The month of April is a time when there is much buzz around the world about saving the planet with talks, hustle and bustle. It’s been a little over 50 years since the inhabitants of earth realized that a lot of harm and damage was being done and concerted efforts must be made to save the only known liveable planet. That gave way to marking April 22, as Earth Day. It is an annual day to remember that mother earth needs to be protected.
Scientists have warned that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. Changing environment of the earth is impacting weather patterns threatening food production, fires are raging, sea levels are rising, and catastrophic flooding are occurring across the globe. Earth Day is an event “celebrated around the world when people take time to appreciate humankind’s connection to the Earth and to raise awareness of our environmental challenges,” says Earth Day Initiative a New York City-based non-profit group.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that the extent of climate change effects on individual regions will vary over time and with the ability of different societal and environmental systems to mitigate or adapt to change. That puts the onus on us, each of us living on the planet.
This Earth Day, The Immigrant Life urges you to think about these questions: are you aware that our actions are destroying our planet? Do you think about natural resources such as air, water and the food produced from earth and how your consumption can have an impact on those? Are you conscious of your habits and its effect on the environment?
Those practices that you are habituated with – such as using water to clean up after yourself rather than looking for toilet paper, using cloth diapers for children and reusing them, using cloth towels instead of paper towels around the kitchen and for cleaning purposes – continue them.
The Immigrant Life believes that our individual choices are powerful. Our individual actions are strong. These individual choices and actions have the ability to make cumulative impact. But you may ask: what can I do to help save the Earth that is so much bigger than me? Or how can my doing things differently change something as colossal as climate change? Then the biggest question of all: What can I do?
Start with this. If you are an immigrant, hold on to your pre-immigrant habits. If you are not an immigrant, learn from immigrants.
Not all but most immigrants to the western world come from nations where they faced shortages – shortage of food, water, energy etc. But they found ways to work around those insufficiencies. Those practices that you are habituated with – such as using water to clean up after yourself rather than looking for toilet paper, using cloth diapers for children and reusing them, using cloth towels instead of paper towels around the kitchen and for cleaning purposes – continue them. There are plenty of things you can do every day to help reduce greenhouse gases and your individual harmful impact on the environment. Think about your children and the generations after them and make that pledge to take conscious steps to take care of mother earth.
Water Usage: If you are an immigrant from the developing world, chances are you lived without running water and you shared water resources. This means you know how to save water, how to consume less, make the little amount go a long way. Coming to a nation with an uninterrupted supply of water should not change your habit. In fact, you can continue your habits of saving water, not letting that water waste and help others too think differently. Similarly, bottled waters can be a new thing for you. That new is not necessarily good. Invest in a stainless steel or glass water carrier and refill them.
Walk: Again, your old immigrant way of life is extremely earth friendly. Walking not only keeps you healthy, it makes the earth healthy as well. Walk whenever and wherever you can. Help your children enjoy walking. If you cannot walk take the public transit. Minimize the use of that new car you bought that will save you the cost of the gas as well as help the environment.
Reuse: Do not get sucked into consumerism. You don’t need to buy all those clothes that are on sale or a new décor every season. Think about how your parents made multiple use of a piece of cloth. First you wear them, then pass on to someone else who can wear them, then use them as a cleaning cloth for your house, then as a mop for the floor. Keep doing that. Use. Reuse. Repurpose.
Save Energy: As an immigrant you might have come from places where you were forced to survive on minimal electricity. That ability to save and make do with the least amount of energy available and routine such as turning off the lights when leaving the room to using energy efficient lights are habits worth maintaining and extending.
Less Plastic Use: Most of us grew up without plastic bags in our surroundings. However, that has changed drastically in the recent years in developing nations too. Revert to your mothers’ habit of keeping sturdy shopping bags handy around the house and use them while shopping. It is not only good for the environment, it is trendy too.
Eat Fresh Produce: Cook your own food. That is what we, immigrants, have done all our lives. In fact, most of us produced and prepared our food ourselves. While in country like Canada it might not be possible to produce your vegetables at least try to learn about where your food is coming from. Do not get sucked into the quick-fix that the processed food provides. Eat wholesome food. If you can reduce the consumption of animal products and create a plant heavy plate for you and your family, that would be awesome!
Last but not least, have conversations about earth and discuss human impact on the environment. Remember that each one of us has a role to play beyond the policies and programs launched by governments, NGOs and other big organizations to leave behind a planet that is healthy and provides a fine environment to nurture our future generations.
You can see Earth Day Live Event here.
This article was written by Meena Kaini.