Green Conversations, presented by the Environmental Foundation Ltd. (EFL) was held at Hatch Works, 14, Sir Baron Jayathilake Mawatha, Colombo 1 on 14 November.
The first half of the session was started by Ravi Fernando – the author of “Embed Sustainability in Corporate Strategy”. He spoke about sustainability, the scope, the challenges, and the right strategies to achieve it.
Anushka Gunawardena from EFL was next in line. Leading the legal team in all public interest litigation cases handled by the organisation, she discussed the initiatives taken by EFL towards the movement. Next, Shehara de Silva took the spot to discuss the “No Kunu” initiative. Talking about the projects employed to rid the country of non-degradable waste, Shehara stated: “We have to start from one street at a time, one lake at a time, and one canal at a time, so we can fix this country.”
The highlight of the first half was the dynamic lecture by Kusum Athukorala, the climate change the regional council member of the Global Water Partnership South Asia. Working in the fields of climate change, sustainability, and water management, she utilised her time to discuss on the theme “Water is Everybody’s Business”.
She discussed several water stories that are of great importance to us as a nation. Talking about the tragic case with the “Samasara Kanda”, she said: “It was reported that the cause of this immense landslide was a result of deforestation and logging and our Government has issued 10 permits for logging after the Samasara landslide – so who is digging our graves? We, ourselves.”
The first half of the session came to an end with a question and answer session with the panelists. It was a very interactive session where questions on the discharge of single-use plastics and possible solutions were discussed.
The movement starts from within
The second half of the session was led by citizen environmentalist Shanuki de Alwis. This was a refreshing show-and-tell session where she displayed to the audience what she had in her bag. Steel straws, a stock of cloth bags, a fibre coffee cup, a menstrual cup, and a bamboo toothbrush were some of the things she had in her bag; thus, demonstrating that the change starts with you and that you must contribute towards the betterment of your environment.
Founder of Eco360 Chullaka Hapuarachchi was next in line. He discussed recycling in Sri Lanka and its challenges. “The recycling problem is a result of a lack of awareness. Most of you must be using garbage bags – this is plastic and when degradable waste is put out in it and dumped into a landfill, the plastic bag prevents the enzymes from coming in to decompose the garbage that is degradable.
This is a huge problem,” he said. He further discussed the various alternative solutions to single-use plastic that Eco360 has come up with, including reusable plastic bags, reusable boxes, and coffee cups. “We as a community should educate ourselves on our environment and how we can help preserve it,” he added.
The next slot was taken by the Founder of Saaraketha Organics Prasanna Hettiarachchi. He talked about sustainable consumption and its benefits; discussing how our choices on consumption have an impact on sustainability, the environment, and our lives. “Sustainable behaviour is what will boost sustainable production,” he said.
The final speaker for the evening was Founder of Good Market Amanda Kiessel, who spoke about what the good market is, what it does, and how you can get involved. Good Market is a curated platform for groups that are committed to doing things that are good for the people and good for the planet. She said: “This is a part of a larger movement; a movement based on the idea – ‘we create the world we live in’.” She further added that parties interested in getting involved can access the Good Market Help Centre online and sign up.
The second half of the session concluded with a question-and-answer session with the second set of panellists. The discussion was led by questions on the alternatives for plastic and the ways and means of reaching the masses on sustainable initiatives.
In a nutshell
· Sustainability starts with you
· There are countless platforms involved in the green movement and it is easy to join them
· Sustainable consumption leads to healthy living as much as it contributes to a better environment
· Awareness on the challenges and solutions in the movement of sustainability is key
By Pujanee Galappaththi