Thursday, February 14, 2013

Go Clean! Go Green!

When we started off with the 7X7X7X7 writing prompt a couple of weeks back, it fast grew into an idea that we could have different prompts every Friday (or alternate maybe!) and write to those! This week's prompt is from Dagny Sol, who posts at Serenely Rapt. The prompt goes like this: Step outside and click a picture. Come back inside and click a picture. Write a post connecting the two. And here's my post for the week! I would love to have you join in! If you like the prompt and want to do a post, leave a comment on Dagny's post with your link!

As part of the site induction on the first day of work, walking around and getting a feel of the place and people, I also came face to face with this huge expansive greenhouse facility. At that point of time, it didn't leave a lasting impression because I had seen quite a few of them before.

Greenhouse setup outside Fulton Hogan premises, Melbourne, Australia.
A greenhouse set-up
A couple of days into work, wanting to throw a cereal bar wrapper into the trash, I spent almost 3 minutes searching high and low for the trashcan around my desk. When I couldn't find one, I assumed that maybe no one sat at this desk before so it didn't have one yet and someone might put one there in good time. And then I scoured my neighbouring desks for trashcans under the tables, but all my efforts were in vain. There simply weren't any. Instead what I found out was, there are these little cardboard kind of drop boxes (it doesn't seem to be just plain cardboard) aptly termed ‘landfill’ boxes which have been placed at every desk. Usually with professional settings, except for printouts which one might have to discard or shred, the only other common items of trash are stuff like candy wrappers, gum, Styrofoam coffee cups and some other odds and ends which hardly fill up the trashcan in a day and yet have to be emptied out every evening along with the plastic trash bag. The thought behind the ‘landfill’ boxes (the coffee cup in there should give you an idea of size) is to avoid the plastic trash bags from generating more landfill! So every evening or based on how they fill up, we simply empty out these ‘landfill’ boxes into the big bins placed every few feet around the office. Of course, there are landfill box sized plastic bags available for those who need them, but then those sort of defeat the purpose.

Tiny landfill boxes used as trashcans at Fulton Hogan, Melbourne, AustraliaOrganizations in most developing and developed nations today are gearing up to be more environmental friendly. As part of the Go Green initiative, I know that Patni (now iGate), the Indian IT company I used to work for previously does something that I found very impressive. Instead of sending seasons greeting cards to its clients on New Year’s, it gets a sapling planted in the name of every client through an unaffiliated organization which works for the betterment of nature and then sends the certificate on to the client. Saving on paper cards and planting saplings for every potential card is essentially a double benefit right there! Environment friendly causes have also found a rightful place in the list of responsibilities taken up by organizations – even if they do not officially qualify as CSR activities.

I remember an incident when, on a regular weekday, I had stepped out with my dear friends Manjiree and Anand, for some chaat and conversations. Armed with plates of fast food, we were immersed in our tales when a car slowed to a park about 6-8 feet away. Inside sat three people – we assumed them to be the mother, father and a daughter in her 20s maybe. They looked to be from a regular middle class well to do family, decently educated and well groomed. Having finished their own chaat, the daughter who was seated in the back seat coolly proceeded to toss her paper dish out the window right onto the street, even though there were numerous trash bins in plain view every few feet. Needless to say, we started ‘talking’ about ‘such people’ and their ‘uneducated behaviour’ in loud voices, loud enough so our words would carry. I probably wouldn't have had the guts to call out someone in that way all by myself, considering the apparent decline in tolerance levels. People have been shot for doing less!

But I had my close pals by my side; friends who were even more passionate than I was if not equally, friends who I might not be in touch with every day but when we come together, it’s like we’re still back in school, friends who I owe so much and more to! The strength in numbers infused courage in me to give my thoughts a voice. The car of course, started off and moved away. But then it stopped and much to our surprise, backed up. We looked on. The daughter got out, walked over (we were hush quiet, I don’t remember what was going on in my mind then!) and picked up the tossed garbage and threw it in the bin. She then gave us a nice smile and graciously walked back to the car, collected her parents’ paper dishes, threw them as well in the trash and then they left. For a minute there, we were silent, awestruck. And then we applauded the woman’s reaction for having done what she did. It takes courage to even admit that you were wrong, much less go back and correct it. Not everyone does it! People often laugh, mercilessly taunt, some even toss more garbage in retaliation just to show you they can do that and get away with it!

