10 Climate Change Terminologies you must know in 2021

Net Zero, Global North, Green Economy, ESG, Clean Energy… chances are, that you are hearing these terms a LOT in news lately, but you are not really sure what they mean. As the companies and governments all around the world are bracing for climate change consequences and building climate action plans, these terms are quintessential in understanding the idea behind futuristic technologies, latest business strategies, upcoming economic models and government actions.

Read the following news snippets and see how many of these are you able to understand-

If you couldn’t completely comprehend what they are talking about, don’t fret. You will know it all in the next 5-7 minutes. Let’s find out and learn about 10 such common terms that you are definitely going to come across very frequently. We’ll start with the basics and progress to the advance terms in the easiest possible language and visuals! If you wish to know in depth, follow the embedded hyperlinks.

1. Fossil Fuels

The world’s main primary energy sources- petroleum (34%), coal (27%), and natural gas (24%) are called fossil fuels because they were formed from the fossilized, buried remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. Because of their origins, fossil fuels have a high carbon content that makes them polluting when burnt. These are obviously non-renewable (that will get exhausted one day) sources of energy.

Formation of fossil fuels. Source

2. Greenhouse Gases-

These are the gases that trap heat in the atmosphere coming from the sun and warm the planet (called greenhouse effect). These mainly include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane. Human activities like vehicular and industrial emissions are increasing the amount of these gases in the atmosphere which is eventually heating up the planet more than required. This increase in temperatures is causing global warming and climate change all over the world.

More greenhouse gases means more trapped heat making the planet hotter Source

3. Carbon Emissions/ Greenhouse Gas emissions

Burning of fossil fuels like coal for producing electricity and petrol combustion in vehicles releases around 35 billion tonnes (35 gigatonnes) of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere per year. These are called carbon emissions (emitting carbon into the air). Combined with greenhouse gases emitted by sources such as agriculture and industrial waste, in total becomes greenhouse gas emissions.

4. Carbon Footprint

It is the total greenhouse gas / carbon emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, service, or product through- the burning of fossil fuels, land clearance, AND the production and consumption of food, manufactured goods, materials, wood, roads, buildings, transportation and other services.

Carbon Footprint of your food. source

5. Net Zero/ Carbon Neutral

Net-zero carbon dioxide emissions or Carbon Neutral means balancing emissions of carbon dioxide or negating its effects, which in turn results in Net Zero carbon emissions of a company/ country/ individual.
For example your company is responsible for X tons of carbon emissions every year, so you have to remove X tons of carbon from the air every year to become carbon neutral or net zero.
This can be done in 3 ways-

  • Simply eliminating emissions altogether from operations or productions by opting for renewable energy and using environmental friendly materials and processes. i.e. emitting 0 tons of carbon.
  • By removing carbon from the air using high end technology (which is at the moment extremely expensive and not scalable to tackle climate change). Read more here
  • By “offsetting” your emissions!

6. Carbon Offsetting

It is a way to compensate for your emissions by funding an equivalent carbon dioxide saving elsewhere. Our everyday actions, at home and at work, consume energy and produce carbon emissions, such as driving, flying and heating buildings. Carbon offsetting is used to balance out these emissions by helping to pay for emission savings in other parts of the world. Example- funding afforestation activities or building solar farms elsewhere in the world to compensate for your carbon emissions from non-clean electricity consumption . Consumers and businesses also voluntarily buy carbon offsets to compensate for their emission rather than reducing it.

How purchasing carbon offsets works. source

7. Clean Energy/ Green Energy

Clean energy is energy that comes from renewable, zero emission sources that do not pollute the atmosphere when used. Though there may be emissions involved for building its infrastructure, so it may not be 100% clean overall. It includes wind, solar, tidal, nuclear, hydrogen energy etc.

8. Global north- global south

It is not a not a geographic division! Global North represent the economically developed societies of Europe, North America, Australia, South Africa, amongst others, the Global South represents the developing countries of Africa, India, China, Brazil, Mexico amongst others. Global North is majoritarily responsible for climate change and the global south is at the forefront of facing its consequences even when it has very little contribution in emissions.

 Traditional definition of the North-South divide source

9.Green Economy

A green economy is defined as low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive economy. It pays as much attention to the natural resources that fuel the economy . It aims at reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, and that aims for sustainable development without degrading the environment. It involves switching to clean energy, reducing emissions to net zero and prioritizing restoring the ecological balance with careful use of natural resources.

10. ESG Investing/ Funds

Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) refers to the three central factors in measuring the sustainability and societal impact of investing in a company or business. ESG criteria are an increasingly popular way for investors to evaluate companies in which they might want to invest. Many mutual funds, brokerage firms, and robo-advisors now offer products that employ ESG criteria.

Many investors are not only interested in the financial outcomes of investments. They are also interested in the impact of their investments and the role their assets can have in promoting global issues such as climate action.

This was a very brief and simple introduction to these terms but I hope that you learned a lot of new information today that will help you process the latest news and information related to climate action and the world better. I will cover these topics in depth in future. Now go and educate your peers as well and flaunt your knowledge!

Fast Fashion is destroying the Planet | 5 ways to embrace Sustainable Fashion

How to shop less and make the most out of what you already have!

Do you remember the times when people didn’t have tons of clothes barely finding space in their closets? The times when it was normal for clothes to be passed down from the elder sibling/cousin to the younger one? The times when all we knew was- clothes for summer and clothes for winters. The simpler times of 1980s, 1990s, and even till 2000s when there was nothing called “fast fashion” (which simply means that the “trends” and styles change multiple times in different seasons every year)

Fashion and the ever changing trends

But now, we have Fall collection, Winter collection, Summer Collection, New summer collection, Spring Collection, Autumn collection, Run-way trends, and whatnot. There are distinct trends coming in stores every now and then. And clothes are definitely not passed from one sibling to another because they become out of style even before the first child outgrows them. Or the quality wears out because it was cheaply made.

This is what FAST FASHION is!
Made to be discarded FAST. Either by making that article out of “trend” or simply by making it low quality so it doesn’t last long.
So you keep shopping for more and more.

So what is the problem (other than wastage of money)? Many-

  1. It promotes the “overconsumption” mindset.
  2. It promotes the “use and throw” attitude
  3. It deteriorates the Environment
  4. It overexploits the natural resources
  5. It is causing Climate Change

How the fashion industry contributes to pollution and climate change

  • The fashion industry is the second-largest consumer of water worldwide.
  • It takes about 700 gallons of water to produce one cotton shirt. That’s enough water for one person to drink at least eight cups per day for three-and-a-half years.
  • It takes about 2,000 gallons of water to produce a pair of jeans. That’s more than enough for one person to drink eight cups per day for 10 years.
  • The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions.
  • Polyester fiber (a plastic found in an estimated 60% of garments) produced releases two to three times more carbon emissions than cotton. And polyester does not break down in the ocean- becoming microplastics.
  • 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second. You can check more such facts and figures here

Now imagine the amount of natural resources that go behind making each piece of clothing. With the population consistently rising and businesses constantly pushing consumers to buy more and more, we are consuming more than we need, and wasting natural resources more than the planet can sustain.

Slow Fashion to the rescue

What’s the opposite of fast fashion? It’s slow fashion! duh!
Here “slow” signifies the pace at which you are likely to abandon your clothing/footwear due to reasons like changing trends or quality degradation or simply boredom.

Note that this is NOT yet another trend of clothing to look out for or something sold by special slow fashion stores. It’s simply a (better) way of looking at your clothes, shopping for your wardrobe, and embracing it for a longer period of time!

How to change the way you shop? and follow slow fashion ideology?

1. Shop Smartly! and consciously!

Let’s tackle the first obstacle (or rather the distraction) first. How to stop buying everything that fancies your eye mindlessly?
The answer lies in asking yourself the following VERY IMPORTANT questions, every time you wish to buy a new article-

  • Do I really need it? e.g. A bright red t-shirt
  • Is it filling an important void in my wardrobe that I desperately want to fill? e.g Was I looking for a red t-shirt for any occasion or to pair up with some other clothing?
  • Do I already have something similar to it? Do I already have a red t-shirt or top?
  • How many times would I actually wear it? I have office 5 days a week or stay at home mostly, would I be actually able to wear it somewhere?
  • Would it suit my body type? Would this fit look good on my body type?
  • Would it be suitable for the weather I live in? Synthetic or thick fabrics are definitely not a good choice for hot and humid places
  • What would be the ROI? Return on Investment is the cost divided by the number of times I would wear it
  • Would it compliment other items in my wardrobe and help create complete outfits? Do I have the pants/ shoes/ accessories that would go with that t-shirt? Or this t-shirt will keep lying around in my closet for months before I actually find complementing items to go with it?
  • How long would it last before looking shabby or old? Some fabric becomes loose or gets lint very fast. Or some colors start looking dull too fast after normal washing
  • Is the material/ fabric easy to maintain? e.g. if it is dry clean/ hand-wash only, would I be able to find the time and effort to get it cleaned that way every time?
  • Is it something that would go out of fashion soon, making me abandon it? Is the style of the t-shirt or its print or the text on it make it go out of style in a year or so? Would I outgrow this style soon?

