With a spirit of resilience through a pandemic-tainted world, The United Nations, marked this year’s World Environment Day with the theme of “Ecosystem Restoration”. To us, this task seems beyond our individual capability but there is a way to contribute to this cause. On an individual level, adopting sustainable living with a twist on its philosophical motivations would be the ideal way to see humanity’s vision of restoration to fruition. While the objective of sustainable living is essential to reduce an individual’s or society’s carbon footprints, sadly our consumption-based, post-modern society is unsustainable to the point of disintegrating the Earth’s ecosystems. Considering our insignificant existence in the grand scheme of things, how does one make a difference? How does it even matter if you become eco-conscious when the unsustainable system parades on? The certainty of Goliath’s victory each time furthers our despondence and reticence, ultimately making our efforts seem merely self-indulgent; absent change.
I believe it is important to disenthrall our minds off issues plaguing the macrocosm, by this I do not mean that we cease the struggle to regulate unsustainable industries or push for conscious/ethical capitalism and overall limit our societal carbon footprint. Apart from this, we must instil a philosophical change within ourselves, where sustainable living shouldn’t be a lifestyle but rather our metaphysical default i.e. to develop a sense of connectedness and gain empirical knowledge about whatever part of this nurturing planet you exist on. To understand this, look no further than the dry sandbar lands by the Brahmaputra on the river island of Majuli near Jorhat, Assam. Jadhav Peyang, also known as ‘The Forest Man of India’, single-handedly, over the course of 30 years, was successful in creating 550 hectares of dense forest ecosystem. The Molai forest, as some wildlife experts note, is a proliferating eco-system attracting a lot of wildlife and migratory birds throughout the year. Payeng’s motivations are simple, he believes this is something that ought to be done, his message, he’d like us to do the same. Individuals like Peyang don’t see nature as the “other”, it is essentially this deeper inter-connectedness intertwined with an altruistic attitude that disallows the dismissal of nature to be irrelevant to the self; a belonging fuelled by duty. Having signed an agreement with Fundacion Azteca, a Mexican NGO, Payeng will soon play a prominent role in their environment summits, leading the country’s new tree planting drive and sharing his wisdom with the youth.
This leaves Brobdingnagian proportions of boots for us to fill, here is something you can do about it. General strategies of reducing your carbon footprint like going plastic-free, performing energy audits, driving/flying/consuming less, boycotting meat and products that endanger wildlife, long term family planning, etc. as always remain most effective and helpful. Getting off the grid would be the panacea for all ills but a little too ambitious. You must thus try ‘homesteading’, like anything it too has a spectrum of ideas attached to it but broadly speaking though, it is a lifestyle of complete self-sufficiency, from subsistence agriculture to small scale production of anything necessary, due to its diverse ideas and values, you must explore this idea further and adapt with the best of your capabilities. The time is right to quite literally follow Voltaire’s words, “Il faut cultiver son Jardin” (One Must Cultivate One’s Own Garden). Ultimately, it is practices such as homesteading which take you a step closer to the conscious comprehension of the entwined and interdependent state of man and nature; two of many cogs on the wheel of life.