While we enjoy the good things in life, we also need to keep in mind that not everyone is equally fortunate and there are lots of people who struggle to make their ends meet. There is still a huge section of population on earth who do not have access to basic facilities like clean drinking water, education, proper health care, electricity etc.
While we do things that are within our power to make things better for these people either directly or by joining hands with some NGO there is one thing that we all can do right away – cultivating an attitude of mindful consumption. Mindful consumption means using the earth’s finite resources in a responsible manner, reduce consumption where possible, eliminate wastage and reduce your carbon footprint.
To make it easy here are a few examples to get you started.
1. Do I really need the water that is being poured in my glass at the restaurant?
Will that water not go down the drain (literally) when I leave my table? Am I being fair to those who are walking miles for drinking water and yet what they get is hardly safe enough to consume?
2. Do I really need to wrap that gift by buying ‘free’ gift wrapping paper?
Because that shiny/ non-biodegradable paper is going to be trashed (literally) once the gift is opened?
3. Do I really need to buy gifts when I am not sure if they will be used and needed by the receiver because I want to look good?
Isn’t it wiser to buy fruits or dry-fruits with the same amount of money and with almost certainty that they will be consumed?
4. What do I do when I am at buffet?
Do I listen to my stomach or do I fill my plate with everything available (either because its free or because I have paid for it all)?
5. What do I do when the guy at Subway (the foodchain) offers me two forks and four tissue papers when I am going to be eating alone?
Do I return one fork and three tissue papers (or all four, if I carry my own hanky) to him or I just walk away from the counter and throw away unused forks and tissue papers?
6. Just because something is ‘bio-degradable’, should I use it?
Can I even avoid a paper bag or a cloth bag because a tree was chopped to make that paper and earth was subjected to atrocities to create the piece of cloth? Can I ‘reduce’ my consumption even before thinking of ‘reuse’ or ‘recycle’?
7. What happens when I go to eat Thaali ?
There are so many things I know I might not eat (for eg katori of Dahi or that mithai) .. Do I return it immediately so that it can be offered to someone else or do I let it sit on my plate and leave it untouched only to be thrown away later?
8. Do I really need that cotton Kurti because it looks cool?
The fashion industry is far more evil than what meets our eye. From what it does to the environment while growing cotton and jute to how it treats humans to how it treats textiles and garment waste is mind-bogglingly dirty.
9. Do I really need that extra pair of shoes because I don’t have ‘that’ particular shade of orange?
Do I take into account that once processed, footwear is almost impossible to degenerate on face of the earth (including leather)?
10. Do I need to cook elaborate meals when guests visit me?
Can I cook just enough so that everybody including myself can have a great time and no food is wasted (or we don’t continue to eat same food for next three days well after it has lost all its nutrients)
11. Do I need to buy things just because they are in sale and they are cheaper?
Do I need to buy them because there is ‘return policy’? I was reading a case study on how big retail conglomerates dump returned goods in the ocean and its unbelievable how our oceans are constantly being subjected to waste created because of our greed.
12. Am I respectful when I am visiting a tourist destination?
Do I take rules such as ‘keep silence’, ‘do not litter’ seriously enough?
Do I allow the place to consume me or my overbearing presence consumes the place?
13. Do I switch off the appliances not in use – extra lights, fans, AC units, hot water geysers etc?
We switch off many appliances using the remote but leave the power switch on for long duration such as TV and AC units. Even in the switched off state they consume miniscule amount of electricity which adds up to a considerable amount in the long run. Let’s be mindful of that and switch it off from the power source.
I urge you to start asking these questions to yourself and educate your family members too. It takes a huge amount of energy and other earth’s resources to prepare the finished goods that we are consuming so mindlessly day-in and day-out.
Each aware person can make a difference ! Spread the awareness !