Frugal life is the key

Frugal life is the key

Frugal life is the key

Yet another ‘World Environment Day’ is here. The theme this year, ‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care’, highlights the need to stop overconsumption and take a second look at our lifestyles.

With the overuse of natural resources —  land, water and energy — environmentalists fear that the planet would soon be bereft of these life-saving elements if the current rate of consumption goes on. 

A shift in the pattern of consumption, unplanned wastage, change in lifestyle, lack of resource efficiency and management can result in overuse of natural resources, say experts. Priya, a water conservation expert, feels that overconsumption, pollution of water bodies and drastic water wastage have led to an acute water shortage and slow groundwater recharge.

She says, “The City has been facing the problem of reduced groundwater, which is the main source of drinking water. Water is being pumped out at a faster rate than it is being replenished. Borewells are being dug deeper and there is no way to regulate the depth and legality. This is a dicey problem as borewell digging is also connected to land ownership.”  

She feels that lack of care and conservation seems to be a bigger issue and that rainwater harvesting is one of the most effective methods to bring about conservation — on the grassroot and policy level. “The City gets about 11,000 mm of rain and most of it is wasted as the City is paved. If water harvesting is taken seriously, it will help in water conservation and enable groundwater recharge.”  
 On the other hand, Meena, a coordinator with ‘SAAHAS’, a waste management resource, points out that the fertilisers are also being overused and this coupled with the lack of micro-nutrients in soil have led to further degradation of land.

“Landfills are another issue that the City grapples with as the average urban Indian generates 0.3 to 0.6 kg of waste per day,” she says. She adds that one needs to avoid ‘single-use plastic’, wastage of food and look at organic farming, manure and composting.

“The challenge is to ensure that garbage is segregated in every house and even in the smallest of shops. More awareness needs to be created about decentralised waste management and there needs to be an increase in the number of waste management centres. This will help one over-see land use patterns.” Aishvarya, a student, says that stricter laws for garbage segregation and a ban on dumping have to be enforced. “We really don’t know where the waste is being dumped and how the segregation is taking place,” she explains.

The vicious cycle involves energy too. While transport and service sectors have some of the largest consumers, there can be adequate amount of conservation at homes as well. On an individual level, one can opt for public transport and turn off electrical appliances to reduce carbon emissions, cites Harshavardhan, the president of a voluntary organisation, LIFE.

“We haven’t been able to tap the potential of solar energy as efficiently as the West. We can harness wind energy more. However, the overall contribution of wind energy is not even 2.5 per cent. 

One needs to be very cautious with the maintenance of nuclear energy too,” he adds.

 As the City goes on expanding, land encroachments have also increased. However, as experts say, there needs to be a conscious effort to balance out what one requires and what one wants.

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