Those were a hell lot of questions, I know! But each one so relevant and make so much sense! Now imagine- had you asked these questions before, you would have avoided purchasing so many (nearly half) items in your wardrobe that you don’t wear much or couldn’t wear much. That’s how powerful these questions are, and they will definitely keep you from shopping mindlessly and recklessly! I urge you to follow this approach going forward.

2. Choose Classics

Now that you have learned how to shop, one of the ways to actually elongate the time period of your clothing in your wardrobe is to make it timeless! Shop for things that don’t go out of style. Those classic and versatile pieces of clothing that you can wear anytime, anywhere without having to look “outdated”.

This can include nice fitted pairs of jeans- blue and black, classic white shirt, solid t-shirts and shirts, black trousers, or anything that fits YOUR style. Another helpful tip here is to buy more neutral colors that can be mixed and matched with everything. For example, you can wear anything with neutral-colored pants/ trousers, unlike having to think so much about styling other colors.

Capsule Wardrobe consists of a limited number of items that are timeless and can be worn in combination with most of the other things in your wardrobe. Check out the Men’s capsule wardrobe here

To learn more about how to make your wardrobe more functional and create more outfits with all your clothing without making it look boring, watch some YouTube videos on Capsule Wardrobe, Versatile Wardrobe style, and choosing a color palette for your wardrobe that suits you. Here’s a playlist that I have created (for both men and women) that will help you immensely. Trust me!

3. Quality over Quantity

Even if you shopped the right thing and it won’t go out of style, it can surely deteriorate fast if we do not pay attention to the quality of our clothes. Now, this can be a major mindset change for most of the people (who do not have millions of bucks) because we have been conditioned by the fashion industry, the marketing, and the social media that we need tons of clothes, and we can simply buy cheap, throw fast, buy cheap again. This often forces people to buy clothes that are cheap, simply because they can buy more items with a certain amount of money than purchasing one high-quality item.

Mindfully investing in quality winter essentials helped me create a versatile wardrobe and also prevented me from purchasing tens of new clothes every season.

This is where we need to teach ourselves to choose quality over quantity. It’s a myth that cheap clothes are cheap. They are actually expensive because you need to buy them again and again. You actually save more money on buying one quality item rather than several cheaply made items. If you love wearing a white shirt, then buying a good quality white shirt will last you years, whereas you’ll keep spending money replacing your cheap white shirt because it simply faded out, wore out, or turned yellow after a few months.

Also, pay attention to how you take care of your clothes by following proper wash and dry, and storage instructions to elongate their life.

4. Make it work or donate!

The most sustainable clothing is the one that you did not purchase!

Admit it- you already have a lot of clothes. Make the most out of that first. Take out a day and explore your wardrobe. Bring out everything and categories the clothes into 3 piles-

Pile #1 – “Wear a lot“- These are the clothes that are your essentials and that define your style. Now you know what type of clothes you wear most often and you should shop for this type mostly.

Pile #2 – “Wear sometimes“- These items may be too trendy, have bit different colors, designs, or fits than your regular wear and you have to make an effort to style them. Pick each item and figure out ways you can wear it more often, mix and match it with other items more (take inspiration from Pinterest if you want). If you can’t, toss them in Pile #3.

You will be surprised to find out so many items in your wardrobe you hardly wear,

Pile 3 – “Hardly worn“- These would be either mindlessly bought outfits that you thought you will someday wear and never did OR those outfits for rare occasions like weddings or parties. OR that don’t fit anymore. Now pick and choose the items that you definitely want to wear again. Toss the rest in the donation box or give it to a friend or family member who will actually wear it.

Now you have successfully de-cluttered your wardrobe and also got insights into what you actually wear and what not to buy next time. Surplus clothes have got new owners and maximum value can be drawn out of them now. It’s a win-win!

5. It’s OK to repeat outfits

Why are we scared of repeating outfits on dressy or grand occasions? Why do we HAVE to spend tons of money on a trendy outfit that would be worn just once or twice? Are we scared of being judged by society as a “miser” or “not following the latest fashion”?

Well, guess what is the most important thing that you need to wear everyday? It is the confidence to slay and do whatever is right! And not what society dictates you to do. For that, you first need to educate yourself on how bad the fast fashion industry is and how you can do more with less. And educate others as well and make them a part of your gang! Tell them how cool it is to get maximum ROI out of your beautiful, expensive dress that is not just a piece of fabric but an amalgamation of all the natural resources that went behind making it.

Better said than done, right? Here’s my little story about an instance when I repeated outfits for a family wedding-

So, It was my cousin's wedding recently and I didn't want to purchase something luxuriant and expensive just to be worn once. So, I decided to wear my mom's dress that she wore 4 years ago on a family function. I had worn it earlier too on a random occasion. It was expensive, and my mom doesn't like it and wants to wear it anymore (yes, yes, I give this gyaan to my mom as well and she is a more conscious and responsible shopper now!). But I didn't want to give up on it and make the most out of the money spent (as well as the resources spent). I wore it like a boss! Even my sister wore a saree that I had worn at a wedding earlier. There were a few relatives who asked if we were wearing the same dress again? And what did I answer? Well, I told them that just because I have money, I don't necessarily need to waste it on a one-day occasion. Plus I taught them that we must value our hard-earned money and should make the most out of our purchases. Most importantly I told them the dirty fashion industry facts that I mentioned earlier. And they were shocked too! 
I would wear this dress over and over!
Here’s me and my sister wearing my mom’s 15 years old saree!
Borrow | Repeat | Slay

So, these were the 5 ways that personally helped me and my family walk out of the vicious cycle of fast fashion. I hope you learned something new today and will definitely apply these fool-proof tips.

The world of “over-” everything is leading us all to an unsustainable and unstable future. Let’s change it, by stopping the over-consumption of ‘fashion’ today!

Choose mindfully. Shop less. Make the most out of what you have. Repeat your outfits like a boss

How to design new year resolutions and actually stick to it (with real tips and examples)

What if I told you that every advice that you ever received about sticking to your New Year Resolutions is crap? Yep, that’s right, the whole buzz around ‘passion’, ‘willpower’, ‘choice’ is utter crap! I read hundreds of articles and a few books preaching about all those philosophical ideas and I always ended up tossing away my New Year Resolutions just after a few weeks. But not anymore! Whether you have already listed your resolutions or still pondering, this blog is for you. Get ready to learn a mind blowing way to work on your New Year Resolutions!

picture from istock

While it is indeed so hard to bring a change and stick to new years resolutions there are some 100% practical tips that will make you achieve your goals. I may not be the Queen of New Year Resolutions yet, but all this gyaan (knowledge) is coming right from my own experience- I have been able to stick to a few resolutions that I made in January 2019 till NOW. Yup! that’s right, 2 years of sheer hard work to make this impossible task possible.

Just kidding! It’s not about how hard you try or how motivated you are, but more about how you plan your goals and specially the steps that you need to take in order to accomplish them. Simply deciding “I will work out more this year” is not enough. Moreover, your planning should be as granular as possible (I will tell you how) such that you are able to sustain those habits.

Let’s not repeat the same story this year 😀 (Image source)

I would like to give credit (and a big THANK YOU!) to the book ATOMIC HABITS by James Clear, that I read in 2019 and I keep going back to it every now and then. It contributed a lot to my journey and was one of the best books that I read. It taught me how we should rather work on creating a system rather than achieving a goal. Most of the tips that I have shared are inspired from his book (go ahead and read this book if you are really interested in forming and sticking to the habits you desire). This is my version of applying the lessons from this book to form new year resolutions.

This article is not about WHAT new year resolutions you should make, but HOW to make resolutions, the process of inculcating them in your routine, and actually sticking to them.

How exactly should you design/plan your new year resolutions?

Step 1- Define What and Why?

This is simple. Start with writing down a general idea of what you wish to accomplish, and then ask yourself – “WHY do I want to do this?” Knowing the Why is really important to actually convince your brain.
Example- I want to be healthier. But why? Because I have been noticing things in my body like skin issues, digestion issues, weight gain that I want to reverse that and lead a more active and healthy life.

