Our home back in Baguio is not connected to the city’s water supply network so we would always have water delivered. This naturally made my family very mindful of our water consumption. We collect rain water which is used to water plants, wash the laundry, and clean floors. A basin for dish washing and a bucket for bathing are always available to conserve water. Wastewater can be reused to flush the toilet.
So it does bother me sometimes when I see people who would just keep water running from the faucet or mindlessly waste water. Yes, water is a renewable natural resource but it can also be depleted. The earth is mostly covered in water but only 3% is freshwater. More than half of that is frozen in ice caps so we’re basically left with around 1% for our water needs.
A growing population entails an ever increasing demand for water. But rapid urban development, pollution, deforestation, and climate change are leading to water scarcity everywhere like Cape Town in South Africa; several cities in India; and even in Metro Manila in the Philippines.
Clean drinking water is a human right. But what are we doing to uphold this right? It’s sad how we don’t put too much value on what nature offers. It’s practically free. But in return, we destroy the very thing we need for survival.
Post-apocalyptic scenarios come to mind – of dessert landscapes; of riots, and power play, and killings over water; of water everywhere but not a drop to drink…
Well, we could resort to drinking treated poo water, like what is being done in Namibia; or maybe consume desalinated water if we could afford the technology. But for now, what we can actually do is to conserve water, plant a tree or two, and keep water bodies clean. Is this too much to ask?
We know that eating fruits and veggies is good for the health. We were told that in school and at home since we were young. This must be true as we see people reaching the age of 90 or even 100 claiming that a plant-rich diet is the secret to long life.
We rely on fad diets where we starve ourselves, or get rid of carbs, or binge-eat on meat and fat, when simply reducing one’s meat intake and eating more plants would have been easier.
Or maybe it’s not as easy as it seems. Colorful and tasty artificial treats are served in schools. Home-cooked meals are replaced by convenient fastfood. Powerful ads have brainwashed us to keep on consuming these so-called healthy products spewed by evil corporations. Local crops are disappearing. And we’re starting to forget what real food tastes like.
On June 17-23, we celebrated the World Meat Free Week and July is the National Nutrition Month in the Philippines. These events put a spotlight on food and how it affects our health and the environment. These are opportunities for us to make changes in our eating habits. That means as much as we hate veggies or don’t like the taste of it, we have to train our tongues. It takes a bit of self discipline and though we can’t really tell people what they’re supposed to eat, eating right is common sense.
The end is nigh. Climate emergency, plastic pollution, deforestation, food and water crises. The problems seem daunting like the white walkers of the “Game of Thrones.” But there are solutions and they can be done. It takes a little bit of effort and it can be inconvenient at times. But no matter how trivial, it’s better to do something than wallow in apathy. Here’s what you can do for the earth since it’s the Philippine Environment Month and all.
Be a better consumer. Adopt a minimalist or zero waste lifestyle if you can. That means buying just the essentials or buying second-hand or not buying at all. Consider having broken things repaired or borrow from people instead. Reduce, re-use, recycle. Reduce comes first because if you can avoid generating waste in the first place, then do just that. Refuse unnecessary single-use plastic. Bring your water tumbler, a reusable container, a reusable bag, and even your cutlery everywhere. Paper may be a lesser evil but going for reusable stuff is still your best bet. And no, you don’t have to buy metal/bamboo straws and eco bags to prove a point. The key is to lessen one’s consumption.
Demand change from corporations and the government. Individual efforts matter and so does putting pressure on corporations and the government. So sign petitions. Write letters. Attend town hall meetings. Policy and corporate support could speed up the change that we want to see.
Raise awareness on environmental issues through social media.The reality is this is still one of the easiest ways to reach people within one’s circle of influence. Posting or sharing environment-related posts may generate conversation and may even cause people to change mindsets and behaviors. And it’ll be more effective if you pair your online advocacy work with offline activities.
Be involved. Volunteer. Participate in clean ups and tree-planting. Give talks and and education sessions. To reiterate what Annie Leonard of Greenpeace said, civic engagement is the real source of power to make a difference.
This Environment Month and beyond, a green mind is what we need. To rephrase what Edward Everett Hale said, you are only one, but you are one. You cannot do everything, but you can do something. And you should not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
Lailone believes he could “design” people’s mindset to promote a new way of thinking. This can be done through art and for Lailone, he uses cartoons as it’s easy to make and doesn’t require effort from a team or a group of people. It’s also easier to share in this age of social media.
Being a political cartoonist was more straightforward when Myanmar was still under Military rule. But now that the country is democratic, Lailone practices a sort of self censorship, being careful with the message and the words that he uses in his cartoon drawings, because unlike before, what they have now is what is considered as the people’s government.
Lailone believes in the power of cartoons where a short message can be expressed through a drawing or illustration. He also likes the fact that this gives him the chance to develop himself as he gets to read political history, observe many things, and learn different lessons. Creating cartoons is Lailone’s hobby, work, and art.
Aside from being a freelance cartoonist, Lailone also works for an environmental NGO where he’s involved in training, implementation, and production of nature-related IEC materials for children.
Ken’s design background helps him raise awareness about social issues he cares deeply about. One of which is on refugees. He’s currently working on producing a photo documentary book about the plight of refugees in different places. So far he’s been to Jordan and Pakistan.
“I want to save people’s lives, especially children, from the war, but I don’t have the power to stop the war,” Ken explains. “If I was a doctor, I could help people who are injured. If I was an architect, I could rebuild their broken houses. But I can’t do these things so as a designer and photographer, what I can do is spread the message.”
Ken takes photos of these refugees trying to show what their normal life looks like. He wants more people to know about refugees especially in Japan which accepts so few refugees.
“I thought it’s a good start to introduce refugees in the world using photos and my personal story with them,” Ken further explains. “Visiting a Syrian refugee camp changed my mind a lot. I was not so serious before that experience. Young refugees and I became good friends. They are innocent, but they have to live in a tiny tent or container house with their large family. Some have the experience of losing their brother or sister.”
In the beginning, Maya’s parents didn’t approve of her becoming a farmer. Like in the Philippines, farming is not a career option for young people in Indonesia.
Maya and her four other friends have always wanted to be farmers. As women, they thought of having their own business where they can have more flexible time allowing them to take care of their family. Farming is a good business as everyone needs food. Organic farming, in particular, produces healthy products while protecting the environment.
In 2012, Maya and her friends put up “Twelve’s Organic,” an organic farm in East Java which is also a demo farm for the young people they train to be organic farmers.
Maya admits that it is a challenge to encourage the youth to follow the path she is on but she says the best way she can do is to show them that organic farming can be a profitable career option.
“Everyone should be dispensable,” Molly stressed while talking about the enterprises she helped develop.
Molly is the Director for Enterprises of Timbaktu Collective. She promotes organic farming and supports the following initiatives: a weaving unit with young marginalized women who work on natural dyes; sale of handmade soap made by people with disabilities; and a small organic shop of local produce providing direct income to the community.
Timbaktu Collective is a non-profit organization working for sustainable development in the drought prone Anantapuramu district of Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) India. Through the years, they have empowered women who had no access to finance, put up a school, and transformed the area damaged by fire, overgrazing, and desertification into what it is now, a flourishing forest.
Molly feels privileged living a simple life in a place where there’s community, camaraderie, and good food. It is where she wants to spend more time on the land – growing, tilling, and harvesting.