Samsara–The Circle of Life


Prashant Godbole creates art to draw attention to the environmental issues that are threatening the world around us.

Photograph/Prashant Godbole

Prashant Godbole

Each year, seven billion trees across the world’s forests fall, in silence. Taking with them into oblivion the homes of over a hundred rare bird species, 182,000,000,000 pounds of oxygen, and an effective climate moderation system. “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The age-old philosophical conundrum implies that without conscious perception any object may simply not exist.

When the metro construction work began in full swing right in front of my house in Mumbai, the sight of decade-old trees being massacred stirred something within me. I understand that we need progress, but isn’t there any other way out? I started to think about it.

On an average, a human being breathes as much as three cylinders of oxygen in a day. An oxygen cylinder costs Rs. 700. Therefore on an average, a human being consumes oxygen of Rs. 2,100 per day. And in a lifespan of 65 years, a person consumes oxygen worth Rs. 5 crores and more. Should Earth start to charge us, we would have to pay an extremely high price for something we take very much for granted.

As the world is trying to find solutions for climate change, preserving wildlife and our own survival on the planet, we are doing so at a snail’s pace. But here are some things we need to do as earth’s children to prevent any further damage we have done to our mother earth. And hopefully, pick up the pace and save our planet.

  • Each of us should plant at least eight trees—it can be at your homes, backyards or via any organisation keen on stopping deforestation.
  • Toilet paper wipes out 27,000 trees a day. Try the Indian method. Or at least use paper products made of 80-100% recycled paper.
  • Use canvas or paper bags as an alternative.
  • Buy products that require little to no packaging.
  • Support small-scale eco-friendly companies—their products that promise more durability in an inexpensive way.
  • Purchase green electricity.
  • Help organisations and activists fighting illegal mining and logging.
  • Turn off the lights, fans, air-conditioners and other appliances when you leave rooms.
  • Purchase tank-less water heater or install solar water heaters.
  • Stop taking printouts of everything. If you do need to, print double-sided.
  • Publish e-annual reports.
  • Go digital with your bills, letters, memos, and files.
  • Buy e-magazines, e-papers, and e-books.
  • Trade in your electric dryer for a good old-fashioned clothesline.
  • Go organic—plant your own vegetables if you can. It’s a great way to spend the weekend with your kids.
  • Reduce the consumption of meat, to reduce the pressure, and to clear more forests for cattle.
  • Boycott companies by supporting organisations that care about the environment at the cost of fighting back for the evergreen trees.
  • Reduce air travel as much as you can.
  • Seek knowledge on deforestation and how can you prevent it from happening by reading newspapers, magazines, Internet, TV shows.
  • Teach your kids the value of trees, and the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling.
  • Borrow, share, and donate books whenever you can.
  • Get alternative fuel vehicles, ride bicycles when you can, take public transportation, carpool to work. Walk if possible. You would be doing a great service to the planet and your body too.

On the left: Self Obituary. On the right: Karma. Photographs/Prashant Godbole

Spread the word as far as you can, and as fast as you can. Because the earth isn’t going to wait for us to undo the damage, it is going to go ahead and wither with or without us.

For 30 years, I have created ads for various companies that produce environment harming products. Now, I decided it was high time that I created art for a cause—to save our environment. The result is Samsara: a solo exhibition of artworks, created out of reclaimed material from nature. Proceeds from the purchase of these artworks helped to plant 2058 saplings.

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Better Photography magazine.

Prashant Godbole is a renowned street photographer, and an award-winning professional in the field of advertising for over 30 years. Currently, he the Creative Director of ideas @Work.