I write this piece of article sitting on my balcony on a beautiful summer afternoon at one of the world’s most expensive places to live – Palo Alto, California! Ever since I came here, I have fallen in love with this place for various reasons and one of the reasons is the blend of nature preserves amidst the highly technology-driven lifestyle, thanks to the world’s top IT companies being nested here! Every half a mile at least, you get a park or a pond and a host of other pieces of nature – either belonging to the centuries-old land that’s carefully preserved or manmade. For me, as well as anyone visiting here, this gives beautiful fresh air to breathe and a natural setting to enjoy during every season.
However, preserving the environment sometimes can become quite a botheration for many cities and countries since it will involve not just money but also the will to implement. In the past few centuries of human inhabitation, the planet has suffered the most in comparison to the several millions of various forms of living beings that have come and extinguished this place. Why so? If we look at all the reasons, it might end up to just one word that is part of the human race – Greed. When human beings, in charge of running corporate and countries forget their values and end up deciding based on greed and profitability alone, the most affected are the underprivileged and the environment.
Well, a lot has been told about these! A lot of talks have been held about these. A lot of events have been conducted about these! I think, now, is the time for action. Acting upon how to make this planet better! Or not just better, maybe the best. A few weeks back when we got the images from the James Webb Telescope of NASA, one thing that dawned upon all of us is our minuscule value! We, humans, are probably just specks of dust in the entire universe of innumerable stars and suns! Yet, we forget this and believe to be the owners of the universe and the planet. I remember the quote by Carl Sagan in his book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space,
“Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”
Yes, it’s time to save us from ourselves! And just as a curious kid who imagines that a superhero will come and save the world, we need a superhero who can save us! And guess what, I believe, that superhero is each one of us!
And mind you, we already possess the superpowers to handle the enemies of the planet!
Some of them are
1. Mindful Consumption: Most of us end up buying things, just because it’s on discount sale even when we don’t need them. We buy out of mindless consumerism or brainwashing from luxury brands. Well, when you decide to buy only the things you need – you save the planet! And you are a Sustainability Superhero!
2. Using Green Transportation: Moving to Electric vehicles and public transport might seem quite difficult for most of us. But it’s possible. If we decide to live closer to your workplace or better even, work from home, it will save tonnes of carbon footprint! Getting an electric bike or a car can be a choice that will make you a Sustainability superhero!
3. Conscious Waste Disposal: How many of us still dump recyclable goods into the landfill dump? How many of us still do not take responsibility for the waste we produce? Thankfully, School kids today are becoming more mindful of these. Segregating waste at the source is the simplest action for any Sustainability Superhero!
4. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: When the South Indian movie RRR became a worldwide hit, we felt proud. Well, time for us to keep talking about the new RRR for today’s scenario! If we can think of recycling and reusing products for a longer time, you become not a Movie Superstar, but a Sustainability Superhero!
5. Treat people respectfully: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion begin with a simple act of kindness and respect. And it’s the easiest superpower we all have. Yet we forget to use it regularly! Gender, race and several biases hide our kindness, and we even forget that our planet doesn’t care about these when a disaster occurs! Well, by people, I also mean every living thing around that is born on this planet! Right to a happy life is something we ought not to deny!
6. Express Sustainability: Insist on Social Equity and sustainability in all areas of influence you can. It could be your home, your workplace, your community and your government. Remember, the power of one! And if you choose to be that one, then you are the Superhero!
7. Decide on your Values: Most of us do not even think about the values that we inherently possess that can enable sustainable living. I remember a billionaire deciding to leave a mansion of 20 rooms to move to the countryside into a small house after retirement since he realized that we only need one bedroom for sleeping at the end of a tiring day! A friend of mine who is running a Climate tech startup lives in a small studio apartment with no furniture and believes in minimalistic living. He also decided not to own a car and rents electric cars whenever needed for his commute. Of course, they are sustainability superheroes! What personal values do you think aligns with sustainability? Is it minimalistic living? Or vegetarianism? Or buying used clothes? Or giving away things to the needy? Not everyone’s values align with these. But it might be a good exercise to do some personal growth and self-evaluation exercises to understand more about self! A person with better self-awareness is also a Sustainability Superhero!
These are just some of the superpowers we already have and I know there are many more that we can think of. But the whole point is to use these when needed! And that’s when we become a real-life sustainability superhero.
And mind you, the whole world population needs to become a Sustainability Superhero so that we can save the planet from extinction! And remember, until the James Webb telescope finds a new planet for us to survive and space technology evolves to transport the 7 billion population to that planet, we only have this place to live – the mother earth! Common, Superheroes, show your superpower!
-Dr.Chandra Vadhana R,
Founder, Prayaana Collective.
P.S: This article was written thanks to the inspiration that I got from being part of the Planet Positive 2030 initiative by IEEE and Stanford University.
Please read more about the initiative here: