For a Green Bangladesh
Mohammad Shahidul Islam
According to some of the world's leading NGOs, global warming today threatens human advancement. The United Nations (UN) targets to lessen poverty could also be difficult to attain because of it. Oxfam, Greenpeace, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, WWF and 15 other NGOs state in a journal that governments of rich countries must immediately address climate change to avoid "obscene levels" of worldwide poverty. "Food production, water supply, public health and people's livelihoods are already being damaged and undermined," they say. "There is no either/or approach possible. The world must meet its commitments to achieve poverty reduction and also tackle climate change. The two are inextricably linked."
Bangladesh will be greatly affected by global warming. If we really want to save Bangladesh from the grips of global warming, we need to do take initiatives ourselves besides acting by the government's plan and policy. "Green" should be the buzzword for the people of Bangladesh. Above all, we need to welcome "Green technology" in our everyday lives.
In America and Europe, green technology is a broad term for more environment-friendly solutions -- whether it is manufacturing carpeting that produces zero landfill, developing a planned community, turning radioactive cesium into glass, or bringing down packaging of frozen foods. We do not need to be chemists to understand or use green technology. We can do our own research and use products that support the initiative.
Amenities and technology are frequently publicised as ways to make our lives easier. The ugly flip side is that many of the products and the technologies required to make them end up harming our environment. The industries and regulatory bodies of the country are taking steps in the right direction. But why should we wait for them to come up with all the answers? By using green technology, we can help heal our environment.
Let's see how this works. When we go grocery shopping, instead of using paper or plastic bags, we can buy our own reusable bags. Durable, washable bags made of cotton or jute can endure the weight of groceries. As we stroll down the walkways, we can buy various organic produces including eggs.
There is an abundance of cleaning products available today. We, in fact, need just a couple of all-purpose products to keep our house sparkling. Vinegar and baking soda are effective cleaning agents that do not harm the environment. Commercially popular laundry detergents are mostly using a petrochemical process. But if we buy one 50-ounce jug of laundry detergent made of vegetable oils, instead of petrochemicals, we can save 130,000 barrels of oil -- enough to heat and cool 7,500 homes for a year. Certainly, that is energy efficiency!
Petrochemicals make all synthetic fragrances, used in our aromatic shampoos, soaps, shaving creams, hairsprays and the so-called "air fresheners". We can opt for eco-friendly non-aromatic products, but we can also use natural fragrances such as an essential oil. We will save on oil consumption every time we make that choice.
Many construction materials release dangerous chemical gases that pollute the environment. We can pick materials that are made from sustainable products. Green chemistry develops products and processes to reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.
Many ready-made built-in cabinets we use in family rooms, are made of thin wood veneer covering, made of wood shavings pressed together with a lot of glue -- a blend that can silently give off formaldehyde gases for years. Instead, we may opt for cabinets made of solid wood like hard pine. Choose stains that contain no VOCs (volatile organic compounds), ditto for wall paint.
For carpeting, we should choose the "green minded" companies. They consciously use green technology for manufacturing and installation of their products. Products need to be made with minimal wastage in mind, and with materials that preserve indoor air quality as opposed to letting-off harmful chemicals. We should opt for furniture made of organic fibers avoiding synthetic glues, dyes, or finishing sprays during production. The cost is a little more, but the resultant benefit to the environment, including within our homes, is worth it. We use five to seven pounds of pesticides to spray an acre of lawn every year. That is as much, often more than farmers use to spray their sizeable crops. Switch to a service that uses all-natural lawn care. Within a year, the lawn would be greener and healthier than the neighbours' ones. And we will not have to worry about side effects when we walk across it.
Imagine a green Bangladesh. We hold the key to its mysteries.
(The writer is a faculty member of National Hotel and Tourism Training Institute, Dhaka Bangladesh)