Step 2- Break it down to the actions (what to do)

Now break it down to what are the exact steps/ actions that will help you accomplish it. Think think!
i) I will be healthier if I do not eat unhealthy junk food
ii) I will be healthier if I eat home cooked healthy food
iii) I will be healthier if I eat less packaged food

Step 3- Evaluate your lifestyle thoroughly (how to do)

Now this is where the crux is. Note down what is hindering you and what would support you in performing the actions in step 2. For this, you really really need to sit and think about your entire lifestyle and the associated habits.
I eat unhealthy because I eat out a lot. And I can hardly choose to eat healthy there. I can eat healthy only if I eat more at home and if I know how to cook and what to cook…etc. etc.

Step 4- How to make it stick (the formula)

This is the game changing step where you figure out how to actually incorporate the things from step 3 in your daily life. Effectively and for a long term.
Now for every item in step 3, take help of the below mantras to help them stick-

~Make good things easy to do; Make it easy to start; Make it enjoyable
~Make bad things difficult to do
~Find alternatives to what you wish to change
~Curate your environment to support your new habits/goals

Here’s how I did it in 2020

Now I will share 2 of my (quite popular) resolutions that I was able to stick to and how exactly I did it step-by-step as explained above (p.s. these were my personal notes that I made during the last 2 years). This will give you a fair idea on how to begin, access, act and really make your resolutions work this year.

Resolution #1 Eating Healthy

Why? Because I have an extremely sedentary lifestyle and I want to be more active. I have been gaining weight as well along with digestive issues. So I want to improve the status of my health.

For this, my action points would be (like mentioned before)-
i) I can be healthier if I do not eat unhealthy junk food
ii) I will be healthier if I cook healthy and eat more at home
iii) I will be healthier if I eat less packaged food

And now how can certain aspects of my lifestyle be changed to support these actions? Remember- you need to thoroughly examine your lifestyle and habits for this one.

  • I often eat packaged food like chips and biscuits at home when I don’t have anything to snack on. So- I will stop purchasing and bringing any of those things to home so that I don’t have access to it. (~Make bad things difficult to do)
  • I will alternatively munch on healthier snacks such as fruits/ roasted channa/ nuts and seeds rather than completely chucking the idea of snacking (~Find alternatives)
My revamped snack box
  • I will have fruits cut in my refrigerator in advance and nuts and seeds in a container on my bed table to have easy access to them. (~Make good things easy to do)
Having fruits and nuts handy
  • To be able to cook more often after getting home from office, I will not lie down/get comfortable on my bed/couch immediately but go to the kitchen and cook something first.
  • To cook more often I always need to have the basic ingredients at home, for which I will have a running list pasted next to my fridge. Every time I run out of something, I will note it down on the list and bring it the next day. (~Curate the environment to make life easier)
  • I will have a list of all the recipes that I can prepare pasted in my kitchen and plan ahead, so that I never get lazy to decide what to actually cook. I can just look down at my recipe list, check which ingredients I have and get started immediately. (~Curate the environment to not get lazy)
  • To be able to sustain this habit and keep cooking, I need to really like or fall in love with the process of cooking. For this I will watch recipe videos, try and experiment new things and make kitchen my platform for creativity. (~Make good things enjoyable)
Tried experimenting with different recipes. Here is my mini banana cake 😛
  • I do not like to cook when I have the main cookware lying dirty in the sink. So I will do the dishes first thing in the morning/ or before sleeping so that I don’t have the excuse to not cook the whole day (~Curate the environment to not find an excuse)
  • In office, I know that I have been eating junk during the evening break, so I will find healthy alternative snacks like sprouts mixture or fruits (~Find alternatives).
  • I will take the longer route to the cafeteria in order to avoid the junk food counters. Not being able to even look at those tempting unhealthy food options will help me a lot to put a full stop on my cravings. I will also not hang out in the cafe where I will have easy access to tasty and unhealthy chocolate brownies and shakes. (~Make bad things difficult)
Out of sight, out of mind (and mouth)
image source

Again, I am not telling you this is exactly how you should begin your ‘health journey’. But just giving you an idea from my lifestyle that how deep and granular you need to go.

Resolution #2 Consume less plastic

Here my action plans would be-
i) No using plastic water bottles
ii) Purchasing less items in plastic packaging
iii) Completely saying no to polythene bags
iv) Identify the hidden use of plastics in other items and avoiding them too

So, what do I have in my routine that loads my house with plastic

  • I end up buying plastic water bottle only when I am outside or travelling. So I will get a small easy to carry refillable water bottle (it is pretty too!). (~Make it enjoyable and easier to carry alternatives)
  • I will try as much as possible to purchase items that come in a non-plastic packaging, like soap bar, shampoo bar, wooden comb, bamboo toothbrush, spreads and eatables in glass jars etc. (~Find alternatives)
  • I have been shopping online a lot the previous year, so I will do less of it now. I will delete the shopping apps that constantly flood me with notifications of sales and discounts. So no app, no notification, no reminders, no shopping. (~ Make bad things difficult to do). Another reason is because I want to get myself out of the trap of fast fashion, so double yay!
  • There will still be many items that do not come in non plastic packaging so I will collect and store the empty packaging in one of my spare cupboard and send it for recycling/ give it to scrap dealers later. You can easily find one near you on google. (~Find alternatives and curate your environment)
  • Another most frequently entering plastic waste was takeaway containers from the food that I ordered. Because I have decided to eat healthier, I will any way order less now and have less of this trash. (~Curate your environment)
  • I will find ways to reuse the plastic containers safely at home with some DIYs (Make it enjoyable)
  • I will always have a cloth bag for shopping handy with me. I have talked about this in my earlier blog as well, that I keep one cloth bag folded in my office bag, and one tied to the handle of my main door so that I never forget to take it. (~Curate your environment and make it easy to do)

Another resolution of mine in 2020 was to step away from fast fashion because I had shopped a lot and I learned about the DISASTEROUS contribution of fashion industry in pollution and climate change. I would talk about this in my upcoming blog.

Forming resolutions to change certain habits or achieve goals should not be thought of as something that has to be done explicitly out of your usual routine but instead should integrated in your lifestyle. That is how you will be able to stick to them even after that year has passed, and eventually those things become a part of your identity! So scrap off any resolutions that you already made and start from the scratch! Try working on your 2021 New Years resolutions this way and you will never find yourself disappointed this December.

Start small, make it easy and keep it consistent!

I hope you found my tips and notes useful, and if you have more such tips, please do share your experiences in the comments. I would love to learn more! Meanwhile, don’t forget to be patient, be kind to yourself, and take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.

4 ways to have a healthy and sustainable relationship with Food!

How I moved towards a healthier lifestyle, closer to nature!
The most radical experiences of my life.

It didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t have an epiphany. It was a series of curiosity led research and the resulting awareness that brought this change.

A little background story on how it started (you may skip it if you wish)-
It started with my obsession with having good skin. My skin wasn’t in a bad state though but I just had a feeling that something is not going right. And as usual, I experimented with a lot of skin care products and nothing was obviously miraculous. It was also the time when I moved to a new city. And after a few months, I got severe hair issues as well. And again I tried to solve it using external products. It didn’t work. I tried countless commercial products in the market (no I will not be talking about any of those products here, don’t worry!)

So after watching one youtube video, and another, that claimed miraculous results with external solutions, and then thousands more- I finally stumbled upon the ones that changed my whole health game. Those videos taught me the most fundamental principles that I had been neglecting this whole time. And I would really like to give credit to three top sources that changed my perspective towards my body, health problems, and most importantly made me realize the fact that-

You are what you eat, when you eat, and what you digest.

Your lifestyle influences everything happening in your body.

Having a healthy body is not a goal, it is a lifestyle!

So I will be sharing the knowledge that each of these sources taught me and how I transformed. Let’s begin.

#1 Ingredients matter!

Flip the pack and read the reality Source

Have you ever checked the back label of the packaged food that you eat- the ingredients list that is mentioned on everything from Maggi, Pasta, Ketchup, Biscuits, Jams to Chocolates, Chips, Juices, Breakfast cereals? I used to, but just for the external products like soaps, shampoos, and creams (’cause I wanted everything to be harsh chemicals free) and that’s all I cared about.

But thanks to the YouTube channel “FitTuber” for making me aware that we should check the ingredients of things that we put not just ON our bodies, but also INSIDE our bodies. The packaged food that we eat is full of emulsifiers, artificial flavors, sugar, cheap oils, thickeners, harmful preservatives, and whatnot that affects our health in a long run.

No matter if the Brands write things like “Healthy” “sugar-free” “organic” “digestive” “good for the heart” on the front, ALWAYS CHECK THE INGREDIENTS LIST given on the back.

Try reading the labels on any product from your kitchen then read more about it on the internet. Or I would recommend watching fittuber’s videos for the same. When I started checking the ingredient list of all the packaged food, I was startled. I could no longer ignore the fact that packaged food is REALLY unhealthy because now I was looking at the exact ingredients that go into the products. So I reduced the amount of JUNK that I was eating and drinking. I stopped eating those cakes, juices, cold coffees, namkeens, chips that I would eat almost daily!

