Monday, 2 November 2015

Living Responsibly:

If the theatre of the absurd continues, then we are on the verge of losing the last opportunity to come together and set things right for our Earth. Going by the sneak previews of the upcoming Paris Conference on Climate Change, the finger-pointing, blame game and one-upmanship have already started while the Earth continues to burn.

As ordinary people, we might continue to look at the Paris Conference askance and vaguely blame our governments and world politics for the current environmental situation, but the fact remains that we have happily lapped up all that have been dished out to us so far. Without even a question. This makes us just as blameworthy for the situation we are in now.  While the world leaders ‘decide’ the fate of our future, we can also help in slowing down environmental degradation by living responsibly.

Being Aware: Once I was talking to an acquaintance on environmental issues when he opened a cigarette packet and dropped the plastic wrap right there on the road. My friend N loves wildlife but she cannot stop bringing plastic bags home.

Each one of us are adding to the environmental chaos by the choices we make in life. Understand and be aware of how you are impacting the Earth. We might not have much environmentally-friendly options, but we can still chose ways to lessen our footprints on Earth. You can chose to buy products which are green/natural, or from companies who follow sustainable business practices, you can carry a cloth bag and insist on not using plastic bags, you can share an auto, or carry a water bottle instead of buying water from outside all the time, not use styrofoam glasses during house parties, take quick showers, not keep the tap running while you clean your kitchen, or tell your maids to stop doing that, switch off lights in rooms you are not using, walk or cycle short distances, stop using the lift if you live on the first few floors, or use brands which source sustainably produced palm oil (HUL, J&J, L’Oreal etc.).

Choices are many, if only we chose to be more aware.

Reduce, Reduce, Reduce: In the narrow roads of Bihar, when you mostly see SUVs and MUVs jostling for space, you know that these were given to others either as political favours, dowry or are simply stolen. In cities like Mumbai and Delhi, when couples or families with one kid buy such fuel guzzling polluting diesel cars, you know that it’s mostly for show value. Remember that just 10 years back, larger families could happily fit into and travel in Maruti Altos. If its luxury that you want, why not a relatively fuel efficient sedan instead? (or a hatchback. oh, I don't know the difference but you get my point anyway)

It also amazes me no extent when I see people lined up at these Hypercitys and Big Bazaars (I will never visit a Reliance shop) with cartloads of stuff which take more than 15 minutes to just empty at the counter. Do they buy all the stuff because they can simply afford to do so or do they really really need them?

What about that kindle with some 400 ebooks which you will never use or read?
Think before you buy. Reduce your consumption. You have no idea how freeing it is to live minimalistically.  

Recycle, Distribute, Reuse: Can you even imagine the kind of waste 1.2 billion people can generate every day? It’s a good thing that a lot of stuff in India get recycled before they hit landfill like plastic or glass materials, paper, electronic goods, clothes etc. However, we only tend to recycle when we get money out of recycling or simply throw things in the dustbin without thinking.

Even though my housing society does not have the provision for collecting dry and wet waste separately, I still segregate my waste. A friend hearing this had laughed and asked how it helped if all went into the landfill anyway. The waste that you throw out is segregated by your housing society kachra walas/walis who have to wade through piles of garbage. By segregating your waste at home, you are atleast easing their process a bit.

But if you want to ensure that some of the stuff is sustainably and meaningfully recycled, then there are other options too.
-        Old clothes (clean): donate to NGOs like Goonj who recycles or upcycles them
-        Bedsheets, rugs, towels, buckets, mugs etc. (again clean): donate to animal shelters or old age homes.  
-        Books: There are many community libraries, educational institutes which take donated books. All you have to do is google.
-        Tetrapacks: In Mumbai, Sahakari Bhandars collects tetrapacks, for other cities you can check
-        Electronic goods: to sell or dispose off your electronic goods responsibly, you can visit sites such as,,,, etc. which offers such services across cities in India. You can also buy refurbished electronic goods from,,

Go Local, Go Natural, Go Organic: Do you know that in the scalding summer heat, nothing can be cooler than wearing Khadi? Have you heard about the freedom fabric called Malkha? Or about western outfits made of Ikat which can turn more heads than when you wear Zara? Have you tried products or groceries from Khadi or our decades old company Vicco? There is an amazing variety of home-grown products which are simply great for Indian climate and needs.  All you have to do is explore a bit.  
Start using organic vegetables or groceries. You don’t have to convert to being 100% organic but you can start by including atleast one such item in your monthly list.

Take an Ideological Stand: My friend S volunteers with wildlife NGOs every year. He says he does so because he wants to live guilt-free. Pick up a cause or an ideology for living one’s life and stick with it. It can be as simple as donating Rs.100 per month to your favourite charity or saying thank you to others or as involving as taking a month off from work to volunteer for a cause or protesting against mining in virgin forests.

Remember, your actions now can leave an indelible impact later….either good or bad. Only you can chose how you want to live your life and influence our collective future.


  1. Excellent reminders, Bipasha. Much appreciated. I do follow some of the steps you've mentioned, and I will try to do more :)


  2. Very good post.
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  3. Very Creative post But Add to the list for electronic goods

  4. Yes - good post. Everyone needs to do their bit. I sold mine on