It all started way back in late 80’s and 90’s when there was a scare about ozone hole growing bigger and life at risk . At the same time plastic usage, use and throw lifestyle, change in the concept of luxury or necessity started. I was lecturing my dad on the newly coined ‘green life-style’ and his use of plastic bag for shopping. I blamed his generation for not being careful enough and jeopardizing our environment.
Being the humblest person I ever met , he apologised and said that they didn’t hear about green lifestyle in their youth.
He confessed that it was so simple to return glass bottles of milk , soft drinks and juices for recycling with out giving a second thought . That most of the people used cycles because roads were safer without too many automobiles. He and his colleagues using same fountain pen for years never thinking of throwing away every time the ink finished.
He further went on saying that how my mother made small baby nappies and clothes for me on her sewing machine using old sheets and sarees which were dried using wind and solar power—on a line . My baby food was homemade combination of rice, dal and vegetables and not packaged one. She used hand power to blend , grind, chop and stir in the kitchen but never thought of saving the environment for me.
For my birthday parties neighbours donated crockery and cutlery to meet the numbers but no one told her to live in an environmental friendly way. ‘Hand me down’ was the tradition for clothes, toys, books and pretty much every thing . There were no 3 R’s.
He asked me to remember my childhood home and how the campus people never thought of rainwater harvesting or aquifer recharge for bore wells which never went dry and how I hated to walk in the garden or colony roads in rainy season for they were not concrete or tar ones. No one had come to teach rainwater harvesting in the campus then hence they were unaware of ground water recharge.
He apologised that his generation was paper generation How all the grocery shops had paper thonga’s or paper bags which could hold up to a kilogram of grains. Several such packages were used to fill in the monthly grocery and then later put in a big cloth bag. Grains were kept open in jute bags or big metal cans for years. Paper bags were made from used notebook pages or newspaper. Once I got a paper bag which was from my old note book. Delivery boys used cycles to deliver as they were from local nearby shops. Bread was packed in paper bags and sweets in cardboard boxes.
How he stored drycleaners brown paper bags whole year for covering our school books. No one reminded them of the trees which were needed for all that paper but still they sold of all used papers.
He remembered how we stored cans, bottles, old clothes newspaper toys neatly for once a month visit of Kabadiwala. All the waste had its own price. Had we known about segregation we would have saved a lot of environmental problems but there was nothing left to segregate . No one composted as the food waste was fed to local cows and community dogs who guarded the area well at night.
Sales were not through out the year so we shopped only once or twice a year. Still there was no concept of minimalistic living .
Neighbours were always sharing dishes so no one ordered food if they didn’t feel like cooking. There were no salads packed in white plastic containers delivered by zooming bikers.
He was sad and said “But you are right we didn’t have any articles or blogs with “Five tips…”, Six Green Methods…” or “ 10 Ways to ….” , to teach us green living or tell us about landfills, PM2.5 greenhouse gasses ,“Earth Day”, “Water Day”, “Environment Day”….. . Had we known all this we would have taught you all to be environment friendly rather than taking it for granted that you will take-up our habits and ways of living.
Click the image for source