Organizations all around are warming up to the idea of doing their bit for the planet and encouraging their employees to do the same. It’s time individuals played their part too! It isn’t enough that we keep our homes clean if we end up dumping garbage on the streets! Much as this might sound like a civics lesson, it’s up to each one of us to leave behind a clean and green planet. Leave your mark on earth; just don’t leave much of a carbon footprint. 
I would love to hear your views!

14 comments:

  1. Applaud that girl too :) Nothing gets you more on the defensive than getting called when you do something you know is wrong and it takes a singular amount of courage and grace to correct yourself at that instant.

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    1. Very true. Admitting that you're in the wrong takes more courage than anything! And then to be able to correct it too, wow!

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  2. I agree that going green should move from a credo to real life. Again, in India there is a huge disdain for doing things right. Kids and adults toss waste, plastic wrappers just about anywhere. We regularly pull up kids on our evening walk to not litter. Yes, I never litter. I will put the wrapper in my purse and bring it home but will not leave it in some gutter or on some street. And do the same for my kids. And at home, we have stopped using plastic liners for bins. We use newspapers. All my maids hate me because the dustbins get a bit messy and need to be washed more often. Plastic usage is so ingrained in us.

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    1. Exactly. The callous attitude or the "chalta hain" attitude is what irks me big time! Even if there are trash cans nearby, people calmly litter all around. I do the purse/bag thing too - but there are people who smirk or laugh at my behaviour too. Who cares. I am making someone laugh and take away some of their stress - even better! Kudos on the dustbins - I can understand their reluctance too - trash bags are more convenient. When I move back, got to think about some of those things :D

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  3. A very relevant post Deepa. There have been incidents in my office where we have told teammates to keep the wrappers with them and throw them in the dustbin. Surprisingly, a lot of people now understand and respond well. But yes, as a country, we still have a long way to go.

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    1. Yes, it's all about awareness and showing rather than telling people that keeping the wrappers with you is not bad. The worse thing is when you do that outside your office and people laugh/smirk. I have seen that a few times when I would take out a bag from my purse and then put a banana peel in it. Eyebrows would shoot up. But yes, with enough awareness and education hopefully things will change. And then we can shift focus to the next topic - spitting! :D

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  4. Very timely post Deepa. We mostly don't care but now I have seen that many do take care and not throw the wrappers just anywhere. Things are changing but again the pace is slow ...

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    1. True Jas! Things are changing, we see the behaviour change in people around us, but we're still a vast populace and awareness is yet to reach and sink into the minds of so many more. What needs to first change is the mindset that Littering is NOT cool! I have even seen people who litter simply to fit in with others who do.

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  5. Whoa..! This was simply lovely Deepa. I couldn't have imagined you tying up the two pics together so seamlessly. I am VERY impressed!

    You are SO right about the reaction of the girl in the car. It isn't easy to come back and correct a mistake. Exemplary courage, truly! Bless her and her parents too. Sometimes speaking up (like you and your friends did) creates incredible opportunities for improving things just a little bit more.

    Thank you for playing. I am sorry for this delay in responding. I got out of hospital just yesterday and am still utterly immobile.
    Love
    Dagny

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    1. Am glad everything went well and you're on the road to recovery! Take rest and take care! Hugs!
      Thank you for your lovely words :) I racked my head on the picture, and because I was at work, those were the only things that made sense to click. Unless I wanted to click computers or files and folders. How impersonal! :)
      Honestly, it was because we had strength in numbers on our side, we spoke up. At least I did. I wouldn't have done it if I was alone - people today have extremely low levels of tolerance and it doesn't make much to swish out a knife or shoot you and leave you for dead.

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  6. You know my opinion on this - its in your Facebook message box. Stay safe.

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    1. Hmm. Things have changed so much since then. I don't think in today's India, I would do this again. Stay safe, Roshan.

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