This article has been written by Atchatha Murali pursuing a Training program on Using AI for Business Growth from Skill Arbitrage.

This article has been edited and published by Shashwat Kaushik.


What if you wake up from your bed one day and realise that instead of an ocean view apartment, you are actually in the ocean? What if one day you find out there is no gas for your car or no conventional means to generate electricity to power your house? These are not hypothetical situations. They may well be a reality within 30-40 years. Since the first invention of spinning Jenny to automate the textile industry in 1764, every single invention or discovery during the industrial revolution for the past 200 years has tremendously improved human quality of life, making the world a global village. Those facilities, which were considered luxuries affordable only by royalties, have become basic standards of living for even the common man. But everything comes with a cost and a responsibility. For instance, fossil fuels, which take millions of years to form, were discovered approximately 200 years ago. But with the current rate of consumption, it may become a very rare commodity in almost 50 years. Even if new pouches of fossil fuels are  found in the near future, we will definitely punch a hole in the ozone with the alarming level of greenhouse gases emitted. Environmental sustainability is the key to ensuring that this nightmare doesn’t become a reality. Environmental sustainability is the mindful use of resources in the present without compromising on future needs. In simple terms, “can we afford to use it now or would we end up having to dance the winter away?”

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Sustainable development goals (SDGs)

In 2015, the UN came up with 17 goals to be achieved by 2030, which were an urgent call for action by all countries in global partnership.They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth—all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. Every single goal had all three aspects of sustainability on the agenda, namely environment, social and governance. These 17 SDGs have been the blueprint for all the further global agendas, like the one’s compiled at the G20 summit. Of these 17 goals, SDG 3 (healthy lives and wellbeing), SDG 6 (water and sanitation), SDG 7 (ensuring access to clean and affordable energy), SDG 11 (cities and human settlements), SDG 12 (sustainable production and consumption), SDG 13 (climate changes), SDG 14 (oceans, seas and marine resources), and SDG 15 (terrestrial ecosystems) are largely related to the environmental dimension.

A few government initiatives related to the SDGs :

  • The National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) is providing adequate water with a minimum water quality index of 80.34 percent to 56% of the rural population. Also, more than 90% of the urban population has direct drinking water connections to their localities.
  • Namami Gange is a mission aimed at the rejuvenation of the river Ganga, apart from ensuring the sustainable use of the river water.
  • The portal “National Portal for rooftop solar” as of date has 57777 beneficiaries for whom the solar panels have been provided at a subsidised rate.
  • The National Biogas and Manure Management Programme aims to connect the toilet to biogas plants, thereby providing clean cooking fuel and organic manure to households through family type biogas plants
  • Other schemes like Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana Saubhagya (home electrification project), PAHAL (LPG subsidy), Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (agricultural electrification project), and Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (biomass to alternate fuel transitions) have been implemented.

Role of the global citizen in environmental sustainability

The escalating environmental challenges, including climate change, pollution, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity, require a collective effort to be addressed. Adopting sustainable practices in our daily lives can contribute to mitigating these issues. It is not just something to merely consider but an urgent obligation that needs to be done right now. The following are a few ways we can contribute:

The 3 ‘R’s – the pillars of sustainability.

‘Reduce Reuse And Recycle’ is one of the simplest mantras we can incorporate in our everyday lives. In our craze for better possessions or fake status, we are consuming more than what we actually want. According to statistics provided by the website Statista, more than two billion metric tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) are generated worldwide every year. While e-waste is a fast-growing stream, food is still the most common form of waste, accounting for almost 50 percent of global MSW generation, yet 783 million people go hungry every day. Most of the waste generated can be sufficiently recycled to make it fit for reuse. 

What can we do: 

  • carry simple cutlery like spoons,  bottles and boxes to carry our leftovers, thereby reducing restaurant food and plastic waste. 
  • Either manually recycle what can be recycled or separate the waste according to the locally prescribed standards before trashing it into the bin to assist in the proper recycling of the waste.

Energy conservation

Most of our energy needs are still met by conventional means of power generation, like fossil fuels. Though efforts are being made to incentivize non- conventional greener means like solar and wind energy, there is scope for more improvements as the installation and maintenance of these would still depend on conventional energy sources. But still, efforts are being made.

As of 2022, our per capita energy consumption for 8.0 billion people was 57.6 kWh. Per capita energy consumption increases when the country gets more industrial. 

What can we do: 

  • The most basic habit of turning off appliances like fans and lights when not in use could translate to a large reduction in consumption when we see it on a global scale.
  • Try to transition into a greener energy source there by creating more demand and reducing production and installation costs, which is the biggest reason people are not opting for those means.

Water conservation

It is very apt to say that “the way of water is the way of life.” The river basins have been the cradle of many civilisations. Even a 6th grader can comprehend how essential water is for our survival and knows that though our planet is 70% water, only 0.3 is potable liquid water. Yet we drain our water source and plan our urban habitat on lakes and river encroachments. Over half of the water in lakes and freshwater reservoirs has already dried up. There are even speculations that water will be the new “oil” and will rule the global currency. 

What can we do:

  • Turn the taps off when not needed, even if it is for a few seconds, thereby reducing the consumption.
  • Use the water more than once. For instance, reuse the water waste from the water filters to flower the plants.
  • Recycle the water when possible. Even the water waste from the washing machine can be reused by treating it with potash alum stone and filtering the sediments. 
  • Consciously avoid lake and river encroachments.

Sustainable transportation

In 2022, 7.6% of the world GDP was from travel and tourism. Shipping and trade have dominated the world’s GDP with 50-60% share. Development in every single sector is directly or indirectly owing to fast transportation. But the fuel and energy needed for it are responsible for 75% of greenhouse gas emissions and 90% of CO2 consumption. 

What can we do:

  • We may walk or use rental bicycles when the distance is within a km or two.
  • Using public transportation or car pooling will additionally contribute to the local economy, apart from reducing the carbon footprint of the area.

Mindful consumption

The Industrial Revolution was all about moving the ball from the court of producers to consumers. Every single commodity was made available and affordable to everyone and because income and expenditure spiralled to new heights, the entire ecosystem of the world economy skyrocketed to new heights. The famous quote “just because we can doesn’t mean we should ” precisely conveys mindful consumption. The electronic waste generated is more than 20 kilogrammes per person per year. The used clothes in good condition are recirculated into the developing nation’s markets for a lower price, thereby crippling the local weavers and tradesmen. Also, to improve net profit, demand is artificially created by showcasing articles as symbols of the elitist class or as basic requirements for survival. 

What can we do: 

  • wait for 3 days before buying an item to check if we actually want it or are we giving into our momentary impulse?
  • Shun the social taboo of “one time use” and utilise everything till it cannot be used anymore and donate it when you have more.


So as to venture into a prosperous 22nd century, every individual needs to pitch in. Frugal living can be one of the easiest ways to reduce our ecological footprint. If we are wondering what impact it will have when industries are pumping pollutants into the environment, only our demand runs the supply. But in the name of going green, we can’t afford to tip the economic scale. So a balance has to be achieved. But what is the exact point between supporting the economy and being a responsible green consumer? This is a question we need to decide for ourselves.



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