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World Earth Day 2021: How environmental literacy can help Earth restore her glory

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Environment literacy and awareness are not a new phenomenon in India.Environment literacy and awareness are not a new phenomenon in India.Environment literacy and awareness are not a new phenomenon in India.

“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

“Men and nature must work hand in hand. The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out of balance also the lives of men.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

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“Man, masters nature not by force, but by understanding” ~ Jacob Bronowski

Earth Day, which was started in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson, symbolizes the change in man’s relationship with the planet we call home. It was meant to provide a voice for the emerging environmental consciousness and is a grim reminder that we will perish unless we come together and solve the nature crisis. According to a 2018 report by IPBES, more than 75% of Earth’s land has already been degraded which has resulted in a threat to more than 3.2 billion lives.

The fact that businesses today are increasingly opting for solutions to monitor and consciously reduce their carbon footprint speaks volumes. Additionally, many individuals are joining the fight and governments too are prioritizing nature-based solutions and are providing incredible momentum to the green movement. Bringing about real change has also never been more accessible. It’s exactly what the world needs today. To keep the global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, we need to take decisive actions today.

However, the world is currently battling the deadly Covid-10 pandemic since the past 1 year, and the topic of global warming has been overshadowed again. The pandemic has not only increased the adoption of technology, it has also highlighted the importance of environmental literacy among masses. As per an interaction with Mr. Amit Banka, Founder & CEO, WeNaturalists – an eco-social network for the nature conscious, he stated that “The pandemic has opened our eyes to the urgency of redefining our relationship with nature. And, this is what makes Earth Day 2021 even more significant. Like the younger generation has eloquently put it – there’s no time to deliberate about what we should be doing. We need to take active steps to combat the climate and nature crisis now. It’s about restoring the planet with green technologies and processes, sustainable consumption choices, conservation efforts, and most importantly, environmental literacy”.

Apart from individuals, brands of all sizes can also adopt and initiate measures to safeguard and restore our planet. More and more companies are shifting their priorities by using business intelligence to not only save their running costs but also become environmentally responsible. For example, the world’s top beauty product company Colorbar is a widely loved brand known for its wide variety of beauty products, has heightened their focus on ensuring their products are not tested on animals, and similarly, Nike has also highlighted the value of green initiatives through its advertisements and using environmentally preferred materials like recycled polyester. But it’s not just the big brands, even smaller brands and start-ups across industries are becoming more vocal in their advocacy of green business and marketing practices.

Approximately 20% of industrial water pollutants come from mass manufactured fabric on power looms. Handloom also allows weavers to use eco-friendly fabrics while powerlooms produce sarees filled with polyester and other non-biodegradable fibers. Speaking to Financial Express Online, Ms. Kavea R Chavali, Co-founder of enthnic saree brand Kalaneca, said, “If we compare the handloom sector with power looms and fast fashion manufacturers, it has a relatively low environmental impact. The major reason is that handlooms are not highly mechanized or automated, consumption of electricity is also minimal and the entire industry utilizes less energy and impacts are almost zero in number. The sector itself pledged to sustainable development policies aiming at reducing negative impacts on our environment and its ecology.”

Environment literacy and awareness are not a new phenomenon in India. Since the beginning, various governments and leaders have instituted organizations and check and balances to ensure we don’t encroach on nature, and drain the ecosystem in an unsustainable manner. In 2016, Kerala became the first state in India to organise a massive environmental literacy campaign as part of the State Literacy Mission. While Kerala leads the country in total literacy, the state considered this to be incomplete, without environmental literacy. From Wayanad, to the Sunderbans to Gir and other forests across the country, India’s rich flora and fauna continue to stay protected thanks to unsung frontline soldiers like the Forest Rangers, who go unnoticed, for most part of their lives. They are the heroes who have made a conscious choice of selfless service to protect our nation’s rich biodiversity, which we depend on.

With the advent of social and digital media, eminent celebrities, influencers are taking it upon themselves to promote the cause and raise awareness. Dia Mirza, apart from being an actor, producer and climate changemaker is also a brand ambassador for the Wildlife Trust of India. To shed light on the lives of these selfless rangers and frontline nature workers, she partnered with celebrity engagement platform, tring, as a part of their Icons For Change initiative, to help raise funds for the forest staff and their families.

Speaking about supporting the cause, Mr. Akshay Saini, CEO and co-founder of Tring, said, “We are very concerned with the planet we are leaving behind for the generations to come. When Dia shared her passion for nature and about ensuring the welfare of the guardians of our nation’s rich forest cover, as a tech platform we wanted to leverage the power of the internet and the hundreds of conscious consumers on the platform. We jumped in to help and do our bit of raising huge funds for her mission. After all, this is the least we can do to thank these selfless nature warriors fighting for our planet.”

The pandemic has already shown us a red flag pointing to an imbalance in our natural systems. It is important to emphasize that we celebrate only one day a year as Earth Day, but everyday should be a movement to come together to restore our beautiful planet, before it falls apart.

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