The Green Agenda

Growing up, my personal experience with environment conservation efforts, coupled with acute egocentrism, led me to believe that everyone else had had my eco-conscious upbringing, that everyone had a biogas unit, a compost pit, saplings and a home garden, solar heating, rainwater harvesting, a waste segregation system, a laundry timetable and a reduce-reuse-recycle habit in their homes. Imagine my culture shock when I moved to C.L. Layout in Bangalore for my B.A. degree. Solar heating is a rarity, waste restriction and segregation were unheard of, and eating out daily is the norm.
It is not as much a matter of negligence as it is of convenience. I took no time to develop these errant habits, and it showed – my room began to exist as a mess, my skin broke out in pimples that I thought I was rid of, and my already delicate constitution was further endangered by takeaway McDonald’s and parcelled paneer rolls. I saved time. I saved money. I was always instantly gratified. I spent my days in a haze of environmentally irresponsible spendthriftery – offset, or so I thought, by academic productivity. 17 years of eco-consciousness took me less than a semester to forget, and a semester more to realize. It has taken me a year more to develop the habit of a sustainable and stable, vegan, and not entirely ecologically damaging lifestyle.
My point here is that ecological sensitivity is an active effort and requires thinking at every point, at every action. Every move must be premeditated, every daily activity fully thought through such that it is ecologically efficient to the extent possible or at least not actively harmful to the environment. For instance, the littlest things like choosing tooth powder (or salt, or baking powder) over toothpaste could be significantly ecologically impactful – the palm oil involved in the manufacturing of toothpaste (and liquid soap and many shampoos) is sourced from plantations that endanger the indigenous orangutan species of Indonesia by encroaching on the forests that form their habitat.
This checklist is structured around the earth-air-fire-water-energy model of the elements of nature. Ask yourself through the day – is what I am about to do likely to pollute the earth, air, aid global warming, pollute or deplete water resources, or involve energy-inefficient products or practices? At every point, avoid being resource-intensive. Use less. Buy less. Create less trash. Do not be a burden upon the earth.
(JK you’re alright).
It is easy enough to remember to switch off every electronic appliance that is not immediately in use (lights in the day, fans at night, microwave ovens, hair dryers and straighteners, the fucking T.V.) or establish a water-efficient morning routine (lather face, brush teeth, rinse out of a mug), but the real challenge is to remember to reassess your decisions at times like a snack break, or a late night manic grocery expedition – are tea or coffee plantations not local ecological burdens, are packaged junk foods a better option than, say, a banana, is it necessary to buy multiple little packs of noodles (excess packaging that creates waste) over one regular-sized pack (besides is it not harmful to subject your body to those many preservatives), would it perhaps not be more ecologically harmonious to choose an organic product – for that matter, doesn’t a large percentage of humankind’s lactose intolerance indicate that perhaps dairy products are not suited for human consumption – following that line of thought, is a non-vegetarian diet not only a double resource burden but also not at par with the ethical standards that criticize animal cruelty, are there not more demerits than merits, both to the environment and yourself, of buying those many bars of chocolate?
This discretion needs to be extended to all other purchases – cotton clothing is an environmental disaster in the making, luxury goods are an ecological hazard from resource extraction to production, products manufactured by foreign brands involve excessively ecologically costly transport, waste creation, and exploitative labour practices. Elaboration of the cons against leather jackets, for instance, is perhaps not even necessary, to the environment-friendly.
As in a relationship, when the happiness of the significant other is frequently in your thoughts, so also, cherish and be kind to the Earth and do not do things that would jeopardize its wellbeing.


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