From Masks to Movements: A Personal Story of Transformation and Hope

Deepshikha Nepal.

The year 2020 brought a profound change in our lives as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, and the use of face masks became a daily necessity for many. But for some, like me, wearing a mask was not anything new. Even before the pandemic, I was one of those who had to regularly wear a mask, not to protect myself from a virus, but to shield myself from the constant threat of air pollution.

Looking back, it’s evident that I, like many, suffered from the harmful impacts of air pollution which is one of the main agents contributing to climate change. As a result, it’s no wonder that I’ve grown passionate about supporting environmental causes and actively combating climate change. I’m proud to say I’ve shifted from being a passive victim to a dedicated advocate for the environment.

“Air pollution poses the second highest risk factor for death and disability in the country, behind only malnutrition” (a study by IHME mentioned). As a youth facing the direct health impacts of air pollution in everyday life, it revoked a range of emotions in me. Naturally, I felt concerned and alarmed but also motivated to take action.

As I take climate action, I get to interact and reach many people. Raising awareness feels like an underrated action to me. As simple as it sounds, it is even more significant. It’s surprising how many educated individuals remain uninformed about their everyday activities contributing significantly to air pollution. Growing up in my village, I witnessed casual biomass burning, and in Kathmandu, waste burning remains common. It’s no wonder that garbage burning alone causes 18% of organic carbon pollution in Kathmandu. (Robiul Islam et al, 2015)

In this light, I have realized that it’s crucial to not only raise awareness but also actively promote practical solutions. One effective approach is to encourage the adoption of clean energy sources and technologies. This might involve supporting renewable energy initiatives which can significantly reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and the associated air pollution. It will take all citizens, especially our generation to advocate for sustainable waste management practices and recycling to help control garbage burning and reduce the release of harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. Engaging with local communities, schools, and government organizations to promote environmental education and stricter regulations on pollution sources are some actions that serve as strong solutions to addressing air pollution.

By taking collective action and working towards a cleaner, healthier environment, we can make a meaningful difference in the fight against air pollution and climate change in Nepal and beyond. Deep down everyone holds love and passion for the environment, Now It’s time to turn our passion into purpose and create a sustainable future for ourselves and generations to come.

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