I can’t remember a day I am not complaining about the temperature. Just a few days ago we were reporting on shortage of drinking water as water tables shrink. I haven’t seen a sparrow in years. On World Environment Day, we look at the ways by which we can become far savvier about saving our environment and protecting what we have.

Recycle water

According to a study, an average Indian wastes 45 litres of water in a day. We know the value of something once it is lost. Today, many parts of our country face water shortage. They now know the value, but what about those who don’t have to face any such water scarcity? We need to reduce the water wastage so that we don’t get to face any such consequences. Some steps we can follow are:

  • The flush of a toilet uses six and a half gallons of water.  We can try connecting the outgoing pipe from the washbasin to the flush tank. This ensures water is saved.
  • Save the water wasted from ROs of our homes to use for watering plants or putting into flushes, washing or mopping.
  • Practically everything you buy, use and consume has a water footprint because it took water to process and transport it. Being thoughtful about purchases, reusing where you can and recycling can reduce your water footprint.
  • You love your lawn and have lots of plants, great! But you can replace your lawn with water-wise plants to save water.

According to a study, an average Indian wastes 45 litres of water in a day. We know the value of something once it is lost.

Plastic is the deadliest poison for nature

Plastic items not only take 1000 years to decompose in landfills, but they also affect the surrounding environment too, in a negative way. Every year, an estimated amount of 18 billion pounds of plastic waste enters the oceans and affects aquatic life. The harmful chemicals from plastic seep through the soil and decrease its fertility, making it barren sometimes. Moreover, the chemicals seep through the soil to reach the groundwater and contaminate it. It’s advisable to limit the use of plastic to as much as possible.

No one knows how much unrecycled plastic waste ends up in the ocean, Earth’s last sink. In 2015, Jenna Jambeck, a University of Georgia engineering professor, caught everyone’s attention with a rough estimate: between 5.3 million and 14 million tons each year just from coastal regions. Most of it isn’t thrown off ships, she and her colleagues say, but is dumped carelessly on land or in rivers, mostly in Asia. It’s then blown or washed into the sea.

Meanwhile, ocean plastic is estimated to kill millions of marine animals every year. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by it.

We possibly know the effects of using plastic, but we don’t really act. One million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute, despite the fact that we can recycle them. The number is supposed to reach half a trillion by 2021. We can possibly lower the number by:

  • Recycling plastic and minimising its use. There are plenty of alternatives available, like using cloth bags instead of plastic ones, switch from disposable diapers to reusable cloth diapers. Use biodegradable sanitary napkins as well.

It is said that sparrows have had a 10,000-year-old symbiotic relationship with human beings. The way they have disappeared is a warning to humans that they have to stop environmental degradation to help nature bring them back.

Take care of avian population, especially sparrows, they’re nearly extinct

Gone are days when we would wake up to the chirping of birds. Sparrows have become nearly extinct because we have destroyed their habitat. It is said that sparrows have had a 10,000-year-old symbiotic relationship with human beings. The way they have disappeared is a warning to humans that they have to stop environmental degradation to help nature bring them back. What we can do is:

  • It is said that the birds are becoming extinct because they do not have proper food to feed on. Loss of vegetation in cities has resulted in no availability of worms and insects. Stop using excess insecticides, start planting trees so they have proper nesting sites.
  • Sparrows are rendered homeless due to modern “matchbox styled” architecture that makes it difficult for the bird to build nests. We can provide them with alternate homes. If you want to help, try contacting organisations working for the protection of sparrows an other birds.

The less power we consume, the lesser power will have to be generated and the lesser radiations will be emitted by the powerhouses.

Save energy to save Earth

As of March 2018, India is the world’s third largest electricity producer. Though it might seem that there isn’t a direct connection between the energy you use and the environment, it isn’t really so. The less power we consume, the lesser power will have to be generated and the lesser radiations will be emitted by the powerhouses. These radiations affect the surrounding environment. To produce electricity, various power generating plants burn coal, or fossil fuels, this is inexpensive. But the expense is paid by our planet because the carbon dioxide released in this process accounts for rising temperatures, acid rains, and abnormal weather conditions. What we can do is:

  • Reduce regular electric light bulbs with fluorescent lamps or LEDs. Do not switch on lights unnecessarily. Switch off the lights when not at the home. Resort to methods that do not require much electricity.
  • To reduce energy consumption in your home, you do not necessarily need to go out and purchase energy efficient products. Energy conservation can be as simple as turning off lights or appliances when you do not need them. You can also use energy-intensive appliances less by performing household tasks manually, such as hang-drying your clothes instead of putting them in the dryer, or washing dishes by hand.
  • Phantom loads,” or the electricity used by electronics when they are turned off or in standby mode, are a major source of energy waste. In fact, it is estimated that 75% of the energy used to power household electronics is consumed when they are switched off. Smart power strips, also known as advanced power strips, eliminate the problem of phantom loads by shutting off the power to electronics when they are not in use. Smart power strips can be set to turn off at an assigned time, during a period of inactivity, through remote switches, or based on the status of a “master” device.
  • Windows are significant source of energy waste, which can amount to 10-25% of your total heating bill. To prevent heat loss through your windows, you can replace single-pane windows with double-pane ones.

Pay attention to fuel consumption and wastage

An IIT Delhi study conducted in 2014, says, every day, 2.5 lakh litres of fuel is wasted in the capital while vehicles are stuck in traffic jams. Another study conducted in 2017 says fuel worth Rs 60,000 crore is wasted annually due to traffic congestion. Increasing fuel consumption leads to the production of greenhouse gases which are harmful for the environment. What we can do is:

  • Switch off your cars when in traffic. Try using public transport or car pools with your friends so that unnecessary usage of fuel is avoided.
  • Make sure your tyre pressure is correct. The two may seem unconnected, but the lower the pressure on your tyres, the more fuel the car must use to move. Check your tyres once a fortnight to ensure that they are at the recommended pressure – this can usually be fund in the owner’s manual, or inside the glove box.
  • Reduce the weight. The more weight your car must carry, the harder it must work, especially if you need to travel up-hill. More fuel will be required to power the car to subsidise the extra weight, and so, reducing extra weight is not just about removing the roof rack. To save fuel, ensure that anything which is not necessary for your trip has been removed in advance. Check your car boot for forgotten items that might be causing you to waste more fuel. Remember that on average, every 50kg will increase fuel consumption by 2%, so that extra stuff can soon add up!
  • Maintain momentum. In a similar vein, maintaining momentum whilst driving will increase fuel efficiency. Constant slowing down and accelerating will increase the amount of fuel the car needs to work effectively, and so you will end up using far more.

When was the last time you sat on a bench in a park? When did you see a Bulbul? This is becoming part of the nostalgia for us and as for the future generations, this may not even be a thing for them to experience. It’s high time we resort to nature-friendly ways; else the time is not far when we’ll even have to pay for oxygen.

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