Restoring Our Land: Sustainable Solutions for a Healthy Planet

Restoring Our Land: Sustainable Solutions for a Healthy Planet

We live on a planet with more than 14 billion hectares of land! That is equivalent to more than 8 Russia’s put together! Now imagine losing a land as big as the whole country of Russia to irreparable damage made by humans and our errant actions? Unfortunately that is the truth. About 2 billion hectares of land on this planet is already degraded, and that is about 14% of our land already. Every year, we lose another 12 million hectares. This rapid decline threatens everything from food security to biodiversity. The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience. But before we get further, what do these words mean? How did we get to a situation where 14% of our land is degraded? Let's explore these issues and, more importantly, discover ways to heal our planet together.


The State of Our Land

Land - making up to 30% of the whole planet is a very important resource, and also very limited. Land isn’t only important for building up cities and buildings, but also to grow crops, be a habitat for millions of fauna and flora, and also contribute to different ecological processes like carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle and water cycle. Land contains precious minerals that humans have been using for time immemorial. Land also is important for trade routes, traveling, globalisation, and industrialization. Most importantly, different terrains like hills, mountains, prairies, arctic, and deserts contribute so much to the planet and make this earth a beautiful place to be in. But alas, as is the case with greed and want - this beautiful resource has been exploited to fulfill our needs.

Causes of Land Degradation

Climate change, pollution, and unsustainable practices are taking a toll on our land. Here's a breakdown of some key culprits:

  • Deforestation: Urbanization and deforestation to make space for people to live in, directly impact the land. Lands that are supposed to thrive naturally and be a habitat to host abundant biodiversity are turned into dry, arid plots that end up hosting concrete buildings and houses. 
  • Unsustainable Agriculture: In terms of agricultural practices, while land is supposed to host crops and plants - the practice of planting only a single type of crop (called monoculture), using poor farming practices and heavy machinery which is bad for the topsoil, using chemical fertilizers and pesticides which take away the natural nutrition of the soil in many pieces of land - all of this also ends up heaving immense burden on the land. And unfortunately, the greed and want of humans exceeds the toil that the land can handle. 
  • Overgrazing: Overgrazing is when livestock grazes so much on land that it prevents the land from regenerating and leaves it vulnerable to erosion.
  • Overdrafting: And finally, overdrafting is when groundwater is pumped excessively for irrigation or other purposes which can deplete aquifers, leading to a decline in the water table and potentially causing the land to sink.

The Consequences

All of these issues have a domino effect. Some of the devastating consequences include: reduced food production, desertification, droughts and loss of biodiversity. 

  • Reduced Food Production: Whenever external actions occurring on the land are deleterious or undesirable and bring down the overall quality of the land - that constitutes land degradation. According to this article, 40% of the agricultural land is already degraded, and most of it is already beyond repair. Degraded land leads to few crops which in turn leads to food insecurity and malnutrition.
  • Desertification: Desertification is conversion of fertile lands into arid, dry desert-like lands. Climate change, global warming, and overexploitation of a piece of land can result in loss of natural flora and moisture in the soil, thus turning a green, fertile land into a dry desert. This can lead to increased dust and sand storms, food insecurity, and even poverty for people who’re dependent on agriculture.
  • Increased Droughts: Prolonged lack of greenery, and water can eventually lead to a land being dryer than normal, which eventually leads to drought. While lack of rainfall can cause droughts, in the last few decades they have become more frequent due to other factors such as poor farming practices and overexploitation of soil. Other than loss of crops, droughts lead to massive poverty-induced and climate-induced migrations and humanitarian crises because of inhabitability of land, and inability to grow any crops on these extremely dry stretches of land.

The trifecta of climate change, pollution, and massive biodiversity loss all play together along with industrialisation, poor agricultural practices, and overexploitation - hampering the land. But now that we know the problem, what exactly is the solution?


Hope for the Future: The Path to Restoration

We cannot talk about handling land degradation, without dealing with the causes first. Climate change, global warming, and pollution need to be stopped and reversed, to create a viable setting for the land to proliferate. On top of that, we need to adopt favorable agricultural practices and stringent building regulations to curb the massive overexploitation of workable land. We can be part of the #RestorationGeneration and contribute to a healthier planet. Here are some suggestions:


Sustainable Agricultural Practices

Currently agriculture and crop-farming has become very demand-based, and straying away from the original natural, indigenous practices. While many farmers do get grants and subsidies for farming, they are invested into machinery and chemicals that harm the environment or used to distort the prices. Thus, there needs to be a shift in the system.

