My New Year Resolution – 2019


[This is my last post of 2018. A very happy new year to all my readers. Stay well. Stay happy]

This week is going to be of Xmas celebrations and we are going to soon hit the New Year. Despite our difficult and painful lives, we all are looking forward to a positive and  a “feel good” 2019.

I asked my wife what should we plan for the 31st night.

Go out for a dinner with friends? The wife wasn’t excited with this option.

“All good places to eat out are booked and those available will be horrendously expensive” she retorted.

I suggested that instead we stay home, have a quiet dinner and have one of reserve wines at home and do some conversations that we seldom get an opportunity to do. We can then be in the bed watching television channels or a Netflix or Amazon movie that will help us to sleep with nice dreams.

“Too drab an idea” The wife said.

She had a long call with Kavita one of her close friends and the verdict came that we invite few of our friends’ home for dinner and celebrate the 31st night. The friends were to be close one, those who talk sense, i.e. don’t discuss politics, don’t overdrink and are willing to get food along (pot luck style)

I said fine.

“Kavita wanted to know what is going to be your new year resolution? Her husband Pravin has announced that he is giving up smoking. Another friend Vivek has wowed that he will shed 10 kgs in 2019 and stay maintained. His wife Anjali has decided that she will go Vegan. Each one is making a plan and will be talking about it when they will come home for dinner.

All want to know about your New Year resolution. Have you made any plan? I want you to come up with something that is much different from others – and please don’t be conventional like you are always” The wife said in a worrisome tone.

“Don’t worry” I said. I will say something extraordinary. I assured my wife

She however wasn’t convinced with my assurance. She insisted that I speak about it and NOW!. Such a nagging person she is.

“Ok, from January 1, 2019 onwards I will live a sustainable life”

I said this with utmost sincerity and as solemnly as possible.

I saw my wife shocked.

“This is terrible. No one will understand this sustainability jargon. Besides, this will hardly impress anybody. It does sound a bit unconventional though” She reacted in a rather disappointing tone.

She quizzed “Can you explain if someone asks you what is living sustainably? “I thought this sounded like a rehearsal.

I made an attempt.

“Easy, I will get up. Brush my teeth with a datun and not use the plastic toothbrush and the “chemical” toothpaste. Wont shave every day but just once a week and on Sundays. This will reduce water consumption, reduce use of shaving cream and aftershave and the hazard of disposable shaving blades.

I will take shower with cold water. I will not use hot water even if that was heated by a solar panel (as there are serious end of life impacts of exhausted PV cells).

I will dry myself with a towel that is not dyed (reducing thereby manufacturing of nasty chemical dyes) and reuse three times before giving for washing or until it stinks. I will use toilet paper that is not bleached white. These simple steps will improve India’s resource security, reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 20 tons/year according to Gabi – a popular and no-nonsense Life Cycle Assessment software.

I saw that my wife was impressed and was listening attentively.

“There will be radical changes in my clothes as well. No full shirts from January 2019. I will wear only half shirts as a policy (like short dhoti by Mahatma Gandhi). This decision will tremendously reduce the environmental overburden as it will cut down 0.6 meters of cloth per shirt, associated consumption of dyes, water used in making and in washing  and of course the amount of detergents. Remember that the cloth I will use will be developed out of the waste fabric and blend plastic found on the oceans. I will thus sport circularity”

“Oh, you will look really unconventional when you will dress up this way” The Wife was now even more impressed. But you must talk about it. She sounded practical.

I thought she was right. Sustainable living must be loudly communicated and bragged about. Otherwise how will people know.

“I will now reach office using a bicycle. This will help reduce air emissions and help improve Mumbai’s Air Quality Index. Besides it will help me to exercise daily, saving fees to the Gym. I will become fit and slim reducing thereby my medications. Sustainable living saves costs.

I am asking driver Ganesh to resign from January 1, 2019.  I will give him an alternate job or a good retirement package so that there is no adverse social impact on his family due to my sustainable living.”  I was sure that these behavioral changes and generosity will impress my friends and make them guilty as most drive the diesel SUV guzzlers.

“Oh, you have to practice using cycle first as you haven’t ridden a cycle for years. And remember you are not in Amsterdam but in Mumbai. Mumbai roads are not designed for cycles. Perhaps, we could think of shifting your office close to our house so that you could simply walk. Of course, walk with a mask. The wife said while pouring ginger tea in my mug.

I was aware that this office shifting decision will cost me a lot but who cares. Afterall, living sustainably is more important. But I should somehow manage to monetize the reduced GHG emissions” I spoke to myself.

I continued

“There will be no plastic water bottles in my office. And there will be no air conditioners. Vegan food will be compulsory for the staff as it reduces global warming. All illumination will be with energy efficient lighting. These measures will reduce our costs and we will become more competitive.

Waste from the office will be minimum and if waste is generated then will be sent for recycling. This  will lead to improvement in the livelihoods of the waste pickers and recyclers of Mumbai. Everybody will be happy as “they and us” will profit from our drive on sustainability”

“Aha, so you mean sustainability can help making profits, I didn’t realize”. My wife was now really excited. “If you save or make money by practicing sustainable living, then I can shop more in the malls ”

I was stunned by her thinking, but I didn’t argue as I saw innocence on her face.

“Talking about shopping, I will visit only those malls who are built as green buildings even if they charge more for all that organic food. I will not buy an imported  strawberry jam from the United States and instead shop the strawberry jam made in Mahabaleshwar. Local shopping is the key in living sustainably”

“Oh, you are now taking like a Messiah. I see your face glowing with the knowledge of the ultimate truth”

My wife offered me a buttered toast to go with the Ginger tea.

I realized that I was getting bit carried away and needed to “slow down” my “marketing” towards sustainability. I should not hurry and talk too much on 31st  night. I said to myself.

But I continued.

“And while others may have wine, I will stay away from wine from 31st night onwards. I will do this not because my diabetes but because the embedded water in a bottle of wine. Do you know that 125 ml of wine in a glass consumes 125 liters in the making? By giving up on wine, I will help in improving the water security of the world”

“Oh, this is so thoughtful of you” The wife offered me some more Ginger Tea. “All this you must explain to your friends on 31st night”. I saw dimples on her face when she smiled.

I slurped the tea that she poured and gave her my last idea.

“Till I get accustomed to use then bicycle or find money to my new office near our house or rehabilitate driver Ganesh, I will work from home on all Tuesdays. Working from home (called telecommuting) for a day every week will reduce the fossil fuel consumption and so the GHG emissions”

The wife was not too happy.

“I don’t think this is a good idea as on all Tuesdays,  we the wives, meet at our place for book reading. All these women will hate your presence. You better work from your office and doesn’t matter if there will be some GHG emissions.”

And please don’t be so unconventional”

I saw my wife’s  face was disturbed.

I retreated. I went to the library room – my usual hiding place.

I realized that to my wife sustainable living was something unconventional to talk about. Something so simple and straightforward an interpretation.

Oh, now I understood how to communicate sustainable living.

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  1. Whatever the NYR finally be, hope you have a great year ahead and keep jostling the mind and the funny bones with your blog posts. Best wishes for the new year Sir.

  2. I read this piece quite sustainably while watching badminton on TV. You may add this sport to your SD menu.

    Best wishes and happy Christmas and the coming new year 2019

  3. waow..what a great idea of live life sustainably! Our grand parents used to live their lives like you mentioned sir…I don’t know why our generation could not adopted those ways of sustainable living once we adopted all family rituals from them?

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