Sustainable Development in Northern India
As a 90s’ kid who watched Captain Planet religiously and would hike through the woods, wide-eyed, and asking about every tree, plant, and animal, a worldwide day dedicated to the environment makes a lot of sense. And while I bet you can hum the opening theme to Captain Planet without much thought, you probably didn’t know that there’s already a World Environment Day. There’s a lot to appreciate about everything that surrounds us while in the US (or wherever you might call home), but it takes on a new meaning to me while working on gardens and waste while abroad in India. Where I live in Punjab, we have so many different types of birds, insects (I could do with fewer mosquitoes, but our moths and praying mantises are the coolest), and plants you wouldn’t believe. After a recent workshop, I’ve even found that many of the plants here have traditional medicinal uses. Of course, India has many environmental issues that seem almost insurmountably huge when looked at from the perspective of a single person – such as overuse of pesticides and waste disposal – but these are issues that are also faced worldwide. For me, one of the great things about World Environment Day is that it highlights all the good things that we still have, and what we can do to protect it from the negative.
At our intern house in Janauri, we talk about how we are the most ecofriendly we’ve ever been. Of the four challenges the UNEP website has going for World Environment Day, we’re knocking them out of the park, and adding some of our own. We pay close attention to our power usage since we’re often running off a generator. We have a very small “Foodprint,” as any waste we produce can’t just be thrown away and done with, but has to be composted or disposed of in some way that we directly interact with. We are very “Green” in that we have our own small garden and re-use as many plastic bags as we can – one of the ways in which we also “Fight Plastic”. For a fifth bonus category, we also conserve water, as we have very limited quantities of it, and need to use and re-use our water as efficiently as we can. The migrant communities we work with are also environmental in their own ways, as they re-use and re-sell what other people send to the landfill, and some family groups now even have kitchen gardens thanks to a recent intern project.
I don’t think any of us thought overly about how we would be eco-friendly before we got to our village, but now that we’re here, we’re giving it our best shot.
– Kayleigh Walters, USA
– Organic Farming and SWASH Project Manager