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June 5, 2015

The Environment Is Our Business

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:07 AM

Here's a glimpse of the small steps we are taking as an organization to better this planet

Today, on the occasion of the World Environment Day, I want to seed a small thought. When we think of saving the environment, why do we only think at the doomsday scale - probably even feel bogged down? While global warming, climate change, carbon footprint, deglaciation and deforestation are issues of serious concern, shouldn't we also focus on the little differences that we can make, everyday?

I can tell you that the large corporates or non-government organizations are already doing what they can: Apple's new headquarters will be entirely solar powered, Google is committing to renewable sources of energy, and Infosys is pioneering radiant cooling in its buildings in India. How is it that we - you, me, and every other person - don't figure in a narrative where we are both the prime actors and the biggest beneficiaries?

By refusing to view the undoubtedly gigantic environmental issue also as a composite of myriad elements, big and small, we have ended up distancing ourselves from the problem, and more importantly, its resolution.

We're lucky that there are some outstanding individuals amongst us who strive tirelessly to bring this truth home to us. It could be Tamara Rubin, founder of Lead Safe America, who works to spread awareness about the dangers of lead poisoning. It could be R. Madhavan and V. Subramaniam, who are greening the city of Chennai in India, one sapling at a time. Or Jadav Payeng, a villager from Assam who was recently awarded the Padma Shri for single-handedly planting a forest over three decades across 1,360 acres, which now is home to Royal Bengal Tigers, rhinos, and other animals. Or it could simply be your neighbor who meticulously segregates garbage when others merely dump it. But no matter who or where or how big their initiative, they all carry the same message - which is that the distance to our environmental goals is traversed in small steps. Our steps.

So this World Environment Day, let's take that first, most important step towards the environmental problem by making it our own.

Let's walk when we can and carpool when we cannot. China, the world's most populous nation, is already on its way. Shun Feng Che, a new ride sharing service in China, has already recruited one million drivers since its launch two months ago. Uber recently announced that its taxi-sharing service saved 120 tonnes of CO2 a month in San Francisco alone, when compared to hiring an entire Uber cab.

Let's not forget garbage segregation. According to the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), urban waste has incredible potential to become the source of renewable energy. Biodegradable waste alone can generate biogas, which can not only serve as fuel, but also be converted to compost for increased agricultural production.

Let's promise to save trees by using electronic documentation, to replace plastic with that jute shopping bag, to cut electricity consumption by turning the lights off before you leave the room, to conserve water by fixing the leaky faucets and if you can, harvesting rainwater. The list is endless.

Today, let us commit that we will strive to make what difference we can to the world around us. Let us pledge to respect our natural resources. Let us engage more thoughtfully with our planet. We are part of the problem; now let us participate in the solution. All it takes is putting one foot in front of the other. One small step at a time - everyday.

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