Just right for Kids: Gimme Green

About 60-odd pages into the book, I guiltily pushed away the drink.

Written by Paromita Chakrabarti | Published:April 22, 2017 2:20 am

So You Want to Know About the Environment
Bijal Vachharajani
Red Turtle/Rupa
170 pages; ` 195
Appropriate for: 11+

I began reading this book at a coffee shop, sipping on a café mocha, whose beans, the menu assured, had come straight from Ghana. About 60-odd pages into the book, I guiltily pushed away the drink. Vachharajani had just introduced me to http://www.foodmiles.com/ that helps calculate how many miles our food has travelled (In my case, 5,272 miles or 8,483 km approximately). And, why is that important? Simply because, the miles it has travelled is directly proportional to the amount of carbon footprint it has created. For every consumer rejoicing at the easy availability of “fresh” Malta oranges or coffee beans from Ghana at the nearest supermarket, it’s a rap on the knuckles. What we eat has environmental repercussions no less than how we live.

At a time when the US President has repeatedly negated the impact of climate change and has threatened to pull out of the 2016 Paris Agreement, Delhi continues to make it to the list of the world’s most polluted cities, and ill-conceived river linkage projects threaten to undermine India’s green belts, Vachharajani’s book reminds us why we would do well to be concerned about our planet’s wellbeing.

She begins with some straight talk — it’s not the earth that needs saving. It’s our future that is precarious, thanks to landfills, oceans full of plastic and increasingly unpredictable weather. Will our individual effort make a difference? Perhaps, in small ways. But, warding off climate change also needs a larger, global mobilisation at the level of policy making — in this shrinking universe, it’s only collective social responsibility that can make a difference. She explains the complex framework of demand, production and supply that governs consumption, slips in interesting accounts of climate change warriors, or little-known facts about how our daily business of life impedes our planet’s well-being. Did you know, for instance, that, Delhi alone generates 8,000 metric tonnes of garbage every single day? Or, that, in various parts of the world, farmers have come together to form seed banks to free them from the tyranny of seed companies?

Vachharajani packs in the information with some practical advice (refuse, reuse, recycle and reduce) and DIY activities (how about creating a rain cloud after school?). Does that mean this book is for children alone? Most certainly, not. Parents, educators and enablers would benefit enormously from this let’s-get-together-and-swing-it account.

At the end of the book, I lost the straw (it takes 200 years to break each one down) and discovered that it’s not only far more satisfying to slurp (local) coffee on a hot summer day, it’s actually quite easy to be a green warrior if only we would put some thought into it. Do find out for yourself.

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