Today is World Environment Day….and your friendly neighbourhood Pedantic Pest of a Photographer is BACK with a Post!
If you have been following my posts on Facebook, you couldn’t have missed the zillions of post I have been sharing showing my “concern” for the environment! After all, it costs nothing to hit the “share” button…AND I get to buttress my credentials as a “responsible” citizen of Planet Earth!
Then, a small voice inside my head reminded me, “Fake it, till you make it”. And I thought, let’s give it a shot…and try and do small things which are easy to implement and might go some way in ensuring that the planet survives longer than I do!
Before I get into the gory details, I would like to mention 2 sets of couples who have inspired me in getting into the murky world of “Go Green”. Here’s a shout out to Santosh & Tina and Priyanka & Matthias, who have given me different ideas which I have copied shamelessly and now am gonna pass them off as mine!
Small word about Santosh…the crazy guy that he is…he actually prepares his own toothpaste, which he learnt from YouTube, to avoid using single-use plastic! Though, reliable sources inform Know-All that his daughter is not very excited about using that toothpaste, love for daddy dearest notwithstanding!
So, here are 11 “things” I am trying to implement, with varying degrees of success and ranging from very easy to quite crazy, to ensure that my concern for planet Earth is not limited to only sharing articles on FB, but are reflected in concrete action.
- Use a Coffee Mug!
Yeah! That simple! At your workplace, instead of the paper cups, just use a coffee mug! Lots of people already do it, but many still don’t. You conserve paper, and it definitely looks cooler to have a mug in hand than a paper cup!
- Glass Bottles instead of PET Bottles
As a kid, I remember we used to reuse the empty bottles of lemon squash for storing cold water in the fridge. Somewhere down the line, the glass bottles were ditched and today we get only PET bottles. Well, couple of years ago, my mother decided that she did not want carcinogenic plastic bottles in her home and replaced all those with glass bottles. They are dearer, but then again, is not your life dearest? Just to add, we keep all the spices etc also in glass bottles replacing the plastic ones…the best re-use for empty bottles of pickles, which are still available in glass!
- Use an Iron kadhai
Now this is territory which is kinda shaky for me, because I am someone who cooks maybe twice a year. Ok…once. L
But, I do observe my mother and again, like a good bong boy, my philosophy is- mommy knows best! So, here’s my thought- whether Teflon is unhealthy or not is open to debate and there is no conclusive evidence to prove that they are carcinogenic. But, the coating is definitely derived from chemicals. So, using cast iron cookware is definitely healthier( also they last forever), since it leaches some iron into the food, which can be a boon if your diet does not have sufficient iron content. But, cooking in these heavy utensils can be a real pain as can be cleaning them! But, hey..who said saving the environment was easy??
- Use a Kolshi
What the hell is a Kolshi???? Nothing fancy…it’s just the Bengali word for Pitcher. If you are a resident of Calcutta, then summer is NOT something you look forward to, with temperature and humidity hitting the roof and regular water intake is a must! For the last few years, we have stopped using fridge water (it’s only kept for guests). We keep water in a clay pitcher which keeps the water remarkably cool, and I don’t know if it’s my imagination but I never catch a cold drinking the water from the pitcher (which ain’t true for the fridge water, for me). These cost less than 200 rupees and easily last couple of years.
- Use a Hot Plate
Well…this is a little dicey, because as my friend Priyanka will tell you- What if the source of electricity is Nuclear or Coal based? It ends up polluting the environment all the same. She has a point, but we need to make a beginning. World over, renewable sources of energy are becoming more popular and cheaper and in the longer term, a hot plate is definitely more efficient. Do remember to buy metal utensils which have a flat bottom otherwise it won’t heat properly.
