Knowing our Eco-heros
We hear frightening consequences of climate change, global warming, air pollution, water pollution, overfishing, ozone layer depletion, overpopulation, habitat loss, land degradation, ocean acidification. We also hear how we as individuals can impact this and bring change to save this planet and save ourselves, our loved ones, and your future generation. To do so there are plenty of ways and I am sure each one of us is aware of it. Since childhood, all of us had this subject called environmental studies where we were taught how little effort can help us bring a significant amount of change in our surroundings, right from using paper bags, carpool or saving electricity and whatnot. We all try to incorporate these small doings to play our part for saving mother earth but there are people, there are organizations, there are ideas and projects working and taking bigger steps, innovative ones to implement the concept of sustainable development.
Did the term “Sustainable development” ring a bell in your head? Well, let us see what it really has to say. In 2015, United Nations General Assembly devised Sustainable Development Goals which are intended to be achieved by 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". As much as it is important for us to know our role in this cause and make people aware of it, we feel it is equally important to celebrate stories where people have gone beyond their limits to make sustainability not just a concept but a reality.
Meet Devang Jani, a resident of Nashik, Maharashtra knocked the Bombay High Court doors demanding to remove tonnes of concrete dumped on the Godavari riverbed. According to Devang Jani, “Earlier, Godavari was self-reliant and used to flow around the year. But it became dependent on the Godavari dam as it’s natural springs were buried due to the concretization.” Devang demanded the natural springs be choked under the concrete for 19 years to be freed. His efforts bore fruit when in 2018, the local governing body removed 200 tonnes of concrete from two ponds alone.
Sustainable Development is not just about combating pollution, it is also about a rejuvenation of the environment. Have you heard of Anshu Pragyan Das, the divisional forest officer of Mahanadi Wildlife division? This forest officer has given India its first eco-forest and has a zero-tolerance policy towards single-use plastic. She transformed Muduligadia, a tiny hamlet in the Nayagarh district of Odisha by developing 45 eco-tourism centres. This eco-tourism project started in 2018 with the goal of helping the locals earn a livelihood and enhancing forest conservation efforts. This hamlet is known to be completely self-sustainable and eco-friendly. Not just this she is also working for tiger habitat conservation, building better water connectivity, constructing toilets in order to make the village open defecation-free. Today, all 35 households in Muduligadia are using LPG instead of firewood which in turn reduces air pollution in the area.
Have you ever wondered what happens to flowers that are being offered to deities? This floral waste contributes to 16 percent of water pollution. Phool.co, a Kanpur-based start-up, is taking this challenge head-on by recycling tonnes of flower waste generated across Uttar Pradesh. This company uses floral waste to produce handmade incense sticks. They also convert this waste into vermicompost, pages, gift boxes, and packaging material. This start-up has also developed leather by recycling flowers which they call a “Fleather”.
We just shared few stories but there are thousands of stories like this, thousands of people who are working towards sustainable development. As much as survival is important for mankind same is sustainability. If there is no right balance, there is no chance for us to survive as well. You don’t need to be an environmentalist, an activist or an expert in the field to bring the change. You can take small steps like avoiding use of plastic, utilising renewable energy like solar energy, compost wet waste at home or something as simple as spreading a word about it. We ought to do these small steps as it is everyone’s responsibility to protect mother earth.
Authors: Sakshi Pardeshi, Bidita Paul and Hansika Pandit