#2 Eat local and sustainable!

The second most important lesson was eating local! The food that grows locally in our region is much healthier and suits us better. Nature knows what kind of food does a place and its people need. Moreover, the local produce needs to be sustainable as well. The crops that are grown according to the climate, soil, and water availability naturally are better for the environment.

So I stopped running after exotic superfoods and started embracing the local, seasonal, and fresh foods. If you are in India, it’s our mangoes, apples, bananas that we must enjoy, rather than the foreign avocadoes, kiwis, and blueberries.

Do you know that our ancestors ate such a variety of food that grew naturally in the wild that took care of their overall nutritional needs? But with the agriculture revolution and exponentially growing demand for food, we moved towards growing only some selective (commercial) crops like rice, wheat, corn and slowly forgot the numerous other nutritious food that nature has to offer. We created this imbalance in nature, as well as our diets. Watch this amazing TED talk for more

#3 Stay close to the nature

Then I came across this amazing youtube channel that I regret not having watched earlier. It is – Satvic Movement. Ever since I have watched their videos, my whole perspective towards food and diet has changed. They emphasize the eating principles of our ancestors (which was extremely healthy as we all know) but have adapted it to suit our modern lifestyle (which is sedentary and involves significantly less physical manual labor). They have a wealth of knowledge on their channel that may heal people of many diseases. What I have learned is that it is important to have the right food at the right time.

Food provides nutrition and heals your body.
If you eat food as your medicine, you never have to eat medicine as your food.

What is the right food?
The food that occurs naturally in nature, and which is fresh and living!
For example, eating whole fruits in the form that it occurs in nature, and not in the form of packaged juices available in the market or eating fiber-rich whole grains instead of bread Packaged biscuits, chips, namkeens are not fresh as they are processed and packaged months ago. Similarly, Meats are a dead animal, and our evolved digestive system (like the size of our intestines) is not made to digest dead animal meat like other carnivorous animals like lions or tigers. Grains, legumes, sprouts are living foods as it will generate new life upon sowing.

What is the right time?
(This one was a heart breaker.) We do NOT need to constantly eat and stuff food in our bodies all the time. Everything that our body does, takes up energy. The heavy, fatty, processed food diet that we consume takes up a lot of time and energy to digest. If our body is constantly working on digesting our food, there is no time for healing and cleansing our body. Hence what is recommended is intermittent fasting along with eating more fruits and vegetables that are fresh, natural and water-rich, only one-grain meal a day, and occasional fasts for natural detoxification.

Nature and our Body have all that is needed to keep us healthy.

#4 Animals are not ‘products’

All lives matter. source

This was hands down the most challenging part of my journey. I can not help but feel guilty about making fun of vegetarian people in the past. How can someone not eat butter chicken, chicken biryani, keema, chicken wings, grilled fish and shawarma was beyond my imagination. I was a hard-core non-vegetarian for 23 years of my life. I love animals but somehow I did not sympathize with animals being killed to be served on our plates.

But to my utter surprise, this thinking changed. After watching fittuber and satvic movement videos, I adopted all those healthy eating habits, but giving up on non-vegetarian food and animal products was something I thought I can never do. Maybe I thought I could do away with retaining just this one habit. But oh boy, this Instagram page and youtube channel- Earthlinged freaking blew my mind! And I was never the same again.

And you would be shocked to know that the animal farming industry pays huge amounts of money for paid research and often to health organizations as well to put it out the world that eating meat is healthy for our body.

If you want to know why we all must give up on all kinds of animal products, we need to know the reality of the animal farm industry today and what are its implications on animals as well as on our OWN BODY.

It is not just related to animal cruelty but how we are better off without animals products. For this, I highly recommend you to watch videos by Earthlinged.

# Debunking some myths related to animal products

Before your mind counters you with questions like – our ancestors drank milk, ate milk products, we evolved on eating meat, how can it be bad? I had this in my mind for 23 years too, and now I have the answers. Here’s the brief version of it-

About Dairy – Our ancestors did not exploit, torture, and separate young ones from the animals for their milk. They did not feed medicines and antibiotic injections to farm animals. They fed them good, took care of them, and treated them well (My dad told me about the days when they had a few cows/buffaloes at their home and how they feed such a variety of healthy grains and other food to them and the milk that they produced was so much different than what we get today. And the calf was always made to feed on the mother’s milk first and then milked by my grandfather). And even if you disagree with the exploitation of animals for milk, we just can not digest milk products with our sedentary lifestyle. The amount of physical work our ancestors did, helped them digest the pure milk and milk products.

About Meat– Humans have evolved for thousands of years after they turned into farmers from being hunter-gatherers. Our bodies, our digestive system, and our lifestyle are now significantly different from our ancestors such that meat does more harm than good to our body. Our hunter-gatherer forefathers ate meat because it was the most calorie-rich food available to them thousands of years ago in order to SURVIVE, and not for living a long and HEALTHY life.

Why did I share my story on this Environment Conservation Blog?

  • The learning that staying close to nature in terms of what we eat, made me more conscious and aware of the power of our natural world. I am now more grateful and respectful towards nature.
  • Eating fresh, local, and seasonal helps the local farmers and the environment. While emissions related to the local transportation of food may not be a huge factor to consider. But in several countries, fruits like berries, avocadoes are air transported that significantly increased the carbon footprint of the food.
  • But ethical consumption of food is what we need to look at here. The hype built around “Superfoods” like quinoa, avocadoes, cacao is disrupting the local communities because they have become global products in great demand. The production of many of these crops is now controlled by large corporations that encourage short-term profit over long-term sustainability. The grip of these corporations could continue to erode local food-producing systems which, in many cases, used to be healthy, sustainable, and socially fair for millions of local communities and farmers.
  • Packaged food companies overproduce food items causing overexploitation of natural resources (Read about palm oil and the resulting deforestation, and the amount of water companies like Coca-cola suck out of our resources).
  • Not to forget the plastic packaging that wraps the already unhealthy food. Hence less packaged food and more natural, fresh food is always a good idea.
  • Overproduction of food also leads to a lot of food wastage. And food waste also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Not to forget that one-fourth of the (food) calories that we produce worldwide goes to waste
  • When you cook food on your own, you are more mindful about what goes into your meals. You buy your ingredients and become more conscious of reducing wastage of food.
  • 77 % of all the land used for agriculture is used by the animal industry (as shown below), while animal products only provide 18% of total calories to the world and just 37% of total protein.
Source- OurworldinData.org
  • Animal agriculture and the need for more land to grow food for those animals is also the leading cause of deforestation and intentional wildfires to clear the land in Amazon forests.
  • Vegetables have a water footprint of about 322 liters per kg, and fruits drank up 962, meat was far more thirsty: chicken came in at 4,325l/kg, pork at 5,988l/kg, sheep/goat meat at 8,763l/kg, and beef at a stupendous 15,415l/kg.
  • To know more about the environmental impact of food, check out this amazing compilation with data visualizations

Having a healthy body, and a HEALTHY PLANET is not a goal, but a lifestyle. Everything that we do impacts our body and our planet, positively or negatively, and later compounds.

Coming back to my experience- in pursuit of improving my skin and hair through diet, all of these lessons that I learned hugely and positively impacted my overall health and the way I looked at ‘healthy diet’. My digestion, metabolism, and energy levels rose, and I don’t think I can go back to that lifestyle of mindless eating. I will continue to happily embrace this more natural, healthier, and mindful dietary lifestyle. This constitutes one of my biggest learnings from 2020.

I hope that you found this useful and learned something new. Do explore these channels if you are interested in improving your health levels. Let’s work towards creating and sustaining a healthy body and a healthy planet!

Firecrackers and your health!

It’s 2020, we are breathing toxic air, in the middle of a pandemic and yet I don’t know why we are still talking about firecrackers. That thing needs to go away permanently, for good! Though many states have already banned firecrackers for Diwali, we need a complete ban on it for all kinds of celebrations.

We need to learn and adapt. Learn that we are now living in times when pollution is actually a big hazard and every source of pollution matters. And adapt to celebrate without burning crackers.

The majority of people neglect this concern thinking of it as just an ‘environmental issue’. But a person suffering from respiratory illness knows very well that firecrackers are a lot nastier than we think. Also, recall the news from the day after Diwali every year- about those fire incidents in people’s houses/ shops/ warehouses leading to huge financial losses or the number of people, especially children injured severely.

If you’re still looking for enough reasons to stop- here’s a straight, to-the-point report of what you need to know about Firecrackers right now.

