HYDERABAD: “For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you look away?” Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, a youth environmental activist thundered at the UN Climate Change Summit held in New York this week. Gone must be the days when the environment is paid any heed only for special days. We are on the verge of collapsing ecosystems and climate change is real. While some politicians and world leaders are occupied by economic growth in comparison to a global calamity, every earthling needs to address the need of the hour. Little changes in lifestyle are all it takes to make a huge difference in the damage that we do to the environment.
Catch them young
Students of St Ann’s School, Secunderabad, pledged to be responsible towards the waste they produce. Recykal, an online waste management company based in Hyderabad, took the initiative to educate young children about the necessity of managing waste correctly. “If plastic waste isn’t disposed of or recycled properly, it will eventually end up in landfills or the ocean. What would be a better place to start than with young minds? It’s necessary to sow the seed of recycling and adopting environment-friendly habits early on and we as adults can learn from it as well,” says Abhay Deshpande, the cofounder of Recykal. He says, “The moment we throw a plastic bag into a non-segregated trash bin, that’s the end of its life cycle. It can’t be recycled. But if done right, even milk packets can be recycled correctly.” Recykal brings together recyclers and consumers on an online platform such that it eases the process of segregating dry waste in homes and lead them to the right sources where they are treated the way they should be.
Clean inside and outside
Another major contributor to plastic waste generation is sanitary products. This includes sanitary napkins and diapers. A single disposable diaper takes up to 500 years to fully decompose and they are the third-largest consumer item in landfills worldwide. Similarly, 432 million padsare generated in India annually, the potential to cover landfills spread over 24 hectares.
Cloth sanitary pads and menstrual cups: “A single cloth pad can last for 75 washes which means it would last for five years on an average,” shares Kripa Jhaveri, the founder of Eco Femme, a washable cloth pad brand. Although in comparision to disposable pads, the access to washable pads and diapers is low, the money that is saved on the same is exponential. Brands like FLOH, Eco Femme and Jaioni provide hygeinic and ecofriendly versions of sanitary pads.
As partof the Swacchtha Hi Seva campaign, a new phenomenon has emerged which promotes both good health and cleanliness in our society. Plogging, the process of jogging while picking up litter, is taking form in New Delhi. The initiative by Indian Medical Association urges everyone to join the plog and post pictures of the same to social media to promote the idea. The concept which started in Sweden in 2016 includes bodily movements like bending and squatting to the regular action of running and walking.
Easy Lifestyle changes you can adopt
Carry a water bottle with you. Plastic water bottles which go unrecycled are a major contributor to landfills. A simple habit of carrying your own water bottle cuts down on your carbon footprint drastically
Use a canvas bag when you’re off shopping for groceries or even clothes. It is easy to carry and also saves the extra pennies that shops tend to make you shell out for a plastic bag.
Compost your kitchen waste. Although this might not be for everyone, it can be done by everyone. Your garden will be happy about the natural fertilizer
Turn out the lights and turn off the water taps when not in use. Consider energy and water valuable assets and treat them that way.
Big guns join in
Brands and conglomerates have switched to sustainable and ecofriendly options in their functions. For instance, Marriott Hyderabad and ITC Kakatiya are working towards eliminating single use plastic in their services. This not only includes straws and water bottles, but also dental kits and toileteries provided which they have switched to wooden. Most hotels in Hyderabad including Novotel also request guests to avoid laundry service if they are staying only for a day, in an attempt to save water. “I have been in five star hotel which use recycled water for the toilet pot and alert the guests of the same. A message requests the guests to not panic at the colour of the water used in the flush as it is recycled,” says P Shiva, a young businessman who frequents hotels for work. Universities like IIT Hyderabad too have switched to renewable energy sources with solar panels for electricity. If organisations which have to make changes that could be a logistical nightmare in the favour of the environment, we as individuals too can make a few changes. As Greta put in her speech at the UN Climate Change Summit, “Right here, right now is where we draw the line. Change is coming whether you like it or not.”