- Buy Vegetables from Small Producers
My friends always curse me for my weekend bazaar schedule. So, post weekend long run whilst the rest of the group heads for breakfast, I have to decline- because…. “bazaar e jete hobe”. Anyway, I have been doing this since I was 5 years old, initially accompanying my father and then later, on my own. And I quite enjoy it. If you are one of those who also has to do the weekly fish and vegetables shopping, I suggest buy from the old ladies who bring limited quantities of items with them. They are usually bought from small producers are probably the closest to organic produce we can get. And, these people are really poor. Don’t you want to support them?
There are couple of “Mashi” (Aunt in Bengali- Mother’ sister, to be specific) in Behala Bazaar who are very fond of me. They do overcharge a little from me (which I ignore occasionally) but the produce they sell is always top class. Similarly, there is another Mashi who sells pond water fish, which is the freshest and tastiest. I prefer that. Also, I never buy vegetable which are not seasonal or local. Because they would not be energy efficient OR fresh.
- Buy Cooking Oil from Oil Mills
So, this one is getting progressively tougher by the day to access. I stay in the southern suburbs of Calcutta and since my childhood days, we have bought our mustard oil (Bengalis cooks primarily in mustard oil) from a shop called Panna Oil Mill. Earlier there used to be queues on weekends to buy the oil. Now, only few people like me bring their own containers and get the oil which is produced in their own mill. The shop staff have seen me for decades and are quite friendly> once asked them the reason for the reduction in customers. They said people nowadays buy oil available in tetrapacks. Panna Oil is also available in tetra packs, but the quality of oil in that can never match what you get straight from the mill. Sadly, we are more interested in convenience than health. Only problem is…being unhealthy is even more inconvenient.
- Reduce the use of single use plastic bags
This requires some discipline. I am the first to admit that I still take single use plastic bags while buying vegetables and fish and meat. But, I have reduced. And so can you. I have had to repeatedly instruct the vegetable vendors not to give different vegetables in different plastic bags. And I ask them to do the same for other customers…to which their response is- Customers will stop buying from us, if we do that. Customers want as many plastic bags as possible. I think, it’s our responsibility to carry a bag and if at all needed, ask for paper bags. Not that tough, trust me!
- Switch to a Kindle
This one is quite controversial but I am not one to shy away from debate…so here goes. I must be the first to admit that I have taken a long long time to decide whether to invest in a Kindle. Quite a few friends had insisted that I must buy a Kindle! But, I am a traditionalist and I always felt that reading and smelling a book has its own charm. 2 things forced me to switch. First, I have bought so many books that there simply isn’t any more space in my house! And secondly, if you are a photographer whose camera bag weighs nearly 10 kgs, you really don’t want additional weight of a book! So…I bought a kindle and it is fantastic! AND, it is eco-friendly. Study after study has shown that the carbon emissions of Kindles are far lower than paper books. I have stopped buying paper books since then. So, go ahead and buy that book reader, if you are a bookworm like me.
- Use Carpooling Apps
For this I must thank my friend Priyanka and her husband Matthias. It was while travelling from Toulouse to Carcassone that I first experienced the concept of carpooling apps. They use Bla Bla Car to get riders who want to reach any place on the same route. We got a young student of Aeronautical Engineering, who was returning home. My French is very limited but I can proudly say that we had a wonderful adda! Later Priyanka and Matthias explained that it is very important that all car owners use carpooling to conserve fuel. Once I returned home, I registered to one such app, and there has been no looking back. I have made wonderful friends and if I may quote one co-rider- “I have never found a more fun-filled carpool ride before”. Once you overcome the initial hesitation of allowing strangers into your car, you will never look back! Go ahead….try it once!
- Avoid ACs
This one is not really a recommendations because all my friends and family think I am nuts. The thing is, I still don’t use an AC in my room. The other rooms have ACs, but not mine. I do use it in the car, because it’s quite painful to drive in the pollution and heat, for me but I am still avoiding installing it in my room. Let’s see how long I can manage without one.
So, how many of these are you also following? Is there anything else you are doing to conserve the environment? Do let me know.