MIDWAY : Green fee

Last summer, Ladakh, the north-west territory of India bordering Tibet saw heavy rainfall. The ‘end of the habitable land’, as this barren land is often referred to, seldom witnesses monsoon due to great Himalayan barrier. The Ladakhis were not prepared to welcome one. Consequently, the deluge made home inside their homes. That happened at 3500m.

Simultaneously, at sea level in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, it was snowing! At normal times in summer, the Great Indian Desert can go up to 50 degrees Celsius. Well, why go that far? Weren’t Kathmanduites thrilled to see the emerald valley covered in snow after 62 years?

Musing over these bizarre natural phenomena, I understood why. When I receive certain mails, one footnote invariably pops up: please do not print this message unless it is absolutely indispensable. The underlying message: save at least a leaf of a tree, and help nature manifest in a less bizarre manner.

Well, it may be more pleasant to print a colourful mail in a beautiful white paper and read it than pore over it on a lifeless cold screen. Likewise, one may even cherish the fragrance of fresh ink and paper, and the multicolour printout may be a joy to behold.

However, here’s some food for thought: if only one per cent of what is printed every day around the globe is reduced, some good stretch of forest can be saved somewhere. Similarly, some ‘green carpets’ of meadows, pastures and grasslands may be spared so future generations of both ‘man and beast’ may frolic.

Toilet paper is another case in point. Once, a friend confided that he had a queer habit of putting a wad of toilet paper inside commode prior to answering nature’s call. This seemingly harmless habit had repercussions: reams of toilet paper creating storms inside the toilet in order to clear the clogged passage (would you mind economising some water, please?). Again, more use of toilet paper implies greater destruction of forests; hence all kinds of natural calamities.

At last, while it may not be that sensible to tell someone, ‘go to the toilet only if it is indispensable’, one might get away with: Use paper only when it’s indispensable, and save at least a sapling, if not a tree.