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Thursday - February 25, 2021
Green Is Cool - Who Will Walk The Talk



Lakshmi Kumar

We are in a panic.  El Nino, Ozone Depletion, Global warming, Polar Vortex effect is creating devastation.  Everyone – from Government to corporate houses is doing a bit to “clean –up” the mess.   Ganges, Everest, Rain forests in Amazon AND  North Pole are  getting cleaned up. 

 We are actively discussing the mission Mars and how human presence can cause concerns for its environment.  

Look at some of the contradictions - While we worry about ozone deletion, we are building more infrastructures with black glass façade that will require central air conditioning.  Deodorant sprays and Axe effect fill up the air around us.  BT products are taking over the market, driving out the good old organic, non-toxic vegetables and grains. Look at every wedding and New Year bash parties. Educational institutions and green campuses are no exception.  The lawn looks like a war zone – with plastic, disposable plates, spoons, glasses strewn all over. Walk around any city street and you will see a vacant plot filled with garbage dumbed by high living standard housing societies and gated communities. Our collective idea of pollution and purity is stuck in rituals and symbols. While we keep our living space spic and span, we will not hesitate to thrown the garbage outside the door. We may ride in BMWs and Audis but it doesn’t stop us from rolling down the window to throw a banana peel on the highway. 

 Market is filled with green solutions, organic products and eco-friendly life style. Market senses our confusion and our obsession for anything elite - so the green mantra is on sale. There is big money in green.  Yes, green solutions have become elitist and expensive. 

Big bazaars, Reliance , True Marts, Spencer, shopping malls and plazas advertise that plastic bags are banned  (but if you pay extra ten rupees, they are for sale).  Good old cloth bags are back in circulation, with captions like, say no to plastics; save earth, recycle life etc. 

Recently, when at a  mega mart,  the young cashier suggested to an old  woman that she should bring her own shopping cloth bags in future because plastic bags are banned by the government and they are not good for the environment.

The young woman explained about the “green movement” ,  green promotion and drive their retail brand and local municipality has undertaken. 

The woman apologised and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The cashier responded, "That's the problem (sic diagnosis) . Your generation did not care enough to save the environment for future generations."

This old woman can be any of our grand moms.  This is the self-talk the old woman had- Hear her out……
The young woman was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing those days.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, glass bottles and oil bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen.

We didn’t have flush tanks that gushed out an average of 10 litres every time you flushed. Nor did we have bath tubs as style statements – that consumed 80 litres of water for one person.

Clean wipes, paper tissue and napkins  were a  big “no” as each paper had a small element of the tree.

Grand dads replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got blunt

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator or a lift in every apartment every shop and office building.

We walked to the shop and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two streets

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.\

Back then, we washed the baby's nappies because we didn't have the throw-away kind – the huggie nappies!!. 

We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 2200watts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days.

Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that young lady is right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the county.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the post, we used wadded up old newspapers or old sarees to cushion it, not polystyrene or plastic bubble wrap. 

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to plough the field or cut the lawns. We used a push mower that ran on human power.

We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she's right. We didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank water from a fountain or a tap when we were thirsty instead of demanding a plastic bottle flown in from another country.

We accepted that a lot of food was seasonal and didn't expect to have out of season products flown thousands of air miles around the world.

We actually cooked food that didn’t come out of a packet, tin or plastic wrapping and we could even wash our own vegetables and chop our own salad.
But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people caught a train or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their parents into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electrical socket in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerised gadget or just dial to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza place.

But isn't it strange that the current generation blames the older generation just because we didn't have the green slogan back then?

Environmental mess-up choices and actions seem bigger than the clean-up tokenism.

Who messed it up doesn’t matter. Who will clean up and how it will be cleared is a bigger question.

The symbol for recycle should not become another frame on the wall, logo on our stationary, design on our clothes….. But hope we embrace it as practiced life choice.