Monday, March 14, 2011

(By Nikita Arora, IInd Year Student, Dept of Media and Communications, Manipal University Dubai - Published: Feb24, 2011 on GoGreen blog, a Times of India Environment Initiative).

Google the word “Environment” and you’ll see the top three results relate to its conservation and protection. THEN, comes “Natural environment-Wikipedia the free encyclopedia”, the solution to college assignments of students worldwide! Oh, what we would do without Wikipedia. It’s hard to imagine. What I was getting at anyway, was that it is evident, that the most pressing issue about the environment has now become its conservation. Before you even know how it is defined or what its dynamics are, you’re expected to lend a hand in protecting it. That is proof enough, that environment conservation is an issue that cannot be considered frivolous anymore. 

It’s more than just about saying “I care about the environment”, or “I’m going to write articles about the environment” or even instruct people to throw litter in the bin. It’s more about contributing at an individualistic level. I think we’ve had enough of “What difference would it make if I did it? Or “I’m just one person in a population of a trillion people worldwide”. Well more, but I don’t know what supersedes trillion. I don’t deny that each one of us is ultimately only one drop in the ocean, but what we need to remember is that it is ultimately only a combination of these drops that makes the ocean, an ocean after all. I think it’s time to start throwing things in the bin yourself, it’s time to pick up other people’s litter too if you claim you care, and it’s time to start thinking more ethically about the environment we live in. 

I realize that talking about making contributions at an individualistic level has now become cliché, and anyone who decides to speak up about it, is not paid heed to. It’s scary. Too many people are talking about it, too many people seem to care, too many people write articles, but I fail to see any of these solutions materialize. We have to realize that there isn’t going to be a “Magical” day when everyone is just going to start throwing things in the bin, and reduce electricity consumption. It has to happen over a period of time, but it has to start somewhere, and you can be where it starts from.

I’m a student, and I see people around campus throw cans of drinks, and packets of chips around and think to themselves “Whatever will the cleaners do, if we start keeping the environment clean” and laugh about it. It’s a dismal picture. Anyone who tries to stand firm, is either made fun of or ignored.

A few months ago, after class I stayed back to switch off the computers because everyone seemed to have walked off happily after class got over. A few minutes later, a faculty passed by and couldn’t believe that I was merely switching off the computers to save electricity. I was in fact made the target of an interrogation! “Who told you to do that?”, “Why are you alone in the lab?” were two of many questions that followed. Even after explaining the reason for my actions, he still found it hard to believe. The reason I narrated this incidence is not to point fingers at anybody, or boast about myself, but because such few people care about the issue, that it is hard for anybody to believe that there are people out there who actually want to make a difference.

It’s been made so much easier now. There are separate cans around campus for “Plastic”, “Paper”, and “Metals”. People still choose to throw anything, anywhere, or resort to “The plastic bin is on the other end of the corridor”. It’s sad hearing that countries are launching campaigns, and implementing provisions to combat the issue, yet citizens won’t even walk a few steps to throw their litter into the allotted bin. To make it even worse, the word around the block is “The government isn’t doing enough”, or “The laws should be stricter”.

I think it’s time for us to stop shifting blame, and pick up our own litter. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s high time we started walking on the right path, instead of choosing just the easier one.

This article can be read at