New Delhi: Clear skies, dwindling traffic, clean air, improved natural habitats-the aftermath of the lockdown was just sinking in when we found ourselves grappling with sudden and new environmental disasters. The Similipal forest fire, Uttarakhand landslide, outbreaks of the locust attack, and cyclones and floods in different parts of India reminded us that we have ‘miles to go before we sleep.’ Even though the lockdown has enhanced our environmental health to a significant extent, we can’t overlook the negative consequences of the pandemic on our environment. Increased medical waste, slapdash usage and disposal of masks, disinfectants and gloves, and untreated waste continue to pose a threat to the environment and human health.
While we are trying to conquer the battle with the novel coronavirus, it is safe to say that the pandemic elicited a unanimous response and united us to win against the despair of this unprecedented time. The positive changes observed in the environment will be short-lived if we don’t take adequate measures for long-term benefits and sustainable environmental management.
As we stand united to fight this pandemic, it is important to bring out the same response for environmental restoration. World Environment Day 2021 also calls to restore the ecosystem to heal the planet. It is certain that human activity and travel cannot be halted endlessly; we need to devise measures that enable us to co-exist with the environment in harmony.
Advancement and industrialisation are crucial for economic growth, however, it is important to integrate our businesses and operations with sustainability. Switching to less-energy intensive industries, use of cleaner and less harmful fuels and energy-efficient policies can help us pave the way for a greener and sustainable future. It’s time that industries put considerable thought into reduced waste generation, hygienic working conditions, and recycling methods to do their bit for the environment and human well-being.
Opting for green and public transport is also another way to reduce our emissions. Small actions can amount to bigger changes for the environment. So, the next time you have to travel a short distance, hop on your bicycle, use public transport instead of your private vehicles or just walk to your destination.
The pandemic has significantly reduced the global demand for energy, however, the case will not be the same as work and travel resume. In order to meet the daily needs while being cognizant of environmental pollution, the use of renewable energy like solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal heat, and biomass can help us in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Reducing our waste production and proper management of waste is another crucial area we need to work on. Both industrial and municipal waste should be treated properly before discharge. Composting at home, reusing old containers, bags and bottles, using sustainable materials and products, and recycling things are simple and easy ways to step up for the environment and inspire others to do the same.
In addition to this, it is also important to make certain behavioral changes in our daily lives to walk on the path of environmental restoration and sustainability. In order to reduce our carbon footprint and global carbon emissions, we have to make conscious efforts to optimize our resources, opt for locally-grown food or grow some herbs in our balconies or garden, make compost from food waste, switch off devices when not in use, and follow a plant-based diet more often. These changes can also help us inch closer to our Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The pandemic and other natural disasters have affected human lives and the global economy which is also having an impact on our environment and climate. This time has reminded us of how we have been oblivious to environmental degradation and induced climate change. As this pandemic has taught us to work together, we need to invest our time and effort in sustainable, consistent and efficient restorative measures to strengthen our environmental health and save ourselves from the ghastly effects of climate change.
(Bikrant Tiwary is the CEO of Grow-Trees.com, a social enterprise.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.