Towards Sustainable Living by Chintagunta Lavanya

Article Posted in: Essay

An Essay by Chintagunta Lavanya
Published in Volume IV, Issue XXXVII, February 2018


‘The Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed’

-Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi’s observation had an influence on the introduction of sustainable development as a global issue and Gandhiji was among the very few people who acknowledged the importance of sustainable living at the early stages itself. It is general humans’ instinct to consume resources every minute of each day without ever worrying about the impact that might crop up and endanger survival. As a result, tremendous pressure is put on the resources of the earth on account of our consumptive lifestyle. This has led to the concept of sustainable Living, which is all about practising a lifestyle that uses Earth’s Natural resources frugally and economically as possible, in order to avoid environmental damage and safeguard the environment for future generations. It is a term that denotes a continuing way of life, which is an important factor to consider while planning the preservation of the environment. However, it follows an approach based on both social and ecological neighbourhood’s ability to tackle sustainability issues.

Neighbourhoods are included in the basic building blocks of cities, modest size physical units that make up the residential portion of the urban area and form the environment that we all inhabit every day. One’s everyday experiences can be quoted to substantiate one’s  stress on sustainable living

The Currency Nagar neighbourhood is a familiar place, a residential colony nestled in an area between a national highway and other smaller settlements, in the Vijayawada Metropolitan Region, Andhra Pradesh. It is known that urbanization leads to an increase in population along with an increase in the effect on the ecology and its resources. In a similar way, in the years following 2014, this area began to experience development because of the upcoming new capital, Amaravati. Gradually population increased, so did their energy and resource consumption too. So how can this neighbourhood adopt sustainable living? The answer lies in inculcating eco-friendly habits! Since it is majorly a residential colony and lots of power is consumed for different activities, sustainable living can be integrated by having sustainable homes which make use of renewable resources. People can shift from conventional power utilization to solar energy panels for daily activities. Adding on, unplugging devices while not in use and using CFLs will result in saving energy and also in downsizing electricity bills. Small-scale gardens can be planned in open spaces to encourage food production and consumption at a local level, thereby reducing the use of transport to go to markets.With food raised from urban gardens, negative eco-impacts are reduced in numerous ways. Such gardens also create an aesthetically pleasing environment. Sustainable living also means careful use of water through simple and everyday measures. Shorter showers, installing low flush toilets, preventing the excessive water loss while washing dishes or clothes are some ways which increase indoor water efficiency.

Resource efficiency can also be achieved by using recycled, reusable or recyclable content, which in simple terms means discouraging the use of plastic. Another practical practice I came across was to reduce dumping trash into a landfill to just a small bag’s content. This can be tried at each household level, which will culminate in minimizing waste. Furthermore, using cars for short trips under 2 km can be substituted with healthy walks or cycling. Public transport can be preferred only for long distance travels and contribute to reducing our carbon footprint.Small adjustments to one’s lifestyle can create a vast difference. It all starts with experimenting, exploring and creating sustainable practices that reflect sustainable living which can be sustained through lifelong commitment.

The solution to sustainable living can be found in few Indian villages, which emerge as centres of experimentation in sustainable living. These thriving eco-villages in our country are our guides to learning grass root solutions to pressing environmental problems. Surrounded by picturesque fields, we have people living in thatched houses, using organic farming techniques, making their own fertilizers, operating biogas plants converting waste into energy. Sometimes, a solution is not always related to the use of high technology, but it is through simplifying our lifestyles. The mantra of development should be spirituality allied technology that allows us to reduce our greed for resources and live in harmony with nature. Planning, designing and inculcating a behavioural change at an individual level in a local neighbourhood can create peace in life and around us.

As to the role of a planner in promoting sustainable living, it is highly suggested that sustainability principles be embedded throughout the planning process thus making it easy and empowering to make better replacements from scratch. Planning systems should recognize and give attention to sustainable measures that play an important role in overcoming unwanted effects of the environment. Promoting a mixed land use will restrict the movement of people from going too far away places to fulfil their needs. This measure will help in decreasing the number of activities that increase the carbon footprint of our neighbourhood.Pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods should be encouraged to promote cycling and walking to a large extent. The concept of orienting buildings to favour reduced energy consumption is needed while planning a colony or a block. There are numerous proposals that include moving to prefabrication, green roofing, solar panelling, energy efficient building codes, unpaved areas development, insulation, etc. to echo sustainable planning. It can be said that compact development is suitable for sustainable living. Retrofitting the concept of sustainable living into the urban framework is useful not only for us but also for all future generations. There is still an opportunity to emulate the model of sustainable living in present time for the upcoming future. In conclusion, a quote from the father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi does emphasize the need of the hour. The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problem.” It is everyone’s responsibility to preserve mother earth through sustainable living practices – every little effort counts!


Introduction to the Author: 
Chintagunta Lavanya is a final year student of School of Planning and Architecture Vijayawada pursuing bachelors in urban and regional planning. Her area of interest is Infrastructure Planning and Transportation Planning.

Explore More in: General Essay

Read More Articles: