I Live Simply, or How to Save the Mountains

At a time when awareness about the need to conserve the environment is finally taking centre stage, comes a movement from a pioneer. Most importantly, this time, there is no appeal to your wallet. It is a far more important appeal to you to make the lifestyle change that can make a lasting impact.

In an innovative push to deepen involvement and make a lasting impact in the struggle against environmental degradation and climate change, the Sonam Wangchuk founded Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh, along with students from their school, SECMOL (Students’ Educational & Cultural Movement of Ladakh), has announced a major new movement for conservation.

The “I Live Simply’ movement has a rather simple objective: to reach out to and get as many people as possible to take a pledge to make simple but profound lifestyle changes that will have an impact all the way back to where it all starts – the mountains. Or as Wangchuk says, “we appeal to you to live simply, so that we may live.”

Sonam Wangchuk: A New Mission

Adding a little backstory, Wangchuk highlights how in 2006, the devastating flash floods in the Ladakh valley caused massive damage to life and property. “When we asked people when was the last time you had seen such flash floods, the answer was we don’t remember. The next flash flood was in 2010, and the next, in 2016. The next, in 2017”.

It was this alarming speed of changes due to climate change, exacerbated in the mountains due to their more delicate ecosystems, that pushed Sonam Wangchuk to shift focus squarely on saving the mountains.

The HIAL, which has been behind pioneering institutions like the Ice Stupa to supply water in the summers, to the solar-powered buildings and much more, now feels the need to take the effort beyond the mountains. Hence, the ‘I Live Simply’ movement.

The movement thus is a global appeal for behavioural change. You can make your contribution towards saving the planet by making behaviour-change pledges on an internet site/app. The platform will tell you how many dollars’ worth of service for the planet that action will amount to in a year. In a way, explaining your contribution in terms most people understand best.

For example, a pledge to not use single-use plastic could amount to a contribution worth $1000. Or a pledge to go vegetarian may amount to $2500. Around the New Year 2020, when the campaign goes live formally,  the hope is to make a contribution in pledges that could be potentially worth trillions of dollars

The main campaign will be launched in December to coincide with the New Year celebrations when people around the world make resolutions. For now, the focus is on adding on partners for the movement.  The movement saw a soft launch on October 2 this year, the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

From partners, the organisers have many hopes for #IliveSimply. Some of the areas outlined for partnership are:

  • Climate scientists and environmental think tanks to help calculate the value of ecological acts like going vegetarian, planting trees, taking trains instead of flights, bicycles instead of cars, etc. and so that these acts can be evaluated in monetary value.
  • Tech organisations, creative individuals and designers to help create apps, games, websites to develop a community where people can see their collective impact in a fun and interactive way.
  • Schools, universities and corporates may make organisational pledges and encourage their staff and students to join the movement.
  • Media houses, celebrities and influencers may help us spread the message through social media channels and other platforms around this new year.
  • Passionate individuals and leaders may launch city clubs or chapters around the #ilivesimply movement (possibly in collaboration with schools, institutes and corporates) so that there is action on the ground also apart from the internet.

You can also connect to the organisers by writing to them at  ilivesimply@hial.edu.in

Do well, Wangchuk and co-founders, because the mountains need you to succeed.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna Singh

Prasanna Singh is the founder at IamRenew

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