Lesson 22: Role of individuals in conservation of natural resources
Individual Responsibilities towards conservation of resources and protection of environment
- Plant more trees of local or indigenous species around your home and your workplace and encourage your friends to do so. Plants are vital for our survival in many ways.
- If your urban garden is too small for trees, plant local shrubs and creepers instead. These support bird and insect life that form a vital component of the food chains in nature. Urban biodiversity conservation is feasible and can support a limited but valuable diversity of life.
- If you live in an apartment, grow a terrace or balcony garden using potted plants. Window-boxes can be used to grow small flowering plants, which also add to the beauty of your house.
- Whenever and wherever possible prevent trees from being cut, or if it is not possible for you to prevent this, report it immediately to the concerned authorities. Old trees are especially important.
- Insist on keeping our hills free of settlements or similar encroachments. The degradation of hill slopes leads to severe environmental problems.
- When shopping, choose products in limited packaging. It will not only help cut down on the amount of waste in landfills, but will also help reduce our need to cut trees for paper and packaging.
- Look for ways to reduce the use of paper. Use both sides of every sheet of paper and send your waste paper for recycling.
- Buy recycled paper products for your home; e.g., sheets of paper, envelopes, etc.
- Reuse cartons and gift-wrapping paper. Recycle newspaper and waste paper instead of throwing it away as garbage.
- Donate used books and magazines to schools, hospitals, or libraries. The donations will not only help these organizations, but will also reduce the exploitation of natural resources used to produce paper.
- Participate in the events that highlight the need for creating sanctuaries and national parks, nature trails, open spaces, and saving forests.
- Support Project Tiger, Project Elephant, etc., and join NGOs that deal with environment protection and nature conservation.
- Involve yourself and friends in activities carried out during Wildlife Week and other public functions such as tree plantation drives and protests against destruction of the environment.
- Visit forests responsibly. Remember to bring out everything you take in, and clean up any litter left by others. Stay on marked trails, and respect the fact that wildlife need peace and quietness. Study the ecosystem; it gives one a greater sense of responsibility to conserve it.
- Be kind to animals. Stop friends from disturbing or being cruel to wild creatures such as birds, frogs, snakes, lizards and insects.
- Learn about birds and identify the birds that are common in your area. Understand their food requirements and feeding habits. Construct artificial nesting boxes for birds. This will encourage birds to stay in your neighborhood, even if their nesting habitat is scarce. You can learn more about birds by making a birdbath. Birds need water to drink and to keep their feathers clean. You can make a birdbath out of a big ceramic or plastic saucer. Having birds around your home, school or college can even help increase species diversity in the area.
- Attract wildlife such as small mammals, such as squirrels, to your garden by providing running or dripping water. Make a hole in the bottom of a bucket and poke a string through to serve as a wick. Hang a bucket on a tree branch above your birdbath to fill it gradually with water throughout the day.
- Protect wildlife, especially birds and insects that are insectivorous and live in your neighborhood by eliminating the use of chemicals in your garden. Instead, use vermicompost and introduce natural pest predators. Do your gardening and landscaping using local plants to control the pests in your garden.
- If you have pets, feed them well and give them a proper home and in an emergency proper medical care.
- When you visit a zoo, learn about the animals that are found there but do not tease or hurt them through the bars of their cage. They have a right to a peaceful existence. The zoo is, in any case, not an ideal home for them.
- Cover the soil in your farm or garden with a layer of mulch to prevent soil erosion in the rains and to conserve soil moisture. Mulch can be made from grass-clippings or leaf-litter.
- If you plan to plant on a steep slope in your farm or garden, prevent soil erosion by first terracing the area. Terraces help in slowing the rain water running downhill so it can soak into the soil rather than carry the soil away.
- Help prevent soil erosion in your community by planting trees and ground-covering plants that help hold the soil in place. You might organize a group of citizens to identify places that need planting, raise funds, work with the local government to plant trees, shrubs and grasses, and maintain them over the long term.
