Mothers with a message

Updated: May 11, 2019, 07:17 IST | Snigdha Hasan | Mumbai

On the eve of Mother's Day, meet four mums who are passing on green values to their kids to raise them as environment-conscious citizens

Mugdha Joshi reads Not For Me, Please, a book about a child who acts green, with Kabir. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Mugdha Joshi reads Not For Me, Please, a book about a child who acts green, with Kabir. Pic/Suresh Karkera

A 360-degree change
For Mugdha Joshi, validation of her efforts to inculcate love and respect for nature in her son Kabir came when she wasn't around to nudge him towards making a sustainable choice. "He had a cold, and reliant as we are on tissues, his preschool teacher offered him one. With all the articulation of a three-year-old, he told her, 'No tissue. Trees cut'. For him, using cloth napkins is what's normal," says the Bandra-based lactation consultant. But to define this normal has been a long-drawn process, starting with Joshi, 33, changing her own lifestyle — from using bamboo toothbrushes, switching to shampoo bars, not ordering groceries and food online to always carrying cloth bags and steel dabbas for shopping.

For her son, however, the trajectory was somewhat different. "Kabir is only three, but I have already changed three schools because the education he receives cannot be at loggerheads with the value system I want to raise him with. So, if I give him a steel dabba; he shouldn't be surrounded by fancy plastic lunchboxes with cartoon characters," she shares, adding that she plans to enrol him in a school in Andheri affiliated to the Waldorf education system which has an environment-sensitive curriculum, even if that means extra commute. The Joshis recently celebrated Kabir's third birthday at Maharashtra Nature Park in Mahim. "We suggested that the kids bring their own cutlery, while we served them homemade food in steel plates lined with banana leaves. We requested all parents to not send any gifts, and urged them instead to make a donation to an organisation that does beach clean-ups in Dadar, if at all," she says.

Green Tip: Start early and define what's normal for your child before someone else does.

Pre-owned is pre-loved
Seeing her mother fold a cloth bag in her purse every time she went shopping, Yaman Banerji Korgaonkar isn't new to the idea of factoring in the impact of her actions on nature. But the architect and baby-wearing educator grew more environment-conscious when her daughter Ruhani was born. "It all started when I came to know of reusable cloth diapers. And in India, we anyway swaddle newborns in used cloth because it's softer. I thought why not continue the tradition of hand-me-downs?" says the Thane resident, 35, who ensured she introduced the concept of pre-owned clothes to Ruhani in a way that she didn't think of them as old. "In fact, she takes pride in wearing clothes handed down to her by my friends' and relatives' children," says Korgaonkar.

Yaman Banerji Korgaonkar with daughter Ruhani in a pre-loved pair of jeans and top. Pic/Dutta Kumbhar
Yaman Banerji Korgaonkar with daughter Ruhani in a pre-loved pair of jeans and top. Pic/Dutta Kumbhar

The five-year-old now happily gives away her own clothes, toys and books to her younger friends and cousins. "She has a bookshelf, and knows that to make space for new books, she must let go of older ones. Hoarding is not good and owning things is not to be confused with happiness," shares Korgaonkar, adding that the only gifts she accepts for Ruhani are fruits. On her birthday, Korgaonkar made ball-shaped kaju katlis at home, covered them in sprinkles and sent them to Ruhani's school. "Imagine the amount of plastic toffee wrappers would generate," she points out.

Green Tip: Do things that a child can follow without having any regrets later in life.

Going for green vacations
A walk at Shivaji Park for Dadar residents Sonal Gawde Menon and her husband invariably entailed picking up trash along the jogging track, until one day, their two-year-old daughter Samyra took over. "She extended her hand and all she could manage to say was 'gloves' and got down to business," recalls Gawde, 33, who runs a venture that supplies food for infants and toddlers.

Sonal Gawde with Samyra at an organic farm in Mahabaleshwar
Sonal Gawde with Samyra at an organic farm in Mahabaleshwar

On her first birthday, they planted 50 saplings in Safale, near Virar, while Gawde has also roped in some neighbours to adopt two trees each in the area. Their set of trees are watered by the mother-daughter duo.

"When on vacation, we always carry a set of steel cutlery and straws, and refill water bottles, so we don't have to buy new ones," she says. On a recent trip to Mahabaleshwar, Gawde made enquiries at an organic farm to arrange for a strawberry-picking session. One that the toddler thoroughly enjoyed.

Green Tip: Nip the habit of overbuying in the bud to avoid overconsumption and wastage later.

Festivities that cause no harm
It was the plastic ban imposed last year in Maharashtra that led Gopa Bezboruah to think of alternatives to the material that is choking the earth. "Kids learn by observing their parents," the 35-year-old home-maker tells us. Each time that her son Agniv needs to throw some waste, he asks her "Which dustbin?" The three-year-old is also responsible for watering the veggies in their kitchen garden. This chore is linked with Agniv's food habits, too.

Gopa Bezboruah with Agniv
Gopa Bezboruah with Agniv

"Snacks to him means sprouts and steamed vegetables sprinkled with salt, with a dash of butter. He has no exposure to packaged food like biscuits and chips," says Bezboruah, who only buys toys that run on rechargeable batteries. Last Christmas, the mother and son chose to not buy an artificial tree, but instead decorated a beautiful ficus from their garden with pomegranate fruits at the bottom. Says Bezboruah, "The idea is to celebrate the spirit of the festival, which has nothing to do with plastic conifers."

Green Tip: Don't wait for something bad to happen to you to understand the importance of going green.

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