Is #ZayaNaKaro enough to bring Pakistan’s conscience back to life and end wastage?

Published: June 5, 2018
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The saddest part is that the all the food we waste globally is sufficient to feed all those battling hunger around the world. PHOTO: TWITTER/ JUNAIDAKRAM83

Though austerity is deep-rooted in the very fabric of our religion as Muslims, it’s ironic that a vast majority of Pakistanis seem oblivious to the notion. While on the quest of satisfying our whims, many of us have picked up the bad habit of squandering.

Whether it is food, water, electricity or any other resource, we take their presence in our life for granted and use and abuse them as we please. This behaviour causes us to waste crucial resources that are already low for a significant number of people in the country. We have grown immune to the plight of those deprived of these basic needs, and are callously wasting the essential necessities of life.

Provoked by such behaviour and the mindset that the privileged can waste every resource they are getting in abundance, scores of people have recently started taking to Twitter with #ZayaNaKaro (don’t waste). They are vouching to make an effort to try and prevent wastage, and are urging others to join the bandwagon. From pictures of plates full of wasted food, felled trees, malnourished children to dry faucets, all are being shared under this hashtag on social media.

People have started sharing their two cents by raising awareness and exchanging ideas on how to cut down wastage. Celebrities such as Junaid Akram, Anwar Maqsood, Adnan Malik, Syed Iqrarul Hassan, Ali Gul Pir and others have united to provoke people to do their bit in getting a grip of how bad the situation really is.

According to the Global Hunger Index (2016) Pakistan is at a serious hunger level, with 43% of the citizens being food insecure, and 18% facing severe shortage. This still doesn’t deter us from wasting food, which amounts to 36 million tons every year. The saddest part is that all the food we waste globally is sufficient to feed all those battling hunger around the world.

Another irony the tweets indicate is that food wastage increases exponentially during Ramazan. According to a study by the Islamabad Devcom Leo Club, Pakistanis waste more food in Ramazan than they do in any other month. While countless go to bed on empty stomachs or rely on scavenging for food in dumpsters, the privileged are seen taking part in a food frenzy. The culture of buffets is the backbone of this trend, and most of the food is wasted due to plates full of uneaten discarded food. This gluttony and ruthless wastage of food goes against our religion and the sanctity of this month, and needs to be stopped immediately.

Do you think the residents of Cape Town knew their city would be the first major city in the world to run out of water? That they would actually be living the nightmare of having little to no water? What was once a distant threat is now the reality they are combating on a daily basis.

Pakistan is not that far behind; it is third amongst countries facing a water shortage. According to the Indus River System Authority (IRSA), two major water reservoirs of the country – Tarbela Dam and Mangla Dam – are likely to have reached the dead level already. Yet we might still waste water worth Rs25 billion, which the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) says we waste every year.

Furthermore, the conservation of electricity is another one of the subjects of the tweets. Electricity is the driving force behind development; subsequently, its wastage has dire effects on the economy. Other than that, with rising temperatures, it is has become a basic need for all. Yet this valuable resource is another resource we are wasting.

According to a survey carried out by Gallup and Gilani Pakistan, six in 10 Pakistanis (63%) are bothered when they see the wastage of electricity. It may seem like a good figure, but considering how densely populated the country is, there is a massive chunk of the population that needs to be awakened from its ignorant state and coaxed to be mindful about their electricity usage habits.

A study by the Research and Advocacy for the Advancement of Allied Reforms (RAFTAAR) indicates that around 25% of all power is wasted by households due to the careless usage of electricity, UPS, and inefficient appliances. This increases our responsibility as individuals to curtail our habits, and shows the instantaneous effect our efforts can have on preserving electricity.

It is due time we start acting and stop turning a blind eye to the issue; after all, the danger of these resources running out is very real and close to home. We cannot shrug at the plight of those suffering, saying there is nothing we can do. Through our actions we are digging the hole of our own despair even faster. We need to snap out of our state of inadvertence, take responsibility of our actions, and act. Otherwise, the situation will be something like what Martin Niemöller depicted in his poem,

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

So speak up, take action, and share what you are doing to take the movement of #ZayaNaKaro forward.

Rahat Kamal

Rahat Kamal

The author is an independent writer and editor, who loves to share stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. She is an ardent lover of nature and a supporter of conservation. She tweets @rahat_kamal (twitter.com/rahat_kamal)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.