Ways you can help Mother Nature
1.Conserve Energy: Most electricity comes from hydel/water power or burning fossil fuels—the less we use, the less demand on the environment:
- Turn off all unnecessary lights and appliances when not in use—50% of all electricity demand is for lighting.
- Change to tube lights and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL)—regular bulbs lose 90% of their electricity through heat; CFLs/tube lights reduce load by 30 to 40%. If every household in India changed the 5 most frequently used light fixtures with energy-saving bulbs, we would prevent more than 1 trillion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Use renewable and passive energy sources like solar, wind, and biogas—install solar hot water heaters and solar lights.
- Clean air filters regularly. Tune heating and cooling equipment annually by a licensed contractor. Replace old equipment with high efficiency, properly sized and installed
2. Conserve Water: Water is our most precious natural resource—without water, there is no life. Plus, municipal water systems require a lot of energy to purify and distribute water to households. Saving water, especially hot water, can lower greenhouse gas emissions:
- Turn off tap while soaping up during bathing—saves at least 70 litres.
- Turn off tap while brushing teeth—use tumbler/glass—saves 45 litres. Don’t leave tap running while shaving—a running tap uses about 2 gallons of water per minute.
- Don’t pour water down the drain if you can use it for other projects such as watering a plant or cleaning.
- Use watering cans and buckets for outdoor water use—saves between 150 and 400 litres.
- Water the garden during the coolest part of the day—early morning is best—water plants according to their needs—don’t over-water.
- Verify your home is leak-free. Many homes have hidden water leaks that can waste more than 10 percent. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.
- Repair leaky pipes and taps quickly—a faucet dripping at the rate of one drop per second wastes 3,000 gallons per year. This waste adds to the cost of water and sewer utilities or strains your septic system.
- A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day; check for leaks by adding food coloring to the tank—color will appear in the bowl within 15 minutes if there is a leak. Look for worn out, corroded or bent parts in the leaky toilet. Most replacement parts are inexpensive, readily available and easily installed. When replacing your toilet, look for high-efficiency models that use less than 1.3 gallons per flush. (Flush as soon as test is done, since food coloring may stain the tank.)
- Use your appliances wisely. Wash only full loads or set small loads to appropriate water level. Replace old clothes washers with appliances that use less water
3. Protect our Water Sources—rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, etc.
- Dispose all garbage, chemicals, poisons, E-waste properly—don’t dump in or around water sources. (See separate section on E-waste below.)
- Use natural/biodegradable cleansers, detergents, soaps, personal toiletries and cosmetics, etc., as much as possible.
- Reduce demand for water and help recharge underground aquifers/water sources by installing rainwater harvesting/catchment systems in your home and businesses.
4. Recycle/Reuse everything you can—glass, plastic, paper, etc.:
- Source reduction prevents the generation of waste in the first place, so it is the most preferred method of waste management and goes a long way toward protecting the environment.
- Reduce the amount and toxicity of trash you discard, consuming and throwing away less. A 10% reduction in garbage equals a savings of over 600 kgs. of CO2 in the atmosphere.
- Purchase durable, long-lasting goods.
- Seek products and packaging that are as free of toxics as possible.
- Redesign products to use less raw material in production, have a longer life, or can be used again after its original use.
- Reusing items by repairing them, donating them to charity and community groups, or selling them also reduces waste. Reusing products is even better than recycling since no additional energy is used or waste created in the remanufacturing process. Ways to reuse include:
- Using cloth bags for shopping–avoid using plastic and paper bags.
- Using durable coffee mugs.
- Using cloth napkins or towels.
- Refilling bottles.
- Donating old magazines or surplus equipment.
- Reusing boxes.
- Turning empty jars into containers for leftover food.
- Purchasing refillable pens and pencils.
- Don’t waste paper—remember, paper comes from trees—half of all trees cut down are used for paper—use both sides for writing/typing, use recycled paper. (See following section on Forests/Trees for more.
5. Be aware of E-waste and support efforts to recycle properly—Electronic waste includes computers, refrigerators, televisions, mobile phones, batteries, fluorescent lamps, etc. Water is our most precious natural resource—without water, there is no life. Plus, municipal water systems require a lot of energy to purify and distribute water to households. Saving water, especially hot water, can lower greenhouse gas emissions:
- E-waste contains over 1000 different toxic materials, including beryllium found in computer motherboards, cadmium in chip resistors and semiconductors, chromium in floppy disks, lead in batteries and computer monitors, and mercury in alkaline batteries and fluorescent lamps—all hazardous and cancer-causing substances.
- India generates $1.5bn worth of e-waste annually—1050 tons of electronic scrap is dumped by manufacturers and assemblers.
- As many as 1,000 tons of plastics, 300 tons of lead, 0.23 tons of mercury, 43 tons of nickel and 350 tons of copper are generated annually in Bangalore alone.
- Bangalore has more than 300 small industrial units operating in metal extraction waste from dumped computers—the waste generated from metal extraction is mostly let into sewage or storm water drains, poisoning our water/rivers/streams.
