Wednesday, September 22, 2021

World Nature Conservation Day: Reiterating the imperative role of nature in sustaining human life

The World Nature Conservation Day is celebrated annually on 28 July, all over the world to support the cause of preserving nature.

Everything, from the air we breathe to the food that we eat and the water we drink, is derived from nature. It is the total variety of all forms of life that exist on Earth. Immense! Isn’t it?

On world nature conservation day, we’ll glance through the imperative role of nature in sustaining life, the inextricable relation between nature & humans, and the mindful steps that should be taken today to conserve nature for tomorrow.

What is nature; what does it comprise of?

Nature is the equivalent of the natural world, physical world, or material world. It encompasses living plants, animals, geological processes, the weather, and physics, such as matter and energy.

Inextricable relation between human & nature:

Our ecosystem is very closely interwoven in a delicate balance, where each living organism has a specific role and purpose. If any species is pulled out of that ecosystem, the chain gets broken and everything from the food cycle to habitats gets distorted.

Humans too are tied to nature in an inextricable bond that can never be reversed. They derive and depend on mother nature, for fulfilling their every need.

In addition, it is highly imperative in safeguarding the human race from the unpredictability and volatility that future on planet Earth brings. The nature that surrounds us acts as a ‘safety net’ of our planet. It is the insurance policy that safeguards our survival.

Why nature conservation is the need of the hour?

We have only touched the tip of the iceberg in addressing an issue as pertinent as nature conservation. Thus, we need to answer why the issue is a pressing need of the hour?

Several reports suggest the collapse of human civilizations in the near future if similar trends of mindless human activities persist. A UN report issued in 2019 highlighted that our planet is at the tipping point to save itself from irreversible damage by 2030.

Another recently published research, conducted by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has projected societal collapse by around 2040.

Importance of nature conservation:

The preservation of nature is highly imperative for manifold reasons:

· To sustain life by supporting ecological balance
· To ensure future generation’s access to resources
· To preserve biodiversity
· To safeguard human survival
· To promote mental health & creative thinking

Common threats:

While climate change might be the culprit behind most of the unusual events facing the world today, it is not the only factor responsible.

The major threats facing nature today include:

Deforestation
Pollution due to rapid industrialization & influx of vehicles on the road
Loss of biodiversity due to loss of natural habitat
Oceanic dead zones due to immersion of plastics in water bodies
Overpopulation
Over-fishing

Know how Indian startups combat nature conservation:

1.) Sampurn(e)arth:

An organization in Mumbai is working to send the smallest amount of garbage to the dump. Sampurnearth was founded by Mr. Debartha Banerjee, Mr. Ritvik Rao & Mr. Jayanth N in the year 2012 with the vision to make a world, where waste is totally transformed into utilizable resources without any exploitation of people or the planet.

Jayanth Natraju, Co-Founder of Sampurn(e)arth believes that everything in nature is cyclic and every material has a purpose. Sampurn(e)arth thus works towards a cyclic way of managing waste by segregating it into 3 categories: wet waste, dry waste, and e-waste for managing waste as per the diverse needs of their clients. For TISS, Mumbai the organization converts kitchen waste into manure and natural cooking gas, also recycling the water used in the process.

2.) Saahas Zero:

Wilma Rodrigues, the founder of a Bangalore-based startup ‘Sahas Zero’ firmly believed in the idea of a ‘circular economy.’ Thus, she decided to take the road not taken away from the conventional model of waste management that involved truck and tip to landfill.

The startup works to eliminate items that are tough-to-recycle like plastic bags out of the trash and is pioneering new ways to recycle or compost everything else. It provides the infrastructure and training required for segregation at source by collecting and pre-processing all waste streams before channeling them to respective recycling industries.

The startup that started off as an NGO in 2001, today works to divert 53,000 kgs of waste from landfills every day to produce clothing, stationery, bags, and backpacks out of it.

3.) Gem Enviro Management:

Gem Enviro Management is a Producers Responsibility Organisation founded by Dinesh Parikh and Sachin Sharma. It is one of the very few PRO’s in the country to be registered with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The PRO specializes in recycling plastic waste, though it recycles all kinds of packaging waste and works to benefit the producer. This pan-India service helps to recycle around 1,00,000 tonnes of plastic in Delhi itself to produce apparel, blankets, and toys out of it. Google, ITC Hotels, Coca Cola, Pepsi, etc are some of its clients.

4.) Namo E-waste:

Namo E-waste is a start-up based in Delhi founded by Akshay Jain and caters to managing the e-waste disposal problem of the national capital.
It processes about 20 tonnes of e-waste daily and has collection centers around 12 states/UTs across the country. With strategic partnerships with leading electronic companies, the start-up works to reduce, reuse and recycle electronic waste.

For this, a customer has to only schedule an electronic waste pickup and the organization then handles and brings the waste for recycling to their recycling plant in Faridabad. The start-up recycles e-waste for big businesses including the Taj Hotels, Resorts, and Palaces, ICICI Bank, Tata Sky, Godrej, etc.

4.) Anthrill Creations:

It is a start-up based in Bangalore started by a group of IIT graduates who came together to use waste materials and scrap tyres to build playgrounds for underprivileged children.

The startup was founded in 2014 and since then has successfully completed nine projects across four Indian cities using 830 scrap tyres to build playgrounds and libraries for children.

5.) The Retyrement Plan:

Growing up, you must have definitely come across large heaps of tyres lying on the side of a highway waiting to be set on fire.

However, a designer based in Mumbai, Anu Tandon who graduated from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad is working to repurpose scrap tyres and textile waste to design vibrant and beautiful furniture, giving a glimpse of India’s traditional handloom.

6.) Breathe Applied Sciences:

Breathe Applied Sciences is an innovative and sustainable startup that, with the aim to become a key enabler in achieving net-zero has developed breakthrough technologies for the conversion of CO2.

The startup, which was incubated at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) has developed efficient catalysts and methodologies for the efficient and scalable conversion of CO2 into clean fuel.

Few mindful steps if taken today can conserve nature for tomorrow:

1.) Save electricity: Turn off lights & fans and shut down gadgets & devices when not in use.
Opt for energy-efficient alternatives like LED (light-emitting diode) lights over regular incandescent bulbs.

2.) Reduce carbon footprint by reducing waste: Put your creative acumen to play to reuse and recycle obsolete items. Upcycling is another option to give a trendy new look to such items.

Make your living cyclic and sustainable, so that nothing goes waste.

3.) Reduce the use of plastic: According to the IUCN report, more than 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year, and at least 8 million end up in oceans, making up 80 percent of all marine debris.

Plastics not only harm the marine ecosystem and habitat but also pose threat to food safety, and thereby, human health.

4.) Minimize e-waste: According to the UN Report, of the 50 million tonnes of e-waste generated every year, only 20 percent gets formally recycled.

The rest ends up in landfills and contaminates the soil and groundwater. The e-waste which is informally recycled by hand exposes workers to carcinogenic substances such as mercury, lead, and cadmium. Thus, do not engage in the mindless purchase of electronics, be aware of the ecological cost it levies.

5.) Save water: ‘Jal hi jeevan hai,’ there’s nothing more poignant than the reality that our primary source of existence faces a grave threat of repletion.

Thus, simple steps like turning off the taps, faucets & showers after use can save a lot of water. If your tap is dripping, fix it—or you can end up wasting up to 15 liters of water just like that.

Thus, it’s highly imperative to preserve our nature, to nurture it, and protect it from dying, cause when nature dies, so will the human existence on planet Earth.

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