By Sabina Rizwan Khan – Freelance writer and a certified youth trainer
Let’s make Pakistan green, one plant at a time! This was the spirit showed by a group of enthusiastic students from the University of Karachi, as they planted twenty plants a day within their campus to commemorate the Earth Week. Wearing their newspaper-made badges titled “Plant for Pakistan”, carrying small shovels and buckets of water, they planted plants bought by mutual contribution. Even the scorching heat of April could not prevent them from their mission. And the result was a satisfactory end to the Earth Week.
The Earth Day, which is celebrated on April the 22nd, was found by Gaylord Nelson, an American senator, in order to create awareness about the Earth and our environment. However, later on, many people extended the effort of inspiration to a week, thus called the Earth Week (April 17-23). It is now celebrated in more than 175 countries all over the world.
There was an individual, 1400 years ago, who dwelt amidst the sweltering heat and soft sand dunes, and envisioned a green world. Did you know that the very first “green ambassador” was the Prophet (sa) himself? He said: “Whenever Muslims plant a tree, they will earn the reward of charity because of the food that comes from it, and likewise what is stolen from it, what the wild beasts eat out of it, what the birds eat out of it, and what people take from it is charity for them.” (Muslim)
The Prophet (sa) is also reported to have said: “Muslims will always earn the reward of charity for planting a tree, sowing a crop and then birds, humans, and animals eat from it.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
The Prophet (sa) also said: “If the Hour (the Day of Judgement) came and in the hand of any of you was a Faseelah (a small palm) and he was able to plant it before he stands, let him do so.” (Sahih Bukhari and Ahmad)
Over the years, numerous environmental changes, such as creation of artificial lakes, reduction in the growth of certain crops, floods and changing climatic patterns, have showed how vulnerable Pakistan is towards the climatic changes. The devastation caused by the floods has demonstrated how lethal global warming can be. With very little awareness regarding climatic change and its consequences, it was difficult to address these concrete issues and work towards solutions some years ago.
However, the scenario is now altering, as people, especially youngsters, are taking responsibility and showing interest in environmental issues. Extensive media coverage has made the difference to a larger extent. In 2011, the cities of Pakistan witnessed many awareness campaigns on account of the Earth Week in various schools, colleges and universities. Some offices cut down their energy consumption as well. Many seminars were conducted and forums were held to initiate dialogue on energy conservation, especially in a country that is already suffering from its shortage. From purposeful planting and garbage collection to writing blog posts, a lot of action was observed.
As individuals with access to numerous resources, we can make a greater difference. You can play your part in saving the Earth through the following tips:
1. When television is not being watched, turn it off – don’t leave it on standby.
2. People, especially students and professionals, should re-use their Xerox papers by writing notes on the backsides.
3. Instead of using new wrapping paper, use newspaper and magazines for wrapping gifts – collage work will give it a personalized touch.
4. While cooking, keep all pots and pans covered. This will trim the energy expenditure by almost 90 percent.
5. Reuse plastic bags as much as possible. Also, try to use cloth bags for shopping, as plastic bags’ manufacturing discharges an enormous amount of carbon into the atmosphere.
6. If nobody is in a room, turn off the lights, fan and air conditioner.
7. Unplug your cell-phone charger from the socket when it is not being used.
8. Visit your nearby friends by walking or riding a bicycle – this will help cut down the carbon emission in greater amounts.
9. Do carpooling when going to offices or institutions. This is not only environment friendly but also cost effective.
10. Always ensure to run the washing machine with a full load of laundry to save electricity.
11. Keep your food covered in the refrigerator. This stops moisture from escaping and thus, prevents excessive burden on the compressor.
12. Keep your surroundings green. Organize planting campaigns in your campuses and localities not only in the Earth Week but throughout the year.
13. Raise funds for family parks (new and old).
14. Help children create their own nature pond by filling small inflated pools or pottery pots with water and aqua plants. This can be left in the gardens for dragon flies, frogs and other insects to visit and live in as a natural habitat.
15. We can sift our wet garbage from paper, plastic and glass to facilitate recycling. This initiative has been taken by most of the developed countries and has helped them conserve resources tremendously.
If insects vanish from this Earth, all forms of life will end in the proceeding 50 years. If humans perish from this Earth, all other forms of life will flourish. As a vicegerent of Allah (swt), we need to restore the damage inflicted by us and rebuild habitats for all other living creatures.
Less than 4% of land in Pakistan is covered with forests.
According to the International Association of Natural Gas Vehicles, as of December 2008, Pakistan has the world’s highest number of vehicles running on compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The number is 2 million. Pakistan also has the world’s highest number of CNG refuelling stations – 2941(updated July 29, 2009). CNG is less polluting than petrol.