Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The 4 R Experiment..

..Because the time is running out.

This is an open invitation to ALL to join  this experiment

I am back in the US,  once again, not over a happy occasion.

My last visit  was in March, 2009, to attend my mother's funeral. I am here this time, July, 2012, for my aged father, who was fighting a critical ailment, and ultimately succumbed to it on 29th July. But this post is not about my parents tragedies, rather it is about my personal journey between these two events(visits),

The World had just witnessed a recession a year prior to my last visit, and the epicenter was USA. So, I could witness the adverse impact it had created on the common man  on street in the US then. Several people had told me that they were deprived of a meal every day as their budget for their daily lunch ( a burger and a coke for US $6.99) was consumed away by the escalated fuel prices to meet their daily travel requirement for work. I thought people were re-looking at their lavish life style.

Browsing the net then, I had tumbled upon an interesting resolution some one had made- 'not to buy any thing new, except the stuff for personal hygiene, and toiletry needs for one calender year.' Several thousands vowed to join this experiment. I was curious, and silently desired to be part of it.

Replications can be avoided
Within a few days of my return to India, I broke my wrist watch. I was aware of my commitment to the experiment, and so, I fought the desire to go for the purchase. My gain was becoming consciously aware that my cell phone showed me the time! I really did not need to replicate the facility!

 But the next casualty was my cell phone itself when a thief stole it away, one rainy night, from the open window. Now this was tough, a great challenge. Isolation from the people, in business and otherwise, was not bargained for. I desperately needed  a replacement. A thought  crossed, to be honest, that since I had not spoken to any body about my experiment, I could quietly bury it, and buy  a new instrument. But a little voice from within revolted, 'haven't I told to myself ? How could I cheat my own self?' And  so, my experiment survived. New gains and learning followed as I went about finding a solution. I learnt that about 5 million cell phones were produced and sold every day, world wide. A huge number of them were  replacements in the name of technology, style and competition. It meant a huge numbers of them would be lying with people not being used, though useful (a la clothings, foot wear,many home appliances, electronic gadgets etc, etc)!

I decided to acquire a discarded, second hand cellphone from within the friends circle, declaring about my experiment. And it had a dramatic impact on many as creators of e-waste, and feeling guilty of being part of 'consumerists' society. The enormity of the problem started dawning on them.

 My acquired cell phone is still working till this day!

The next in line was my clothing. The running pairs of pants and shirts had begun  fading/tearing, but the strength of the resolution made helped me examine my wardrobe, and that of my grown up sons, and I have pulled on for the past 3 years by pulling out the less/rarely used clothes.

The calendar year was over long back, but the experiment stayed on  And my gains were a lot of insights:
That one can live by REFUSING a lot of wants. The quality of life does not get compromised.
That by reducing consumption, one can feel richer! And the saved money can be used for reaching out!
That buying more is a sub conscious habit. Becoming aware helps overcome it.
That your world view about money can change. For better.
That Greed can be tackled effectively. 

So, Refusing  is the first R. The most important R.

Carbon Footprints can be reduced
The second, third and the fourth R's I learnt from Mr Dileep Kulkarni, and Prof R Rajagopalan, both eminent environmentalists. Solutions to the complex issues like Carbon footprints, global warming etc   got simplified  at my personal level. when I adopted the other Rs, viz, Reduce, Re-use and Recycle. I have reduced drastically my air travels, I am increasing the use of public transport.

Reuse and Recycle concepts are helping me discover many innovative ways of saving material and energy at home.

Coming back to my present trip to the US, I am saddened that the basic 'consumerist' attitude with average citizens here has not changed much. Consumption is still being linked with 'afford-ability'. Youngsters here are on the opium that, "'they' do have a solution, and will be revealed to us at the appropriate time, and hence, we need not change our life style!"
My fear is, 'THEY' will keep the whole world opiated, and that would be a disaster.

My urge here is to shake off the opium, ignore 'THEM', and join this, 4R Experiment. It is worth doing. 
Do leave your decisions, comments etc here.

Dilip Patel
IIC Team


  1. This self experiment is quiet challenging... After witnessing several crisis around and coming across these 4Rs seems much relevant for sustainability and mutual growth. Somethings that i have been able to put forth in my daily living are as follows:
    Reduce- Reducing telephone usage (bills) by smart usage of available plans. Reduced taking polythene from shops by carrying a cloth bag all the time.

    Reuse- Reusing polythene i already had. Writing short-notes using pencil (back to school days)

    Recycle- Using flight tags to tie wires, ropes (in stead of rubber bands)

    Refuse- i have refused my self to have more than 4 pair of clothes at a particular point of time.

    Hoping to add more steps to these lists...

    Aswini Mohapatra

  2. For a long time, I have been living a simple lifestyle and have been very happy. So the instances are many but let me share the latest -

    Once I found that in my wardrobe, I had too many shirts, all in good condition and very comfortable to wear. I gave away most of them to people who had less. I have stopped buying new ones. When a collar is frayed, my dear wife dutifully reverses the same so that the frayed portion is not seen. Poverty is not the opposite of having too much; it is the poverty of the mind, which impairs us, so said my father, so true!

    Now, one of my two jeans is tearing and a new pair of jeans was considered. Then my wife suggested that the several old pants which I like less are lying unused. Hence, new jeans are not needed. That was great suggestion and I have taken out the old trousers. Some of these also can be given away.

    I have stopped wearing a watch since my cell gives me the time. I have now two good watches lying with me and will give them away; two were given away some years ago.

    I prefer to travel by train, over air travel. Bus travel is a bit difficult for me yet I use it now and then.

    Currently, yesterday to be specific, I have put off buying a tablet to replace the failing laptop which was a gift. I will use PCs instead, which are available in the office for use.

    There is a USA website which I have subscribed to - it is called - becomingminimalist@gmail.com. There are many in the USA who have begun to minimise their wants and even needs. It is a good wave which I hope will roll faster.

    True development is not in consuming and producing more, to make more money to fill up bank accounts and own more estates and things. Economy booms truly when there are no more "poor people". In this world, there is enough for everyone's need but not for everyone's greed.