For over a year now, humanity has suffered an unprecedented crisis due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Today, we celebrate World Earth Day 2021, and if the recent events have made one thing clear, it is that key changes need to be made in our way of life in order to protect the environment, resources and people of our planet.
As part of Cosmo India’s Anniversary Issue, actor, producer, social activist and UN Goodwill Ambassador Dia Mirza stressed the urgent need to move towards more sustainable practices of consumption and living. “We are confronted by an existential crisis,” shares Dia, her voice imbued with significance. “The way we have built the world, the way we have created patterns of consumption and economies, it’s simply not sustainable. The Earth is running out of resources, and we won’t be left with clean air, clean water, or the kind of climate that is necessary to grow food. We just have this decade to fix what we have done wrong. This pandemic should have been our biggest wake-up call, because if we don’t change the way we live our lives, things will only get worse.”
The theme for Earth Day 2021 is ‘Restore Our Earth’, bringing into focus natural processes and emerging green technologies that can restore the ecosystems of the world. As individuals, there is no day like the present to start making a change towards a more sustainable, conscious way of living. But while we may have the best of intentions, it sometimes proves, daunting, even confusing to understand how to incorporate more sustainable practices in our daily lives.
To guide you along this path, Cosmo India spoke to 4 advocates of sustainable living— Social Activist Ripu Daman Bevli (Plogman Ambassador of India), Sonal Agarwal —Founder, PinkPepperCorn (a slow clothing initiative), Eco YouTuber Nayana and Environmentalist Sagar Singh. Read on as they share some important ways in which we can adopt more a sustainable way of living.
“More than celebrating Earth Day, we need to start living sustainably every day,” shares Ripu Daman Bevli. For that to happen, we need to realise that the permanent home we have is Mother Earth, not the four walls we have created for ourselves.”[instagram]https://www.instagram.com/reel/CMtnFbdFQfr/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading[/instagram]
“Living sustainably is not hard,” he adds. Here are a few of his suggestions, starting with the basics.
1.When you leave home, have a look at your electricity meter and check why it is still running so fast. Figure out the appliances you don’t need when you are not home, like your TV or an old refrigerator or oven, and switch them off.
2. Make it a weekly practice to buy your vegetables from your local market or vendors instead of e-commerce stores. Do remember to walk or cycle there, and get fitter in the process. Make an outing of it, take your partner or your kids along (if you have any). As you get involved in the food you consume, you will become more aware regarding sourcing, farming, local or imported produce, and adopt more sustainable habits in the long run.
3. Segregate your waste at the source—food waste in a green bucket and solid, non-biodegradable waste like plastic packaging in a blue bucket.
4. Reduce your waste. Take the ‘Plastic Upvaas’ (Plastic Fast) pledge by shunning just one single-use plastic item from your daily life.
5. Carry your own reusable bag, water bottle and reusable straw everywhere you go. In the times of corona, carrying your own cutlery is not only good for the environment it's also safer from a hygiene perspective.
“The very first thing we need to do in the current situation is to analyse the amount of waste we produce,” says Nayana Premnath, who personally lives a zero-waste, vegan lifestyle, and advocates sustainable living through her website, www.nayanapremnath.com. She suggests that we conduct a waste audit for a week, i.e., collect all our non-perishable, dry waste in one place to track consumption patterns. This makes us aware of the largest amount of waste coming out of our homes, milk cartons or shampoo bottles for example and gives us an idea of where to keep a check and opt for alternatives. Given below are her suggestions:
6. Perform a waste audit. This makes you conscious of your purchases and mindful of your consumption.
7. Carry your own box with you to restaurants (Once things get back to normal). Use it to bring back any leftover food. This reduces the use of plastic and wastage of food.
Environmentalist and social science educator Sagar Singh (Mr Earth) draws our attention to unconscious patterns of consumption. ”We actually wear 5 to 6 clothes in a week but we have 30 or more items of clothing inside our closet," he says, explaining how we continue to want and buy things we don't actually need. So what happens when we buy that superfluous item of clothing? “The production of a cotton t-shirt takes 10,000 litres of water,’ Sagar tells us. “Right now 171 million people in India don’t have access to clean water (that is more than the population of Russia). The garment industry doesn't treat the water it uses properly and directly releases it into rivers, that’s the reason why a country like India that is naturally blessed with a lot of rivers is still suffering from a water crisis.”[instagram]https://www.instagram.com/p/CMl3w-2p0ZH/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading[/instagram]
“it’s extremely important that policy-makers implement changes at a macro level,” he adds. “But if one individual becomes more conscious about their consumption, things will definitely change. When individuals change from inside, the outer environment changes automatically". He shares a few tips towards a sustainable lifestyle:
8. Use public transport as much as possible.
9.Do an energy audit at home (your government power supplier can help you with this). Most of our electricity is coal-powered, the production of which has an extremely adverse impact on the environment. Identify which appliances and devices consume the most electricity, and replace them with energy-efficient devices. Just changing your light bulbs or an old fan can make a huge difference.
“The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world, and this is mainly because of use-and-throw fast fashion,” agrees fashion, lifestyle and sustainability influencer Sonal Agarwal, whose slow clothing initiative PinkPepperCorn focuses on hand-stitched clothing.[instagram]https://www.instagram.com/reel/CN9yn-ygphb/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading[/instagram]
Sonal has much to add regarding our consumption of fashion, and stresses avoiding non-biodegradable, polyester-based fabrics, most of which end up in landfills. To guide us to make a change towards more sustainable dressing, she shares a few pointers:
10. Mix-and-match from your existing wardrobe. Reuse, recycle and pair your existing clothes in various ways to create new outfits.
11. Before you buy anything, ask yourself if you really need it. If the answer is no, give yourself time to think about it. Chances are you won’t come back!
12. Support small businesses that create thoughtful and unique products. These are far more painful to throw away than mass-produced, fast fashion.
13. Question if what you are buying is bio-degradable or not. Fabrics such as pure cotton, linen, khadi etc are much better for the environment.
14. Opt for handmade and handloom clothing. Not only are such items intricately crafted and beautiful, but they also provide a livelihood for countless artisans and their families.
15. You don’t have to reject fast fashion entirely, but always have these questions at the back of your mind, it will help you subconsciously make greener choices.
So there you have it, a few easy-to-follow pointers by sustainability experts to help you make a change towards a more conscious lifestyle, beginning today.