When did I first learn to be responsible towards the environment? As I think back, there were certain habits that were taught by our parents even before we could make informed decisions. Habits like turning off the tap as soon as the need was over, switching off the lights and fans of the room when leaving it, not wasting paper and so many more such small daily practices, which have become a part of my life without even understanding the rationale behind them sometimes. But they become a part of you and it feels surprising at the way our parents have taught us to protect and love nature from such a tender stage.
Contrary to today’s generation, we have seen summers without the air conditioner on. We have planted trees in the locality as a part of a fun activity with friends. As we talk about preserving nature today, the first lessons of sustainability and recycling came from our mothers and grandmothers in the kitchen or stitching the winter comforters from used up clothes.
The precarious situation our planet is in today, an over polluted and environmentally abused world, where every resource is overused, we have no other option but to work in a fire fighting mode to save the world. It is not the time to sit down relaxed and tell stories to our children on the anatomy of a fire, but time they learn to fight the fire with their hearts and souls. The fire called environmental damage is devouring the world at a faster pace than we had anticipated.
Children are the only ray of hope who can not only arrest the damage done but can mend the wound with their smart minds and will power. We are undoubtedly guilty of having encouraged the massacre, but before our children and future generations curse us for the irreparable damage, we can empower them by helping them protect nature.
Such learning starts much earlier than bookish knowledge or academic curriculum of the world weather. It is the small little acts of conservation and depiction of love for nature that can help their young minds get started on the journey.
Apart from the small conservation acts we had observed as kids (water and electricity conservations acts), we can encourage them to participate in every possible act of conservation. Starting from reduced use of plastics, reusing and recycling toys and games, avoiding products from exploitative industries are all tiny little steps that will shape their daily habits and mould a lifestyle that is healthy. Share stories of the natural devastation and let them deduce how wrong practices can be devastating. The tsunamis, floods, famine, thunder clouds, deforestation, mangrove destruction, cutting down trees, killing animals to destroy the biological balance and worse still the current spread of virus, fungus and bacteria – these are all horror stories not to be hidden from your child.
They are not guests to this planet. Remember this planet is as much theirs as it is ours. So as future owners of the globe they have every right to know what has been going wrong and how much responsibility rests on their shoulders to salvage the losses incurred.
So, on the occasion of World Environment Day, just as your child participates in yet another drawing competition with the theme of conserving nature, there are many more responsibilities that you need to take as a parent or as a teacher. Teach every child the principles of conservation. The mantra of reduce, reuse, recycle is something they should learn from their early age, so that they are able to arrest any wastage of natural resources. Let their learning of preserving nature not be restricted to a particular day in June. Encourage them to practice loving and saving nature every single day of the year. Giving the best of academic education and ensuring them all the comforts of life is definitely your duty as a responsible guardian, but how well you teach your child to protect mother earth will be a proof of the real mother in you.