No planet B
HH Punya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji cautions us about the dangers of unconscious consumerism and how we can make a difference through eco-friendly choices
There is a beautiful saying which is used frequently by those who spend time in the forests, “Take only memories and leave only footprints.” The Earth is here to sustain our life, not for us to extinguish hers. Yet—the way we are polluting the air, the water, and the ground—that is exactly what we are doing. Everything we use which is not biodegradable (each container, each garment) will someday end up occupying precious space in our Earth’s landfills.
Furthermore, the manufacturing of everything we use generates a huge amount of waste. We may think that a small styrofoam cup filled with tea won’t have that big an effect on the Earth. However, only when we trace back its genesis to the totality of resources used in its manufacture, transportation, and sale can we grasp its global impact.
This, of course, does not mean that to live peaceful lives we should never purchase or use anything. It simply means that we need to live with consciousness. It means (to continue our styrofoam cup example) that we may decide to purchase and drink from a small, insulated, personal travel mug instead of countless styrofoam cups. Through being constantly aware of the impact of our choices, we will see innumerable areas where we can make decisions that generate peace rather than pieces for the Earth.
Another serious area in which we pollute the Earth is through our dependence on toxic chemicals for everyday needs. Detergents, bug sprays, cleaning supplies, fertilisers, insecticides—all of these are filled with poisonous chemicals which eventually seep into the Earth. The greenhouse effect is probably the most serious threat to our existence today.
The way to minimise our personal contribution to pollution is through reversing those behaviours which exacerbate it. For example, by using low-energy bulbs, fuel-efficient cars, and ‘earth-friendly’ appliances, we reduce the number of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. Again, awareness and consciousness is the key. For peace within ourselves, we need to be aware of our own ego, greed, anger, and other emotions.
For peace in the family and community, we need to be aware of interpersonal dynamics which contribute to conflict. For peace in the world, we need to be aware of how our behaviour and lifestyle can lead to a global environment which is fertile soil for seeds of discontent and violence to be sown.
For peace on Earth, we need to be aware of how every choice we make impacts the planet today and in the future. Because there can be a plan A and plan B, but there is no planet B; we have only one planet, and we must all work to protect, preserve, and serve this planet. Only then will we be able to make conscious choices that minimise the detrimental effects of our time spent walking on Mother Earth.
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