THIS month is heroes month and we are slowly, but surely approaching the official dates of Heroes’ Day, we all cannot wait for the long weekend, I know I can’t! I need the rest. Heroes Day entails braai afternoons, trips, partying and travelling the works!

However, what does Heroes’ Day really mean to us? I know it is the day we honour those members and non-members of the armed forces who gave their lives to defend Zimbabwe by taking back its land that had been lost to the white regime during the colonial times.

Yes, the gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who worked en masse to ensure Zimbabwe attains independence are remembered and their lives celebrated on this day. What else? Surely that is not all it means to us.

Well to me as the slightly annoying Lorax, who somehow manages to fit in caring for our environment at every given opportunity, yes, I know I am beginning to sound like a broken record.

I somehow seem to preach about taking better care of the universe, over and over. Well it is in my books a fact we cannot run away from. I am not apologetic at all for coming across as a broken toy.

Heroes’ Day to me as the Lorax everybody, means besides the obvious; honouring our heroes who fought for the land by being heroes of the land. Many of you would ask why and how we can make this possible.

I will begin with the why part. Blood was shed in order for us to live in a Zimbabwe post the Rhodesian era so why let this land of ours become a waste land?

The reason we need to be heroes of the land is because we need to show gratitude to the work of our heroes by taking better care of the land they fought for.

Allowing the land to degrade will mean all the work put in by our heroes was all in vain. Imagine if our fallen heroes were to awake today, do you not believe they would be disappointed to see our land in such a sad state?

They would question why we are letting veld fires destroy the land they fought for. Did you know that veld fires are currently a major cause for concern?

According to studies, these fires are caused by carelessness of inhabitants. From poor disposal of cigarette stubs and hot ash, deliberate burning, using fire to clear land for tilling to smoking out bees are all things that contribute to veld fires.

All of which are manmade. We do not realise that these veld fires have negative effects on the land.

Veld fires damage buildings and silos causing hunger and starvation, they leave the land bare and therefore prone to degradation because as soil is burnt, it becomes less fertile, accelerated soil degradation leads to siltation which adversely leads to loss of water for livestock and people.

When the fire is going on, the smoke from veld fires causes road accidents as the motorist’s vision is impaired during the process. Veld fires destroy biodiversity. The small plants, insects and animals are destroyed and killed.

Other factors contributing to land degradation are cutting down of trees, poaching of endangered animals, carbon emissions a lot of factors that we are responsible, but I will not delve into them; they are all tales for another day.

We are killing a land that was given to us as a gift. To anyone observing at a distance would translate it as ungratefulness for someone who fought for freedom. Are we an ungrateful people or country?

I believe beyond a shadow of doubt that we are not and we can prove this by turning over a new leaf by conserving our land Zimbabwe. So now I will address how we can show we are grateful to the efforts of the gallant sons and daughters of the soil.

For starters, behavioural change, we need to work on the man in the mirror. Only he or she can make the change. Through the years we have all learnt that only we can be the change we want to see in the world.

Let us be conscious of all the things we do. If one is a smoker, let us be conscious of how we dispose of our cigarette stubs, again let us not just start fires and leave them uncontrolled. Let us save and conserve all resources, be it water, land, animals and plants.

There it is my fellow Zimbabweans; let us be merry on Heroes’ Day, but let us not forget what our part is in this. We need to show our gratitude to the servitude of the fallen heroes. Let us be heroes of this day, environmental heroes.

We can achieve this by doing our part in protecting the environment. It does not have to be something big or over the top.

Using the shower instead of a bath tub can be a start, decreasing the number of times we flush the water in the toilet can also be a form of conserving water, switching off electrical appliances which will not be in use at that given moment helps conserve electricity and carrying litter bags in the car or ensuring safe disposal of litter are all small practices that make a huge difference.

Our heroes fought well for us my countrymen, let us honour them by preserving and conserving the land they won for us. Let us be heroes of the beautiful land of Zimbabwe.

 Nontuthuzelo Sisale is Miss Earth Finalist Zimbabwe. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @NSisale and like the Miss Earth Zimbabwe Facebook page.