Though I never thought to write on this topic, now it seems that it is essential to write about it. Although my family, doesn't celebrate Diwali, we loved to share the joy of it. During my pre-schooling and even in my elementary school, I always see Diwali as a time of holiday week.
And in those days, I was not even aware of how firecrackers harm the environment, but as I grew older, I started to realize the dark side of those firecrackers. It was the year 2016 when my school organized an annual function that was going to be held in November somedays after Diwali. At that time, I was in 5 grade, also, that year was my last year in that school. As my school was a franchised one, so the annual function was being conducted by four schools. That year it was the first time I saw smog and understood what it was about. I would not have much concerned about it but, as I saw myself coughing, and my friends too, I realized that this thing is harmful, but I did not know anything about that. On those days, I usually use to wake up at 5 and then start my journey which, was an hour and a half long and, during that journey, I was unable to see anything from my eyes because it was too harsh to see. Well, if you are wondering why this happens, it is because, at this point in time, stubble burning is practised. Although, as far as I am concerned, the villages near my places do not do these practices. Instead, they use those stubbles as the fodder for their animals. And, also Diwali and Dussehra contribute to this issue.
Now, moving forward to this day, the dynamics are very much different. According to various reports, India's 22 cities are listed in the top 30 most polluted cities in the world. Not only that, almost 99% of people living in India are breathing air that is above the WHO's defined limits of safe air quality. But this also is not the end of the list! The life expectancy of a child is reduced by 2.6 per cent; 1 in 8 deaths in India happens because of the bad air quality. These facts might be shocking to you, but! The dreadful thing is to live that life; imagine you open your eyes in a place where you are unable to breathe fresh air, you just want to get one, but you can't do that.
Just before Diwali this year, I was poorly suffering from cough and cold at night, it seemed like I was breathing gun powder, and because of this, I wasn't able to sleep as there was continuous noise of those firecrackers. At my place, there wasn't too much noise, but in my friend's place, who live in cities like Mumbai and Delhi, there was continuous bursting of firecrackers. On that day, firecracker bursting was partially banned in Delhi but, according to a news report by ndtv, 200 fire-related incidents were reported on Diwali despite the ban.
This is the screenshot above, which was taken on the eve of Diwali in my area. The terrible thing about this is that I don't live in any metropolitan city. But my place was possessing so much pollution on that day! Now below is the AQI of Delhi for the upcoming week which, may give you a bit idea about the condition of the air pollution.
As you may see that there is no sign of even moderate air quality. We all breathe that kind of air. So, people who have asthma or other respiratory diseases need to stay alert all the time. In fact, those who do not have those issues still need to focus on their health. So, are we allowed to breathe in this air or, it is, the case that we deserve better? I think we deserve the second option and, to do that, we should be more accurate and aware of every single step we take every day.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
There are plenty of ideas that we could implement to reduce air pollution. Some of them are listed below!
Take a pledge to drive one day less: If you are on Twitter, I am sure this initiative must hit your feed and, I loved that too. Many people are promoting this thing as it is good to drive one day less. Because we are now living in a situation where every action matter. This could help us save the younger generations (not saying the words; to protect our children because I am still a child). Here is a video that was hitting my Twitter so, I thought, "Why not share this?
Make a garden or have plants at home: Plants play an essential role in the reduction of air pollution as they absorb toxic materials. Luckily my family also has some plants and, we are trying to expand the collection. Here are some clips of our plants.
Go Green: This is the one tip that personally I am doing for more than a year. Try to go sustainable and environmentally friendly whenever possible. Like eating at home without creating waste, or quit using single-use plastic, etc. This will always help in making this place a better place and, remember that every step counts, so do not think that your step wouldn't matter.
Quit smoking: This can also help to reduce air pollution. In India, we are living in a situation where we have to inhale the air that is equivalent to do smoking. By quitting smoking, you can save each and every person's life and can help us by reducing the risk of lung cancer. Also, cigarette butts are not biodegradable and, when they are released into oceans, they harm marine life.
Use public transport: This one is the most obvious one when reducing air pollution. That is why I kept it at last. I only went out 3 times since the lockdown started and, my schools are being operated from home. That is why, as an individual, you can consider me as the person who lives at home. Talking about my family, my mom takes public transport while going to her school and even. And my Dad uses his own vehicle to drive to his office.
At last, I hope that this gave you some insights on how bad the air quality is and how we can stop this. So lastly, I just want to say, stay happy, stay safe, and also stay eco-friendly,