The deadly heatwave plaguing India over the last few months paints a terrifying picture of the future in store for us.
Last Sunday, thirteen people died from an apparent heatstroke while attending a government award function in an open space in Navi Mumbai. This is possibly the biggest-ever heatwave-related death toll from a single event in the country and brings back the spotlight on potential risks from heatwaves – whose intensity and frequency are only expected to rise because of climate change.
The deadly climate crisis is the single biggest threat to humanity right now – while temperatures rise, forests are also being felled, soils are depleted by overuse and biodiversity is collapsing. Climate activists work throughout the year and dedicate their lives to fighting against cruel government policies, and harmful industrial projects – and yes, more than we’d like to admit, the crisis facing us is driven by huge social and economic systems oftentimes beyond the control of individuals alone. But making more sustainable consumer choices still matters.
Beyond the bigger picture, smaller, everyday actions against climate change provide hope if nothing else in a world too bleak. Today, as the entire world celebrates Earth Day, we wanted to highlight the smaller ways everyone can and does contribute their fair share to the fight against climate change.
This year’s theme for the day is ‘Invest in our Planet’ – with a clear motto of ‘everyone accounted for, everyone accountable.’ The emphasis of the theme is getting the more than one billion people who participate in Earth Day activities each year to take action in their own communities.
And it does look like people have started taking individual action now more than ever. According to Google’s search results report which they released especially on the occasion of Earth Week, global searches of how to save energy at home increased by 35 per cent from 2022-2023.
The number of people searching for second-hand clothing globally has reached an all-time high this year, while global searches for electric vehicles and e-bikes doubled over the past 3 years. There’s also a 40 per cent increase in global searches for public transportation from 2022–2023.
People are clearly becoming more conscious of their lifestyle choices, and it’s for the better. Sometimes it’s the smallest changes that make the most impact. “I prefer public transport to travel, prefer fan over AC, use paper or cloth bag instead of plastic,” says Monika, 26.
Anvi, a 22-year-old student in Auroville has started making a conscious effort to carry eco-friendly tote bags everywhere and avoid plastic. “And I’ve recently ordered biodegradable sanitary pads too. The sanitary pads which we normally use have plastic and other non-biodegradable stuff. I hope to stay with them, as I chickened out of using menstrual cups.” she added. The bio-degradable pads often have sap gel which when buried under the ground makes the soil fertile.
Arnav, 21, thinks food can be a good motivation for someone looking to try out sustainability. “I have this little steel cutlery set wrapped in a jute container. It consists of a spoon, fork, straw and straw cleaner. My intent behind buying it was to ensure that I never miss an opportunity to say yes whenever someone offers me food but sure, it helps with climate change too.” he said, adding that these sets aren’t too expensive so it’s sustainable both environmentally and financially.
Reena and her sister have started renting electric bikes to work in Seawoods every day. “I was a little sceptic about it at first, the app was glitchy too – I would see these Yulu bikes parked all across Navi Mumbai and Thane so when they showed up in my area I had to give it a try. Best decision I’ve ever made.”
Most of the time, especially in urban areas, things like switching lifestyles completely or changing the energy sources of your homes to be more eco-conscious are next to impossible. But the tiniest bit matters. Every small change in our daily lifestyle can have a huge impact on our climate.