We all know our environment is giving us red signals and we all know that we should try to conserve whatever is left of it and try to replenish it in whichever way possible. However, it seems like a moot point sometimes, because we feel only we are doing our bit and one person makes no difference. But what if the whole community came together to protect our mother nature, would it still seem to be in vain? There are many things that we can do as a social group to lighten our burden on the planet and there are many inspiring instances of actions already taken by villagers, tribes and colonies to prevent any harm from coming to the plants, trees and animals, especially the ones that are worshipped by them. There are a lot of courageous people who have even sacrificed their lives for the conservation of nature.
For one, be the change you want to see. Before expecting others to toe the line and be extremely environment conscious, we have to ensure that we ourselves set that kind of an example. Not littering our surroundings is just the immediate basic. Saving water by using buckets instead of showers, brushing with the tap off, switching off electrical appliances when we leave the room… these are practices taught to even kindergarten students, we are very well versed with them as it is. Even other actions that we can take as an individual to make a small difference in our own individual way is right up our sleeves, we know the rules.
What comes next is how, we as a whole community of people can work together for this cause. If possible, arrange awareness programs and talks by a person who has experience in the legal environmental sectors or who are part of some related NGO, to help drill in a constant reminder. Making organized groups and taking out and allotting a certain amount of time at regular intervals to arrange an activity to help our surroundings, say like planting saplings or what is known as a shramdaan, a joint effort at cleaning the colony and picking up waste and either discarding it, or better still, composting it in the gardens. Creating a place where everyone in the colony can dump kitchen and biodegradable waste and using the place to grow plants, watering the plants around by turn, teaching children the importance of saving our planet… these are all small ways in which we as individuals and as a social community can do our bit.
There are several communities in the past, who have stubbornly stood by the flora and fauna in their vicinity, preventing even legal sources for harming them. A very famous example is the Chipko movement. A non-violent method of protest at an attempt to stop the trees around the area from being cut down on orders of the government, the women peasants of the Reni village in Uttarakhand literally hugged the trees and so if the worksmen were to cut the trees, they would kill the women as well. Their efforts did not go in vain and the government had to issue separate orders about releasing this project, hence the trees were protected. In several villages and places in the Himalayas, there are sacred groves managed by the tribes and peasants around the area, who do not allow anyone to do anything that will harm the trees or fauna of the place. Like kavus of Kerala, which are located in the Western Ghats and have enormous biodiversity… and the kyntangs of Meghalaya – sacred groves associated with every village in that area. These are looked after and tended to by the local people, who preserve them with utmost sincerity.
Another very cited and famous incident was that of Amrita Devi Bishnoi, who along with three daughters and some womenfolk hugged the trees and refused to let go, losing their lives in the procedure. Till today, there is an Amrita Devi Bishnoi award given to people as a result of their work towards protecting nature, in honour of her sacrifice.
All these things are points that we all know and have learnt about, but often tend to ignore or forget. There’s plenty that people have done earlier and there’s plenty more that we need to go ahead and do. We are so busy in our lives, our problems, our work and trying to accomplish our own feats, that we don’t have time to stop and think that it is this earth that is housing us, protecting us, sheltering us… feeding us and keeping us alive. How can we abuse it or even watch passively as people tend to diminish its resources? It’s our duty, our moral responsibility to save and replenish this beautiful world of ours and keep it green and blue the way it’s supposed to be, instead of deathly hues of grey and black, which are consuming us every day, slowly and surely. This is a simple article, a reminder to all about what we are neglecting… after all, as said by many wise people and often repeated,
“We have not inherited this earth from our ancestors… we have borrowed it from our children.”