It’s the age of millennials, where young people are calling the shots and making things happen. It is not uncommon for young adults to start businesses from their basements and/or hold events to give back to the society, and so it should come as no surprise that this driven and hands-on generation is also rising up to the challenge of saving the planet.
With 5th June being celebrated the world over as Environment Day, it is expected that many activities are currently being held just for the cause, but the real question is, can a day of awareness make up for years of neglect? Some youngsters from Northeast India are making small but significant changes in their daily lives for a greener tomorrow, something that should serve as an inspiration to everyone, young and old, everywhere.
A lot of the young adults that we spoke to shared that they are very conscious of where and how they dispose their trash. They are also making an effort to limit their use of plastics and plastic materials. For instance, Bipanchi Bhattacharya has stopped using plastic straws altogether. However, she mentions that it has not yet been possible for her to stop using plastic materials completely.
Noirrita Priyadarshini, a student from Tezpur University, shares that she always puts the leftover disposable cups and bowls in the recycle bins. ‘After everyone leaves the classroom, I pick up the leftover disposable cups and bowls, irrespective of who has eaten from them. Plus, I also ensure to switch off the exhaust fans and lights of the common bathroom in our hostel when they are not in use. Most of the girls don’t switch them off because they think that the university would pay the bills. But the point is, one should save energy.’
Protiksha Borthakur and Harendra Basumatary of the same university do their part in picking up plastic waste as well, and never ignore a leaking or a running tap. Borthakur states that she uses the air conditioner as little as possible when she is home. She even has a special filter to reuse water at home, made by her mother. A youngster named Alex Basumatary from Kokrajhar shared that he and his friends get together at open fields, away from public areas, to avoid littering. They make sure to collect the waste afterwards and bring it back home to recycle or hand it over to the municipal people. Sam Konjham Singha from Guwahati mentioned that he opts to ride his bicycle instead of motorbikes unlike some of his friends to help reduce air pollution.
Also, unlike what you may expect from a generation immersed in everything virtual and tech-related, a lot of them are very passionate about planting trees and gardening. Partha Buragohain from Dhemaji shared, ‘I use minimal amount of plastics. And, I have planted many trees since my childhood.’ There are many youngsters who strongly believe say that afforestation is the best solution for a greener, cleaner tomorrow.
The young-adults have also raised concerns about some ‘adults’ who raise awareness about global warming but then overlook the protection of their immediate environment. Alex opines, ‘Most people still take things for granted. All they care about is the rise in heat/temperature, but they do not acknowledge that they are equally responsible for such an outcome.’
Now at first glance, these tasks may seem small but it is important to remember that they are baby steps to a larger goal of moulding concerned citizens who are willing to go that extra mile to undo the damage done to the planet. Yes, not every millennial is on board but a few baton holders like Bipanchi, Noirrita, Protiksha, Harendra, Partha and Alex, can bring a ripple effect, and that is the best hope we have for a greener tomorrow.
By Anindita Hazarika