Wednesday, September 28, 2011

No!! I can’t be environment friendly.

A curious thing happened the other day. I was in this gathering of the regular pseudo intellectuals where the topic suddenly moved towards environment and our efforts to save it from whatever impending doom it is headed towards. Since I have kind of mastered the art of argument even if I don’t know anything about the subject, initially I participated with usual gusto making statements like “Dr. Massinger’s Research says that when compared between 2002 and 2010 the environmental pollution from developed nations has increased by 47.3%” (No one is going to question or stand in front of such specific statements. Trust me on that) however when it came to listing down personal actions I found that I am running short of words.

Now before we move further let me clarify two things to clear any dirty assumptions that you might have started making about me. A) I joined this group because it only used to discuss serious issues such as Mr. Xs car standing outside Mr. Ys house for over three hours when Mr. Y is out of station and the impact of such actions on our culture, country and humanity and B) I didn’t have anything to add on the topic of personal actions towards saving environment because I had figured everyone else is doing their bit so one person less won’t hasten the arrival of the doomsday like by a century.

Now in my defense I must also add that the reason of this inaction were my previous studies on the topic. These studies clearly said that the doomsday was supposed to come anywhere after 100 years thereby leaving enough time for everyone else to do their efforts and postpone its arrival. The studies also mentioned the massive efforts which were being put in by the multinational corporations which were helping delay the arrival. Now since I am an employee of one such organization I believed that I am already doing my bit.

Nevertheless I found the lack of personal action on this front detrimental to self perceived image of being this nice guy who loves and cares for the entire universe (In case you missed the point; please note that people with narrow mindsets talk about only country and world). Therefore as is my habit I made a list of things to do which will certify me as eco friendly and proceeded to act upon them. Little did I know that trying to be eco friendly was tougher than trying to attain “Nirvana” (Karmic Bliss).

Now I am sure in spite of my before mentioned studies some of you might still be skeptical and will try to do your best to be named as an environment friendly individual. But before you proceed I must do my duty of being the nice guy, and warn you of the problems and challenges that you will face by giving you an account of my efforts and hurdles that I came across while following the most common method of becoming an environmentally conscious citizen.

Recycle\Reuse – I started with the golden principal of environment friendliness. Recycle whatever we can. Started this campaign with great enthusiasm and asked the building manager to deliver the garbage bags on my terrace. The ideas was to first sort out the stuff suitable for reuse and then take the rest to waste disposal plant for making biogas. With the idea I contacted the plant employees who agreed to take care of the garbage provided I deliver it to the plant (I must say that the government employees aren’t educated about the importance of an individual’s contribution to eco friendliness campaign since their first reaction reminded me of my son’s reaction when he saw an elephant for the first time). Undaunted by the challenge I hired a garbage collector truck’s services when came the next question of hauling it in the truck from my terrace. Although I pride myself of being able to do any job however I made an exception in this case (Only because I didn’t have proper garbage sorting attire in my closet) and tried to hire two able bodied men to do the job for me. I would have got them easily if it wasn’t for the laughter filled refusal of first two guys who looked at the heap and in addition to laughing and saying a big “NO” also started advising me on my plans. I understood that I shouldn’t be discouraged by the ignorance of such uncouth folks and promptly sent them packing however I believe they must have spoken about the work or me with some derision to their friends. This belief came due to the difficult time I had finding other people for this job. It’s only after I chose to ignore the muffled laughs and added “blocked nose” and “double pay” to the offer was I able to find the right men. This entire work took more than three days and while I was excited with the results however the trouble in finding the right resources for the job led to the conclusion of not repeating the cycle. (One of the fringe benefits of this exercise was my increased understanding with my recruitment HR team. Now I knew what a pain it was to hire folks from outside to clean the mess which the family members had refused to clean)

Carpooling – Fresh from the defeat on the first item I decided to attempt something less smelly and hit upon the idea of Carpooling. My apartment has 7 kids going to same school at the same time by 7 different cars so I was confident of adding at least one tick mark against my check list of being eco friendly. The responses started with a simple “not interested” and went up to simpler “NO” and slamming of door. I wouldn’t have given up if it wasn’t for the 5th residence where the man of the house offered me water, sent his wife to kitchen and asked me in a soothing and conspiratorial tone if I was facing some difficulties with my salary and expenses. Before I could reply he smiled enigmatically at me like the finance mister announcing tax cuts and offered to hire me as a part time employee for his firm specializing in security services for specialized massage therapists. Before he could get into the details of the offer I decided to run away and left the idea of car pooling at his door step itself.

Conserve Water – I realized that in all my efforts so far I was seeking help of others and that was the reason of failure. Therefore I decided to take up actions which involved no one but me to achieve some degree of success. I wasn’t sure where to start so I chose the first option of taking bath alternate days. I thought this was a good start to my campaign on saving the environment but right on 3rd day when I returned home late in the night I found my bedroom door locked with a note stuck on it which said “Use the other bedroom” I lost the heart to pursue the next steps in this domain.

Conserve Electricity – By now I was demoralized however thought of giving eco friendliness another shot by reading up on ways to conserve electricity. The first itself was to use devices which are star rated in energy compliance and that even looked attractive to me. I mean, all I had to do was get the appliances and that’s it; Voila! I will become an environmentally conscious citizen. Buoyed with the discovery I made a list of devices to change and enquired about exchange offers for all of these devices from the nearest mall. Disappointment was again in store for me when I was told I will get 2000 bucks for my good old air conditioner and the new 5 star rated air conditioner will cost me 27000 bucks and the entire list would set me back by 240,000. Needless to say I have put this plan on hold for some time.
Disappointed by my lack of progress so far I decided to focus on smaller but practical aspects of going green and without going into details let me list them out for you for quick reference:

Buy local produce – I live in a big modern city and the only local produce I see around me is cow’s manure spread all over our roads and the illegal hash which Mr. Y is growing on his terrace garden. I am sure you agree that eating both would be detrimental to my existence which definitely comes before my image.

Buy sustainably harvested seafood – I think they meant that I should buy fish from folks who manage fisheries and not the fresh catch from sea or river to ensure the species do not become endangered. Unfortunately due to communication gap (English is not my primary language) I went and asked my neighbor’s wife if she would like to sell fishes from her aquarium in the living room and was turned away. (Please note- I not getting invited for any of the building meetings is a rumor which my enemies are spreading about me and it has got nothing to do with this incident).

Buy sustainably or organically produced food – It is only available in a departmental store which is two hour’s drive from my house and is three times costlier than regular food. Need I say more?

Eat less meat. – Are you nuts?? There are some truths in life that are beyond discussion. For example “Boss is always right”, “Wife will win the argument”, “God exists” and “WE MUST EAT MEAT”. I can get into a passionate debate on how humans are not supposed to be vegetarian by design but I am sure it’s not necessary.

I realized that my journey to eco friendliness had me thrown out of bedroom, thrown out of my house, laughed at by illiterate workers, considered bankrupt and would have led me starving to death. Well maybe this works for lot of people but in all fairness I think I have the right to live a happy life.

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