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10 Everyday Life Hacks That’ll Make Sure You Save The Planet From Dying

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NFI logoEditor’s Note: With #GoalPeBol, Youth Ki Awaaz has joined hands with the National Foundation for India to start a conversation around the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals that the Indian government has undertaken to accomplish by 2030. Let’s collectively advocate for successful and timely fulfilment of the SDGs to ensure a brighter future for our nation.

“End extreme poverty. Fight inequality and injustice. Fix climate change. Woah. The Global Goals for Sustainable Development are important, world-changing objectives that can protect the planet.”

To an average person, however, these goals can appear a bit lofty, making one wonder – Can I really make an impact?

Fortunately for us, the simple answer to that question is YES. How, you ask?

By making little changes in our everyday routine. Saving the planet may look like a daunting task, but if everyone does even a little bit, it can make a BIG difference and help build a sustainable future. And we can really become the generation that changed the world!

In case, you are wondering how or where to begin, here’s a list of things to get you started:

1) Turn The Lights Off!

From switching to CFL lightbulbs to buying energy efficient appliances and even plugging out appliances or laptops when you are not using them, there are literally thousands of ways you can save energy from the comfort of your house. Better still, if you can afford it, install solar panels in your house. It involves a one-time cost, but it can help you say goodbye to steep power bills forever!

Solar panels require an initial investment, but cut down electricity bills substantially. Photo credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

2) Don’t Leave The Tap Running

Water is a precious natural resource and our whole existence depends on it. But the global fresh water reserves are declining rapidly due to our reckless usage. 780 million people lack access to clean water and an estimated 80% of people without access to an adequate drinking water source live in sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Asia and Southern Asia. However, by making a few simple tweaks, we can not only help save water, but also reduce its household consumption 40 percent or more! From installing low-flow toilets to harvesting rainwater, and even doing simple things like not leaving the tap on when you are brushing your teeth, there are a million ways in which you can save water at home.

You waste about 5 gallons of water if you leave the water running while brushing your teeth.

3) Quit Bottled Water

Another simple thing that one can do for this earth is quitting bottled water. Not only do those bottles of mineral waters take over 1,000 years to biodegrade, they also produce toxic fumes when incinerated. Our recommendation: Get your daily fix of H2O by carrying your own bottle.

It takes 1 PET plastic bottle 700 years to start decomposing and only 1 in 5 gets recycled.

4) Make The Best Use Of Your Waste

Food scraps and yard waste constitute 20 -30 percent of what humans throw out. Composting not only helps keeps your leftovers out of a landfill, it also reduces your use of chemical fertilizers, enriches the earth’s soil, and encourages production of beneficial bacteria and fungi to improve soil health. With so many benefits and zero side-effects, there is no logical reason to not give this activity a try, if not in your locality, then at least at your home.

There are A LOT of things you can compost — and not just fruit and veggie scraps. Tea bags, newspaper, lint, even pizza boxes! Photo credit: szczel via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

5) Pay All Your Bills Online

No paper, no need for forest destruction. It is actually that simple. From putting an end to using paper bank statements to paying your bills online and via mobile, there are a host of ways one can do this. For example, see something online you need to remember? Next time, jot it down in a notebook or better still use a digital post-it note. Just spare the paper.

Paperless billing and online payments could cut greenhouse gas emissions by four billion tons and reduce solid waste by 1.6 billion pounds.

6) Plant A Tree

This may seem like the most obvious activity to do, but its benefits extend far beyond the act’s symbolic nature. Trees help filter pollution from the air, provide homes for wildlife, help recycle water, and prevent soil loss. Plant a tree and take good care of it. Believe us, the earth will thank you for it!

Three trees planted in the right place around buildings can cut air-conditioning costs up to 50 percent.

7) Finish The Food On Your Plate

Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — or approximately –1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. At the same time, 194.6million people go hungry every day. That is hardly fair. But by making smart food choices (read: eating fresh and organic) and ensuring zero wastage of food on your plate, you too can do your bit. A simple act like going vegetarian once a week can go a long way in contributing towards environment protection, besides keeping you healthy.

You can get in touch with food distribution organisations that can collect food leftover from big parties, weddings and distribute them. Photo credit: santosh.wadghule via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

8) Use Public Transport

Motor vehicles are the biggest offenders when it comes to polluting the planet. As per a study conducted by CSE in 2008, cars and two-wheelers contribute 60 percent CO2 emissions in Delhi. Which is why, it is important to reduce our carbon footprint by walking, biking and using public transportation wherever possible. For those who just can’t do without their own wheels, we recommend you buying a fuel-efficient vehicle. Make an informed choice when you are buying a vehicle by comparing fuel efficiency of different makes and models!

The Delhi Metro has helped cut down air pollution by 35%. Picture courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

9) Choose Your Leaders Well

When you elect leaders that believe in sustainability or support government policies that look at balancing development with sustainability, you not only make the power of your vote count, but you also exercise that right towards demanding what is right for the planet. Your vote is your voice. Exercise it wisely and in the interest of what’s good for the world at large.

10) Stop Debating, Start Doing!

Sure, changing the world seems like a big, complicated problem. But the truth is that this problem is not going to go away on its own. Which is why working on the global goals for sustainable development matters so much. By pitching in just a bit, we can all contribute towards creating a better, brighter future by 2030. To know more about how you can contribute towards the SDGs, watch this movie:

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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