- If your college is surrounded by open space, evaluate how well the soil is being conserved. Look for places where soil can run off, like on an unplanted steep slope or stream bank, or where the soil is exposed rather than covered with mulch. These areas need special care and must be carefully replanted.
- Add organic matter to enrich your garden soil; e.g., compost from kitchen scraps and manure from poultry and cows are good sources of nutrients. Make sure the manure is not too fresh and that you do not use too much. Healthy soil grows healthy plants, and it reduces the need for insecticides and herbicides.
- In your vegetable garden, rotate crops to prevent the depletion of nutrients. Legumes like peas and beans put nitrogen back into the soil.
- Set up a compost pit in your college or garden, so that you can enrich your soil with the organic waste from the kitchen and cut down on the amount of waste it sends to a landfill. Set up buckets in your college or lunchroom where fruit and left-over food can be put. Empty the buckets daily into a compost pit, and use the rich compost formed in a few weeks to enrich the soil around the college.
- Encourage your local zoo, farms, and other organizations or people that house a large number of animals to provide your community with bio fertilizer made from animal manure. This can be composted to make a rich fertilizer, and it forms an additional source of income for the animal owners.
- Buy organically-grown produce to help reduce the amount of toxic pesticides used in farms that harm soil organisms. Look for organically-grown produce in your grocery shop, or try growing some yourself if you have the space.
- Support environmental campaigns in your state and community. Cutting down on irresponsible development can protect soil, biodiversity, and enhance our quality of life.
- Reduce the amount of water used for daily activities; e. g., turn off the tap while brushing your teeth to save water.
- Reuse the rinsing water for house-plants. Reuse the water that vegetables are washed in to water the plants in your garden or your potted plants.
- Always water the plants early in the morning to minimize evaporation.
- Soak the dishes before washing them to reduce water and detergent usage.
- Look for leaks in the toilet and bathroom, to save several liters of water a day.
- While watering plants, water only as rapidly as the soil can absorb the water.
- Use a drip irrigation system to water more efficiently.
- When you need to drink water, take only as much as you need to avoid wastage. So many people in our country don't even have access to clean drinking water!
- Saving precious .rainwater is very important. Harvest rainwater from rooftops and use it sustainably to recharge wells to reduce the burden on rivers and lakes.
- Monitor and control wastes going into drains for preventing water pollution.
- Replace chemicals like phenyl, strong detergents, shampoo, chemical pesticides and fertilizers used in your home, with environment friendly alternatives, such as neem and biofertilizers. Groundwater contamination by household chemicals is a growing concern.
- For Ganesh Chaturthi, bring home a clay idol instead of a plaster of paris idol and donate it instead of immersing it in the river to reduce river pollution.
- Turn off the lights fans and air-conditioning when not necessary.
- Use low voltage lights.
- Use tube lights and energy-saver bulbs as they consume less electricity
- Switch off the radio and television when not required.
- Use alternative sources of energy like solar power for heating water and for cooking food.
- Cut down on the use of electrical appliances.
- In summer, shut the windows, curtains and doors early in the morning to keep the house cool.
- Use a pressure cooker as much as possible to save energy.
- Turn off the stove immediately after use.
- Plan and keep things ready before you start cooking.
- Keep the vessels closed while cooking and always use small, narrow-mouthed vessels to conserve energy.
- When the food is almost cooked, switch off the gas stove and keep the vessel closed. It will get completely cooked with the steam already present inside.
- Soak rice, pulses etc., before cooking to reduce cooking time and save fuel.
- Get your family to eat together, it will save re-heating fuel.
- Select a light shade of paint for walls and ceilings, as it will reflect more light and reduce electrical consumption.
- Position your reading tables near the window and cut down on your electricity bill by reading in natural light.
- Use a bicycle-it occupies less space releases no pollutant and provides healthy exercise.
- Try using public transport systems like trains- and buses as far as possible.
- Plan your trips and routes before setting out.
- Walk rather than drive wherever possible. Walking is one of the best exercises for your health.
- Get your vehicles serviced regularly to reduce fuel consumption and reduce pollution levels.