by Hajar Salam
‘Oh No! Not again’ you would say. ‘This topic sounds so cliché’ And so it is! But no, I’m not repeating facts and figures that we’ve so often heard about. You have probably noticed that ‘Green’ is everywhere these days; in newspapers, magazines, social media and every other place one could think of. (Sounds like a mere trend. doesn’t it?). With each passing day, the global conversation about the human impact on the environment grows louder. The question to ponder about is ‘What have we done about it ?’
Needless to say, there are many projects and initiatives going on in view of the global warming and climate changes we are facing. For instance recycling projects, beach clean ups etc. But I would say, we are still a submerged iceberg. Although positive measures are being taken, we still have a long way to go if we wish to see a change.
There are still a huge percentage of us in deep slumber , doing nothing about it but simply adapting a wait-and-see approach. In a personal sphere, one may wonder what difference a single individual can make. Besides, it is true that we may not be able to plug the holes in the ozone layer, bring back the extinct species or regenerate a destroyed rainforest, but we must act responsibly to minimise the impact of our actions. Remember, small drops can form an ocean. So the catch is exactly that, we begin small. Basically we start from scratch and inspire others to do the same.
Being women, we can contribute more to going green in the household. Kids have some bright ideas and getting them involved would be brilliant; they would just love it. I recall , as a kid I was a member of the ‘Green Army’ team of my school (a project conducted by the University of Mysore). I remember recycling old examination papers using a kitchen blender, rolling pin and food colouring ! It was interesting and i must admit that it got me really hooked. Kids are such. Once you explain the concept (about the risk our planet is in) and capture their interest, they would eat , drink and even breath green! (They are seriously so genuine about it ).
I remember, my father once taught two of my little nephews how to use minimal water when washing their hands (which they do almost all the time). Now they are very careful not to waste water; so whenever they see me or any member of the household accidentally turning on the tap too fast, they would come running and tell us ‘Don’t waste water! Some people have no water to drink’. And it helps! Seeing that adults are so forgetful.
Here are some tips to kick start the ‘Green-ification’ process in our houses as well as keep the kids busy during the holidays. The basic idea is to reuse, reduce and recycle. Now this reminds me of something on a lighter note. Someone was once asked why he repeated jokes all the time. His reply will make you laugh. He said “Oh I’m just reusing, our planet needs it” . If I ever meet him I’d like to tell him that I reused his joke too, in a very green article. 🙂 So here we go….
1) Making use of old, outdated calendar pages – You could teach the kids to make envelopes using the reverse side of the page. All you need is a bottle of gum , scissors and plenty of old calendar papers. Fold it into two, seal two sides and leave the third open. These envelopes could be used to organise craft sheets, different coloured papers , boards etc. It could even be used in offices to put in documents. The organisation I’m involved with uses such hand made envelopes to put in examination papers of students (made by the students themselves).
2) Reusing A4 sheets that are printed on one side – A large number of such sheets are thrown away in offices. Perhaps you could get the little ones to collect it in a box and use it for drawing, painting etc. In addition, it could be cut neatly into small note book size pages and placed on the office table or study table with a paper weight placed on top. This could be used to write down small reminders, to-do notes or even your grocery purchase list. What you need to do is to fold the A4 sheet into two lengthwise and then into 4 width-wise and get the kids to cut along the fold lines with safety scissors. It’s likely to keep them quiet for half an hour at least.!
3) Recycling newspapers – Those who buy daily papers might be having quite a messy store rooms because that’s where we conveniently dump them. So here is another activity for the children. Get them to arrange the newspapers in a large box or garbage bag and once its filled you can drop it off at paper recycling places. (there are some that will come and pick them up as well!) But don’t forget to take the kids along as it will keep them stay motivated. If you do receive money for it, you could put it in a till labelled ‘Green Home” or something interesting like that. If you don’t have the time, you can always give it to the ‘Bothal Pathara man’ who come to the doorstep for such collection.
4) Growing plants in plastic bottles – You can cut of the top end of the plastic drink bottles and use it to grow small as well as useful plants such as curry leaves (karapincha), green chilli , mint leaves etc. Get the kids involved when planting and ask them to take turns in watering the plants.
5) Saving electricity and water -The most repeated AND most often forgotten point. Explain to the little ones the importance of saving electricity and water by switching off when not in use and using only when needed. It would be helpful to put up small reminders next to taps and switches. Perhaps the money saved on the electricity and water bill could be added to the Green Till and once enough money is collected you could buy them gifts or take them out for a meal. This will keep them going.
6) Using cloth bags instead of plastic or polythene ones – Don’t forget to carry a cloth bag with you when you go to the supermarket or store. Remember, supermarkets have cloth bags for sale and give a small discount on the total bill each time you reuse.
7) Making use of organic waste – Organic waste matter like onion peels, fruit rinds etc could be added to the soil in which trees grow. This acts as a natural fertiliser and enrich plant growth. It is important to place a separate bin in the kitchen for this purpose, preferably a green one!
8) Using magazine papers for crafts – Since magazine papers are usually colourful and attractive , it could be used to make various crafts. I recently came across a lovely necklace on display at a store made entirely of magazine paper with a coat of varnish perhaps to make it more durable and give it a glossy finish. Paper vases is another thing that magazine paper could be transformed into. I’m sure you can gather more ideas if you browse the net and kids would enjoy such activities.
After all, Nature has given us so much but what have we to return? Every little effort counts and together we can bring about a big change. Starting small and gradually climbing up the ladder is what needs to be done. So long as we get going, we would be contributing in our own little way. I’m sure we can handle that …can’t we? And of course a major perk is that these are activities that the kids can join in. Relax moms relax!
Just Go Green, Think Green and Act Green House!!