Before you read this blog post: Did you send the EIA 2020 draft Objection letter to the MOEFCC?
Welcome back to my blog!
It's been a while. Feeling stressed and helpless about the state of the world has become the new normal. But it doesn't have to be that way.
You can also do your bit as a citizen and a consumer, while continuing to feel stressed and helpless.
(Just kidding, or am i?)
Thinking about the most basic things we can do as individuals to step away from this chaotic mess of a polluted world, is something I waste a lot of my time on. I don't want to talk about vague motivational parables about saving mother earth, unless I have some actionable ideas for you:
1. VOTE WITH YOUR WALLET
Money is one of the most effective forms of voting systems that exist in our society.
We usually buy things on the basis of what we need and like. But it can also be used to shift demands in an economy. What you spend your money on can show what values you approve of. But for us to find solutions, we need to first educate ourselves on identifying the problem.
Once you understand how you can shift to a circular economy, you can selectively find brands and products that adhere to that system, thereby adding your voice to the increasing demand for change. Not buying the products from large corporations that are contributing to pollution, is a small but effective sign of protest against their practices. A company looks towards sales data & customer feedback as approval from the public to make more of the same.
This may seem like an insignificant form of dissent at first, but with the rise of the social media movements, opinions can be broadcasted to create social pressure. Use the hashtag era to your advantage and voice your opinion as a customer. Ever heard of the phrase “the customer is always right”?
Well, “The loudest customer is definitely right”.
So apart from wallet activism, there's another hidden superpower you hold as a consumer. Below are some quick methods of feedback systems you can use for making your opinion heard if you’re turned off by a company’s polluting unethical practices:
- Feedback forms are a good place to express your disappointment
- Star ratings with comments to be specific with your demands
- Email companies for suggestions on what they can do to change
- Social media tags can be used for greater pressure via public display
- Customer care calls are held in high regard by a company for the effort made by a customer to voice their concern.
You're giving out a personal stamp of approval to products with high carbon emissions every day. Change the brands. Support local and sustainable businesses.
2. Political Activism
Political activism, compared to individual action, has a relatively negative appeal. It requires us to organize as a group, take out time from our lives and put in considerable efforts, stand in heat and sun, without any promise of instant gratification. It might take years to build political pressure to make an impact. But if successful, government policies can make a disproportionately massive impact on the overall goal. Much of the natural beauty that is still left today in our world is due to environmental policies and treaties that protected them from exploitation.
THE BIG CATCH: Governments are driven by lobbyists, corporate influence and money from the oil & coal industry, among others. But luckily political participation is on the rise around the world. In a democracy where leaders depend on voters to get elected, it becomes our civic duty to object and create pressure on the leaders.
For a flawed Democratic country like India, we unfortunately need a little more drama to get things done. We are currently facing the crisis of our laws of environmental protection being weakened.
If you haven't sent the EIA 2020 Draft objection. Again, click here.
This includes petitions, email objects, silent protests, mass movements, excessive media coverage, social media conversations and so on. And it is our job to make them feel that pressure if they don't rise to the occasion.
PLEASE NOTE: Petitions are important, depending on how comprehensive and well planned they are. Always read through and sign petitions if you understand the argument of the opposing side as well. Try to do a background check on organisations that start the movement to ensure they are in good faith of the public. You don't want to be the brainwashed junta.
3. Individual Lifestyle Changes
Making individual changes is a social challenge in the beginning, fraught with the task of battling the herd mindset, but it gives extremely satisfying personal results if done well.
Individual lifestyle changes and actions are self-driven and enlightening, thus, they have an overall positive appeal to many who may not be thrilled about political activism. Instead of feel-good activism that all talk and no action, this will instill a sense of assurance your thoughts, values and actions are aligned.
Each individual’s sustainable lifestyle can look slightly different and thus it can add a diverse point of view from all walks of life. The more people join in, the better idea we can get of what the future looks like.
But there is always a lingering difficult question: Will it be enough to "save the planet"?
The truth is, we don’t know that. And cannot be our motivation anymore. The new question we need to ask ourselves is: Do I want to evolve into the best version of humanity even as the future looks bleak?
--This article was written with a contributor, who is a progressive educator based out of Mumbai trying to bring about transformation in the education system towards more emphasis on personal well-being, social harmony and environmental conservation.