In Delhi these days, pollution-talk fills the air almost as thickly as the pollution itself. By now we all get that it’s bad for our health—especially for our young and elderly—but we might feel helpless against it. After all, the problem seems too big, and as individuals we can do little to modernize car engines, clean up road and construction dust, or decommission coal-fired power plants. So what can we do to help reduce the problem and protect our families?
The problem feels complicated and overwhelming partly because it’s a problem of the commons—of the common air that we all must breathe. And yet, it’s difficult to pin down the responsibility: Who creates the pollution? Whom can we ask to stop it? Why isn’t the government doing enough?
Here’s the thing: We know that most pollution is created by any and all kinds of burning—whether that’s the combustion in our car engines, the flames that bake our tandoori naan or “wood-fired” pizza, the smoldering dead leaves in our gardens, or dozens of other things. What this really means is that a good part of the pollution is ultimately caused by the actions of individuals—that is, by us. But it also means that every one of us can take steps to help reduce it.
Among MK Gandhi’s greatest words of wisdom was his exhortation that we must be the change we wish to see in the world. So here’s your chance to contribute more to the solution than to the problem: