Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Little Less Conversation, More Action

When I was five, I wanted to be the captain of a multicolored ship. I pictured myself on a rainbow coloured ship sailing all over the world. Even the phone on my ship would have rainbow colours, I decided. It seemed pretty straightforward and simple. As I grew older, my fantasy changed to that of a Marine Engineer, and I even started to draw pictures of my container ship at sea. Unfortunately all that came to a full stop when I realized I absolutely hated math, a subject that’s very important if I wanted to be an engineer. With all those childhood dreams going to pieces, what would I do? In time, school was finished with and like a lot of 14 year olds, I didn’t know what path to choose, but eventually, I was advised to study engineering, and so I did.

The course was interesting, and practical, and 4½ years later, I was an engineer, working in an Industrial estate. The job was interesting, but after a while, I felt undervalued and frustrated. I didn’t seem to have enough time to work on things that I really liked doing… spending time outdoors, and learning more about the environment. I began getting upset, stressed and frustrated as I saw no real way out. Seems that our society only accepts engineers and doctors as the most respected professions, so could I find a respectable job by running after butterflies or recycling some pots and pans from home?

But strange as it might sound, I quit my 9-5 job, and that was the best thing I did for myself. At first, I didn’t know if I did the right thing, as I was homebound, and quite frankly a bit confused. I began pursuing my environmental thoughts quite randomly. I remembered that a school friend and I had once picked up junk from our own homes and cycled to a scrap yard to sell it for some pocket-money. We made 26 Rupees each, and it was an interesting experience too. I learnt that a lot of things could be recycled and later on that made me wonder if there were possibilities to recycle materials such as plastic carry bags. I had also attended a composting workshop organized by the Goa Foundation, and like most participants, I would have forgotten putting into practice the newly learnt skills of composting. Fortunately, I had saved all my notes in a folder.

Why not simply start just like that? I wondered. And so I did. Pulling in experiences from here and info from there, I began my first environmental steps amateurishly and on my own, I began working with a crude waste management model. My grandmother told me that difficult days had taught them to be thrifty. She reused what she could, and sold what she did not need like old tins, bottles, plastics and newspapers to household scrap dealers for financial incentives. I learnt that this system still functioned in villages and was an excellent way to recycle, earn some money and ensure that resources were reused rather than thrown into a heap of garbage. Jotting notes on what could be recycled and what got composted, I took some ideas from a visit to Sweden, and made my own sorting list. Once done, I began visiting scrap yards, and talking to recyclers who offered to buy my waste. My father helped me start our own compost station that cost just 500 rupees to make! Along the way, I found out that I was not alone, and I have to acknowledge a number of individuals, NGOs and networks mostly based in Goa for increasing my knowledge base. Most of this is done by comparing notes, or sharing information for improving waste management models.

Today, I still believe that actions speak louder than words. It’s always easy to talk about wanting to do stuff, but walking the talk is more challenging. There are ways to help you start though, make a timetable or set a deadline that you could stick to. Don’t bite more than you can chew. Perhaps it might be easier to take on a major project in smaller phases so that your waste management project does not overwhelm you. Ask for advice and information. We have a number of people in Goa that have practical experience in waste management. Finally, instead of waiting for the final push from somebody, surprise everybody and make a start on your own...

You still have a week more to send in your quantifying lists and receive an award as a token of encouragement. We then will move on to making your own sorting list.

Let's hear from you! Email or You can even post a letter to us at 'Goa Going Green' C/o Arati Das, Gomanatak Times, Gomantak Bhavan, St. Inez, Panjim, Goa

Photocredit: Internet for 1 and Clinton Vaz for 2. This is the 3rd article in the eco-talk series that appears on a weekly column on Gomantak Times. This article appeared on GT, 25th September, 2008 Pg. A10

No comments: