I am writing after a long hiatus. The truth is I am not a natural writer or even a particularly good one. At best, I can string a few sentences together to make some sense perhaps. It is nearly midnight and I had a long day. But my mind is restless from all the reports of Guwahati under water and the scenes of damage that the floods are bringing. If it were a natural phenomenon over which we had no control, my response would stop at distress but we know it is not. This is what we have done to ourselves.
But to not get too carried away in self-flagellation, I remind myself that Guwahati is in a flood plain and floods will happen. However, the increasing flash floods that Guwahati sees is obviously because the water has nowhere to go. In our frenetic rush to build and extend, we have paid scant attention to environment, infrastructure and sustainable development.
I do not live in Guwahati anymore but have a long distance affair with it. I care what happens to Guwahati and it’s denizens. My family lives there, my friends live there. I try to follow a philosophy- do not criticise unless you can offer a solution or be the solution. I do not need to go into detail of why Guwahati is in the state it is. We have acknowledged that the situation is dire and the need for call to action is high. Here’s what I will do.
I will continue to not use plastic bags and avoid using anything non-biodegradable wherever I am. I will convince my family to always carry a tote or a shopper on their person, in the boot of the car or scooter. This small change in behaviour will make a small difference. Maybe, I can make a plea via the Thumbprint readers to pass on the message which you may have already done and if you. Have please do some more.
When a shopkeeper offers you a plastic bag, please say no and smugly take out your own bag.
Go to the shops which pack you your stuff in newspaper and brown paper bags.
When you have a party and hope you have many of them, please do not use plastic disposables but plates and tumblers made of leaf or clay. There used to be only those when I was a child. Tea tastes so much better in a clay cup than a nasty plastic one.
Let’s pay our municipality tax religiously and then demand that the municipality arranges waste disposal. On our side, we can consciously make an effort to reduce waste by not bringing home unnecessary packaging and consuming less. Shop at local markets from farmers and tradesmen rather than from supermarkets.
If you are lucky and privileged to have a garden, leave a small place for composting your organic waste. It’ll give you fabulous fertiliser for your flowers and kitchen garden.
I hope I am not coming across as patronising. I am not pretending that I am coming up with any clever ideas. I feel like I have to do something and right now, the only thing I could think of was reach out to a receptive audience who will be evangelical in saying no to non-biodegradables that clog up our meagre drainage system. If you have other ideas please share them.
It will take a long time for any major change in governmental policy or action from environmental agencies. Until then, we can make a few small adjustments without jeopardising our lifestyle or creature comforts.
Who knows, this may be too little too late but it is worth a try.