A brief history of firecrackers, if you fancy
Fireworks were first claimed to be first made in China from gunpowder. It had begun to become part of the grand scale Diwali festival by Indian rulers during the 18th century. Then during the time when the Mughal empire was breathing its last and British East India Company was afoot, the knowledge of fireworks had become quite common. Very often, the makers of fireworks were also the manufacturers of gunpowder, the raw materials for which were readily available in India. With the economic growth, these firecrackers became widespread and synonymous with Diwali, and other festive and ceremonious celebrations.

So, what is it that is so damaging?

Gunpowder, which is basically 75% potassium nitrate, 15% charcoal, and 10% sulfur, is at the heart of firecrackers.

Let’s open it up more. Firecrackers are essentially made up of four components: Oxidisers, fuel, colouring agents and binder. And here’s what each of it does

ComponentDescriptionEffects on health and environment
Oxidizer  A perchlorate salt that releases the oxygen required for the explosionPerchlorate is a toxic compound. When the firework is set off, most of the perchlorate present becomes a harmless compound. However, the remnants enter the soil and water, and when ingested by humans, it gets absorbed in the thyroid gland and interferes with the thyroid hormone. This eventually leads to problems in metabolism and mental development.
FuelCharcoal which sustains the fireReleases of a large number of air pollutants, particularly sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide (CO), and particulate matter (PM) into the atmosphere. These get lodged in people’s lungs, and there’s an immediate danger for those with asthma or chemical sensitivities. They also cause sensitive eyes, affect the central nervous system and kidneys as well
Colouring agents.
Aluminum compounds produce brilliant whites, barium nitrate produces greens, and the addition of copper results in blue light
Aluminum causes contract dermatitis and bio-accumulation (i.e. gradual accumulation of substances, such as chemicals, in an organism). It also causes bronchoconstriction in the lungs in susceptible individuals.
Copper compounds can cause cancer
Antimony sulfide produces toxic smoke and is a carcinogen. Barium nitrate can cause an irritated respiratory tract in addition to a possible radioactive fallout. Barium chromate was also found to be toxic to living cells and genes in the human lung cells.
 Other compounds released by firecrackersLead dioxide/
Mercury can cause bioaccumulation. Potassium nitrate is carcinogenic which causes toxic dust. Ozone is a highly reactive gas and has been noted to result in small changes in airway resistance and repeated exposure to it is associated with increased asthma-related symptoms. Strontium compounds are toxic and can replace calcium in the body. Nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide are highly toxic if inhaled.

Basically, if you (like to) breathe, stay away from firecrackers!

Some figures

Here’s the data on number of incidents from different parts of our country on Diwali-

2019-Number of fire incidents reported in DELHI: 300+
2019-Number of people in JAIPUR with eye injury, burns, respiratory problem: 498
2019-Number of people killed in ORISSA due to firecrackers: 8
2018- Number of eye injuries reported in DELHI: 83 (48% of the people were bystanders)
2018- Number of people with unilateral/bilateral permanent complete loss of vision (blindness) due to firecracker accident in DELHI- 2

It’s scary to note that these incidents can happen with anyone, even with ones who are not playing with crackers. And it’s saddening that all of this could have been avoided easily.

It’s not like looking at the number of road rash car accidents and advising to stop driving altogether. But if something as petty as firecrackers can harm people’s lives and health, why can’t we stop it?

Let’s not forget the pandemic!

The recent reports suggest a relation between Covid-19 and air pollution. Toxic air affects the lungs, and weak lungs increase the risk of respiratory ailments. And COVID-19 is primarily a disease of the respiratory system. So, if you fear the coronavirus, fear firecrackers too!

Who suffers the most?

Everyone. Even if you don’t have any existing ailments. Children particularly are more susceptible, since their defense against particulate matter and other gaseous air pollutants are weak. Also, children engaged in greater physical activity, increasing the intake of polluted air into their lungs. Elders are at risk as well due to weakened lungs. Not to forget our pets, other animals, and birds; they consume the same air and water, and pollution impacts them too.

Are there any alternatives?

If you were looking for ‘eco-friendly’ crackers, get disappointed. It is nothing but a way to still keep crackers in the market. The ‘green firecrackers’ as they are being marketed all around, don’t contain banned chemicals such as lithium, arsenic, barium, and lead. They may emit 30% less of those chemicals and toxic substances, but they still do EMIT! They still affect our bodies. Then why stick to any kind of crackers when we can easily do without them?

But how do you explain it to children?

Well, this is an excellent time to educate children about environmental as well as health hazards of crackers and pollution. And children today are much smarter than we think. Teach them the right thing and they’ll do better than you. Teach them the ill effects of pollution, in a realistic manner. Teach them about the human body and how crackers harm them. Teach them to be more compassionate towards others and even animals. A mere 2-3 hours session of ‘fun‘ becomes drastically dangerous when so many people burn crackers.

Teach them the real history and teachings of the festival. How it is much more than celebrating pretentiously and recklessly but with joy, peace, and good health. Get them something more valuable and non-toxic that would actually benefit them (or at least not harm them). Get some interesting lights or lasers that you can use during every celebration.

And for the adults who are still not convinced and if facts don’t work for you, here’s an emotional appeal- please do it for your elderly parents or children.

Spread happiness, celebrate health. Say no to fire crackers!

I urge you all to celebrate the true spirits of festivals and celebrations and stand up against anything that harms our health and the environment. Happy Diwali 🙂

Check out my article on LetMeBreathe.in as well!

An eco-friendly (and pandemic-friendly) travel guide!

A.K.A. How not to be a mindless tourist!

Lockdowns have started opening up and we can actually travel again! YAY!
After months of roundtrips to my living room, kitchen and balcony ( lame jokes 🙂 seeeee… I need a vacation! Hence proved.) and after endlessly waiting to write this guide, it’s finally here.

Oh, 2020! You tied us down for way too long!
Source- boredpanda.com of course!

As if we were already not doing a terrible job at being trashy and foolish tourists, this pandemic has given us whole new ways to travel in the most environmentally unfriendly way.

So yes this is an eco-friendly, pandemic-friendly, and human-friendly guide to travel that we all need right now! As much as it doesn’t seem, but being a good traveler takes nothing more than a little pre planning and, a tiny bit of conscious. Here’s what I have learned-

Do not travel if you’re sick

Goes without saying, the pandemic is still going on, so please don’t travel if you are sick or feeling even slightly sick. And also follow the travel and testing guidelines of the places you plan to visit.

Carry your re-usable Washable masks and sanitizers

COVID waste may create more masks than jellyfish in the sea. Source- CNN

Flights, restaurants, hotels, shops, malls, and everyplace is giving away disposable masks and sanitizer sachets to the customers to follow all the safety protocols. This has indispensably created a new plastic waste menace! So please carry your own re-usable washable masks and pocket sanitizers everywhere. Refrain from using single-use ones and help create less trash in the world.

Do not trash!

Tourism is creating a mountain of WASTE in the Himalayas. This picture is from Mount Everest!!! Source- DW

Talking about trash, please DO.NOT.TRASH! While you are enjoying the scenic beauty of the hills, or relaxing at pristine beaches, or trekking, or breathing ANYWHERE, do not ruin the beauty of the place by throwing empty wrappers, cans, bottles, or anything. There are dustbins everywhere, and even if you don’t find one, just be a little more considerate and keep your trash in your pocket or bag and throw it in a dustbin whenever you find one. Specially at remote locations where no one is going to come and pick your trash, do not be a fool and damage the natural ecosystem.

Carry your personal refillable water bottle

Guess the item that you purchase the most when you are traveling/holidaying? PACKAGED WATER BOTTLE. Utterly useless plastic trash! And the simplest solution- just carry your own bottle and refill it. It’s even easier on a road trip. Just take along as many bottles as you wish. It’s fun, try it 😉

Just me and my bottle at the airport.

This is what I did on my last trip (months ago)- I carried 2 bottles with me (filled just one ’cause my bag was heavy at that moment)). It lasted me well and I refilled it again at the airport on landing. Then the hotel I was staying at had RO filters. I got my bottles filled and I asked them not to send packaged water to my room. Every morning before venturing out, I would get my bottles filled and pack it in my travel bag. 2 bottles lasted me easily till late afternoon, and then I got it refilled again at a restaurant. Then again when I reached my hotel at night, got ’em refilled and, took it to my room. And repeat! No, it was not inconvenient, no it was not uncool! Plus I saved my money and the beautiful environment.

Carry your own toiletries

Yes those hotel freebies are cool and convenient. But all those mini toothpastes, toothbrush, shampoo, soap and conditioner bottles generate a lot of waste. Imagine all the guests given these toiletries and majority of them use it once or don’t use the full. So the leftover product and the plastic packaging create nothing but waste.
I simply stuff my regular toothbrush, toothpaste, soap bar, shampoo bar, and everything else in a small kit and carry it. And if you travel frequently (I envy you!), then keep one kit prepared with another stash of your amenities packed and carry it everywhere you go.

