The reality of global warming is staring at our face -- the levels of dangerous greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide have increased considerably, temperatures across the world are rising, glaciers are melting and in many parts of the world, weather patterns have been erratic. These are warning signs that the earth is being burdened by practices that are harmful to the environment.
Here is some food for thought --
- NASA has confirmed that 2016 was the hottest year on record ever. In fact, most of the warmest years have occurred after 2000.
- At the rate we are cutting down our trees, there might be only 10 per cent of rainforests left in the world by 2030.
- Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies and Alaska.
- The instances of intense rainfall and extreme drought conditions in different regions of the world have increased manifold.
While we teach all this to our children in the classroom, do we really make an effort to educate them about simple methods to save the planet? Adopting a sustainable lifestyle that supports minimalism and self-sufficiency will not only help in reducing environmental impact in our own, small way but is also good for our and our children’s health.
So here are some simple ways in which you can go green at home --
1. Avoid the use of plastics -- One of the biggest threats to a fragile ecosystem is the manufacture and usage of plastic. Plastics contain harmful carcinogens and are non-biodegradable, which means they are a waste management nightmare. Apart from the fact that we should reduce the usage of plastic bags, cutting down on buying household products which use plastic for packaging can go a long way in adopting a green lifestyle. Buy groceries items in bulk so that you reduce on packaging, use a water filter at home instead of buying mineral water containers and avoid buying pet bottles. When travelling, carry reusable bottles and containers instead of buying food and water in plastic packaging.
2. Buy eco-friendly household and personal hygiene products -- The regular household products that we use for washing clothes and cleaning the house have a combination of chemicals that can be potentially harmful to the environment. Moreover, many of the popular cosmetics and personal hygiene items used in the majority of homes employ manufacturing practices that are bad for the ecology. As much as you can, use fair trade products; those which have the least impact on the environment and use ingredients that are natural and free of chemicals. These days there are many eco-friendly alternatives to everything from regular detergents to moisturising creams.
3. Avoid throwing out electronic waste -- The world generates around 40 million tons of electronic waste every year and much of this harmful waste ends up in landfills. When burnt in incinerators, e-waste releases harmful toxins into the air. Find out if there is an e-waste recycling unit in and around your locality and make an arrangement with them, so that you can drop off your e-waste. Many cities in India now have e-waste collection centres or voluntary organisations that collect and recycle e-waste.
4. Make cloth bags a habit -- Since plastic and polythene bags are choking the environment, filling up the landfills and endangering animals, cloth bags are the best option to prevent. Many countries around the world and a few states in India have banned the use of plastic bags, to prevent environmental degradation. The best way to make cloth bags a habit is to teach your children to use them. Kids have a knack to remember such practices and will remind you every time you are getting out of the house to buy groceries and provisions for the house. This will cut down considerably on your usage of plastic bags.
5. Buy and eat locally -- Scientists and environmentalists have long pointed out that eating food grown locally and in season, is not just good for your health but also good for the ecology of the planet. When you consume food that is grown locally, you encourage the local economy and discourage the use of chemicals for preserving of produce that is transported from far away at huge costs. Also look for organic certification when you buy produce and grocery items, as these are grown under eco-friendly conditions and are chemical and pesticide free.
6. Save power -- We all tell our children to switch off the lights when not in use. While this might seem like a small step, it really helps a lot in bringing down energy consumption. In the same way, unplug electronic appliances such as washing machines, microwaves, coffee maker, mixer-grinder, television and so on when not in use. This will definitely cut down electricity costs and in turn, help the environment.
7. Compost your kitchen waste -- Reduce, recycle, compost. These three mantras should be the pillars of minimalistic living and when you do this, it helps your family to reduce their carbon footprint in a big way. Reduce unnecessary consumption, segregate your waste into wet, sanitary and dry, and compost the wet kitchen waste in a corner of your balcony or garden and use the composted manure for your plants. You can even grow your own vegetables. Recycle the dry waste from your house by passing them on to recycling units. You will notice that when you do this, you automatically embrace the simple and minimal life.