Do remember to switch your lights off at 8.30 p.m. tonight to show solidarity with the larger cause of environment. You can see the events planned in India tonight at this link: http://www.earthhour.in/
Earth Hour is an event organized by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) every year on the last Saturday of March. It is a call for action to save the environment. Last year in 2011, many millions of people, businesses and communities around the world including 5200 cities and towns across 135 countries around the world switched off the lights for an hour to show solidarity with the message of action on climate change.
Many would argue that switching off lights just for an hour is going to do precious little for the environment. True! if the action remains confined to the Earth Hour, it will be quite pointless. But, if we can carry this initiative right into our everyday lives, we can make a real difference. I mean, we in Bangalore are anyway experiencing pretty harsh power cuts. So, why prolong the agony? I would agree that we are already power deficient but by switching off lights we can reiterate to ourselves the importance of not wasting electricity. Use solar heaters instead of geysers, good ventilation instead of ACs, public transport instead of cars among so many others.
Here in India, our generation has grown up as a generation that has seen a middle-class life. It was ingrained in us from childhood to switch off lights whenever we left the room. In Indian culture, we do not waste food. “Empty your plate” was the wisdom our parents emphasized. It does not mean we overeat. It means we respect food and take whatever we can finish. We respect the fact that while we are fortunate enough to have a full stomach, there are many others who sleep on an empty stomach every single day. We normally don’t throw away leftover food but either consume it or give it to a needy person to eat. Even with regards to clothes, we buy what is required and is worn, not stuff that never gets worn. Also, even today, we share expensive clothes in good condition that our kids have outgrown with our friends who have children of the same age group. I still remember us keeping our school notebooks for our younger brother or sister to use when we were growing or the fact that we were told to take bucket baths and not leave the tap on while brushing our teeth. The factor here is not affordability but an understanding that we have to be considerate to Mother Earth and to the resources at our disposal. My values tell me not to waste. I am hopefully passing on the same compassion to my children.
When I had the opportunity to live in the US, I was shocked to see the wastage around me. The lights were just left on in businesses and offices at night even though no one used them. People would eat in restaurants and leave loads of food to be dumped in dustbins. There was indiscriminate use of plastic and paper. Everyone drove expensive cars, SUVs etc. that were gas guzzlers. It used to make me cringe. Is it because they have never seen deprivation or never expect to face any shortages? Sure, they can afford it, but in the larger scheme of things, can WE afford It? Is that why environment has gone down the spiral so quickly even though countries like China and India are being blamed these days?
While we aspire to provide more freedom and equality to our girls, as we see in the Western cultures, the Indian values of conservation must be passed on. Today, many of us in the cities are indulging in wasteful consumerism without thinking for the future. I hope that city folks living everywhere teach these basic values of conservation to our kids because air, food and water is scarce and precious. Our resources are getting exhausted much more rapidly than they are being regenerated.
Tonight, when you switch off the lights, remember to pledge to yourself that in whatever small way, you will do your bit for the environment and teach your kids to do the same.Watch this great video, The Story of Stuff — It tells you how everything we consume has an impact on the environment. Do watch it; it is really good
Pic courtesy: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net