For many, environment protection is an affair of only those activists and organizations involved in this. This is a wrong attitude. Being environment friendly is a life style and culture that one needs to build in the mind. Below mentioned are a few examples from Kerala of ordinary people who teach us this very lesson.
Ithappi, an illiterate labourer at Kottayam, learned from his employer, that growing trees are important for the environment. He started planting saplings on the road side of Kottayam and started nurturing them and ensured that it grew as trees that provided shade and comfort for every one. Most of the trees on the road side of Kottayam are Ithappis contribution. Five years ago Ithappi left this world leaving a message to the world that environment protection has to be every body’s concern.
Abdul Kareem of Kasargod purchased a few acres of barren and dry land in his place. His dream was to create a forest in this land that was almost desert like.As years passed, he could make his dream a reality.His forests brought in chirping birds and coolness to the locality.Amazingly the trees helped to tone up the water table of the area.The wells that went dry in summers are now blessed with water.The neighbors who thought Kareem was crazy now realizes the value of his love for the nature.
A group of ordinary women around Periyar Tiger Reserve, the Vasanta Sena is now engaged in an voluntary work to keep vigil against illegal deforestation.They know how much these green lungs mean to this world, to their children and for the future generations. As we look around Kerala, we see ordinary people here and there engaged in environment protection in their own way. They have no banners, and they do not hold press conferences or run behind awards and grants. Their friendship with nature is a way of life that they enjoy doing. They teach and inspire us that to be environment friendly in one’s own way.
Let us not do big things. Can we identify the eco hostile activities we casually engage in and decide that we will avoid doing this? When we decide not to throw our garbage in public places or the drainages, we are proclaiming our friendship with nature. The moment we disown the plastic carry bags and cups, we are part of the movement that sustains environment with all its vibrancy. And when we become foster parents for at least one tree in our life time, we are giving a small share of our effort to bring in breathing air for future generations. As the people of a society become eco friendly in their day to day life, that breeds a culture. The safety of our environment is assured only in such a culture.
Actvists and environment movements are helpless without this culture. Can we jointly work to usher in an eco friendly culture? Let us begin in a small way, well before our mother earth gets polluted beyond repair.
*Consultant Psychiatrist, Medical Trust Hospital, Cochin. Also the Hon Secretary of Environment Monitoring Forum, Cochin and the Founder Director of Maithri, a suicide prevention centre at Cochin.