A practical guide to living green

By TheHindu on 31 Jan 2018 | read

We find ourselves complaining about all the waste and pollution we see around us. But we do not realise that once our households generated very little waste and tried and reused, recycled as many items as possible. It’s time we revived this lifestyle and make our lives more sustainable. It is the only way out of this mess. But what is sustainable living or sustainability? By definition, it is a set of conditions whereby human and natural systems can continue indefinitely in a state of mutual well-being, security and survival. What should we do for it? Reduce the use of the earth's natural resources as much as possible.

An efficient means of collection, storage, disposal and recycling of waste is the essence of waste management.

We can reduce the way we generate waste in a number of ways.

Composting: Wet waste comprise approximately 45% of the total organic waste that end up in our landfills. They include household waste such as leftover food, vegetable peels and dried up fruits and vegetables. This waste can easily be reduced at the source by composting. Composting helps in the decomposition of all wet waste into an organic material, which can then be used as a manure for our plants. Compost waste not only aids plant growth but also reduces the amount of trash in the landfill, further decreasing the emission of methane, a greenhouse gas.

Recycle and reuse: Any product made from paper, plastic, glass and ceramics can be recycled and reused.

Re-using old plastic bottles for decorative purposes, re-using packaging material such as tetra packs, cans, cardboard boxes…etc to create pen stands, wallets, drawers, holders are some ways you yourself can engage in.

Combining old furniture to create a new bed, cupboard, and drawer and selling off old newspapers and magazines to junk dealers are other ideas to reduce waste at home.

Energy efficiency is finding ways to use lesser energy to carry out regular work.

We can achieve this by...

Replacing all energy inefficient bulbs with CFL or LED lights.

Unplugging devices and ensuring that switches are off when leaving a room.

Reducing the need for air-conditioner by opting to use alternative technologies like coolers (wherever possible depending on the climate) and keeping the house cool through appropriate use of curtains and windows.

Prefering renewables over fossil fuel. You can harness the energy from sun and charge simple devices using solar power.

Water is a limited resource and is currently being exploited to meet the needs of increasing populations, industrialisation and agriculture. Water scarcity is one of the biggest problems, countries all over the world face. It is essential for each of us to do our bit to conserve water:

How to do it?

Rainwater harvesting system should be installed in all the buildings. It collects and stores rainwater for later use.

Take shorter showers or opt for bucket-baths

Fix leaky taps.

Avoid running taps while washing clothes, brushing or washing face.

Do not throw away the water used for washing vegetables. Instead use it to water plants.