Mothering Environmentally?

A mother is not born, a mother is made. Some people equate a mother to a God. I some how disagree. As film maker Gulzar puts it very succinctly, ‘Mothers or parents for that matter are as old as their children. If a child is two years of age, a mother is also two years of age because that is the time she has spent in learning how to be a mother.’

Sometimes, I wonder how is it that some parents are able to accomplish this Herculean task so easily. As a single mother, I am constantly on a balancing act where I keep falling, failing and sometimes succeeding in my effort to get it right.

Let me be very honest here. Teaching my daughter about protecting the environment has not been an easy task. Not when life has become so use-and-throw friendly. We’ve got disposable toys, disposable utensils, disposable clothes and even disposable electronics. So, telling a child to not use disposables amidst this hullabaloo is like trying to record a new song on a tape recorder which is playing its own song.

When I resolved to teach my child about being conscious about the environment, I realized a simple fact. Children today don’t do what you say, they do what you do. So, I decided that in order to teach this life-long lesson to my child, I had to first understand and imbibe those teachings in my own self.

As a single mother, its not easy. Buying a plastic Bisleri bottle is easy every time I felt thirsty. Carrying a water bottle of your own is not tough but during the course of the last six months, I have forgotten three bottles in three different places and never found them again.

When I was a little girl, there were small water huts called piyau here in Rajasthan. People used to sit in those huts. If one felt thirsty, all one had to do was to cup the palms against the spout through which the person sitting inside would pour water from an earthern pot. Now, we don’t see those anymore.

Some steps like carrying a jute bag in my purse for impromptu shopping are easy.

We have a small rooftop kitchen garden where we grow some vegetables. Getting my daughter to eat a brinjal curry made from the brinjals from the garden is a trifle tough but when she does eat the curry, she wonders why does it taste so good. When she goes to our village in Rajasthan, she loves eating the food because it tastes so good. No special spices, no masalas but the food tastes more organic than the best of the organic brands.

However, fighting the lure of Cup-o-noodles and the ever-available Maggi noddles is not easy. But then who said food was easy? There are times, these junk foods become an paradox of sorts, especially when the children enact a play about eating healthy food in the annual school function and then straight after the show pester parents to buy burgers from the school cafeteria.

As a convenience oriented society, we still have a long way to go. Though people like Greta Thunberg talk about climate change, it is us mothers who have to wrestle with this ever-confusing world which are full of paradoxes where children are constantly lured by advertisements for fast foods, fast gadgets, fast toys and then lectured about environmental change by grim faced teachers.

I only have one question here- As a society,when will we be able to practice what we preach especially in the arena of demand and supply? Why cannot the teachers really tell children about being happy with what they have? Why cannot the multi-nationals focus more on sustainable products rather than always launching new products?

We teach our children about protecting the environment but when they grow up, they still have the same choices, they still follow the road more traveled. Why?


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