Prajesh Khanal, 17
Prajesh Khanal is from Birtamod, Nepal, and has been working as a child rights activist for the last four years, after seeing the poor conditions that Nepalese children, who make up almost 50% of the population, endure. As the president of Municipal Child Forum, Damak, he works closely with Child-Friendly Local Governance, an initiative of the government of Nepal, to raise awareness of child labor rights and empower his community through workshops, trainings, and volunteering with refugee children. Khanal says his goal is to emphasize the concept that places of learning should be clean, green, safe, and peaceful.
Khanal is passionate about any issues concerning the environment. He frequently dreams of a world free of natural calamities caused by human activities such as landslides, mass deforestation, and floods. As the president of the Eco-Friendly Child Club at Himalaya Higher Secondary School, Khanal and his peers champion environmental preservation: sustainable development, peer and community education, and encouraging young people to take a stand for ecological consciousness. The club’s main campaign is called “I Consume My Oxygen” to educate school children on resource consumption and re-foresting of the surrounding area. The success of this initiative encouraged Khanal’s community to plant more trees and has been recognized as a Education for Sustainable Development Resource Center by UNESCO.
Khanal is very excited to attend the Congress and explore new ideas on concentrating public interests to conserve and promote awareness of the environment, which he believes, is the first lesson every child has to learn today.
By Prajesh Khanal
The word environment carries a vast and broadened meaning, but in general, we understand it as the physical environment containing different forms of life. The human relationship with the environment and nature is very interesting -- one depends on the other. Thanks to us humans and our never ending demands, the environment is now facing a number of problems that include global warming, ozone depletion, pollution in every form possible, and overpopulation. The earth can now no longer take it. It's our time to do something to save this environment.
There is nothing more left to be destroyed on this Earth. If you want a dreadful proof of it, just Google the (satellite) picture of earth and compare it with the one 50 years ago. Yes, do it! See what we have done to our home, and the lives of millions of other innocent creatures. We mean humans have neglected the importance and existence of our friends whose lives depend directly upon the nature and have no other options to it.
Environment conservation seems a boring topic and a huge thing to most of us. But it isn't. A small change in your daily activities or giving a few more minutes each day to environment will be a great contribution from us towards saving our home. A few of such "small" things that we can do to save the planet:
1. Quit Smoking Cigarettes and Consuming Tobacco
Cigarettes produce a lot of air pollution worldwide. Smoking is a major source of indoor pollution, and it is a harmful habit too. But smoking has been growing in epidemic proportions worldwide, and despite efforts to reverse smoking trends, the problem only seems to be getting bigger each year. Smoking pollutes the air, litters our streets, water, and results in accidental ingestion by small animals and children. In addition to the smoke, growing tobacco also does a serious harm to the environment. Tobacco must be grown, and that process puts a serious hit on the environment. The plant itself is very demanding, absorbing six times as much potassium from the soil as most crops do. It's not about the one or two cigarettes you smoke, it's about 15 billion cigarettes sold daily, and the countless harm they do to us, and our environment. So, quitting smoke and tobacco is a great contribution from one's side to conserving the environment.
2. Reduce Plastics
Plastic is a major source of pollution today. Although we are aware about the adverse effects of plastic in the environment, we use them quite carelessly, and do not tend to recycle them. Plastics may take up to 1000 years to decompose and the process gives out many harmful gases. Plastics water bottles, which quench our thirst for a couple of minutes, take up to 500 years to decompose. That's not fair, is it? So reducing the use, recycling and reusing the plastic is very important to combat global warming and to protect the environment.
3. Use Food and Water Reasonably
Food and water are the basic needs of life and it is becoming scarce with every passing day. Due to overpopulation and pollution, lack of cultivable land, there is less availability of food and water. One should use food reasonably and must not throw away food. Also, using water in a controlled way and not wasting it unnecessarily is also a must today. We can opt to toilets that use less water to flush, or take showers wisely, and many such ideas that can save water.
4. Turn Off Electricity When Not in Use
Electricity is one of the most important things today. Its importance is higher in such countries, where there is less production of electricity. It is better to switch to fluorescent light bulbs as they consume 75 per cent less energy and have more life in comparison to incandescent light bulbs. Be sure to unplug your electronic devices like the TV, computer etc before going out, or when not in use, because they consume electricity even if they are turned off or in stand-by mode. Also, opt for solar electricity where possible. When buying new appliances, seek for one with higher energy efficiency. It will not only save electricity consumption, but also will reduce the electricity bill.
5. Produce the Oxygen You Consume
We, today's generation, want to be independent in every aspects. We aim for financial independence, family independence and want to be able to fulfill many more necessities on our own. But why aren't we showing our interest to be independent on something that we need every moment? Yes, it’s Oxygen (the air we breathe). 8 trees, in their average lifespan, produce as much oxygen as one person needs. We can have a small change in how we celebrate our birthday, why not plant of at least one tree every year on your birthday to your celebration schedule? It will make your environment clean, green, peaceful, safe as well, and you will be a hero to the environment. Also, you will be independent in your basic necessity in a few years time.
This earth is our home. What we do to the nature comes back to us. If we are good to the nature, we get blessed with good health and prosperity. If we go on degrading it, it is sure that we'll be cursed with adverse natural calamities. We are fully dependent on the environment and it is our responsibility to conserve the environment. It should not be understood as an interest, as it is an important step to continue the existence of life on earth. So, let's vow to be environment friendly from now. Let's be a responsible human.