Are You Counting Your Carbon footsteps?
Most of us haven’t even heard of this term, forget acting on it.
In December of 2015, 195 nations signed a global deal, famously called the Paris Climate Accord, at the COP 21 Climate Conference in Paris. The deal underlined the need to mitigate global emissions as the drama of climate change unfolds before us. While governments step up their efforts to achieve their national emission targets, the role of communities can’t be understated.
A small village in the North Eastern state of Manipur in India is practising what the world preaches. Phayeng is a tiny village in the Imphal West district of Manipur, home to the Chakpa community. The village is set to become India’s first carbon positive settlement. The government plans to develop the village on a carbon positive model, a first of its kind project in the South Asian country.
Carbon Positive Settlement. What’s That?
Human activity and some natural activities emit carbon into the atmosphere. A carbon positive concept is a step ahead of the carbon zero concept. While carbon zero concept aims to substantially reduce or eliminate carbon emissions from our activities, carbon positive makes additional positive contributions by producing more energy than one consumes.
The Curious Case of Phayeng
Phayeng is home to around 660 households. The village turned itself from a barren and dry place to a village with lush green trees. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say and Phayeng proved that right. By the 1970s and 1980s, the village had lost its green wealth to deforestation, the village stream had run dry, and the temperatures had started to soar. The villagers set up a forest protection committee umang kanba that laid down the rules to start their own mini-revolution.
So, the villagers ensure that forest fires are avoided. Instead of cutting trees for firewood, they use only dry twigs for the same. For them, the definition of home is extended beyond the boundaries of their houses. They patrol their forests the way we patrol our houses. Hunting is strictly prohibited barring the day when they celebrate their “forest gods” by sacrificing a deer once a year.
What’s up next?
The village is being provided a grant of INR (Indian Rupee) 100 million in a phased manner. The funds are being utilized for the afforestation of denuded areas, adoption of climate-resilient agriculture, development of artificial water bodies, setting up of the solar electricity system, adoption of kitchen stoves, poultry and piggery farm and the creation of an eco-resort and knowledge centre. This is going to give twin benefits of the village becoming an environmentally sustainable haven and increasing the income of the villagers.
Let’s Do Something!
Phayeng is an inspiration to all of us. It proves that the power of the community can bring revolutions! We can contribute, in our own way, a little to live a more environmentally conscious life. Following are some of the little lifestyle changes that we can make to do our bit:
- Buy energy efficient appliances and gadgets. Switch off those lights and appliances you don’t need, not just at your homes but your workplaces, hotels, and everywhere else.
- Adopt renewable sources of energy. A total shift to renewable energy may not be possible at a go, but installing water heaters or street lighting using solar energy in areas with abundant sunshine is a great idea.
- Carefully designed homes can go a long way in reducing your carbon emissions. Appropriate ventilation, solar passive strategies, appropriate window styles, and glazing can give you amazing results.
- Turn that tap off when you don’t need it. Use the reverse osmosis (RO) wastewater in the toilets.
- Chuck the idea of using your car to work; rather, use public transport or take a walk. You’d explore the city with a different lens and that protruding tummy will stay inside. How about a hybrid car than traditional petrol or diesel car? Now, we have e-car in the bandwagon too. Give it a shot! Carpool (and karaoke!) can make the boring hours in the traffic fun.
- Small houses are cool too. They bring you closer to each other and reduced house size means reduced emissions.
- We know the three R’s of the environment: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” How about UPCYCLE. Give it a thought!
- Explore minimalism! Do you really need those extra pair of pants or that furniture you came across in the local sale? Renting or borrowing may seem a better deal. Think before you spend. Most of us are hoarders. Try the two D’s: De-clutter and Donate.
- Loose vegetables are better than packaged vegetables. A fancy packaging won’t improve the taste of the greens!
- Reduce meat and dairy consumption, for these industries are one of the biggest emitters of greenhouses gases. Vegetarianism and veganism are trending, why don’t you try it.
- Stop accepting “disposable” cutlery when you visit a fast food joint. You might dispose them off to the dustbins without the hassle of washing them, but bad news! Plastic ain’t disposable.
- Carrying handkerchiefs still looks cool. Why ask for tissue papers?
- Do business more consciously. Recognize the environmental impact of your business and make conscious choices.
- LED bulbs look stylish and they save energy. Use them. It’s a win-win situation.
- Most of us need a computer. Laptops are more energy-efficient than desktops. And you can carry them everywhere!
- Seasonal foods are tastier and healthier. They reduce the carbon emissions caused because of cold storage and storage in general.
- Why get a printout when you can read that chapter online! Go paper-lesssssssss!
- Hot water for washing clothes? Nah! Cold water won’t harm either. Even if you use a washing machine to wash the clothes, dry them in the open instead of using the machine for it.
- Plant a tree. Period.
You won’t just be contributing to the environment but you will be able to avoid burning a hole in your pockets. Hurray! Let us not forget what we were taught in our textbooks. Let us broaden the definition of what is home to us. All these efforts may seem like drops in the oceans, but hey, hey, small drops make an ocean!