Living sustainably – Maintaining a safe environment for the future generations

Many of our decisions, actions and inactions are causing harm to our environment. Picture: WWW.PLANETE-ENERGIES.COM

Our environment is one of the most important components of our lives as it enables the existence of all the things on earth. As we celebrate World Environment Day on June 5, we must take responsibility to save our environment.

We need our environment to survive as our lives are dependent on our environment. Our environment gives us the natural resources which we use and utilise to make different products. In reality, our environment provides us with everything.

Many of our decisions, actions and inactions are causing harm to our environment. Many industrial and economic activities are polluting the air, our lands, seas and rivers. Excessive wastes of paper and plastic, discarded electronic gadgets and products, discarded food products, industrial wastes and chemicals are damaging our environment.

Over consumption of resources, industrialisation and economic growth are having detrimental effects on our environment in many countries.

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of US, had said, ‘To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.’

This message reinforces that we need to use our resources in a sustainable way for the survival of our future generations.

There is a need to respect our environment. Our environment has given us everything and now we have to give everything to protect and save our environment. It is our moral duty and responsibility to save our environment. If we fail to save our environment, our environment will fail to protect and nurture us.

There are many things each one of us can do in this fight to preserve and save our environment. We can consume less, reduce our waste, reuse old things, and recycle many items. Almost everything can be reused and/ or recycled. We can always use the back of receipts we get in shops to write notes, saving some paper. We can use old jars and bottles to store food items in the kitchen.

We can use old tyres to plant trees and plants. We can still read old books and magazines. We can still wear old clothes or we can use them as rags or stitch them into grocery bags. Plastic bottles and old newspapers can also be recycled. We can use leftover food for compost material.

We can stop littering and clean up our compounds and communities. We can purchase responsibly buying items and choosing sustainable products. It is always better if we can buy less and only buy things we need. We can plant trees and do our own backyard gardening to grow some of our own foods.

We can conserve water and electricity and use it wisely. We can use less of paper and print only essential documents where possible. Turning off lights when leaving a room, turning off electronic devices at night, having shorter showers, handwashing clothes sometimes and using public transport like buses are also some things we can do to save our environment.

Many of these things and even more sensible things we are already doing and this is very much appreciated and commended. However, there is much more that we can all do. Every little contribution by everyone matters.

Sustainable living is crucial to preserve the environment for the future generations. Sustainable living is a lifestyle that tries to reduce one’s use of the natural resources of our planet. It means living in a way that meets our needs for food, water and shelter, without harming our environment and compromising the availability of resources for future generations.

To live sustainably we must use less of the earth’s natural resources, replace what we can and produce less waste.

Learning to live sustainably is one of the major challenges facing Fiji, the Pacific and the world. Learning to live sustainably should be seen as a great opportunity because it offers less harmful forms of production, controlled consumption of raw materials; healthier lifestyles; greater environmental and social justice; and a more secure world.

Another important way to save the environment is to spread awareness on the importance of the environment, the practises which lead to degradation of the environment and the ways we can protect and save the environment.

The mass media plays the vital role and special acknowledgement goes to The Fiji Times for highlighting issues regarding the environment especially litter awareness, climate change and many other activities related to environment conservation. We need to keep growing and spreading this concept of environmental consciousness. The more people are aware, the more chances we will make efforts to save our environment.

‘Education for sustainable development’ is a concept that can greatly help in saving the environment. Many now recognise that current economic developments are not sustainable and that public awareness, education and training are keys to moving nations toward sustainability.

UNESCO (2013) states that: ‘education for sustainable development means including key sustainable development issues into teaching and learning; for example, climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction, and sustainable consumption.

It also requires participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behaviour and take action for sustainable development. Education for sustainable development consequently promotes competencies such as critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way.’

Education is an essential tool for achieving sustainability. Education for sustainable development (ESD) is about preparing for the world in which we will live in the next century, and making sure we are not short of valuable resources in the future (DETR, 1999).

ESD has to be integrated in all curricula of formal education, including early childhood care and education, primary and secondary education, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), and in tertiary institutions.

Every means must be used including research, public education, government commitment and legislation, cultural and religious beliefs, school curriculum, consultation and dialogues, collaboration and inter sectoral cooperation in order to save the environment.

Pope John Paul II had said: ‘The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.’

These powerful words drive in us the need to change our thinking towards our environment. We need to think how we can save our environment.

The future of our future generation is at stake. Therefore, we need to act now. So do anything possible to save our environment with your thoughtful decisions and actions.

Every small action by every person makes a big difference. So let us all save our environment. By saving our environment, we are actually saving ourselves and the future of our generations. Let us save our environment to save humanity and everything in our environment.

  •  Bhagwanji Bhindi is a School of Communication, Literature & Language, College of Humanities and Education lecturer at the Fiji National University. The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of this newspaper.

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