As April ends and summer tightens its grip on the Northern Hemisphere, we put behind us the observation of Earth Day, an annual event since 1970 celebrated now in over 193 countries to support environmental protection. Aptly it was also the day the Paris Climate Accord was signed on Earth Day 2016. Earth Day is observed in conjunction with Earth Hour on March 21st which urges participants to switch off for the designated hour on the day of the equinox – the first day of spring.

Caring for Earth point 1: Tackling the plastic menace and limiting our use is the need of the hour. 

The theme this year, as well as the theme for World Environment Day (June 5th), is tackling Plastic Pollution. Overlap of themes is not frequent but is an indicator of the seriousness of the issue at hand. The cleanup of Versova Beach in Mumbai and the return of Olive Ridleys to nest there is a powerful argument on tackling plastic & Ocean pollution, and the speed with which mother earth & nature responds to our efforts.

But systemic changes rather than blind bans are required to make opting for the plastic-free option & recycling plastics the obvious choices.

There are so many Indian innovations that provide alternatives to plastic spoons, plastic bags & plastic bin liners they just need to be mainstreamed so that it’s everyone’s choice. They need to go on supermarket shelves and be made available in the neighborhood shop.

Getting waste plastics to recyclers rather than the landfills must be made a priority of govt. solid waste management policies & practice.

Caring for Earth point 2: Cleaning up Fresh Water Sources

Across the world, populations are on the brink of severe water crises. And the poorest will be most vulnerable. Cape Town is just the beginning. In addition to water conservation and the quick fix desalination, cleaning up fresh water sources and stores as well as collecting as much rain and stormwater must be national policy, institutional & corporate social action as well as being a major individual volunteering & funding priority. Chennai head-quartered Environmental Foundation of India (EFI) headed by Arun Krishnamurthy is having a powerful impact. And their linking of the act of volunteering for water body cleanup as an act of patriotism is a very effective and much-appreciated strategy.

Caring for Earth point 3: Clean Energy

This year on Earth Day I attended the “Chennai: Go Solar” event organized by Greenpeace India. Their report, “Rooftop Revolution: Unleashing Chennai’s Solar Potential” was a well-researched and articulate one highlighting essential facts & figures to Go Solar! They also have plans to launch a campaign to make the state electricity board and electricity company become more efficient

The brilliant Solar Suresh shined bright as always with his powerful statements with elevator pitch level efficiency:

Go solar for the environment, as an act of patriotism

When you don’t look for the ROI for your AC, Flatscreen, Fridge & Car why look for ROI for putting up a Rooftop Solar system.

You’ll freeze your electricity bill for 25 years

If you use a hybrid system you’ll never suffer a power cut while still saving money with the power of the sun

Solar water heaters are redundant in Chennai

The efficiency of the solar app in making the cost of installing solar panels as cost-effective as possible is to be appreciated.

The electric bike “EcoBird” showcased by Sumeet shows that passion can help create green innovation as well as making the electric vehicle look cool.

Overall a powerful argument was made for the case of clean energy: valid and effective points on harnessing Chennai’s 300-odd days of sunshine

Caring for Earth point 4: Halting Climate Change

It’s time to act and act now!

Caring for Earth point 5: Curbing Soil Pollution & Desertification: Organic Soil Management

As Vandana Siva puts it, organic soil management and mixed & intensive organic agricultural practices can increase yields & profits for farmers as well as trapping carbon emissions. Small farmers can be at the forefront of this new Organic Green Revolution and according to current research organic soil management practices can reverse the skyrocketing carbon emissions & fix present carbon dioxide excesses in just 3 years – so bye-bye climate change!

Caring for Earth point 6: Cleaning up the Air

Stopping the Airpocalypse and the price we pay with our health as a result of poor air quality. Research from South Korea even shows that poor air quality affects the outcomes of fertility treatments. And the price of breathing bad air runs in the millions. Sadly indoor air is often worse than outdoor ones so more indoor plants are recommended as demonstrated by New Delhi’s Kamal Mittal over a decade ago.

Caring for Earth point 7: Plant Trees & Protect Trees & Old Native Forests & Ecosystems as well as growing Urban/Mini Forests in backyards & barren lands – Truly Go Green!

Last but not the least an easy & effective planet friendly action is planting trees & ensuring their survival. Forests and all such ecosystems (Rainforests, deciduous forests, Evergreen forests; mangroves; wetlands & marshes; savanna, steppe &grasslands, are biodiversity hotspots, major carbon sinks, the shelter for fauna, our first defense from most extreme weather systems as well as functioning as the lungs of our planet. Organizations such as Afforestt (India), Analog Forestry (Sri Lanka) and many individuals are doing great work in growing new tree cover & forests in former wastelands and more such green cover, especially in urban areas, is needed.

If you don’t plant greenery and engage with forest building for the sake of the planet at least do it for yourself – gardening has been shown to improve mental health and help de-stress. While walking in forests and “tree-hugging” is almost medicinal in promoting overall health and well-being: The Japanese swear by it – the art of “forest-bathing” or Shinrin-yoku.

By following these points we can help care for our planet – Mother Earth will thank us and bless us!


About The Author: 


Raakhee Suryaprakash is the founder of Sunshine Millennium – an initiative that aims to help India’s off-grid rural areas achieve the Millennium & Sustainable Development Goals by setting up of off-grid, solar-powered community centers. With a master’s in International Studies and bachelor’s in Chemistry, Raakhee regularly writes and addresses a varied audience on topics such as the Environment, Clean Energy, Women’s Empowerment, Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Change, and International Relations. She is associated with civil society organizations such as the Red Elephant Foundation, Chennai Centre for China Studies & Climate Tracker.

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