The three Rs we practised unawares : The Tribune India

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The three Rs we practised unawares

The three Rs we practised unawares

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo



Rama Kashyap

REDUCE, reuse and recycle are buzzwords today. Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, we were unaware of the three Rs of environment conservation, but would still practise them earnestly. Unlike the present-day ‘use and throw’ approach, we would tend to use everything to the fullest. Almost nothing was discarded in our middle-class households, to the extent that when a thing lost its functional utility, it was retained in the hope that someday, somehow it would be put to some use.

In those days of scarcity and meagre resources, we were practising ‘minimalism’ without being aware of it. We had a humble wardrobe comprising a pair of school uniform, just a few dresses for casual wear and one or two for formal wear. We were content with having one pair each of black Bata shoes and white canvas shoes for school and rubber slippers for home wear. We would be entitled to a new pair only after we outgrew one or it was torn beyond repair. Everything, from footwear, garments and watches to sundry gadgets, was repaired, sometimes through jugaad, till it was deemed absolutely irreparable.

Most amusing was the in-house recycling of things. A party dress would, in due course, be used as casual wear, later as a night dress and end up as a duster before being thrown away. There would always be an alternative way to utilise a discarded item. My mother used to stitch cloth bags from my old school skirts. That is how most cloth bags were made at home, recycled from used material. In the absence of polythene, people carried reusable bags for shopping. Today, despite the ban on single-use plastic, poly-bags continue to be in vogue, causing huge damage to the environment. Also, the consumption of tissue paper is increasing rapidly at an enormous cost to the ecology. Trees are being cut and a huge quantity of water is being consumed in the making of tissues, which are invariably thrown away after being used once.

If we were eco-friendly earlier, it was not because we were more conscious of our environment — it was the way of life back then. However, now that we are aware of the need to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’, let us not mindlessly embrace consumerism. Not only should we try to reduce unnecessary consumption, we should also help in recycling through waste segregation and management. Let’s not blindly adopt the ‘disposable’ culture; rather, we should promote our traditional ‘reuse economy’ based on our capability for repair and restoration. We must enjoy the fruits of development and prosperity, but at the same time contribute to environment conservation. Let the wheels of progress roll on without ravaging or plundering Mother Earth.

#Environment


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