The Gift of a Sustainable Life

Author: Ruchita Jagzap

Ruchita is an Urban Designer, practicing Architect and a mother 
to a soon to be 4 year old child.
Apart from her professional 
works she is also passionate about Urban Farming & Plantation drives. 
She actively participates in community farming and local Plantation programs. 

Recently she published a picture book for young kids called, 
“Ecofriendly- Ajoba’ which again focusses on sustainable living. 
Painting is another passion where she takes complete liberty in expressing 
her ideas. Most of her paintings reflect optimism and inspirational subjects. 
Ruchita was an active participant in her current plantation drive in her neighborhood where the team took 
opportunity of the rainy season and planted around 100 saplings during this pandemic period.

July is quite a special month for us. Not only is it our son’s birthday month, but it also marks the beginning of a new academic year at school. So, it is a month of new beginnings in my child’s learning journey!

Ruchita’s publication on sustainable living

And with July comes the inevitable decision of choosing a birthday gift. Last year in 2019, I considered what if I gave my son a new habit, a new practice, instead of adding to the pre-existing pile of material clutter? And thus I made my call.

I decided to gift him a plastic-free and sustainable lifestyle. Unlike presents bought from the store it can be cherished as a lifelong habit, so no expiration date here! This also gives the rest of our family an opportunity to improve our lifestyle, moreover bringing home a sense of responsibility towards the environment.

Produce from Kitchen Garden

One would imagine that a 4 year old is too young to learn this but let me tell you, never underestimate the potential of these resilient young souls! They observe everything around us at an unbelievable pace. They never cease to ask ‘why’, constantly seeking the reason behind everything. Their curiosity is an opportunity for us parents to teach them about the world around us.

My son Ruvansh has already gotten good at segregating wet and dry waste at home. We have made it very simple for him by color-coding the waste baskets. Paper, plastic, and other dry waste goes in the blue section and the banana peels, chikoo seeds, coriander remains and other wet waste goes in the green section. It’s fun for him to separate the waste, to identify the colors, to finish the task with utmost care, and to inform me with pride so that I can reward him with praises. This is just one example that demonstrates how kids can become self-reliant and independent when we guide them to take responsibility for their actions.

Investing time for hobbies

Although we have consciously shifted from plastic toys to metal or wooden ones, we still have lots of them lying at home and they keep coming in the form of gifts. So to my kin and friends, I happily declare, no plastic please! That would be the first step. As for what already exists at home, we shall pass it on to Ruvansh’s baby cousins or to less fortunate children so that we recycle what we have already acquired.

Plastic undeniably possesses a lot of advantages: it comes in beautiful colors, it’s lightweight, pocket-friendly, and can be moulded in convenient forms. But the rapid pace at which it is harming our environment demands us to sit up and take notice.

Ignorance about or perhaps insensitivity towards our waste disposal practices is putting our future at risk. Our next generation should definitely not repeat our mistakes. We are the only source of information they have, so why not bring awareness to them right now

If we do not dispose the little plastic that we bring home correctly, then we may find it either in the DNA of the fauna or in the form of microscopic fiber in the rain or in our salts!

Changing our practices may be a herculean task but “Let me try” I say to myself. I may fail several times but I will not give up so easily. Its been a year for this thought and we are still going strong with it!  Ending on a hopeful note for our future.

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