Do not get your sheets and towels washed every day at the hotel

I have seen so many people literally exploiting the hotel amenities unnecessarily by requesting new towels, bedsheets, quilts every day, just because they can. Even if you don’t, some hotels just replace it every other day.
You could help save hundreds of liters of water by just requesting for a wash or replacement when you actually need it, or after 3-4 days.

During my stay at the RedFox Hotel, I saw (sorry, I can’t find the picture) that they had these notes pasted in our washrooms mentioning the amount of water it takes to wash all the towels and sheets of one room and requested the guests to be more considerate. I found it very thoughtful! So I made sure that I do not unnecessarily dirty the sheets and hang my towels to dry near the window and also asked the staff to not replace them unless I ask them 🙂 Simple actions make a difference!

Support small vendors

Whenever you’re out eat at dhabas, try and enjoy the local food and embrace the local culture! Also, this pandemic has really hit hard the small and local vendors too, so try not to bargain a lot and be more compassionate and help whoever you can. Remember, while you have the luxury to splurge money on vacations, there are some people trying to make their ends meet. A little humanity will go a long way 🙂

Do not support animal abuse

As much as you love Elephant rides, Camel rides, paying to see dolphins/whales dance in a small aquarium or, even visiting a zoo for that matter, animals do NOT enjoy that. It’s high time that we realize that animals belong only in their natural habitats– forests, rivers, oceans, and NOT in CAPTIVITY. So please do not support people or organizations who are depriving those poor souls of living their natural life and making money out of it.

I love elephants! And during my last visit to Jaipur, I saw so many elephants lined up with their masters, to carry people to the top of Amer Fort. I was excited earlier about getting a ride, but then I closely observed the condition of those adorable beings. I immediately said no then. Later, on researching, I found that the bone structure of the back of the elephants is not at all meant for carrying heavy loads and causes severe damage if done so. (If you want to justify this by saying that Elephants were used for transportation in medieval times too, then please look around and notice that you are not in medieval times anymore. We have all the modern means of transport now, leaving us with no excuse to exploit animals.) Similarly, we can find evidence of how severely damaging, both physically and mentally captivity and labor is for animals.

Lastly, do not shun these tips thinking about what difference can you make alone. Thousands of people are aware and already doing it, and it will be millions very soon. So do your best to get an early pass to the Sexy and not stupid Tourist club. Damn you’ll inspire so many people out there 😉

That’s all for now. I will also publish part 2 of this blog where I will talk about another very important aspect of traveling- the effect of (OVER) TOURISM on places with FRAGILE ECOSYSTEMS! (hint: 3 idiots). So stay tuned.

Take care!

Can seawater filtering end the water crisis?

‘Water water everywhere, nor any drop to drink’, said Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Today, one out of three people don’t have access to safe drinking water. Some projections will show by 2050, more than half our population will be living in water-stressed areas. That’s over four billion people. 

This question had baffled me since time immemorial and I have no idea why I did not ask this question during my Science class in school. 70% of the planet is covered in water and still, we are facing a water crisis?

We have advanced so much, then why can’t we simply filter the salty seawater for our consumption?

Well, it turns out that WE CAN. And countries like Saudi Arabia are already doing it. They have plenty of oil, but not water. They have the infrastructure and technology to filter seawater and use it for human consumption, even for drinking.

Desalination project in Saudi Arabia

So how can we do it?

The process of “filtering” seawater majorly involves desalination, i.e. removal of the huge amount of salt that the water contains. It starts with osmosis where we (say) push the water through a membrane under high pressure which leads to the separation of salts from the water.

The desalination process simplified

Simple, isn’t it?

So what is stopping us?

Filter that damn water and put an end to this “water shortage” once and for all!

But wait. Imagine if the whole world starts drawing out water from the sea, and starts filtering and using it, will the seawater finish one day? if so, how long will it take us to exhaust all the water in the sea?

Not-so-surprisingly, even if the whole world starts doing that, water in the ocean is not going “finish”. Firstly, if we estimate, the oceans have three hundred and sixty-six billion billion gallons of water. That’s over forty-eight billion gallons of water for every person on Earth. Secondly, there’s something called the water cycle, that we are forgetting, which will replenish the water through the rain.

Then why are we not doing it yet?

As exciting as it may sound, using seawater for our consumption is not the panacea for our problems. There obviously has to be a reason why this obvious sounding solution has not been widely adopted. And the primary reason is- ENERGY

It takes a lot of energy to desalinate the water.

Desalination is not an easy process and it requires a tremendous amount of energy to break up that bond between the water and salt. This energy, i.e. the electricity if coming from fossil fuels, will increase our carbon footprint. And if we bring it through renewables like solar and wind, it will need a huge initial investment in the infrastructure itself to match the exorbitant demand.

A solar powered desalination plant in Saudi. Though it is using clean solar energy, the cost factor still makes desalination an option for just the rich countries with no other alternative

Thus the cost increases!

Thus the desalinated water becomes too expensive! In Saudi Arabia, the water supply is heavily subsidized by the government and hence the public is able to afford it, but it is still more expensive than what people would pay for water in other parts of the world. The country was earlier importing water from neighboring regions. But in order to have an independent source of water, they turned to desalination.

Is it just the cost stopping us?

Along with clean water, the desalination process gives out a waste product called ‘brine’. Osmosis produces more brine than it produces clean water as an output. It is a highly concentrated saltwater solution, and we don’t know a proper way to deal with it yet. Hence it is mostly expelled back into the sea.

Many environmentalists have claimed that this could have a negative impact on marine life as the highly salted water would settle down on the ocean bed and harm the corals and all other aquatic plants and animals.

So is it a good idea?

May be not. It is energy intensive and expensive!

Water deficit places could use this as a solution to their water woes where they don’t really have an alternative to a reliable source of water. But at other places, solutions like reducing consumption and most importantly- careful and responsible consumption to reduce wastage should be opted.

Moreover, if we can desalinate the seawater, we can also treat the wastewater. That would be way more cost-efficient and environment friendly!

So, all in all, seawater desalination is not a panacea for our water woes. It sure is providing clean water to thousands of people right now, but its adaptation and expansion in the future would depend on the advancement of technology, making it cost, energy, and environment effective!
Till then- Reuse, Recycle and Reduce is our best bet!

Source- An amazing Youtube video by CNBC on ‘Can sea water desalination save the world’

6 Reasons Why Being Rich Can Not Save You From Climate Change

Did I just hear- “I have money to take care of things, so I don’t think too much about climate change and stuff”?

Hah! Let me help you burst this bubble. Being “rich”/ “middle-class”/ “upper-middle-class”/ “upper class”/ “elite” or anything can not save you from (all) the consequences of climate change.

Sure the impact on wealthy people would be greatly different from that on the poor, because of our occupations, varied sources of income, and our ability to afford things. But living on the same planet exposes all of us to the same air, water, land, and climate, and the money can not “buy” everything. Well, maybe Jeff Bezos or Mukesh Ambani can, but just continue reading if you are not from that clan.

Let’s see what can impact YOU-

1. Economic Losses

Your business/job may take a hard hit.

So, assuming you have successful Businesses running, or have a high-profile job. Do you know climate change’s impact on the economy is humongous? The world’s top Organizations, Investment firms, Manufacturers, Governments, and everybody has started to weigh the risk of Climate Change on the economy. The impact would be different on the different sectors, and here’s what the present data says-

  • The agriculture sector has become extremely unpredictable and uncertain because of changes in weather patterns, unpredictable rains, and floods.
  • Large parts of the world (including Africa and south-east Asia majorly)will become too hot to survive and/or work outdoors, according to McKinsey’s report. 
  • Property damage and disruption would occur in business operations, supply chains, and infrastructure (due to climate-induced disasters like floods, cyclones, landslides, sea-level rise), leading to increased costs of maintenance and materials and raising prices for a huge number of services and commodities.
Don’t be relieved to see the year ‘2048’ and assume we have a lot of time The effect of climate change on GDP has already started, and will rapidly increase if there is no strict climate action in place.

So the question is- you are rich but until when? Are you sure your business or job would be able to sail you through climate change risks (just like right now, during the coronavirus lockdown and market crash)?

2. The Air We Breathe

Your life would be dependent on Air Purifiers. Children would be the worst hit.

Imagine extreme air pollution like in Delhi or China, taking over other cities of the world too. You have parents and young children living with you.

And you know the fact that air pollution causes serious damage to the physical (lung diseases, respiratory ailments, increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and even premature death) as well as mental health (anxiety, psychosis, dementia, decreased childhood cognitive development). So, you obviously have an Air-Purifying System installed at your home.

