Sustainability is taking centerstage today and it is one of the most important and urgent issues of our times. The most prominent voices on the planet (at least most of them) are frequently bringing up words and phrases such as ecology, health, sustainability, climate change, water crisis etc. Is this crisis for real or is it just the collective imagination of an anxious few. I think we all know the answer to that question.
The world today is driven by the economics of things and to be a part of it means playing the game and accepting the good and the bad that it brings with it. But in that, do we forgo our ability to live responsibly—towards ourselves, family, communities and by extension towards our planet? The answer to that as well is a no-brainer. To most of us, the answer is a resounding NO! The next immediate question is – How? How do we live sustainably when all we have access to is the opposite of it? How do we ensure our activities are not damaging to us and the people and environment around us? What is that first step that each one of us could take to live more sustainably?
The answer to all of the above questions can be found, to my mind, in simplicity and in way going back to basics.
All of us remember how before the grocery stores got flooded with shampoos, our mothers would wash our hair with plant based ingredients soaked in tins overnight. How instead of buying food in plastic packets, the corner kiranewala would competently make a cone of any size out of newspapers and pack us our favourite dal in it. To many of us there is still nothing else that compares to ghar ka khana and even better, Maa ke hath ka khana.
Agreed that times have changed, we have several options now and convenience trumps everything. Where there is o much freedom to choose, do we have to watch our every step every purchase? That would be so constricting and mind boggling. Living sustainably is about making choices, consciously. It is about practising our judgement and making a choice weighing the situation, the impact and our own need. I’ll share a small example: I lost my father very recently and people started pouring in to help, pay their respects and offer condolences. We ourselves were grieving. A kind heart arranged for bottled water so there was enough drinking water for everyone. We accepted the situation and the solution offered with gratitude. Once things were a little settled and preparations were to be made for the next day’s rituals, we practiced sustainable, non-toxic options. It is about choosing to say No where we must and can.