Earth Day doesn't mean anything to me

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Highlights
What are you going to do this Earth Day?
By Sofia Chand
 
Yes, isn't that what you thought when you read that post on Instagram or the share on WhatsApp?
 
It's probably time for another lights-off message, or plant a tree or a beach cleanup drive and such and such. But hey, this has got nothing to do with me, right?! Wrong!
 
Then of course there is also the question about - this is all a farce, and nothings really happening to the earth and it's a marketing gimmick where few people are minting money off of it. Maybe or may not be. No comments on that.
 
There are lots of insights out there that could open your eyes, just probably.
 
We waste 1.3 billion tonnes of edible food every year!
 
An average person uses 11 shampoo bottles a year, multiply that by just 1% of India's population and that means a whopping 1,36,60,000 people, throw away about 15,02,60,000 bottles every year! And I am pretty sure that more than 1% of India's population must be using shampoo bottles. So this is at the very least.
 
50% of all the plastic that we use is just used once and then thrown away.
 
I won't delve too much into whether this is real or a gimmick. I feel there is no harm in doing some things that would probably make me feel that at least I did whatever best I could. Every drop makes an ocean right?
 
So how are you feeling about this? Feel free to stop reading here if this didn't make a dime of a difference to you. But did all of the above make you feel a bit queasy and wonder where should I start to do my bit?
 
Then let me help you with it.
 
Let's begin with what is Earth Day. The first Earth Day was observed on April 22nd, 1970, and has become an annual event since then. After it went through its various iterations, an initiation by John Connell - a peace activist, sign-off by UN, etc., it finally boiled down to April 22nd and was proposed by the United States Senator Gaylord Nelson. Denis Hayes, the national coordinator grew the event to such an extent that 20 million people were down on the streets and it has been marked down in history as the largest single-day protest.
 
 
Ok now that we have the history out of the way, let's get down to basics. Just in case you are a history buff and want to know more, go here.
 
So what is the agenda for Earth Day? The idea of Earth Day is to create awareness and draw focus on few key areas such as climate, conservation, restoration, plastic, pollution, and how all this affects people and communities.
 
I feel that it is not just about observing it on a single day of the year but creating that mindset that helps us to curb certain habits and focus on these key areas for the rest of the year too. It's like an alarm that resets our mindfulness. As of today, 1 billion people across 193 countries have participated in Earth Day events that are coordinated globally by earthday.org.
 
Every year, Earth Day revolves around a theme that invokes people around the world to organize events in line with it. The theme for Earth Day 2021 is Restore Our Earth. We are talking about reducing the impact on our environment, awareness of climate change, etc. What this means for you is that you work on something that gets mother nature closer to her original self.
 
Here is how you can do your bit on this Earth Day.
 
If you want to participate in larger groups and volunteer then you can visit this link to see events around you and participate. You can also create your own local event for Earth Day and register it here. Of course, be mindful of all restrictions due to Covid-19 and take care of yourself.
 
On an individual level, this is what you can do:
 
 
  1. Educate - Get out the teacher in you and spread the awareness, talk to your neighbors, talk to friends. Let them know how they can be of help and value natural resources.
  2. Create a Pledge - It could be about anything. To reduce plastic use, save water, stop using disposable masks, etc. Put it up on your insta and tell your friends to participate and spread it. You could be the next viral trend!
  3. The simplest one of course is to plant some trees. This will not only help to cool things down (yes a group of trees can actually bring down the temperature) but also help you with better, cleaner air.
  4. Make a pledge of your own, as an individual, like, you will stop using disposable water bottles, you will recycle your plastic, etc. And of course, follow it through. The likelihood of people being impacted when you, they see you doing things is way higher than you just talking about it.
  5. Do a small cleanup drive in your neighborhood. It doesn't have to be a large group of people. Just a handful and you can make a lot of difference.
  6. Waste sorting - Promote proper waste sorting concepts to people around you and follow them yourself. 
  7. Volunteer for drives within your community. Check out your local clubs or groups and I am sure they will have some small activity happening that you could be a part of.
  8. Be aware of chemicals you are using at home for cleaning etc and try to replace them on your next shopping trip with less harmful, non-toxic ones. This not only helps you to take care of your family but also ensures reduction in all that chemical that goes down the drain and contaminates our own oceans.
  9. Going a short distance? Choose walking or cycling over a 2 or 4 wheeler.
  10. Unsubscribe to all the unnecessary newspapers, magazines, bank or financial statements, and catalogs that keep pouring in, which just end up in the trash. That would literally be equivalent to planting trees.
  11. Stop hoarding things. Give away things that you haven't used for more than 6 months. Let someone actually use it. Reduce, reuse!
  12. Visit local markets for your daily groceries and carry a reusable bag with you.
  13. Stop food wastage! This is by far one of the biggest red alert issues. We are wasting 1/3rd of food produced for us to eat! 
  14. While online shopping is definitely convenient, there is this question about all the packaging material that is wasted. If you can find an online store that keeps this in mind then shift your loyalties to it even if it costs you slightly more.
  15. Use disposable plastic bottles to convert your balcony into a beautiful garden. You can even use it to grow some indoor plants! Reuse plastic, grow a plant, beautify your house, improve air quality, it's a total win-win-win!
  16. And lastly reduce the use of plastic, especially one-time-use ones. There are several alternatives available out there to replace plastic. Steel, glass, clay pots, iron, carbon steel - get back to everything that your grandma used.
 
So there it is! A long list of things you can do. Of course, feel free to google for more ideas if these aren't enough for you. 
 
 
But before I close this article, I wanted to say one more thing. Reduce or eliminate the use of non-stick pans. Go back to steel and cast iron. It not only helps save the environment because non-stick vessels have to be changed frequently as they start peeling but it is also super beneficial for your health. I will write about the benefits of using and steel and iron in another article and what metals you should avoid in cooking. It may not be something you do on Earth Day but you could implement it over a period of time.
 
The problem is that when we think of doing something, the devil on our shoulders forces us to be lazy, critical, or just not consider it important enough. But always remember, you are doing all this for yourself. Restoration is going to help you during your lifetime, it's no longer about our future generations. It is totally about and for us. So kick off that devil from your shoulder now!
 
Happy Earth Day to all! I hope to keep sharing more on things I love, which are food for my stomach and food for thought.
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