On Children's Day, Dia Mirza teaches her child eco-sensitivity
The actor talks about the sustainability lessons she is raising her son with
For actor, producer, UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador & United Nations Secretary-General’s Advocate for SDGs, Dia Mirza, sustainability is not a buzzword to be thrown around carelessly. She has incorporated her passion for environmental conservation, her love for wildlife, and her concerns regarding unsustainable consumption and waste generation not only in her statements as a person of influence but in the way she lives, works, and even in the manner in which she parents her son.
She says, "As someone who is heard and seen on public platforms very often, I am careful to not have a performative attitude towards conservation. I want to live in harmony with nature and heed the call for help that the planet issues every day. I cannot even begin to imagine what parents of children in Delhi are going through right now. How can we face them after bringing them to a world where they cannot even breathe with ease? This Children's Day, I want to reiterate my commitment to the planet and I guess, all parents can do something to ensure that our children inherit a healthy planet where they can breathe clean air as a matter of right."
Not surprisingly, as a new parent Dia is not only choosing the most earth-friendly clothes and toys for her son but has also invested in green brands like Beco (organic kitchen and home care products), Shumee (wooden toys), and Greendigo (safe, chemical-free clothing for premature babies). She is also striving to sensitise her son to not just be appreciative of Nature but to also forge a connection with it.
Here is how she weaves lessons of sustainability into her parenting every single day :
Daily interactions with Nature
Right from the onset, Dia ensured that her son Avyaan was surrounded by natural elements. Be it the nursery with animal art, a window overlooking greenery, or a daily walk in the garden, his initiation into nature was organic and joyful. Dia says, "Avyaan started talking to plants before he started communicating with us. He already has a favourite plant, a favorite animal, and every day, his eyes light up when he goes to the garden with us and discovers something new. The point is that we cannot protect what we do not love and only when we teach our kids to value and cherish the planet, will they feel responsible for its well-being when they grow up."
Gardening as a family
Dia believes, raising a generation of co-creators of change and not mere bystanders is critical to making a difference and says, "Avyaan now thinks of plants as his companions. He talks to the birds that visit the balcony garden. And there came a point when I wanted him to know that he was very much a part of the magic that he was experiencing. I am looking forward to planting a mini garden with him so that he can see how much beauty he can grow with his own hands. I feel the instinct to plant and protect must be inculcated early so that children grow up to be nature warriors naturally." At some point, Dia also wants to show Avyaan how food travels from farm to table. She says, "Agricultural practices all over the world are distressed because of climate change and I want my child to be aware of the connection between the food he eats and the toil that is involved in growing it."
Inculcating respect and gratitude
A big aspect of sustainable living is to be responsible for the relationships we have with each other and the planet says Dia and adds, "When the connection between people breaks down, our collective relationship with the planet also suffers and I feel proud that even at this young age, Avyaan says, 'Thank you' to water when he bathes, the earth, the farmer and the person who cooks his meal after each meal. He now also says thank you on his own whenever he is given something. I want him to grow up with great empathy for all living beings and have an attitude of gratitude and never take his blessings and the earth for granted. Apathy is the biggest reason why the planet is in this state and if our children grow up as responsive, sensitive beings, there is perhaps hope that they will take better care of the earth than we did."
Teaching concious consumption
Instead of a glut of kiddy stuff in her son's nursery, Dia stuck to common sense and a minimalist template right from the beginning. She consciously chose things that would be safe, and eco-sensitive and also stimulate Avyaan's curiosity while nurturing a sense of comfort. Says Dia, "The young moms in my circle often give away clothes and toys their babies have outgrown to make them last longer. I also believe in keeping Avyaan's nursery plastic-free and only buying biodegradable diapers for him (Allter is a good example of a green brand). He only plays with wooden toys and as he was a preterm baby, I am also very cautious about choosing clothes that are chemical-free and safe for his health. I believe responsible consumption is a mindset that can be taught early and I try to show by example how to waste little and conserve more."
Sustainability as a way of life
Dia says, "Children learn from not just what we speak of most often but also from what we do every day. So whether it is the habit of taking reusable bags and our own metal water bottles everywhere, using chemical-free cleaning products for home, segregating and managing waste responsibly, upcycling and recycling things rather than throwing them away, they see and internalise everything. I remember how a lesson in sustainability in school made me use my pencils till they just became stubs. At an impressionable age, it is critical that we teach children concepts like composting, recycling, and reusing objects. Doing DIY and craft projects with cardboard boxes, glass bottles, toilet rolls, and wilting flowers is also great not just for family bonding but for the planet."