Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The whole world is made up of the five elements. Honoring the earth element means that we don't pollute the earth with plastic, poisonous fertilizers and chemicals. It means that we are environment conscious.
Honoring water does not mean putting flowers into water. There is a shortage of clean drinking water. First, we pollute water and then water pollutes the earth. In the last century, people did not know anything about soaps. In this country (India), people used only charcoal ashes, soapnut powder to clean vessels. They would use turmeric and many other herbal elements, which are bio-degradable.
There is a great tradition of honoring rivers. The river does not want you to offer flowers or fruits. This is not the way to do pooja (worship). Also by putting sewage or garbage into rivers, how can you say that you are doing pooja? Pooja means honoring and you can only do full honour once you stop dumping sewage, garbage, plastic into the rivers.
Nowhere in the scriptures is it said that you have to put flowers or fruits into the river. Of course, one way of honoring is with flowers and they are bio-degradable. However you have to stop dumping garbage.
A few years ago you could directly drink from a river. Today, no river is fit for drinking even from a hundred kilometers away from its source. Earlier even thousand kilometers away from its source, the river water was fit for drinking. We are pouring so much industrial waste into the rivers. This is not honoring the jal tatva (water element). The five elements are part of the creation. You have to honor this beautiful creation and sustain it.
Then there is the air element. We need to have clean energy. We have provided smokeless stoves in the villages of Maharashtra, which have been very successful.
Then there is the space element. This is very abstract. You cannot catch space. When you save your mind from negativity, you are filling the space with joy. Then the air around becomes like that. You can create a space of mistrust, anger, greed, jealousy and selfishness. Or you could create a space of fun, joy, confidence, and coherence. You could create an accommodating space around you. If we always speak negatively about all mistakes, then there is nowhere on earth you can really survive. Everybody is imperfect. When we try to see perfection in others, then we forget to see our own imperfection. Protect the space, save the mind at any cost.