Beyond One Hour

Karanvir Gupta
I got up one morning longing to hear the birds chirp. The spring had just arrived but it felt like summers. The winters were here a while back but the ‘angithis’ didn’t see the light of the day. The seasons seem to have drifted and have become erratic. Rains take time before they shower. This all happened in the last few years (and continues to happen) in front of us but we take no notice of it. Or we chose not to take notice of any of this. They say “the white” from the space seems to be considerably reduced. And we go crazy! I do not get the point. Something that is perceptible and can be seen as well as felt remains unnoticed but one space image which we might not be able to visit and see during our entire life gets us moving.
Is it that we correlate bigger impacts with larger than life scenarios? We heed more attention to which seems to gather more public attention? Or because it gives us a reason to talk about, post about something on our social media handles? Because that definitely is a thing these days! Unfortunately though – each one of them is interlinked and what you do at your home – inside the boundary walls of what you call as home – has the power to impact what we all call Earth.
Earth Hour – the one hour celebration is dedicated towards the planet and its existence. The lights go off for important public places, Government buildings and monuments. It started in 2007 in Sydney and now some 7000+ cities are a part of this grassroots movement across the globe. This year, 30March 8:30-9:30PM local time observed Earth Hour. While you and I – we all know and realise that one hour alone is not enough to bring the change we are looking forward to but it definitely is a good reminder for all of us to look up from our screens, shut the virtual world around us, and take a leap of faith in what is natural and what nature has to offer us. This is a reminder for the mankind to #Connect2Earth (read connect to earth) which is also the Theme of the Earth Hour this year. There is a common meme doing rounds on the social media which says “We would never cut trees if they would give Wifi signal.” I wish, I wish!
But we need to sensitise ourselves towards this pressing issue which is for real. And it needs more than just one hour of our attention. It needs us to be more aware of our acts in daily routine and day-to-day lives. From washing our cars, to deploying electrical and electronic devices at home; from splashing water in front of our shops in the early morning to settle the dust to tankers that roam the road flaunting the leaking water; from waste we generate at home and forget to separate the biodegradable to non-biodegradable; from disposing off stuff like old clothes, computers, electronics, phones, and shaving blades to old utensils; all of this has an environmental impact. Unfortunately we do not put a number to the waste generated per capita or per home.
But just to see the might of it: let us multiply this to number of people in a household followed by number of households in a locality to number of localities in a city and so on so forth. This will start seeming like a larger than life challenge which started from the boundary walls of our house but replicates across the households in the world. This now definitely needs more than just 1 hour of attention. From us as individual to we as societies need to be more mindful and watchful of our activities. This needs us to come and work together towards building this planet a beautiful place to live and sustain not only for our us and for our future generations!
We need to start talking about these things at our home, identify smart solutions to curb this environmental degradation (which at this stage seems inevitable).
From folks in kitchens to kids at school to professionals at workplaces – we all need to be proactive in implementing small little steps that in wholesomeness help us mitigate – what I call the crippling moment – where earth will not be in a position to take anymore of it. And this needs to happen much before The Tipping Point. This demands us to build a lifestyle around ourselves which is Smart and Sustainable. This demands us to be judicial of what we buy, consume and also about how we dispose off what we do not require anymore. This demands us to build an ecosystem in which our future generations can live and breathe freely!
(The writer is an IIM Shillong Alumnus and Mentor of Change with NITI Aayog)