9. Environmental Care
Caring for the world is caring for your own self.
The state of our environment requires urgent attention and care. Increased urbanisation has resulted in grave environmental pollution and destruction. Natural resource depletion and rising carbon emissions have become a major concern. Hence increasing our sensitivity towards how we damage the environment in our daily lives and taking steps towards its conservation and enrichment is the need of the hour. The values of Jainism and the principles of ecology are in consonance and can go a long way in positively rectifying the current scenario.
Launched under the Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care Programme, 'Environmental Care' works towards environmental protection and sustainability by striving to increase awareness of the efficient use of natural resources, by supporting plantation growth, water conservation, use of recycled products, alternate energy resources and 'Eco friendly' paper.
Rain forests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface; now they cover a mere 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years. Every second, a slice of the rainforest the size of a football field is mowed down. That's 86,400 football fields of rainforest per day or over 31 million football fields of rainforest each year!!! Lord Mahavira's teachings of ahimsa, a philosophy that envelops every single living being, including trees and plants. To inculcate values of loving and respecting every living being, awareness campaigns are organised to protect and nourish the natural environment. New trees and shrubs are planted and 'Grow Green' drives are initiated along with local government bodies for tree plantation in and around Dharampur.
Less than 0.5% of the water on earth is available as fresh water. More than a billion people lack access to safe drinking water and more than 2.4 billion people lack adequate sanitation. Global consumption of water is doubling every 20 years, more than twice the rate of human population growth. If current trends persist, by 2025 the demand for freshwater is expected to rise to 56% above the amount that is currently available – which will result in as much as 2/3rd of the world population unable to access clean water. As per WHO, there are 4 billion cases of diarrhoea worldwide each year and 2.2 million avoidable deaths – that is a death every 14 seconds. 35% of these can be avoided by just providing clean water to wash hands. 90% of wastewater in developing countries is discharged into rivers or streams without any treatment. We as humans are consuming water and are jointly responsible for its depletion. Hence, we should do our best to conserve water.
Under this project, campaigns in and around Dharampur, amongst farmers, industries and the local population are initiated to increase awareness. Land Water Recharging Projects are undertaken. Efforts are underway to tie up with existing NGOs in the Dharampur area for water harvesting projects for villagers. 1.5 million Litres of water is recycled annually through a water recycling plant at the ashram. This recycled water can be used for various activities. It is also proposed to construct 10 check dams in the surrounding areas. These will not only provide for water during the summer months for irrigation, drinking water for cattle but will also help in recharging the underground water levels. Further, this project will also provide employment to the tribal population in that area.
Current energy resources like coal, fuel, gas etc. are in limited supply. The enormous consumption and fast depletion is a threat for future generations. Also using the resources like coal and fuel causes a lot of environmental damage due to the emission of greenhouse gases. Hence, for suitable management of our energy resources, this project strives to conserve energy by reducing consumption through awareness, adopting simple norms, avoiding wasteful use and use of alternate sources of power like wind energy, solar energy etc.
Nearly 4 billion trees are cut down each year worldwide, in order to provide for our paper consumption. To produce each week's Sunday newspapers in the USA alone, 5 lakh trees must be cut down. To develop sensitivity even to these living organisms with a single sense and to avoid their killing, the usage of 'eco friendly' paper i.e. recycled paper, and paper made from alternate sources like wheat or rice husks, sugarcane bagasse is promoted and wastage of paper is discouraged.
The best example is set forward by Pujya Gurudevshri – He makes use of the blank side of the letters and envelopes that He receives in order to avoid wastage of paper. The first stride in this direction was taken by the use of eco friendly paper for manufacturing notebooks that are distributed annually to the rural children in the Dharampur area, thus saving over 5000 trees.
Awareness Programme (REAP)
To cultivate an eco-friendly culture, this project promotes and encourages the recycling of waste products like paper, aluminium tins, electronics, plastic etc. Recycling a 3-foot stack of newspapers can save one whole tree about 30 feet tall. Such is the difference that can be made to protect our environment and make the world a better place to live in, not only for us, but for generations to come.