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Let’s Go Green in a Practical Way

It was half past five in the morning. The melodious sound of jaling from a nearby lhakhang heralded the dawn of Dragon Kingdom’s 103rd National Day. It was on this very day, December 17, exactly a century and three years ago, our small landlocked nation wrote her future. And as Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck ascended the Golden Throne as the first hereditary King of Bhutan, our forefathers had decided literally to give birth to a unified country, spelling an end to the endless struggles. Thus, the significance of this day can never be overstated as it is etched in the hearts and minds of every Bhutanese citizen, young and old alike.

It is not just a day to celebrate, reflect and revisit extraordinary deeds of our kings and forefathers who gifted us this nation with all its glory, but also it is a moment for us every Bhutanese to be grateful for everything that we are and that we rightfully have. More appropriately, it is a time to offer our commitment to the king, the country and the people of this nation in body, speech and mind. Can an occasion be more fitting than this?

We hoisted our National Flag and sung National Anthem in unison, joining the entire nation with pride – a symbolic gesture of our immense gratitude. It is a once in a year occasion, an opportunity for us to be selfless and really ruminate on returning something back to this nation. Our pledge need not necessarily be big. We all know that. There are so many small things we can do and yes, those within our means.   

We have promises and commitments to keep for ourselves, our children, our king and our people. For instance, it is time to quit smoking and say NO to harmful drugs. This is the best we can do to ourselves. But in his address to the nation on the 103rd National Day His Majesty firmly stressed on the “shared responsibility” and as Druk Gyalpo aptly pointed out, if we truly work for the good of our society responsibly with honesty, we can achieve so much for the good of everyone.

We all know this country is confronted with a number of issues and we also know we are all responsible. One of the serious issues face today is the waste management. Numerous awareness campaigns are held every year across the country on this very subject. Millions of ngultrums are being spent in an effort to keep our cities clean. Talks after talks are being conducted all year round. But do we really need someone to tell us how we must manage our own wastes? Or isn’t it time that we take some initiatives to support our struggling city officials?

I am really fascinated by Bhutan Telecom’s initiative to combat our city-wastes. In its three-day (December 16 -18, 2010) Go Green effort, B-Mobile promised to collect its used vouchers, most of which lie idly in the streets, around the waste bins, in the drains, on the road, everywhere. In exchange for every 100 used vouchers, a customer wins a free Power Voucher. It is sad that we need to be given incentives even to clean our own surrounding, but this is the only way. I see this as an excellent and noble idea to maintain our surroundings. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if companies do that to take care of the wastes that they produce? Similarly, if all people take responsibility for the waste that they generate.

While B-Mobile’s three day initiative has ended encouraging thousands, should we carry out similar kind of activities all year long? Or should it be a mere occasional episode. By doing this, I see two things happening. First, henceforth people will (hopefully) not throw their used vouchers carelessly everywhere because even after the voucher has been used, it still has certain value. And second, there will always be people gathering these used cards day in and day out.

This is where we see stakeholders, agencies and NGOs sponsoring similar campaigns. We bet it is not really much, considering future consequences. Now that’s just B-Mobile mess! What about TashiCell used vouchers? And who will gather empty cigarettes packets? Who will collect used mineral water and soft drink bottles? Who will gather fruit juice packets? Who will collect chewing gum and candy wrappers? It is time for those responsible companies and agents to do something too.  

As this great nation enters another new year, let’s promise her, in words and in deeds, something that’s achievable, something that’s feasible, something that’s practical and something that’s within our means. And anything beyond this is hypocrisy embodied. Go Green initiative is far more than wearing green outfits.

(The above post appeared in Bhutan Times issue of December 19, 2010)

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