Sunday, June 19, 2016

6 Sustainable Living Tips My Dad Taught Me

It's Father's day today, specially around this time we look back and think how much our dads taught us and how they are huge part in making us what we are now.

Me and my husband are taking efforts to make our son Eco-aware from early years. But today I realized my dad had played a major role in making me Eco-minded. So I am going share those 6 Eco-living tips with you which my dad taught me over the years, mostly without knowing. Because that is his way of life.
Me with My Dad at backyard of our Family Home

1. Be kind to animals!

Kindness must be one of the greatest quality in my dad. He has always been kind to people around him including less fortunate strangers. So no surprise he is kind to animals as well. We had a tradition in family to keep water and food for animal visitors to our family home including birds, cows, cats and dogs.

My dad being a charitable soul, always buy food for poor people when out and makes sure he is giving food to animals wondering on streets (we have many in India!). He used to particularly get upset when he used to see animals loaded with very heavy luggage. I remember him talking to people involved and draw their attention to it. My disliking for zoos may be is taken from my dad, he never liked animals kept in small cages and are not taken care properly.

2. Travel to see the Nature, forget about luxuries!

I have inherited wanderlust genes from my dad. He is a travel junkie in real sense, ready to travel anytime with equal enthusiasm.

He knows India so well from his extensive travel experience, many people used to ask for his help to plan their itinerary. During summer holidays dad used to come up with travel plans and we just used to pack bags and leave house. Hats off to my mom as well, who used to support my dad's spontaneous travel decisions almost every time. We used to take public transport many times, as the sudden travel plans didn't allow us to book private transport in advance in peak travel season. Dad used to tell us, you get the real feel of the place only when you travel like a local! Now you know when I promote public transport for sustainable lifestyle, I have huge experience of using it since my childhood! We never got bored on journey; observing the changing terrain in long journey on trains, talking about trees, rivers, mountains and making new friends were the things we used to do. My dad had always some interesting information to share with us about the places on the way to our destination. He is great at making friends with strangers, he has helped many and we always received help when we needed.

My dad used to say, if you want luxury. better you don't leave your home. But if you want to travel then take things as and how they come. May be that's why it was never difficult for me going on camping without missing luxuries.

So stopping in mountain roads spontaneously to have fun in seasonal streams in monsoon or jumping in water on a beach, just after arriving, getting clothes stained with red mud and instead of complaining laughing about it were things we used to do on travel. Going for trekking with picnic to nearby hills used to be our favorite weekend plans.

Last trip I did with my dad was few years back, when I went to India for a sustainability course in Hyderabad. My dad came to meet me and planned few days of fun. When I have my dad with me, I don't need a guide, travel agent or TripAdvisor! It was my dad who insisted and took me to Nehru zoological park in Hyderabad to show me the white tiger, which I never seen before. Looking back on that I cherish that special memory! How many people's dads take them to the zoo-park in another city after they are grown up?

3. Get Out doors

You don't have to travel far to experience Nature, it is just outside your home. One fond memory I have with my dad is endless nights on roof. We used to lie down on roof under the sky, watch white clouds and try to figure out changing shapes and figures out of it. My dad used to enjoy teaching me about night sky. I knew very early on Mars is a red star and Venus is brightest in the sky and things like that; thanks to my dad! I developed lot of interest in astronomy in my childhood and later in astrophysics. I even represented my school for astrophysics competition and won prizes. My dad used to take me to sky trips and used to complain about light pollution in city. Those were important lesson in making me Eco-aware.

We need to learn and teach our children the joy of simple things from nature. My parents did that to me, first flower blooming on the plants planted by me used to get celebrated in our family. Picking fruits from trees and arranging farm trips in outskirts of city were our regular activities. Enjoying seasonal fruits and seasonal farm goodies was one important tradition in my family introduced me to sustainable food way before I learnt professionally.

My dad used to take us to riverside and we used to walk along the river up to the waterfall. Looking at different shrubs and flowers along the way on our nature trail. After a swim in river, we used to picnic on the rocks on riverbank. My dad is a great swimmer and has even saved lives. Now when my dad look at the same river he complains there is no fun remaining, as the river is polluted in all these years, while my city kept developing.

Now when my son wants to go out and play, when we visit his grandparents place; my dad is only person who is ready every time without getting tired! He now loves to take my son to different places and introduce little guy to outdoor fun in my home town.

4. Do more need less

My dad has lived a minimalist life, so is my mother and my grandparents on both sides. May be it runs in both families! Every time I visit home, I want to take something for them and my parents never ask for anything, they even tell me in advance not to buy anything for them because they don't need anything. Rather their personal needs are so little that they don't really shop for themselves regularly! Do more need less, is actually our family tradition.

When it comes to do more, we always got tremendous support. My dad has gone extra miles to give me experiences and supported me in whatever good things I started doing. He still does that! My parents are saying since years to us 'experiences make you smarter not belongings'. I don't remember a single 'no' from my dad if I wanted to learn something new or wanted any new experience.

My dad a great swimmer, cyclist, melodious singer, great communicator, lifetime traveler, loves reading and none of this is his profession! Explains a lot, right!

5. Volunteer

Being a charitable person, my dad loves to volunteer for good causes. If my school needed to raise money for new facilities  they used to ask me to pass the message to my dad. My dad using his great power to connect with other human being, used to raise funds for causes. I feel proud to see certificates he received for blood donation. He was connected to numerous charitable organizations and even sponsored education of a tribal student. Just by his example, I learnt joys of giving back.

So volunteering for different environmental organizations in UAE now is so natural to me. When you support anyone a charitable organization, social cause or even an individual who needs support; it gives you immense satisfaction. Giving back to society is very important part of sustainable living, as one of the three basic pillars of sustainability is social aspect.

6. Preserve the child inside you

I have to admit I am blessed with parents who have preserved the child in them. They both can laugh and live to the fullest, having no idea how special they are! They used to play with us like a child. They were never ashamed of running with us for fun.

My son too is blessed with a father like mine, who runs, jumps and even climbs a tree while playing with kids! If you see a 'family of children' in any park in Dubai coming winter, without doubt be sure it's our family!
My son and husband in park

I think as we grow up we forget to experience the life at it's pure form, like a child! We forget and hesitate to be curious, to smile at stranger, to start conversation with stranger and express joy like a child, that child like excitement. We even get ashamed of becoming happy for simple joys of life. But in that sense my dad hasn't grown up yet, even after going through lot of ups and downs in his life. He is one great example for me and even my husband to be as natural as content.

And now don't ask me how is it related to sustainable living! Because first we need to live authentic, close to our real self then only we can live close to nature and preserve it!

These are few important life lessons my dad taught me through his own example, which helped me to live sustainable. Now I feel it's my most important responsibility to pass on these precious lessons to my son, not sure if I can do that with that ease? That is the biggest challenge, my dad has kept in front of me!


Priyanka Wade said...

Very touching post Amruta - straight from the heart.

Candice Isaac said...

Great advices, I think my favourite would be Do More Need Less and Preserve the child in you!

This is a good read

Tarana Khan said...

This is all really great advice, and some to carry with you forever.

Amruta Kshemkalyani- Tavkar said...

Thank you Priyanka, Candice and Tarana for reading the post and for your comments!
I think what our parents teach us, always stay with us and it means we need to be more cautious as parents!