This World Environment Day, doing something, be it small or big, is a huge stride towards protecting the environment rather than only discussing and thinking
Indubitably, today, we are more cognizant of saving the environment from pollution than ever before.
We discuss and think about the consequences of having a healthy environment and vice versa. As we are gradually becoming more educated on this priority issue, we are getting more informed on the importance of conserving natural capital.
However, just knowing and talking will help very little.
If we ask ourselves, when was the last time we did a little favour to save the environment? Or when was the last time we felt the urge of doing something to save our environment?
Doing something, be it small or big, is a huge stride towards protecting the environment rather than only discussing and thinking.
Despite our enhanced knowledge, we often doubt on as to how to contribute to saving natural resources, avoiding deforestation or the like.
We think of these as big problems and solving them, we contemplate, are beyond our capacities.
Big problems, fair enough, they are, but thinking it is impossible to solve them is something we do wrong.
And at times, we barely bother to do anything in this regard; for example, we literally throw all types of waste on the road instead of taking the advantage of (limited) designated garbage bins and this, in turn, pollutes the environment.
There are many simple ways, that everyone knows, to save the environment but paying attention to these to execute the needful matters the most.
Here I would harp on a few such things.
For instance, we can plant more trees, can't we? It's simple, isn't it?
While growing urbanization makes it difficult to choose open space to plant trees in a city like Dhaka, we nevertheless can have more trees planted in cities and certainly in rural areas.
Notably, trees provide a multitude of benefits, both in the short and long run. As well as being attractive aesthetically, they improve air quality as natural purifiers, slow down heavy rain, reduce the risk of flooding, provide natural shade and the like.
They further act as carbon sinks and therefore, when planted in good numbers, trees have strong climate change mitigation effect.
Often, we are wasteful too. Don't we forget to switch off lights, fan or air conditioner in our room before leaving it?
We should bear in mind that one's luxury is someone else's necessity.
Electricity conserved at one place can be utilized in other to help increase access to electricity or perhaps be used for more gainful purposes.
A deeper meaning of such conservation may be best understood when one chews over the ecosystem of electricity generation.
Simply put, reduced demand, attributed to conservation, in the long run, would result in less power generation by the utilities and therefore, less resource consumption with reduced pollution.
Water is an important natural capital. Lamentably, it is us, who overuse water and pollute it.
If the steps are factored into the analysis, until the water reaches us, the process necessitates extraction, filtration and distribution of water, which, needless to say, is energy-intensive.
When we overuse this water, we eventually waste time, energy resources and money.
Along with depletion of energy resources, greenhouse gases (GHGs) are being released into the atmosphere, adding to the already plentiful stock of GHG emissions.
Moreover, with rising population and enhanced economic activities, demand for freshwater is also on the rise.
Different countries are confronted with challenges of freshwater availability during different seasons based on the stocks of water they are endowed with.
As climate change intensifies and the precipitation patterns change, the freshwater crisis may deepen in the foreseeable future.
Efficient use of water, as such, is the need of the time and the simplest way to save water is to turn off the water taps after use.
The garment and textile sectors, in fact, not only boost the economy when they generate foreign currencies but also accommodate several million workforces.
However, the textile industries are supposed to install and operate Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) in order to treat water before discharging it to the nearby rivers or waterbodies.
As the regulatory pressure has mounted over the years and with growing concern over pollution, many of the textile units have set up ETPs.
But regrettably, some industries don't run the ETPs and discharge heavily polluted water, causing irreversible damage to our rivers as far as their natural ecosystem is concerned.
Of course, private entities would pursue profit maximization, it is their responsibility as well to internalize the external cost of pollution.
Remarkably, the World Environment Day is being observed each year on 5 June with a specific theme to enhance our awareness on the importance of saving the environment and understanding the emerging environmental problems.
This year the theme is "It's Time for Nature", while last year the attention was on "beating air pollution".
While thematic field under broader environment topic changes every year, the objective eventually is to protect the environment and make the world liveable, both for present and future generations.
In addition, we organize different environmental events globally round the year, aiming at awareness raising and capacity development vis-à-vis environmental protection.
Despite all the efforts, as follows from this analysis, we are yet to fully be accustomed to applying even the simplest measures to protect the environment and we are wasteful of resources in general.
However, since we have only one "resource-constrained planet" to live on, we need to start taking care of its environment and step up to at least execute the measures over which we have full control.
Even a small step, be it planting a tree or reducing avoidable resource wastage at an individual level to conserve natural capital matters.
The author is an Environmental Economist and a Humboldt Scholar. Currently a Senior Advisor in an International Development Agency.