World Environment Day, June 5, should be an important day marked in everyone's calendar. It is observed by the United Nations to increase awareness about our environment. The theme for this year's World Environment Day is simple and straightforward - Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.
Our environment gives us everything we need to live. It gives us air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, sunlight to survive. Unfortunately, what we give back to the environment is quite different - we give it harmful gases from industries and automobiles, plastic trash that's hard to recycle and sewage water to pollute its rivers and lakes.
With the rising population and the limited resources on planet earth, it is quite possible that the earth may not always be able to support life as it has done over the centuries. The effects of climate change
and global warming are glaring at us and yet, we prefer to look the other way.
Environmental problems bring with them several diseases, which may not have been as common during the time of our ancestors. The pollution air in several cities is well above the permissible limits, predisposing citizens to respiratory problems like asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
Industrial wastes are released into water, resulting in high levels of toxicity in ground water. Sewage systems open up into the lakes, causing gastrointestinal problems
in those consuming the water. The noise created by factories and loudspeakers could result in hearing impairments. Even fireworks used in festivals cause air and noise pollution. Contamination of the environment with radioactive substances cause cancers.
While the industrial revolution has led to tremendous economic growth, it was also a starting point for pollution levels to raise its ugly head! This does not mean that we have to reverse all the progress done in the past several years. But what we can do is to take a few steps to at least prevent the situation from worsening. If we adopt a sustainable lifestyle, it could go a long way in protecting our natural resources and result in a healthy and green environment. Our mantra should be - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce - Reduce our requirement of:
- Things that are harmful to the environment, for example, plastics
- Things that the environment requires to sustain itself. For example, if we reduce use of paper, trees may be allowed to live longer and clean up the air
Reuse - With our economic growth, it has become fashionable to use disposable items. A number of things of daily living can be reused. This would reduce pollution caused by manufacturing, as well as save the environment from the waste generated.
Recycle - A number of waste materials generated in our houses like bottles, plastics and cardboard cartons can be sent to recycling units to make new products. What is simply needed is to segregate waste so that it can be remade into new.
The earth is a self-sustaining unit, provided we don't interfere with its functioning. If each of us takes little steps to reduce our carbon footprint, we could, hopefully, make the earth's natural resources last for generations to come. We have to understand that taking care of the environment means we are ensuring our own healthy future.