March – this month means a lot to the people of Karachi. The weather is getting warmer. Lawn ads are getting bigger and wider on Shahrah-e-Faisal. We can finally tuck our light sweaters away and forget about expecting any “cool air” surprises. Our champas and jasmines will start blossoming faster and we will finally go searching for our AC remotes again. The month of March is also home to World Water Day & Earth Day and hence, no better reason to make more responsible choices for our future and the future generations of this city, country and the rest of the world.
Here’s what you and I can start doing this March to become more responsible and sustainable citizens for the rest of the summer:
- Collect distilled water from your ACs to use for your plants and for car washing to conserve water. Here’s how much our single AC makes on a summer night – 15 litres!
- Add big leafed, indigenous creeper plants like kareila and turrayyi to your terraces to prevent the heat island effect and insulate your home. This is the best time to sow these plants’ seeds as they grow very fast into summer months and will also provide you your healthy veggies. Ask you maali or local friendly horticulturalist (we have many in town!) to help you get some seeds.
- Add strong money plants to shaded parts of your home to creep over your window grills and windowsills.
- Use full loads in your washing machine to conserve the amount of water used. You can also do a shorter, quicker wash for every day work/school clothes that don’t get too dirty to save time, water and electricity.
- Usually our flush tanks hold more water than we need to push down the dirty water. Keep a brick or a heavy rock in your flush tank to reduce the amount of water that goes to waste into our sewage. Because most sewage water isn’t recycled in the city, it is best to reduce the amount you send to it.
- Spend an hour or two with your experienced maali or local friendly horticulturalist to understand how much water each of your plants need. Not all plants need a lot of water. Knowing the needs of which will help save your time as well as the city’s water.
- Convince yourself to buy lawn and cotton sensibly this summer. Understand that cotton is a very water-intensive crop and an even more water-intensive product. Millions of gallons are used to wash, dye and fade our cloth materials. The fewer you buy, the more you will value them and the better it’ll be for our environment.
- Participate in the Earth Hour in Pakistan on 24th March from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm by switching off all electrical appliances and educating your family about why this is important. All ages can participate, because the environment affects all of us.
- This year’s World Water Day is coming on the 22nd of March and its global theme is using nature-based solutions (NBS) to solve the water challenges we face in the 21st century. These solutions include restoring forests, grasslands, and natural wetlands, which Pakistan, as well as Karachi, was abundant with. These elements of our environments act as natural buffers, especially in the event of a flood. Karachi has lost too many of its natural wetlands, such as the lake in Jheel Park, and so every year the floods we see due to monsoon seasons are worse than before. Hence, this World Water Day, the least we can do is remember our environmental monuments, our mangroves, deltas, coasts and lakes and remember to keep them clean from our waste (especially our garbage bags and water bottles).
- And that leads me to our Earth Day, happening on April 22nd, with a theme of “Stop Plastics Pollution”. To make a start, instead of buying PET bottles for water, start carrying a reusable bottle and have water in hand at all times. Also, stop using plastic bags for groceries – many places like Khaadi Chapter 2 and HyperStar Market provide reusable bags that are great for your weekend grocery runs. You can also carry reusable cutlery (available at Miniso) instead of using plastic cutlery at your favourite thela.
Even if you follow one of the ideas mentioned above for the month, your impact would be huge on the lives of many people in your community – as well as the environment of our city and eventually our country. Just a few simple changes to our lifestyle can go miles! Have a go and let me know how it goes!