  • Seasonal Crops: Focus should be reverted to seasonal crops and eating according to the ecosystem, weather, and climate of a particular region. Smaller farming practices should be encouraged, and there needs to be a paradigm shift and amalgamation of using modern technologies while still upholding older agricultural practices. 
  • Crop Rotation: Understanding weather patterns and growing crops accordingly, avoiding monoculture and growing different types of mutually beneficial crops together (like wheat and beans). Planting different crops in sequence helps replenish nutrients and prevent soil depletion.
  • Cover Crops: Planting crops between main growing seasons helps conserve soil moisture and prevent erosion.
  • Composting and Organic Fertilizer: Finding ways where agriculture can benefit by other strata of farming and rural life (like using cow dung as natural fertilizer or using other organic waste from compost as fertilizer to reduce reliance on chemical fertilizer).

Beyond Agriculture:

  • Preserve Water Bodies: Right from freshwater ecosystems to oceanic and marine coastlines - all are affected by industrial and agricultural runoffs, exploitation, and pollution. Restoring all these water bodies will also ensure that the adjoined land that is codependent with them will also flourish.
  • Urban Forests: Cities and urban landscapes are rapidly growing. It is stipulated that by 2050, 2 in 3 people will be living in urban centers. And urban citizens end up consuming about 75 percent of natural resources. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Cities needn’t be concrete jungles, preserving canals, ponds, hiking areas, parks, patches of trees and forests in cities need to be protected - it doesn’t only add to land restoration, but also improves the air and water quality of the city itself. Protection, restoration, and formation of these ecological structures needs to be included in a city plan. Thus, making cities more sustainable.
  • Supporting Sustainable Businesses: Look for companies committed to ethical sourcing and environmentally-friendly practices. 

Saathi: Working Towards a Sustainable Future

Saathi Pads is at the forefront of eco-friendly menstrual products, focusing on sustainability and environmental responsibility. We’re working with farmers to utilize their waste, while also empowering communities, and building a sustainable future, one step at a time. You can check our impact here

  • Biodegradable Products: Saathi Pads are made from biodegradable banana fibers. Unlike conventional sanitary pads, which can take hundreds of years to degrade, Saathi pads break down within six months. This rapid decomposition significantly reduces landfill waste, ensuring that the environmental footprint of menstrual hygiene products is minimized.
  • Utilization of Agricultural By-Products: We use banana fibers, an agricultural by-product, to make our pads. These fibers are sourced from the waste generated by banana plantations. By using this waste material, we not only have a sustainable raw material for our products but this also helps reduce agricultural waste. This approach promotes sustainable land use, as it leverages existing resources without the need for additional farming or deforestation.
  • Chemical-Free Production: Saathi Pads are free from harmful chemicals and bleaches, which are commonly found in conventional sanitary products. The absence of these chemicals means that when Saathi pads decompose, they do not release toxins into the soil. This helps maintain soil health and prevents the contamination of groundwater resources, contributing to overall land sustainability.
    • Eco-Friendly Disposal: The biodegradable nature of Saathi Pads encourages eco-friendly disposal practices. Traditional disposal methods for sanitary pads, such as burning or landfill dumping, can release harmful toxins and microplastics into the environment. By promoting the use of biodegradable pads, Saathi helps reduce these harmful practices, ensuring that the disposal of menstrual products does not contribute to soil and air pollution.

      Join the Movement:

      Everyone can play a role in restoring our land. Here are some ways to get involved:

      • Be a Responsible Consumer: Choose products that are sustainably sourced and minimize your environmental footprint. Try Saathi pads or cups!
      • Support Local Farmers: Buy directly from local, sustainable farms to promote healthy land management practices.
      • Spread Awareness: Educate others about land degradation and share solutions on social media.
      • Volunteer Your Time: Many organizations dedicate themselves to land restoration or sustainable business practices. Consider volunteering your time and skills to help this movement grow even faster and to learn something in the process. Did you know that there are volunteering opportunities with Saathi as well!  If you’re interested to volunteer with us, drop us an email with your resume and area of interest at careers@saathipads.com and mention “Interested in volunteering” in the subject line!

      Although we have come this far, and are taking so much from the planet - it is very important to reverse all the damage we have done and make this planet habitable not just for us but for our future generations. The land is where we live with our families and loved ones, the land is what gives us the gift of food and shelter, and the land is where we build our lives and our future. The onus falls on us to restore it, and protect it. So please become a part of the #RestorationGeneration and give back to the earth as much as you take from it. You can read more about the theme and associated facts and events on the official website of World Environment Day here. 

      Let's work together to heal our land and build a sustainable future for generations to come.

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