Oct 23, 2023
So, just the other day, my 6 year old was preparing for her Continuous Assessment test for school. I tried to drill her to help get her ready .
It was going on well without any hitch until I asked " what is the Environment?"
"The environment incudes all the things that sorround us, like plants and animals. Our homes , schools also. It is also the conditions in which we live. These all affect the way we live". She replied and I wondered if she even understand what she just said.
Her last sentence hit me and made her think too. And she asked "how do they affect the way we live?" Curiosily.
It was a tough one, having to explain to a 6 year old how our environment affects us. Or how we get to affect it. The affair between us and our environment should be a symbiotic one. The reality is far from this.
How do you tell a 6 year old that many of the fun things she knows are harming the earth? This particular 6 year old has had to throw away food she didn't like before. She, like many kids , will want more toys and clothes and get much pleasure from them. Kids too are exposed to modern lifestyles that thrives on instant gratification and consumes at will without thinking about how these affect our only habitat.
How do you tell a kid that all those car rides which are family goal times have added some harm to our environment, or that the gas we use at home to prepare her favorite meals too affect our environment?
Or even that those fast foods which she prefers over a homemade meal has negative consequences.
I started by telling her that our environment is our host, taking care of us and needs to be taken care of too. We all have a duty to preserve our environment and not harm it as much as it is in our power. We get from our environment what we give it. If we treat it right, it serves us right and for a long time for that matter.
But as people increase ,activities increase too. With increased activities we increase the temperature of our environment, it gets warmer and there are gases that are emitted, and these gases hang around us longer than they should. The green house emissions. These gases make the environment hotter. And a hotter environment poses a threat to our wellbeing and that of our environment. The hotter the climate, the more droughts, increased rainfall ( leading to flooding), wildfires, shrinking of the glacier and ice sheets etc
People are not the only occupants on our planet, but of all the occupants, we have caused more harm to our host .
To help her get the gist of what I meant, I asked in which of these rooms will you get people sweating? A room with two or three people just sitting and reading a book or a room packed with many people jumping , dancing and doing all sorts of other things ?
" The room filled with people jumping and dancing!" She replied
" Yes, they sweat because the room is warmer than the first. It is warmer because of the number of the people and the activities" I added. And if the people jumping and dancing in that room will have to eat, you bet they will eat much more than the two people in the other room, use more water to take their bath after sweating and leave more thrash behind. etc.
I told her that's how our activities make the environment warmer. Our population has increased over time, taking a toll on our natural resources. The waste we leave behind has increased too. Our landfills testify to that. This also means more pollution in our environment. Our land, soil,air and water get polluted by these waste.
Our activities also cause deforestation . It means there are less trees to give us oxygen which we need. Deforestation also causes erosion and leads to changes in the climate.
As we build more houses, cut down more trees to make roads , use for firewoods and furniture and create space for farming or urbanization, we upset the balance of natural habitats, displace many animals from their homes and render the environment less able to give back it's resources for our use.
Modern lifestyles are powered by mostly fossil fuels and electronic devices. Fossil fuels are non renewable energy sources. It takes many resources to make our electronic gadgets which have become like a necessary evil . It means we are depleting our planet of it's natural resources. These gadgets and devices, when they become waste, pose serious environmental threats.
At this point, my 6 year old was overwhelmed. " So what's going to happen, but we need these things, don't we?"
Yes, we do. Just like the people in the room full of people can decide to do things better ,so can we in real life today . We just need to be more responsible after knowing what we are faced with and commit to lifestyles that are eco-friendly. Already we see climate change happening before our eyes. It can only get worse if we keep towing the path we are on. Saving our environment calls for immediate action!
We can each REDUCE the amount of carbon we emitt by our activities.
It starts with choosing sustainability over convenience. We each have the freedom to live as we choose, but we must remember that we can't choose the consequences of our choices on how we treat our Earth.
We need to track our carbon footprints. Then see how we can reduce them. Every tonne reduced counts.
-If we buy what we need instead of what we want,
- Produce and buy products of high quality ( they last longer), so we don't keep buying and buying.
- Buy in bulk to reduce extra packaging
-Carry our own reusable bags along for shopping.
- Reduce the amount of food thrown away.
- Make compost with vegetable waste.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits as dairy products emit more carbon.
This is taking discarded things and turning them into new products . This reduces waste and cuts down the amount of virgin resources used for creating new products.
REUSE- Look for other ways of using things instead of throwing away. Things that are not in use can be repaired and given to people who can use them.
Simple habits and actions like
- Turning off the faucet when not in use.
- Turning off the lights when not in use.
- Recycling of plastics and bottles.
- Seek renewable power alternatives like solar and wind driven sources of energy.
At the end of this long talk, my six year old decided she was going to give out every toy and clothes she was not using.
We made a commitment to collect every polythene bag and take back to the grocer to use again.
What actions are you taking to cut down your carbon footprint?
Let us be more responsible Earthlings.