And your offices, schools, shopping malls, airports, recreational centers, all have the Air-Purifying System. But still, what about outdoors?

We need natural, open spaces, isn’t it? For that, (*splurging some more money*) let’s say you have also created an “indoor garden” for your family to relax and get that ‘breath of fresh air’.

The masks have already begun to be a part of our lives. But are we happy with it? Do we not deserve to live in a world without such dependencies?

But, would you be OK with a life that is limited within the peripheries of an air-purifying system? And wearing hefty breathing and eye equipment wherever it is not? Would you be OK with that normal?

3. Unbearable Temperatures

Even your outdoors would be indoors now.

The same goes for Outdoor temperatures. Sure you will have air conditioning at every place you go. But what about the outdoors? What about going for a walk in a garden, visiting a lake, going for mountain hiking, seeing national parks, chilling at the beach… you do want to continue doing that, right?

I am damn sure the Virtual Reality Systems that you ad your children will have in the future to ‘experience’ the outside world, can not replace the real feeling of being out there in the open space, breathing fresh air, and enjoying nature!

Oh, did you say you’ll just shift to a colder place? But even the coldest places on Earth (Even Siberia and Alaska are melting) are facing heatwaves which are inducing the never seen before “summers” in the region. So I am not really sure if you could evade the heat for long.

The ‘cold countries’ of Europe have experienced unprecedented heatwaves and extreme summer temperatures in 2019.

Or if you could even afford a comfortable house at such a place, because the property prices will have soared so much. Every person on the planet would want to move to a colder place because the heat will be unbearable.

4. Extreme Events

You thought money could shield you from the wrath of nature?

Climate change is rapidly changing weather patterns. Couple it with the ill-planned development by humans EVERYWHERE, it’s just a recipe for a disaster when an extreme event hits. Floods, landslides, forest fires, storms, hurricanes to name a few. And what happens next? Loss of property, human life, animals, increased air pollution, water contamination, and scarcity. No matter where you live, high up in the mountains, near river plains, on coasts, in the desert region, nature has one or the other way for retaliation. So there is hardly any escape.

In the recent monsoon and floods in the Delhi-NCR region (India)- Gurgaon’s posh and most expensive real-estate area was under 3 ft. flood water. Thousands of residents living in apartments worth several crores, owning luxury cars, could not evade that misery. The same was the case with the Mumbai floods. So how are you planning to fight nature?

Gurgaon floods. This was the view today around the most expensive real  estate in the country. : india
Gurgaon, India struggles with floods in its most expensive real estate areas.

5. The food crisis

Do you know what it takes to grow your food? You’ll know it then!

Climate change will have a direct impact on agriculture. Unpredictable and extreme weather will wreak havoc on the food system. While the food supply would be in danger, the growing populations will further increase the food demand. Not all countries would be able to cater to this demand sustainably and the food prices will rocket.

But sure you’ll be able to afford the food, but there has to be availability too. And the demand would be high too. Studies also show that the nutrition in the food would also decrease and not all the crops would be naturally able to sustain the temperatures.

Our food system will cripple due to climate change.

So, if you even choose to grow your own food, you can not grow everything right? The time is not far when you would be unable to enjoy the myriad of foods on your plates that you have today- exotic coffees from countries half a planet away, imported fruits, vegetables, and grains. It won’t be the same, even if you have money!

6. No fun vacations

Hurry up! Beaches, lakes, snow would be a thing of the past soon.

We don’t even need to talk about 2030 or 2040, it’s 2020 and you’re stuck at home. Or just staycationing at your holiday homes or luxury hotels. Even the Hotel-staycationing isn’t totally risk-free (hate you COVID-19). We don’t know when would the travel situation normalize even in post-COVID times. We don’t even know if the next pandemic awaits us, thanks to us.

On top of that, the tourism industry is also one of the sectors most at risk due to climate change.

Top Holiday destinations and Island nations like Maldives are facing existential crisis from rising sea levels.

All the factors extreme temperatures, floods, hurricanes, forest fires, rising sea levels will affect every place on Earth. Are you ready to see a future with no coral reefs, no exotic islands/beach holiday destinations, no snow-laden mountains, no fresh air, no clean waters, and no biodiversity to behold?

This photo taken from one of the chapters in the “Snow-Land” project, with which the photographer Marco Zorzanello portrays tourism in times of climate change. The skii resorts in the northern parts of Europe are finding ways to keep their business alive due to melting ice in rising temperatures.

It’s high time that we realize that just having money, property, gold, shares, or whatnot for our future or our children’s future is not enough. What good would be a world where we can not enjoy the luxury to roam freely, without any restrictions and without any dependencies, even if we have money?

So, it’s imperative that we pay attention to these issues RIGHT NOW. We must spend our money wisely, support the organizations working to protect the environment for all of us, use whatever is in our power to spread more and more awareness. And most importantly, speak up against government (their laws and policies), corporates, industries which are sucking the life out of this planet for short term profits.

6 Reasons Why We All Should Care About Our Oceans

Current state of our Oceans is disheartening. Picture by – Medical News

Even if you don’t care about marine life being disrupted due to ocean pollution and climate change heating up the oceans, there are far bigger ways why you should care about the oceans. Even if you don’t live on an island or on the coasts, there are some extremely important reasons why we must think about our oceans more seriously.

Produce 50% of the Earth’s Oxygen

Oceans produce more oxygen than rain forests on earth. But how? The answer is- the Marine organisms. Of the different types of marine life providing oxygen, the dominant class is phytoplankton. It is a microscopic plant, a component of the plankton, which spends its life being carried by oceanic currents. These little organisms act in the same way as tree leaves do on land. Phytoplankton absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen.

Phytoplankton blooms produce Oxygen. Photo by – Earth.com

They are one of the tiniest beings on the planet, but one of the most important to have around, keeping us alive. 

Some scientists suggest that the phytoplankton in the oceans have reduced in abundance globally by 40% since 1950, or a decline of about 1% per year. These declines were negatively correlated with rising sea surface temperatures and changing oceanographic conditions have led to this decline.

Absorb tons of Carbon dioxide

The carbon dioxide released by vehicles, factories, and every other thing, if remains in the atmosphere, traps the heat by sunlight. That is why increasing carbon emissions are leading to an increase in global temperatures.

More than 90% of the energy trapped by greenhouse gases goes into the oceans. It absorbs about one-quarter of the CO2 that we humans create when we burn fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas.) The carbon dioxide either dissolves on the surface of the water, or it sinks down and builds up at the bottom of the sea.

Between 1994 and 2007, it’s believed to have prevented a whopping 34 Gigatonnes of Carbon from entering the Earth’s atmosphere. (1 Gigatonne = 1000000000000 Kilograms by the way)

How oceans absorb CO2. Illustration by PMEL NOAA

While this stops a huge amount of carbon polluting our air, it comes at a huge cost to our sea life, increasing the rate of Ocean Acidification. It is the disruption of the chemical balance of the ocean, which happens when large amounts of carbon dioxide enter the water and cause a spike in acidity levels. This is happening faster than it has in the last 65 million years. It is hugely disturbing the marine ecosystem and the food chain.

Regulates planet’s climate

Covering 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, the oceans regulate our climate and weather patterns through Ocean currents and winds. It soaks up the heat and transports warm water from the equator to the poles, and cold water from the poles to the tropics. Oceans hold 97% of our planet’s water, regulating the rainfall and droughts too.

Ocean currents around the planet. Illustration by Exploratorium

Without these currents, the weather would be extreme in some regions, and fewer places would be habitable. If the ocean’s temperature continues to rise, the WWF predicts that we could see more extreme weather events, changing currents, rising sea levels and temperatures, more hurricanes, storms, and the melting of ice sheets.

Creates millions of jobs

By 2030, ocean-based industries will employ more than 40 million people worldwide, an OECD report estimates. The biggest share of those jobs is likely to be in the fisheries sector, followed by tourism.

clean oceans drive the tourism industry on the coasts. Image by Aware Impact

With more than 60% of the world’s population living on the coastline, we all depend on a healthy sea just as much as these beautiful creatures. The ocean economy is of particular importance in developing countries, which are home to 3 billion people, most of who rely on the sea for their livelihoods directly or indirectly.

It is extremely important for us to take climate change seriously, not just for the employment of these many people, but also about their very existence. Rising sea levels will cause massive displacement of people looking for safer lands to live on.

Marine Life

Okay, you like it or not. But I love fishes…and corals…and turtles…and all those colorful creatures underwater. I don’t want any of it to die ever.

Stunning underwater view captured by photographer Boon Mee

The ocean is the planet’s life force, housing the Earth’s largest ecosystem and home to countless species of marine wildlife. According to the US National Library of Medicine’s National Institutes of Health, “91% of species in the ocean still await description.”.

