use of resources. We must encourage the reduction, recycling and re-use of wastes as raw material for new products. I remember my childhood days when our family was operating a transport business. We had a huge bus and truck tyre scrap getting heaped up at our home. My beloved mother once covered a garden with the useless tyre scrap. I never liked the idea and hence removed the covering.
When I joined ITM University Gwalior some years back, I could learn from students how better we can use the same scrap. It was good to watch our students using similar scrap tyres to make a fancy sitting arrangement. Our younger generations are highly creative and only support and opportunities are needed. Not only scraps tyres received good treatments but plastic waste was also turned into decorative stuff by the students. The idea was also there decades back with my beloved mother but the proper guidance and shape was missing to get charm out of tyre scrap. We must promote ‘Jugaad’ creation, the idea of using the waste to make something novel and save resources. We need to set examples from our home places and re-use what we would easily throw away and conserve for a future. What we cannot recycle let us not use them. Let’s promote paper products as they break down better in the environment and don’t affect our nature as much.
Let’s be environmentally friendly citizens in our Kashmir. Learning to be more environmentally friendly is not that difficult task than we think. We must start by living with a greater awareness of the resources that we use in our daily life. For example , we must turn off lights as soon as we leave a room and be environmental friendly when it comes to building our home. Trees are necessary for us to survive. We must plant small trees around our home ; don’t cut them unless it’s necessary, work with local environmental groups to plant more trees and educate others about the beauty and benefits of trees.
Water needs to be conserved. Few ways to conserve water are – take short showers, keep the running tap close while we brush our teeth, recycle water in our home, use water saving appliances and so on. More good ways to contribute will be consume less energy, buy recycled products, and create less waste and many more. We must refrain from open burning as backyard trash and leaf burning releases high levels of toxic compounds. We must use public transit as much as possible. Let us walk more and drive less to conserve fuel and prevent auto-emission. Let’s use bicycles and scooters for shorter distances to save resources.
Cleanliness leads to cleanliness, is my strong observation. I have keenly observed that when there is a dirty place, it becomes dirtier and everyone spoils it more. When we find a fresh and a clean place, we think twice before making it a dirty place. It is for that reason we see no changes in dirty as well as clean places. I purchased an ice cream recently and the shopkeeper appreciably offered me a box to throw the wrapper into it just to keep the road protected. How senseless it is that I keep my home clean and hardly care for the roads, hospitals, educational institutions, offices, markets and so on?. Our mindset has to undergo a big overhaul that our public property is our own property.
India is one of the three worst offending countries when it comes to environmental performance. Corporate leaders have started joining the race to save the planet. Being environment-friendly, eco-friendly, going green are huge claims referring to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies that inflict reduced, minimal, or no harm at all, upon ecosystems or the environment. But the attempts need to be concrete ones and in real terms. It’s all about taking bold and safer steps so as to make this planet a better place for our communities and generations to come. Small and medium sized companies in particular generate a lot of pollution and need awareness and support policies in order to be environmental friendly.
Some good people lead by example; we must follow them to bring good change in our society. The Mexican Ambassador to India is an inspiration who is using an auto rickshaw as her official vehicle to be environmental friendly. She easily deserves using a super luxurious car. The Dutch Prime Minister goes to office using bicycle. The same PM in a recent video was seen cleaning up the mess himself after he accidentally spilt coffee inside the country’s parliament. They have won hearts worldwide for their brave efforts. Why our ministers and officials can’t learn similar lessons and be contributive towards the society? The dream of cleanliness can be achieved only when we are sincere in our efforts. Individuals, organizations and governments need to join hands to protect our environment.
We must come forward and join the clean earth campaign. We must realize that this is not the legacy we are supposed to leave behind for our future generations. Let’s educate others about the significance of living an environmentally friendly life. The more we will share an awareness of the richness of the environment, the more we can do together to protect it. Our educational institutions from the lower to higher levels must take high leads in fostering creativity and innovation. It will not augur well with the future prosperity if we have environmental care restricted only to specific days of our calendar. Environmental love and care must receive an all time priority. Besides knowledge and good initiatives must go beyond the model building and turn into reality. Isn’t it possible that our educational grids and organizations highly reward and praise their students and employees every year for their efforts and environmental care? This can be a booster to promote wellbeing of our environment. Let’s go green and own the responsibility to protect our environment.

—The author, an Assistant Professor, at ITM University, Gwalior can be reached at: [email protected]

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