‘Why worry about minor little details like
clean air, clean water, safe ports and the safety net when Jesus is going to
give the world an “Extreme Makeover: Planet Edition” right after he finishes
putting Satan in his place once and for all?’

– Arianna Huffington

Our edgy
editor, sitting just a shout away, had sudden inspiration: Let’s have something—anything—on ‘what is sustainability’. Everyone
keeps mentioning it, but it’s highly doubtful how many here actually get it. It
doesn’t show much, does it? Somebody immediately find out who claims to be the
expert in this field and ask him or her to write a two-pager. Today is the

On our five-person floor – said editor, service
boy and an intern included – I knew the orders were meant for me.

Knowing the sustainability and responsibility
grind inside out, I had two options to hurriedly finish this task. First option
was to call a social responsibility or sustainability activist and request for
a quick write-up. They would give a dozen reasons for us to believe that the planet is in
trouble and saving it is serious business and that we have to be grim every
day. It would be an easy getaway. Almost each media
house has a bank of such expert write-ups.

My second choice was to pen it down myself, about
all that I had seen, smelled, heard and felt about this ‘totally confusing’
sustainability content and these unsustainable lives we lived. And with such a short
deadline, I could easily get away by writing anything under ‘author-requested anonymity’

So, I am making this attempt despite the [not fully
articulated] belief that since nobody can sustain life – cannot live forever,
then why all this hue and cry about sustainable living. Is it an effort to live
longer, to add a few more years in our planet’s life cycle, or is it just an
effort to make our own life a bit more easy and comfortable?

Sometimes I feel that sustainable living is the
last thing to be included in these never-ending, unfocused, biased, zero-resolution
and stupendous aggression-filled academic debates where many self-anointed
thinkers want to be seen to be making a ‘sensible’ point. More I read about socialists,
capitalists, communists and economists, more difficult it becomes to understand
these relationships betweenpoverty and
natural resources andconservation and
economy and politics and governance and…

And all this knowing makes me believe that
sustainable living for the average individual – especially for the average Indian with average
income and average ambitions – or even thinking of ‘sustainable living’ is an
above-average task. When told about the few things that I believe are my bit
towards sustainable living, the ‘thinkers’ laugh at me. However, I believe I am
doing it all right – didn’t somebody say that if your ideas are laughed at,
then most likely you are going the right way.

  • I shaved my head.

I did it solely for the environment. It was when
I got to know that all shampoos had some soapy material that was mostly made
from palm oil. I had heard about those palm oil crises and the more I read
about palm oil issues on Google, the sadder it made me feel. And this sadness
became grim when I read how all the shampoos from our bathrooms were polluting
our lovely rivers.

The only solution I could see from my end was to
let go of my voluminous hair. Of course, I feel better. I feel more aerodynamic;
it helps in running that extra mile, shedding an extra kilo; and overall this
bit lessens my weight on Planet Earth.

One more thing. Since it cannot be avoided in
summers, I bathe once a week. It takes care of both water and soap. Winters are
a blessing for sustainable lifestyle lovers.

  • I gifted my SUV to the Talibans.

Yes, you may say so. Talibs now have this weird
sense of ‘rich’ authority. They boast about their big wheels, they bully the little
cars on congested roads, and they also use that super stereo system to
propagate their doctrine, thanks to my gifted SUV.

However, I am relieved. I did it solely for the
environment. It was a gas guzzler, polluter and space occupier. And I really do
not have that Talib heart to stand by its side to get clicked for Facebook
pictures – making this peculiar ‘I have arrived’ statement. In fact, I arrive
late as I ride a bicycle.

  • I starve, almost.

Once, this go-back-to-the-roots and
live-like-apes propagator-cum-friend explained how every food that we bought in
the city was grown by smart sales and marketing guys who used farmers as their
tools. They injected crops with chemicals that made them grow faster, bigger
and in large quantities. And when these crops looked attractive and little
pests and insects wanted to eat them, the farmers pumped deadly poison to kill
these innocent and hungry pests.

I realized that if I continued to buy the farm
foods, a day would come when species of many innocent pests would be extinct.
Hence, I decided that I must eat less to conserve those species. I also confess
that I fast on a few occasions in solidarity with the dead pests.

I live
on packaged foods and colas.

I know you all have stories to tell about how
and from where most packaged food companies obtain their raw materials and what
all they do during the processing, etc., to harm the environment or the food’s
nutritious value. However, I do not care about that part. It is their business
as they to do it for their own economic sustainability.

I will rather look at the good part. Every shop
in the world that sells packaged food sells it in some packet. My friend from a
charity takes them all to engage some poor women in making useful and fancy
stuff with that waste. This stuff is bought by big-bindi, fat-beads-necklace South
Delhi women for their cause-fashion statement. My friend says that she is
‘empowering’ women.

  • I wear nothing. Almost.

Once upon a time, I had over a dozen shirts,
half-a-dozen pairs of jeans and trousers, many tees, and all that we wear
inside. All of these were made of cotton. One day I woke up enlightened and
went on the other side of fast and glamorous fashion. Cotton turned out to be
the most polluting material. I dumped my wardrobe. Not that I am not aware of
organic clothing, but my skin cannot take something so pure.

Did you say suede, leather, nubuck, fur…? Well,
my ‘wearing nothing’ is inspired by my favourite Bollywood actress as she bared
it all in solidarity with Peta. She did it for a day, and I do it.

  • I am not employed, nor am I an employer.

Ever thought like this? That unemployment is not
a problem of opportunity, resources or means, but simply a problem of the individual’s
will? No, I am not saying that those unemployed are not willing to get jobs; I
am saying that those employed are not ‘willing’ to quit their jobs.

Imagine if each one of you were to quit your
high-paying job. Those big companies who employ you and indulge in industrial
expansion in the name of economic development will not succeed much in such a
scenario, will they? The ones who can afford to put out Rs 100 crore ads for a Re
1 candy will not dominate. You will feel free.

  • I holiday in the summers.

Not because I get holidays in summers out of
turn, but because I cannot afford air conditioners in the plains and renting a house
in the hills is way cheaper.

Sometimes I compare the costs of shifting major
government headquarters from Delhi to Shimla to the bills of air conditioners.
Well, now that they claim everything is online and they are going hi-tech and
all, why not pack each employee with a laptop and put them on a Roadways bus to

Is it impractical? Didn’t the British do it in a
no-Internet age? And isn’t the system still their legacy?

  • Vasectomy I got done.

Are you not aware of the resources-versus-population
war? Well, with less than enough resources to sustain myself, how could I even
think of being party to resource depletion? In any case, I did my bit for
population control. In case you do not know, vasectomy does not affect orgasm.

Well, this is not it. I do have more to share
about my bits toward sustainability, but the average attention span of most
readers forbids me from stretching my luck. Also, my editor has got no time and
I have not much interest in writing for free—I calculate
my economic sustainability.

Hence, this is it.