People often ask, “Is it enough to commemorate one day in a year to a cause and forget about it for the rest of the year?”  I say to them, “Your birthday comes once a year, do you forget that you exist for the rest of the year?” The day you were born was the day you began to live, grow, and connect with people and bring about progress in and around you. So too, a day like World Environment Day was declared by the UN General Assembly on 5 June 1972.

From then on, environmentalists addressed concerns regarding climate change caused due to steady global exploitation of natural resources. Efforts for the protection, conservation, and restoration of the environment began. Like- minded people connect with each other and work with passion to achieve their goal.

We complain that our drains are clogged, our rivers are contaminated, air, land, and water bodies polluted, but we have misused our resources, harmed our environment, cut down trees, used plastics irresponsibly. The earth is hotter, glaziers are melting, and water logging forms breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Birds and butterflies have become scarce. The same resources that were created for our use have reached a point of disaster through misuse.

The Civic and Political Cell of St. Andrew parish along with the SCC’s of St. Andrew, St. Peter and St. Teresa of the Bandra Deanery and Nature’s Guardians, an NGO by Marvin Fernandes of our parish, organised a cleanliness drive on World Environment Day.

Moving from their respective parishes at 8:30 a.m. we picked up litter on the streets. Age had little to do with the enthusiasm to make a contribution. Children, youth, seniors and even priests joined the drive to make a difference. It is not too late to change mindsets and habits for better living conditions and restore a healthy environment.

The groups reached Carter Road and picked up litter brought in by the tide. 60 big bags of litter were collected. There was representation from the BMC, NGOs such as RECYCLE KARO, RUR (Are You Recycling), D-ERT, YOUTH ON THE MOVE, and CLEANWELL. Every participant took home a plant sapling (Golden Durante).

A Eucharistic celebration in St. Andrew Church in the evening was a true thanksgiving to God. The choir sang suitable ecological hymns and the prayers of the faithful were an acknowledgement of the fact. Fr. Felix Rebello, affectionately called Green Father from Infant Jesus Church, Jogeshwari celebrated the mass together with concelebrants, Msgr. Hilary Rodrigues and Fr. Allwyn Nazareth.

Fr. Felix has led the way in getting his parishioners to take corrective measures to restore the environment. He shares all his projects through his website infantjesusjogeshwari.in. After the mass, Fr. Felix inaugurated the Tetrapak Recycling Project. The parishioners of St. Andrew will contribute to restoring the environment by dropping their empty juice and milk tetrapaks in the kiosk kept outside the Bosco Hall. These will be recycled into useful classroom articles. Also, drop all single-use plastics in another recycling bin kept for the purpose. One is placed at the Chimbai gate; the other bin is placed opposite the Christ the King statue.

Grateful thanks to our Parish Priest, Fr. Caesar D’mello and his team of priests, the Civic & Political Cell team, Media Cell, and all the parishioners for their support and participation.

A small step can be the beginning of a movement. What is that small step? It’s ours to define, to start, to pursue with the planet as the goal.

By Maria D’souza