Is COVID 19 stopping your from celebrating this year’s Earth Day ?shayonti
Earth Day 2020 most of us remain confined to our homes, probably Mother Earth is claiming some space and peace- it’s time to restore, refresh and reboot.
22nd April 1970- the Earth Day was celebrated for the first time, 20 million Americans participated in the festivities to mark the day. There is only one Earth for us, so we need to take care of her. That’s what Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin believed. He was disturbed that an issue as important as our environment was not addressed in politics or by the media, so he created the first Earth Day,
22nd April 2020, 50 years hence, we are celebrating in most parts of the world confined to our homes and forced into physical (social) distancing. We are in the midst of a Pandemic COVID 19. As some may say it’s a war where the enemy is faceless. It’s a war between nature and humans. Strangely enough, the world looks much cleaner as most of our travel and day to day activities and interactions has been restricted to the minimum. The environment is on a cleaning mode.
Today is not the time for discussing the various theories making the rounds as to how the virus originated and who was it meant to target and if the trajectory changed, causing damage where it was not meant to. Neither it is within my scope to research the same. What matters to me and millions around is how imperative it is for us to win this war against this faceless virus and what life would be once we tame this threat. Convert the pandemic to an endemic as science puts it.
I believe there is always a reason for everything that happens and it was for a reason that we halted or should I say nature put up a barrier and saw to it that we step back, clam down, move away and be within ourselves. We finally realize the worth of the small things we take for granted everyday – going for a walk, a swim, a haircut, going to the gym, meeting up with friends and family.
Life will change or life as we lived it will change here on, I hope we learn to relate differently with the environment and not take nature for granted- though cliched as it may sound we need to keep reminding ourselves how ruthless our actions continue to be towards the fragile environment we live in. Nature knows exactly when to apply the brakes to stop us.
We need to give back what we take from the environment. We need to heal where we have hurt. We need to embrace a different way of life and maintain an ecological balance- be sustainable in our actions.
There is often a lot of green washing around the concept of being eco-friendly. I wonder how this can be simplified, so that we move away from the din to a clearer space- understand and learn to lead a more sustainable, environment friendly life and embrace Nature?
There are few fundamental and very basic questions we need to direct towards our consumer self – The How, What and Why.
The ‘How’ of buying- does it help the community, was it made ethically, were the makers compensated, were the conditions under which the makers work, can it be reused and recycled?
The ‘What’ of buying- is it made of- (is it sustainable), is the impact on the environment, is the conditions under which its produced, is the price quality ratio?
The ‘Why’ of buying- Do we need it?
We cannot be perfectly in balance with nature and that is fine. Remember mother Nature is very forgiving, we need to make an effort to change we need to make a start and it definitely cannot be business as usual.
It is very heartening to see how more and more small and medium size businesses are moving towards sustainability in their offer of goods and services, with a clear focus and commitment to the cause.
However, a lot more needs to be done to make the sustainable business take the lead- It is important they have access to certifications which are more affordable than what is on offer today. E.g. GOTS, FairTrade and other similar ones which are mostly beyond the means of SMEs involved in the sustainable sectors specially in their initial years. Governments and financial organizations need to play a greater role in supporting them to scale up, market their offerings and take the message forward.
Most importantly- it is paramount they are supported by a wide base of conscious consumers. Unless the consumers help create the demand for environmentally friendly, ethically produced, sustainable products there is no way this new way of living can be adapted. So it’s once again left to us to make the Earth heal.
Today we grieve, we are in a shock and almost at a loss as to how we can take hold of our lives once again. We will heal soon, and I am certain a part of our lives will change, and we will adapt newer ways of living. We will heal and so will our one and only Earth. But we need to remember, though mother Nature is every forgiving and bountiful if we cross the line we will be halted, and she will claim her space back.
In this anniversary of Earth Day let us revisit our traditional lifestyles which were built around sustainable methods of production and consumption. We will not and cannot go back to the old practices but empowered by technology we can very easily adapt our modern day living to be more sustainable and environmental friendly. We can with a little effort strike a great balance.
Talking about striking the right balance I would like to highlight the Fashion Industry which is often deemed to be a major culprit. But the good news is, it is pausing to change its ways. We see big brands at times taking a lead though there is a lot of greenwashing there which we need to be very aware of because they will not compromise on the huge profit margins. The biggest example in recent days has been the cancellation of orders and non payment for produced good by the big high street brands, oblivious of the pain and suffering it is causing to the millions of workers involved.
However, many smaller brands and individual designers are stepping in to stand up to Fast fashion. They are working with traditional forms of printing and weaving, creating innovative sustainable materials, fabrics and bringing amazing products to the consumers. They are advocating relentlessly for slow, sustainable fashion and spearheading a revolution for change in the industry standards. The consumers now need to stand up to help them make a difference.
My message to consumers: eco-friendly is not expensive if you do the maths well. Instead ask yourself -Do You really Need? as much as you buy. Do you really ‘stand out’ by following the trends of the Fast industries ? Or would you rather make a statement and own a heritage piece, represent values which you hold dear and most importantly contribute to make the environment better in which your next generations will thrive in peace and harmony!
The choice is ours to make the change.
Author: Shayonti Chatterji