Footprints of Change - Path to Sustainability

As the morning sun peeks over the horizon, painting the sky in hues of gold, I, Ganga Tilak, set out on my daily ritual of jogging through the streets of uptown Coimbatore. Born into a family where patriotism ran deep, my name pays homage to the great freedom fighter and poet, Bal Gangadhar Tilak. And like my namesake, I too strive to make a difference, albeit in my own small way.

The routine of my morning jog is more than just exercise; it's a journey of discovery. With each step, I traverse familiar paths, exchanging greetings with the elders out for their morning stroll. But amidst the mundane, there's always the potential for something extraordinary to catch my eye.

On this particular morning, it was the sight of a bustling crowd gathered at the local butcher that stirred my curiosity. As I watched, I couldn't help but notice the abundance of plastic polythene covers being used to wrap the meat. It was a stark reminder of the environmental impact of our everyday choices.

The realisation of the sheer volume of plastic being consumed sent my mind racing back to my college days. I remembered a wise professor who eschewed the convenience of disposable pens in favour of the eco-friendly fountain pen. “At Least professionals like teachers, lawyers and doctors who use pens frequently should try to switch to a fountain pen. You students are no different.” Those were exactly her words. Her sustainability based habits had left a lasting impression on me, prompting me to adopt more mindful habits. I use a fountain pen to this day, for the record.

Armed with this newfound awareness, I delved into research, uncovering alarming statistics about plastic usage in India. Despite government bans on single-use plastics in July 2022, their prevalence in daily life remained unchecked. It begged the question: why, despite the availability of alternatives, do we continue to choose convenience over conscience? And do we actually have alternatives?

Reflecting on the evolution of consumer habits, I couldn't help but feel a pang of nostalgia for simpler times. Gone were the days of milkmen delivering fresh milk to our doorstep pouring those hot milk into our vessels; now, it came packaged in plastic bags, contributing to the mounting environmental crisis. The milk is usually hot after milking. I sometimes wonder how they pack it in slim plastic bags. Wouldn’t they react? It is okay for processed packaged milks, but even the farm milks come in packages nowadays. Even processed milks have the option of glass bottles, nothing is an excuse.

In our pursuit of convenience, have we lost sight of what truly matters? We cannot reason this with convenience and time-saving. It reminds me of the question, “What did we actually do by saving all this precious time? Scroll more feed?” As I pondered this question, I realised that true convenience lies not in mindless consumption but in conscious choices. It's in the small actions we take each day to lessen our impact on the planet.

And so, armed with this conviction, I resolved to be the change I wished to see in the world. No longer content to be a passive observer, I made a pledge to carry reusable bags wherever I went, refusing to contribute to the tide of plastic pollution. Traditional methods such as using vessels for purchasing milk and meat, as well as opting for cloth bags for groceries, emerge as simple yet effective solutions. By returning to practices of the past, like the milkman delivering fresh milk to homes or using durable cloth bags for shopping, we not only reduce our environmental footprint but also reconnect with sustainable practices that have stood the test of time.

These alternatives not only minimise plastic waste but also promote a deeper appreciation for the resources we consume, fostering a more conscious and eco-friendly way of living. As I resumed my jog, the weight of responsibility sat heavy on my shoulders. But with each stride, I felt a renewed sense of purpose, knowing that even the smallest actions could make a difference. For in the journey of a conscious jogger lies the power to inspire change, one step at a time.

Let’s not gamble on the future!

Ganga Tilak is a dedicated patriot and keen observer of life’s nuances, using his writing to inspire societal change. His insightful reflections aim to provoke thought and foster a better world.

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