Can we sustain ourselves without depleting natural resources, so that all future generations also get to live a life like ours? SATHYA PRAKASH VARANASHI contemplates

If we get to stay in a hotel room, we look around before checking out to see if we left behind any belongings. For once, let us also look around to see in what condition we are leaving it.

Most often it’s such a mess, every hotel has to employee a fleet of house-keeping staff to clean it and ready for the next guest. Can we stay in a hotel room and leave it as if we have not used the room? Closer home, we see how people read a newspaper and then leave it clumsy, folded in all impossible ways. Can we read and put the papers back such that the next reader will also like to pick it up? We can watch a table in a fine dine restaurant where food is served with utmost care and presentation, which after the guests leave, would appear poles apart with the messiest looks.

Can we leave it clean and neat, though the dishes are used? All the order, beauty and patterns of a flower market are gone once the sales are over, and if not cleaned immediately, next morning there may be no market thanks to the rot and stench caused by the leftovers. Should it always be so? Any reader would say these are factual observations, but hypothetical questions, because the conditions before and after using cannot be the same. Humans tend to create disorder and wastage after using a space or a product; anyway we make arrangements to put them back in order and cart away the wastages. Millions of trees have grown and dried without causing a change on earth. Birds live and die leaving no trace of their life. Animals live consuming earth’s food and shelter, as if they have not used earth’s resources. Hence for millions of years, they all continue to be with the earth and the earth is with them. Everything appears to come from this earth and seems to go back to earth. There is a sacred balance on the earth. Can generations of humans live on earth and leave it for the next generations without damaging it? Can we live and die leaving no trace of destruction, as if we did not live on it? Can we sustain ourselves without depleting the resources of earth, such that all future generations also get to live a life like ours? Once upon a time, in the ancient past, humans might have lived so. What is called as civilized living might have changed it all. If so, are these ideas only paper dreams? Even if we cannot turn the clock back, can we discover newer means of sustainable living?

SATHYA PRAKASH VARANASHI