Terms such as ‘global warming’, ‘greenhouse effect’, and ‘carbon emissions’ are being used with increasing frequency. Amid this scenario, we have two choices. First, we can simply think of it as white noise and let it pass. And second, we take control and decide to act on it.
We’ve begun to feel the excessive summer heat, and winters are no longer as cold. Floods have become a yearly fixture, and over the past two years, cyclones seem to be making landfall, much too often. Respiratory ailments–due to pollution–have enriched healthcare providers, while the need for increased air-conditioner usage has sent monthly budgets spiraling up. Our pockets have begun to pinch!
So, from a ‘how do I care’ attitude, realisation is setting in. It is, in many cases, leading to ‘I better do something about it’.
How do we fix it?
Well, there’s a lot we can do on a personal level. It is a simple mantra of 3 R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. We need to make simple changes in our everyday lives, and these alone will make a huge difference.
First and foremost, think twice before you buy anything. Buy only what you need and use all of what you buy. We always end up having more clothes, shoes, bags than we need, resultant of which, our wardrobes are always overflowing. The same goes for household items, electronics, toys, food items, décor items and so on. By reducing our consumption, we will naturally decrease the amount of waste we produce.
Do as your father would have done. Turn off lights, fans, air-conditioners, computers, geysers, televisions, and other gadgets when not in use. Use energy efficient products like LED lights instead of incandescent bulbs. Charge all your mobile phones and laptops at night; do not keep them plugged on throughout the day. Install solar panels and switch to solar energy. This way, not only will your electricity bill reduce drastically, you will also be doing great service to Mother Earth!
Go paper less and plastic free
With advancement in technology and new products hitting the market, a lot of equipment is easily available. In fact, we’ve all have become rather tech savvy. Go ahead and make full use of that expensive smart phone, the iPad or the fancy laptop you own. Use email, store documents on your smartphones and tabs instead of on paper. Do away with the filing cabinet in your homes and offices.
Furthermore, you can catch up on the latest news on televisions or on an app on your smart phone instead of buying a newspaper. Invest in a Kindle instead of buying books that you will eventually gather dust in some corner of your house. Why issue cheques or use paper money when you can transfer funds online? Hit the pause button before you print or photocopy. Edit on screen, not on paper. If you have to use paper, then buy recycled paper instead of fancy paper. Every ton of recycled paper saves almost 400 gallons of oil and seventeen trees.
Make good use of all the crockery and cutlery you own. Do away with disposable plates, glasses and spoons. Wash your hands with soap and water, and not tissue paper. Use stainless steel or glass bottles and utensils, not plastic. Better still, store drinking water in an earthen pot.
Save on fuel
Why buy a fancy petrol guzzling vehicle? Opt for a fuel-efficient car and instead of every member in the family driving their own cars, car pooling is a wiser alternative. You could even consider minimising fossil fuel usage and investing in a bicycle to travel short distances. You will not only keep fit but also save on fuel expenses. Interestingly, while Colombia is often in the news for economic or drug-related reasons, it actually boasts among the widest network of dedicated cycle lanes in city streets.
Avoid idling your vehicle at a railroad crossing or when pulling off the road to attend to a phone call. Also, a shaded car park prevents fuel from evaporating from vehicle fuel tanks. Travel light and eliminate unnecessary weight. There is a considerable amount of fuel you’ll be saving by practising these easy-to-follow tips.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure
Once you no longer need or want something, pass it on. Almost all household items can be reused or recycled and have multiple utility. You could reuse paint drums and jars and turn them into dustbins. Empty bottles can become flower vases or candle holders by simply giving them a makeover. Newspapers can become gift bags or shopping bags. Envelopes can be reused by placing a new label over the old address.
Buy drinks that come in recycled soda cans. You can operate a television set for three hours with the energy saved by recycling just one can! In fact, an empty soda can, can become a handy pen holder.
Most importantly, recycle your trash simply by taking it out of the garbage can and putting it in the recycling bin. You could also separate the biodegradable stuff and put it in your compost pit. You will end up with quality manure can be used to grow organic vegetables. Some of these vegetables can even be grown in small used containers or pet bottles. All you need to do is drill tiny holes at the bottom to let excess water drain out.
So what are you waiting for? Small steps taken by you in your daily life to reduce, reuse and recycle will make a huge difference. Remember, every bit counts. Besides, climate change, and its like, are not matters for governments and environmentalists to address alone. The onus lies on us to turn things around; it is ‘our’ problem, and it hurt us most.