I have grown up in a very environment friendly home, where both my parents and my brothers did every bit that they could to save the precious resources on this earth. From our childhood, we were strictly told to switch off the lights after using the bathroom, during the day, when not in the room; check all lights and and fans are off before leaving the house; switch off the refrigerator if going for a long vacation; do not keep the tap running when not in use. All this, even when we were staying in the company provided house where electricity and water was almost free! We could have splurged the electricity and water like it was our resource but our parents made sure that we learn to conserve and they did this not by preaching but practicing and setting an example before us.
To this day, my dad prefers to either bike or walk down to all the places where he can. I distinctly remember, how impressed with this news, almost one and a half decades back, where they showed that the people in China bicycling to their offices to control the pollution and to keep healthy. The videos of people in their business suits and ties on their bikes was a very inspiring sight. When dad had started going to the office on a bicycle, we had opposed him. His reason- to stay fit, to preserve petrol and to save the cost of petrol. Our reason- people made fun of an officer coming on a bicycle. Fools we were! Worrying about some people who were not even enlightened enough and who are concerned with only showing off their positions, ranks and money. We had branded him as 'KP'(kanjoos papa) then, but even if he was saving some pennies, it was to provide us the best education and the best upbringing! but in our teens we were then, and were rebellious to everything and as I said earlier, were fools, indeed!
Even then, even we did things which we thought were right and went along with the conservation of resources, probably inspired by our lessons in social sciences and the advertisements on Doordarshan. Remember, those ads where a little girl, with sleepy eyes, is brushing her teeth with the tap running in the basin and as soon as she puts the brush below the tap, it stops. And that ad, where a person stops his car to talk to this dad and daughter duo, and has kept the engine running, when the daughter politely asks him to switch it off. Yeah, those ads had made a deep impact on our young and impressionable minds and we did whatever we could. My brothers, used to switch off their bike engines at red signal. We had started re-using the plastic bags, taking either the cloth bags or used plastic ones to the grocery stores. Even the milk bags were collected and later sent to be recycled instead of being thrown in the bins. We started following our mom and used water in a mug whenever we could instead of using the running water. My mom always had and still has this habit of washing vegetables by filling water in a large container. Running water is consumed more, she says. The water in the container is then used to water the plants or stored in the buckets to flush away the toilets. A very novel way of reusing the water, isn't it? Even for washing dals and rice, she would never throw away the strained water, instead she would keep storing it in a container near by, and re-using it in a similar fashion as above. She would never keep the water running while washing the dishes or the clothes. She would open the tap only when required, the remainder of the time it was kept closed. We took up this habit from her and saved as much water as we could. Our rough work was mostly done on the notebooks made from the pages remaining from the previous years' exercise books which were later replaced by the discarded blue and white computer papers from dad's office. At a certain point of time, we even re-used the envelopes to conserve the paper and wood. This was inspired by some do-it-yourself series on the television. All we needed to do, was open the folds of the used envelope and re-glue it on the reverse side.
I do not know when and how I stopped following all that was, in a way, imbibed in me. The other day while I was cleaning the dishes and putting them in the dishwasher, I suddenly thought how much water I was wasting and made a promise to myself to start using the resources judiciously. This post inspired me to put in some more thought to re-start doing my bit to keep the earth green!
Here's my green list. Some of these, I already follow and some I intend to, starting from now!
Btw, where's yours?
1. Turn off the taps while brushing teeth, cleaning dishes or any other chores that I can think of. It takes less than a second to turn it off and on again, whenever required.
2. Turn off the laptop, when not on desk. (I have this habit of leaving it on as I always want to return to whatever I was working on. I would be back in 5 min is what I think, which extends to an hour to 5 hours at times, before I realise that I should turn it off!)
This rule applies to all electronic items.
3. Use fans, instead of air conditioner, as much as possible. Wear the lightest cotton clothing in summers and let your skin and yourself breathe in the fresh air too!
4. Switch off the lights during the day. Try using the sunlight, you would realise how much it helps!
5. Switch off the lights after using the washrooms (even the public ones, if possible).
6. Switch off the lights before getting out of the rooms (even the office conference rooms, meeting rooms and cubicles also apply)
7. Dispose the waste in the bins, especially in the reservation areas.
8. Sort the waste, like, biological waste, recyclable plastic and paper. Find the local recycling collecting bins in your area and dispose the recyclable waste there.
9. Try to re-use old papers as much as possible. Do not print, if you can read some stuff online or you can borrow the paper version from somebody. Use recycled paper, if possible.
10. Avoid using plastics as much as possible. Again, the rule of reduce, reuse and recycle applies here.
11. Avoid use and throw products. You are only adding to the waste.
12. Avoid CFC products like sprays.
13. Avoid buying products made by killing animals and cutting down forests. Better still, buy recycled products.
14. Avoid processed and canned foods.
15. Do not microwave plastics.
16. Do not use non-stick pans.
17. Use rechargeable batteries.
18. Use warm water instead of hot. Think how much you are saving this way!
19. Use clothes with natural fibers, like cotton and wool.
20. Do not wear your outdoor shoes inside the house. This reduces dust-bound pollutants.
21. Avoid using driers if you can hang the clothes in the sun to dry.
22. Try using the alternate energy options, like solar heaters, solar lamps, etc.
23. Use fluorescent lighting.
24. Avoid taking cars whenever you can. Try walking, bicycling, carpooling, taking public buses or trains instead.
25. Plant trees!