At the outset, let me wish you and your near and dear ones a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.
I have always wondered what could be my new year resolution every year. This year I thought I could think of 12 practical ideas to live sustainably every day. I am trying my best to practise them in my life. These are not difficult ones to follow but does require discipline and intent
1. Have a bath with one bucket of water: I was used to having my bath in a shower everyday and enjoyed doing it. I did not realise that I was wasting four to five buckets of water everyday for a bath till a friend told me so. I then decided to forget the shower and use a bucket of water to have my bath every day. This way I am not only able to conserve water for the future generations but feel less guilty since there are millions around the world who do not get enough water even to drink and cook. I do use the shower occasionally when I am travelling but it is worth trying.
2. Dont honk while driving your car or scooter: I was quite used to blowing the horn liberally in my car and scooter since the time I started driving almost four decades back. However about ten years back I attended a programme on defensive driving at Panchgani and learnt that driving without honking is possible and it further makes you drive more safely. I have since been practising the same except in emergencies. It is a feasible idea and worth trying.
3. Switch off all lights and fans, which are unnecessary: We are lucky to have 24 x 7 power supply in our homes today. However there are millions around the world who are not as privileged as we are. Further, if we conserve power it is power saved and may be useful for those who do not get it from the grid especially in rural areas. It is a simple idea to switch off lights, fans and all appliances when not needed. This way we can conserve energy for others.
4. Take the public transport atleast once in a way: We all aspire to drive our own car or bike to work or at leisure and it is fun to do so. However, apart from consuming precious fossil fuel, we also pollute the environment and increase our carbon footprint. It may be a good idea to take a bus or metro or train once in a while. This way we can contribute to promoting a cleaner environment for our kids.
5. Walk instead of driving to the shop nearby: We have the habit of taking our scooter or car even to places near our home or work for small errands. It may be helpful to walk instead of taking our bike or car. This way we not only make the environment greener but also improve our fitness. Our lifestyle today does not give us enough time or motivation to exercise every day. This can even be supplemented by taking the stairs instead of the lift at work and at home.
6. Use solar power to generate the power you need: Our electrical energy needs are increasing by the day. We are increasingly using multiple appliances for our lives. So, it may be worthwhile to generate enough power for our daily consumption. Roof top power through solar is an easy option to install and maintain. This way you can produce enough power through solar energy for your daily needs and save fossil fuels for the future generations.
7. Recycle organic waste and make compost: It is possible to collect and recycle organic waste in our homes through a simple and sustainable process of composting. It is possible today not only in independent homes but also in flats and apartments with simple to use bins and thereby save the environment of avoidable garbage all around us.
8. Do not waste food while you eat even at home: We are lucky to get a full meal three times a day. We have our breakfast, lunch and dinner without fail. However, we sometimes tend to waste a lot of food at home and more so when we eat outside. If we remember that there are millions of people especially children going hungry around the world every single day, we may avoid wasting food. All the food we waste can feed many hungry people around the world. It may be worthwhile to promise to oneself not to waste food from today and share it with others if it is surplus for you and your family needs.
9. Plant one sapling around you and take care of it: Many of us are not privileged to live in our own home even today. Even those who live in our own homes do not live in independent homes and have a garden to plant a tree. But it may still be worthwhile to plant a tree at home , work or in a public place or park and take care of it. Every tree we plant helps us clean the air and protect the environment for our future.
10. Donate one old set of clothes for every new one you buy: All of us love to go shopping. I have been no exception. However, over the last few years I learnt an idea of donating at least one set of clothes for every new one I buy for myself or my spouse. In the beginning, it was tough as all of us are very possessive of all that we have but as I grew up I realised that it may be a good idea to share my possessions with others, who are not as privileged as I am.
11. Never throw garbage around: We are in a consumption world today. We consume a lot of packaged food and most of the stuff we buy are in packaged form. We generally tend to use the things or consume the food and throw away the garbage in form of plastic or other materials. It may be a worthwhile to minimise throwing garbage around and recycle whatever is possible. If we are able to help segregate garbage in a scientific way, it may help us save the planet.
12. Carry a cloth bag for shopping : Shopping is not only a habit but a contagious one for many of us. We tend go around shopping even when there is no specific need to do so. Further, we dispose all the plastic carry bags all around us and pollute the environment. It may be nice if we carry a cloth bag whenever we go out for shopping. This way we can avoid plastic bags and save the environment too.
Let our lives bloom like this colourful flower( as in the photo above) in the new year.
I would recommend that each one of us can try practising one new idea every month. We may sometimes fail but that is ok as long as our intent is to learn from our own failures. Let us together create a sustainable future for our kids.
S Ramesh Shankar
3rd Dec 2022