The year of living responsibly

Chit U. Juan (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2021 - 12:00am

Welcome to the new year, a year we more or less anticipate to be more of the same we have had the past nine months – one of apprehension and anxiety. But since we now know what GCQ feels like as opposed to ECQ, we just wait and go on with life whilst keeping face masks, shields and alcohol spritz bottles handy.

So now that we more or less have accepted the situation, we proceed to try and live normally with health protocols and just wait for the elusive vaccine, which may not mean going back to normal, but living with masks and shields for the rest of our life. But while we are still here, how do we live responsibly, keeping environment and climate change in mind?

• Shun the plastics. While it is so easy to order food take out or delivered, restaurants must soon transition into filling our own containers to avoid using so much single use plastic. Quick service restaurants must compromise into allowing customers to bring their own cups, bowls and reusables. Delivery orders must be in reusable containers if not paper, potato starch or banana leaves.

• Sort and segregate. It’s bad enough to have so much garbage with the single use plastics, it’s even harder to teach our household staff how to sort garbage and segregate biodegradables, plastics and food waste that can go into compost bins. Segregation will also give us our own compost and make the job of the dumpster people much easier.

• Plant a tree. This has been the battlecry of many corporate social responsibility (CSR) advocates for years, but what were they planting? Mahogany!! I heard Mahogany is lethal to many species. So I went around looking for native trees and made sure our corporate tree planting activity used coffee and forest trees. We need a lot of coffee so planting coffee is a very good thing to do.

• Eat less meat. Yes, your regular burger causes all these greenhouse gases, causing the seas to warm up, the sun to be more intense and for seasons to be crazy. Why is it raining in January? Even the fruiting trees have gotten mixed signals from Mother Nature. Why do we have watermelon in December? So if you skipped meat one day a week, it would do the Earth some good. You need not go plant-based completely, but just declaring a Meatless Monday and a Fish Friday should be a good step in the right direction.

• Buy local. The local economy needs all the help it can get. Buying local fruits, choosing local vegetables makes a lot of difference. Even if you can get a cheaper version from another country, think of saving our people first before you save the rest of the world. Every local produce you buy feeds a family and more. Yes, though we can sometimes indulge because life is indeed short, still remember that choosing to buy  local more often makes a difference in our “gasping for air” economy.

• Learn how to navigate the net. Digital is not just for young kids. Digital will be the new currency. I know a 90-year-old who wants to now use an e-wallet and now hears Sunday mass using her mobile phone. Be open to learning something new a little at a time. This will make digital immigrants (you) be able to talk to digital natives (your children and  grandchildren). It may take you longer to learn, but be open to learning something, whether you’re 50 or pushing 80. This will make more responsible citizens of all of us.

These are just some of the pivots we can do to live responsibly. There are mindsets we need to consciously change this year if we are to be worthy of our place here on planet Earth.

It’s not about budgets and buying cheaper, it’s about everyone’s survival. And that means tipping your Grab driver, being nice to your merchants, minding your neighbors and just generally being more responsible for the happiness of others.

If we are to survive another year, if we are to beat this pandemic, we have to live smarter and be more responsible citizens not just of our country, but of this planet we call home.

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Chit Juan is founder of Echostore and Slow Food councillor for Southeast Asia.

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