“Sustainability”: We forgot the basics, India!


Brief Intro for people who are unaware of the concept “Sustainability”:

The name sustainability is derived from the Latin sustinere (tenere, to hold; sub, under). Sustain can mean “maintain”, “support”, or “endure”

 “Sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. –  United Nations on March 20, 1987

Sustainability can be briefly divided into three dimensions:

  1. Economic
  2. Environmental
  3. Society

Sustainability is studied and managed over many scales (levels or frames of reference) of time and space and in many contexts of an environmental, social and economic organization. The focus ranges from the total carrying capacity (sustainability) of planet Earth to the sustainability of economic sectors, ecosystems, countries, municipalities, neighborhoods, home gardens, individual lives, individual goods, occupations, lifestyles, behavior patterns and so on. In short, it can entail the full compass of biological and human activity or any part of it.

As Daniel Botkin, author and environmentalist have stated: “We see a landscape that is always in flux, changing over many scales of time and space.”

If this seems complex then I assure you that after reading my article you will be more comfortable with this concept and even better try to implement in your day to day lives. I don’t want to get technical with you all and go into the semantics, since; it’s really just the matter of understanding the basics.

When one talks about sustainability for a country like India, I feel rather amusing. Not what the world wants to tell us that we are way behind them, but, since the beginning of time, if you study the lifestyle of each individual in different climatic conditions across our country, for example, their house architecture, usage of local materials, eating seasonal fruits and vegetables or wearing seasonal clothing made out of local produce, we as Indians have always been part of sustainability cycle and followed it consistently. It’s an interesting topic for another day on how we lost our way in these modern times.

It is bewildering to see how the entire world is getting aware of it now and running after it blindly when honestly, one should just get back to basics…go back to our heritage, culture, and traditions… Sadly, in the last 30 years due to globalization, we have literally forgotten how we used to live.

Sustainability is all around us in our everyday lives, we tend to get confused with bigger problems like water, electricity, and power but the truth is it starts with the most basic thing like choosing the house with good ventilation that enables you to cut down electricity bills. Basic things like, cooking healthy and eating right at home can reduce the cost cum sources of delivery food or eat out at restaurants that are only increasing 10 folds each passing day. It is us who are encouraging them to open new outlets and indirectly being part of the construction pollution that has been spoiling our environmental balance.

Here are some day to day examples that most of us must have heard from our parents or grandparents in our life but never took them seriously!! :

  1. They would always eat laddoos in winters for evening snacks as kids which provided them so much nutrition of nuts and ghee which helped them to survive cold weather conditions despite the luxury amenities of comforters or oil heaters. It made them fitter and healthier from within without wasting money and sources on packaged food.
  2. Commuting via walking a certain distance in everyday life even to catch a local bus from the stop was kind of necessity to remain fit and healthy. Saves fuels and keeps you fit.
  3. The art of sitting together on the floor for meals which we now think is a dumb idea when we can afford to buy chairs. But, my friends, that floor seating is only going to keep you fit with your digestion system and helps you lose that extra fat around your lower abdomen. It also makes your bowel movement strong which we tend to forget. Keeping it minimal at home and not to run after most expensive designs is sustainability in itself and maintaining your health without doing extra is a bonus in today’s busy world.
  4. All our life we kept ignoring our mom’s words about sipping water directly from the fridge bottle, she would ask us to sit and drink water or take it in a glass and sip it properly not gulp it. She kept telling us to sit and we kept acting busier than Prime Minister who seems to have no time for such nonsense. Well, to tell you the scientific reason behind it, water gets absorbed by your organs (providing them with the hydration to perform daily functions efficiently) if you are sitting, instead of water directly going to the bladder and out of your body.
  5. Remember the time when your grandfather must have told you that he only takes bath in cold water even during cold winter days since it wakes him up instantly and he feels joyful throughout the day. Well, our average body temperature is 98.6F (37 degrees Celsius), and ideally, we don’t need to bathe with water hotter than this temperature. We should use either normal room temperature water or slightly lukewarm to maintain our body temperature. You must have observed that your hands are warmer than your feet or vice versa, well, such a situation arises due to misbalance in the body and we need to take precautionary steps to maintain our overall body temperature as it is the first cause of most diseases.

Well, I am nearly touching 30 and I recently discovered the advantages of these basic habits in our everyday lives and it has been truly a life changing ideology for me. I can keep giving a thousand examples like these and it would totally make sense now when you look at the logic behind it as well as its benefits.

Sustainability is not just how we live or eat or what we wear. It is everywhere around us. We need to concentrate on the basics like how can we upcycle our clothes instead of throwing them away into dumps. We can save water with little discipline and effort. There are numerous kinds of water fixtures that are available in the market which requires attention and it can save up on your water bills to a large extent.

I am not here to write a research paper but just to put light on certain areas that we often forget living our busy lives. It’s a wide topic and I can surely not cover it in one single article but what I can do is to remind you all of the certain areas that we tend to ignore. So, my request to all of you is to think before you do anything. Before taking that car out for just a walking distance or leaving your tap open while you brush your teeth.

Just do your bit!!!


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