- Contact Bangalore’s Pollution Control Board to support the HAWA (Hazardous Waste Management Project—to be located in Dobbspet, 45 kms. from the city), and Mr. Shetty Sreenath of ‘India Computer Crematorium’—Asia’s first e-waste crematorium, set up in Bangalore—and ‘Ash Recyclers,’ 94 Thimmaiah Road, Bangalore 560051, Tele/Fax (080) 2554-8037. Contact Wilma Rodrigues of ‘Saahas’ for recycling including e-waste: 080-2663-9857 or 98801-24921, email: email@example.com and website: www.saahas.org For composting info, call Poonam Bir Kasturi of ‘Daily Dump’: 080-4115-2288 or 98440-39660; email: firstname.lastname@example.org and website: www.dailydump.org located in Indiranagar near Café Coffee Day.
6. Promote clean energy projects—solar, wind, tidal, ocean/geo-thermal, biogas, etc.—Contact your elected officials to urge them to protect our environment by using ‘clean energy’ instead of ‘dirty’ coal, nuclear or hydropower projects.
- Coal-fired thermal plants put tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, worsening global warming.
- The waste from nuclear power plants poisons the Earth and stays radioactive for 250,000 years!
- Hydropower drowns thousands of hectares of forests and prime agricultural lands, displacing thousands of people, destroying vital water sources and wildlife habitats, cutting off wildlife migration corridors (thereby increasing man/animal conflicts), and threatening our nation’s food security. Plus, rotting vegetation under dam waters produce methane gas—a more potent and dangerous greenhouse gas than CO2.
7. Support local farmers practicing organic agriculture—Organic agriculture is sustainable and eco-friendly—no chemical inputs—no chemical residues:
- Conventional chemical agriculture poisons the Earth, our water and our own bodies. It also contributes 17% of all greenhouse gas emissions—second only to the energy sector—mainly in the production of chemical fertilizers and pesticides from fossil fuels.
- Use your purchasing power—tell your local grocers to make organic foods available in their stores.
- Support farmers’ markets that sell organic foods—help the poor farmer make a living while staying healthy and alive!
8. Protect endangered species—Use your purchasing power to protect life:
- Do not purchase exotic animals or birds for pets—for every bird or animal sold, dozens have died in trapping and transport—under the Indian Wildlife Act, it is illegal to keep any indigenous species as a pet.
- Do not buy goods made with ivory, tiger bone, whalebone, alligator or snakeskin, shartoosh shawls, etc. If there is no demand, poaching and illegal trapping will stop.
- Avoid purchasing goods made with any animal products and boycott those companies that make them—you cannot tell animal ingredients came from an endangered species or not.
- Boycott all roadside zoos, circuses, and other establishments that use endangered species and trained animal acts—animals trained for these purposes suffer physical, mental and emotional abuse and trauma.
9. Neuter/spay your cats and dogs—help control overpopulation:
- Feral dog packs are a threat to wildlife, too.
- Inoculate pets against rabies—remember, 60,000 rabies-related deaths per year in India—the highest in the world.
- To help injured or abused animals or birds, contact your local Humane Society, CUPA, WRRC, PFA or SST.
10. Protect our forests and vital watersheds—Trees are our best friends: Trees help to filter the air of dust and other particulate pollutants. Through photosynthesis, their leaves absorb CO2 from the atmosphere while giving off oxygen, thereby helping stop global warming. An average small tree absorbs over one ton of CO2 during its lifespan. Through their shading effect and the process of transpiration, trees cool the air while raising the water table.
- Plant trees wherever you can and nurture them to maturity—a 10% increase in green cover in urban areas would equal a 4 degree Celsius temperature drop within the city.
- Adopt parks in urban areas and work with officials to clean them up and replant with native trees and bushes, especially those that flower and bear fruit.
- Create ‘mini-ecosystems’ for small birds, animals and beneficial insects everywhere—in parks, backyards, schools and colleges, business campuses, etc.
- Create ‘roof-top gardens’—invites birds, butterflies, and other beneficial ‘guests’ that eat pests like mosquitoes, flies, rats, etc., while cooling the building, thereby lowering energy demand for ACs.
- Protect roadside trees—insist on alternate plans for highway and road-widening projects that indiscriminately cut down trees.
11. Help increase and preserve our forest cover—support SST’s programs:
- ‘Purchase-to-Protect’—the purchasing of private forest lands next to national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests to increase forest cover and piece back together migration routes for animals, especially elephants.
- ‘PES/Protection of Environmental Services’—payments to landowners and villagers next to forests to protect trees and wildlife on their land and in nearby forest areas.
Spread the word—share this information with others—working together we CAN make a difference! And remember:
The more we help Mother Nature, the more She will protect us and all Her children.
Prepared by SAI (Save Animals Initiative) Sanctuary Trust,
Theralu Village & Post, South Kodagu/Coorg, KA 571249
The more we help Mother Nature, the more She will protect us and all Her children.