All the creatures that live in the Ocean play an essential role in the trophic chain of the ecosystems. Due to climate change, not all species may be able to adapt to these rapid changes in their ecosystem. Plastic pollution building up in our oceans and overfishing is devastating species’ biodiversity, this vast ecosystem is at risk of extinction.

Source of Food

It is becoming challenging to meet the food requirements of our ever-increasing population. Seafood is hence a staple for millions on people all around the world. It accounts for almost 16% of all animal protein consumed globally. But our dependency not just includes the fishes and animals but also a range of algae and sea plants.

Sardine Run picture by James Beard Foundation

According to research, oceans, if properly managed and maintained, could form an important part of a more sustainable approach to feeding the planet’s growing human population.

But as we read, increasing temperatures, acidification and pollution are ruining the oceans. Plastic is invading into the human food chain as well which is highly alarming.

What can we do?

The main culprits of this destruction are fossil fuels (causing climate change) and plastic.


  • Reduce your consumption of plastic in all forms possible
  • Change certain aspects of your lifestyle to reduce the amount of waste you generate. Everything that we throw away, goes somewhere.
  • Push your government to divest from fossil fuels and focus more and more on renewable energy
  • Raise your voice against weak environmental protection laws and standup for strict actions against violators.
  • If you live in a coastal area, urge the government to take wastewater treatment seriously and check what garbage is entering our oceans
  • If you just visit the coastal areas for holidays, be a responsible tourist and do not litter
  • Know more about climate change and climate actions and make your friends and family aware too.

Facts have been gathered from-

Ocean Service NOAA , World Economic Forum, ClimateKids NASA, Ecowatch, NCEI NOAA, Yale Edu

Understanding Assam Floods And What Can Be Done

Every year Assam and other neighboring regions are flooded. Lakhs of people affected, along with a huge loss of crops and property. And not to forget that the area is home to many national parks and sanctuaries and animals are equally impacted.

The annual Assam Floods.
Image by- dnaindia.com

But why is Assam facing floods each year? And how has the scale increased from the past few years? I was curious to know why it really happens and why is it not being controlled. So, I read some articles, compiled this information, and tried to make it easy to understand. I have mentioned the sources at the end of the page for your reference.

Let’s not neglect our beautiful Assam and try to learn about some facts and see what can be done.

Natural Causes-

The Brahmaputra River flowing through Assam
Image by- nenow.in
  • Assam is the land of two mighty rivers – Brahmaputra and Barak. Each year these two rivers and their tributaries cause floods in vast areas of Assam which leads to human misery and devastation of nature
  • Assam lies in the heart of monsoon belt and so gets overburdened with rainfall every rainy season. Due to this, the rivers along with its tributaries get flooded and their banks overflow flooding the vast plain of the state.
  • The existence of long ranges of mountains on its northern and eastern boundaries compels the water to flow down into the vast plain causing the rivers to swell.
  • Thirdly, every year due to heavy natural (due to earthquakes) as well as artificial land sliding, Assam loses hundreds of kilometers of its land area. This soil erosion makes the river shallow (as the riverbed rises), which later helps in the creation of a heavy flood.

Human-made Causes-

The dams are doing more damage than good.
image by- setinelassam.com
  • While natural topography and excessive rainfall are obvious causes, floods are also caused by human intervention—like encroachment of river banks and wetlands, lack of drainage, unplanned urban growth, hill cutting, and deforestation.
  • The Brahmaputra is the largest water carrying river in India and the second-largest silt carrying river in the world. But the way we deal with rivers is further accentuating the disaster faced by the region,” said Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers, and People (SANDRP).
  • The dams that are being built are further creating disasters. Unregulated release of water floods the Assam plains, leaving thousands of people homeless every year.
  • The wetlands forests and local water bodies are being systematically destroyed which in turn is adding to the disaster vulnerability of the area.
  • Assam is home to more than 3,000 wetlands and many varieties of flora and fauna. “Wetlands, locally known as beels, act as reservoirs and rejuvenating them before monsoon can help in mitigating flood in parts of the state,” said Dulal Chandra Goswami, former head of the department of environmental science at Guwahati University.
  • As per Brahmaputra Board, Deforestation in Assam and its neighboring states have accelerated the process of land erosion.
  • Floods happen due to a breach of embankments. More than 80% of these embankments have not been reinforced in several decades because there is a huge contractor-administration nexus that benefits monetarily from a flood situation-said Kishalay Bhattacharjee, professor and commentator on the northeastern region.

Climate Change

Rapidly melting Himalayan glaciers
Image by- The New York Times
  • “Climate change will result in more frequent and severe floods, which will increase the costs of reconstruction and maintenance on state infrastructure, including roads, irrigation, water, and sanitation,” says the report on climate change published by the Assam government.
  • According to the study, by 2050, the average annual runoff of the river Brahmaputra will decline by 14 percent. However, there is a risk of glaciers melting, leading to flash floods.
  • As the economy of Assam is largely dependent on natural resources, what happens with agriculture and forests has direct effects on the livelihood of its people. During floods, water becomes contaminated, and climate change has a direct impact on the water resources sector by increasing the scarcity of fresh water, which is a constant problem in summer.
  •  Heavier rainfall replacing continuous low or normal rainfall during monsoon might lead to flash floods in low-lying areas. This will also reduce the groundwater recharge.


The damage to people, crops, their houses, animals due to the floods is unimaginable every year.
Image by – Gulf News
  • The destruction of properties and loss of life is visible every passing year.
  • Lakhs are rendered homeless, standing crops are damaged and roads and communication links are interrupted
  • Humungous effect on the economic condition of the people and the state every year.
  • Some of the worst affected areas include the MSME sector, tea industry, wildlife, and biodiversity of Assam.
  • An increase in rhino poaching during floods is one of the alarming factors for the decline of the rhino population in Assam.
  • The floods also increase the spread of water-borne diseases like cholera, typhoid, dysentery, etc.

What the government has done

Brahmaputra Dredging Project
Image by -Government of Assam
  •  The chief flood control measure has been the construction of embankments along the banks of rivers in the affected areas.
  • In recent years, India signed a treaty with China in which the latter has agreed to provide hydrological data of the river Brahmaputra during monsoon.
  • The State government announced that as many as five dredgers ( dredging is basically digging up the riverbed and making the river “deeper”) will be used to deepen the Brahmaputra, and the harvested silt will be used to construct the 725-km Brahmaputra Expressway along both banks of the river. 

What is going wrong

Brahmaputra breaches the Embankments.
Image by- Pratidin Time
  • Most embankments on the Brahmaputra river were built in the 1980s are not strong enough. Since they were temporary measures, the government did not spend on high-specification embankments. These are weak and are regularly breached.
  • The short-term measures on which flood management in the State presently depends, such as rebuilding the breached embankments, are largely inadequate.
  • On the government’s decision of considering dredging, experts have strongly advised against this simply because the Brahmaputra sediment yield is among the highest in the world. Experts believe that even if we take out all the silt this year, more silt will be deposited the following year, making the very expensive effort futile.

What should be done

Netherlands’ Room for the River project for flood prevention
Image by- aeropicture.nl

Although it is not possible to flood-proof all of Assam, several measures should be undertaken for a long-term solution.

  • The first step should be permanently shifting the population from flood plains to higher altitudes to save the human, agriculture and property loss.
  • Embankments should be constructed away from the rivers so that the free-flowing state of the river is maintained.
  • Constructing reservoirs to hold water during monsoon is one way to reduce floods
  • Increasing forest cover by afforestation
  • Countries like the Netherlands practice “room for the river” where wetlands were rejuvenated which work as flood cushions. Assam has around 3500 wetlands, if we rejuvenate them they can act as flood cushions.
  • The establishment of river valley projects, etc. may reduce the problem considered in the long run.
  • Weather reports should be made available on the district level and should be accessible to the public,” says Mr. Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers, and People. “Information should be available in local languages. With the forecast in, one can calculate how much more water will flow downstream, thereby alerting people in advance to evacuate. 
  • Certain areas should be reserved for water retention to level off the peaks during extreme floods.
  • “Flood-plain” zoning is also suggested, which is done in the US. Depending on the vulnerability of the area, you divide them into categories and accordingly ban certain activities on it: like farming, building a house, etc.
  • There needs to be “a basin-wide approach” to the problem. An “integrated basin management” system should ideally bring in all the basin-sharing countries on board.
  • “Addressing the issues only in Assam when the flood strikes aren’t the solution — one needs the countries to come to an understanding about taking measures in the catchment areas.”- said the expert Dr. Goswami.

I have tried to collect information from legitimate and reliable sources. Comment down and let me know if you find any discrepancies. Feel free to share your views on this matter.

Sources- IndiaToday, LiveMint , YouthKiAwaaz , The Hindu