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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Dia Mirza: This pandemic is an outcome of our broken relationship with nature

Dia Mirza on why sustainability cannot be achieved unless every person consciously takes a note of their environmental consumption, how sustainability and wellness go together, and how she practises the same at home

Written by Shambhavi Dutta | New Delhi |
Updated: August 13, 2020 7:12:55 pm
dia mirza, dia mirza interview, dia mirza life, dia mirza sustainable livingMy parents always encouraged an understanding that all creativity, growth and sense of self comes from nature, says the actor. (Photo: Dia Mirza/ Instagram, designed by Gargi Singh)

Dia Mirza practices what she preaches. An actor, producer and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador for India, her resolution for a sustainable lifestyle since 2007 is only getting stronger with each passing day.

While the concrete jungle makes it difficult for the Kaafir actor to meet her sustainability goals, she nonetheless tries to do her bit by, say, switching to bamboo toothbrushes, using biodegradable sanitary napkins, etc. In an interview with the, Mirza talks about how every single sustainable development goal holds much importance and how nature has always been an imperative part of her life.

Excerpts from the interview: 

Since when did you start practising sustainability? 

My parents always encouraged an understanding that all creativity, growth and sense of self comes from nature. My childhood featured rock-climbing, climbing trees, plucking fresh fruit off the trees, watching squirrels and birds, being enchanted by the whole nesting process, the entire luxury of the outdoors. Around 2006-2007, when I spent a certain amount of time as an artist, a narrative was encouraged in the media about the need to acknowledge our patterns of consumption and waste and the need to incorporate environmentalism in our everyday life. I was asked to contribute to the narrative, which culminated in a list of simple things that soon became a part of my daily life.

The first thing I discovered about the conversation around environmentalism was that too little was being shared with the general public. In a bid to arm myself with knowledge, I started associating with environmental organisations like Sanctuary Asia and individuals like Bittu Sahgal, Vivek Menon and Prerna Singh Bindra. In my journey of learning, I started to share.


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It fills the heart with gratitude and hope, knowing there are more people understanding that economy does not need to come at the cost of ecology. More power to you @varundvn. For using your voice. Your inner voice. Keep listening to it 🙌🏼💙🌏 @jstnptrs what a powerful and compelling image this is 🙏🏻🙏🏻 #FridaysForFuture #BreatheLife #BeatPollution #GlobalGoals #Repost @varundvn with @get_repost ・・・ As we all battle this virus. I think it is time we realise that the human race has been extremely selfish. It’s time we introspect. We share this planet with many other species. Development is important but not at the cost of killing other species. We will overcome this but we must realise that messing with Mother Nature comes at a cost. Art work- @jstnptrs

A post shared by Dia Mirza (@diamirzaofficial) on Mar 13, 2020 at 4:07am PDT


How would you explain sustainability and what it means to you?

In order to continue to benefit from this precious balance that regulates climate, restores health, brings peace and prosperity to all we must learn to produce, create and build a sustainable world. Sustainability in literal terms is about not depleting natural resources in order to maintain a balance that supports all life on earth.

READ| Breaking the myth: Is a sustainable lifestyle really an expensive affair?

Has it been hard for you to transition to a sustainable way of life?

The shift in consciousness perhaps came easily to me because nature has always been an indelible part of my life. Even though city life isn’t easy and sometimes it is a struggle to find a balance in leading a sustainable lifestyle, I have found ways to do my best and continue to learn every day. I think it’s very important for people to recognise that one doesn’t need to be a botanist, a biologist, a scientist, an environmentalist, to form a better connection with nature and live with a little more balance. Implementing sustainable practices in everyday life comes from cultivating a consciousness on how our consumption patterns impact the world and the environment.

It is possible to implement sustainable practices at home by engaging, teaching and demonstrating lifestyle changes at home. But it all begins with individual choice and then encouraging all those who are a part of our lives to implement these changes.

 dia mirza, dia mirza interview, dia mirza life, dia mirza sustainable living “The first thing I discovered about the conversation around environmentalism was that too little was being shared with the general public,” says Dia Mirza. (Photo: Designed by Gargi Singh)

READ| Sustainable living: Simple ways to make your beauty regime more eco-friendly

How do sustainability and wellness go together for you?

Human health and well-being are directly connected to sustainability. We cannot hope to have clean air, water, healthy soil and all the natural resources that we need for our survival without building a more sustainable world. This pandemic is an outcome of our broken relationship with nature. This and the extreme climatic conditions like floods, drought, forest fires, pandemics should illustrate to us the urgency of restoring a balance in the natural world and the connection all these events have with human health, peace and progress.

Do you believe our government policies advocate enough sustainability

As part of my role as the UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador, I championed the #BeatPlasticPollution campaign in 2018 which led to the historic declaration by PM Modi to make India Single-Use Plastics Free by 2022. I think change is a process and requires consistent time and efforts, but I believe we will get there.


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A post shared by Dia Mirza (@diamirzaofficial) on Feb 24, 2020 at 10:15pm PST

Last year, you were appointed as the official Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocate. How was the experience and what did you learn?

It’s been an honour and a privilege. While my efforts in campaigning for nature with the country would have continued irrespective, being appointed the UN Secretary General’s SDG advocate provided that extra drive do what I so strongly believe in. Every step I take is now part of my mission to convey the importance of achieving sustainable development through all mediums and platforms I have access to.

My biggest realisation has been that while every single sustainable development goal is critical, they cannot be achieved until every single person on this planet recognises the interconnectedness between people and the environment. As an advocate for the environment, my efforts have focused on environmental protection, human and child rights. It’s an opportunity that allows to build partnerships and work alongside great global influencers and I truly hope I have been part of this much-needed change.

READ| Sustainable living: Give your home decor an eco-friendly spin

The fashion industry uses a lot of leather for their bags, shoes and watches. Tanneries are in among one of the most polluting industries in the world. How do you choose your associations with brands?

Collaborating with a brand for me is all about finding an ethical and value fit. Collaborating with Anne Klein is special because of their approach towards the environment and their consideration to reduce environmental impact. Brands need to keep providing for the customers while keeping the aspect of the environment in their minds.

I think it’s important to not stay away from the problem when it is in plain sight, but address it and find tangible solutions. I hope that through the informed choices I make, people are encouraged to innovate with theirs and feel responsible for not trashing the planet in the name of fashion.

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