Eco activists: The Next gen eco warriors

As an increasing number of eco-activists are devoting themselves to saving our planet, we pick a few this year.

Published: 03rd June 2016 01:05 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd June 2016 01:39 PM   |  A+A-


We are biting the very hands that feed us. Global expansion is so rapid-paced that, in a short while, we’ll be running on empty. A few statistics should put things in perspective: every eight seconds a child dies due to contaminated water; six billion kilos of garbage is dumped into our oceans every day. But it’s not all bad news. For the second year in a row, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have remained flat (with respect to economic growth) thanks to the adoption of stricter emission laws. We possess thousands of years worth of geothermal power—in fact, one per cent of Australia’s geothermal power potential can provide energy to last 26,000 years—and the amazing potential of renewable energy is at our fingertips.  So, to commemorate World Environment Day (June 5), we meet regional environmental superheroes, who are making a difference and inspiring us to join in.


covRags to riches
Name: Kriti Tula, Paras Arora and Vaibhav Kapoor | Location: Delhi
It only took a few years of experience in the fashion industry for Kriti Tula to realise there was an abundance of wasted fabrics that were simply being thrown away. “I thought we could still make chic clothes, while promoting a sustainable lifestyle by working purely with waste,” shares the creative director. Joined by co-founders Paras Arora and Vaibhav Kapoor, Doodlage was born two-and-a-half years ago. They source their fabrics from factories and textile houses from across the country, ensuring the raw material is unique for each collection. While they do have their own line, they also work with Fabindia, Brahmakarma and Avaran to create collections with fabrics the brands do not want to part with. From turning jeans into denim jackets, to creating patchwork jumpsuits, the styles are very current. “It feels good that we’re doing our little bit for the planet,” concludes Tula. Details:

cov1Global reform 
Name: Adrian Pinto | Location: Mumbai
The planet consumes close to 60 billion bottles of wine every year, which amounts to over 33 million tonnes of winery waste. This fact inspired Adrian Pinto, senior manager-wines at Pernod Ricard India, to develop a process that converts the waste into paper. “Since pomace (which ends up as compost) in the form of seeds, stock and grape skin has high fibre, I knew it could be upcycled to be a good alternative to wood in paper,” claims Pinto, who has applied for a global patent (pending) for ‘Paper Made from Organic Waste and the Process Thereof’. With this paper, the 45-year-old hopes to reduce the wine industry’s carbon footprint and, in the future, create a circular economy where materials and resources are recycled endlessly.Details:

cov2One with nature
Name: Sujith Pulpara | Location: Kochi
Triba is a 90-day-old initiative that dreams of a carbon-neutral country. This open-to-all nature conservation group helps people—who join them on treks to areas like Tiger Hills—gain a deeper understanding of sustainable living by interacting with regional tribals. “This weekend, we’re headed to Pampadum Shola National Park for an eco-restoration project. We will remove water-absorbing eucalyptus, make contour bunds from fallen trees to prevent landslides and help recreate green meadows from the seeds found in wild buffalo manure,” says co-founder Sujith Pulpara (33), a biometrics professional. In July, they intend to help tribals in Munnar’s Wildlife Division and develop a district-wise Nature Volunteer Database to support the government. Details:

cov3Beyond plastic
Name: PVS Suhasan Reddy and Harika Meka | Location: Bengaluru
PVS Suhasan Reddy and Harika Meka have been on their ‘say no to plastic’ mission since 2011. “When my wife and I started seeing a surge in the use of plastics, we left our jobs to conduct awareness drives. Then, when people started asking ‘If not plastic, what else?’, we began working on alternatives,” explains Reddy. Thanks to the MBA graduates’ e-store, SaveGlobe, they’ve been getting invites from corporate houses, hotels and food vendors to discuss greener ways of doing business. The store sells eco-friendly, biodegradable food packaging, kitchenware, flower pots, shopping bags and more. While their food packets are made from sugarcane bagasse and bamboo fibre, they also sell plates and bowls crafted from rice husk. Now they have aline of edible spoons and forks fashioned from wheat, cornstarch and water, and baked. In the coming months, they want to replace plastic garbage bin liners with those made from wood cellulose and kraft paper. Details:


cov4Grassroots project
Name: Iris Maju |Location: Shillong
Former Mrs India World 2015 and green movement advocate, Iris Maju states that she is not a model. “I participated in the Mrs India World pageant to make contacts around the country to further my cause,” explains the educational counsellor (originally from Kochi), who has been promoting sustainable living for 15 years. She cycles 15 km a day and joined Dr Sarojini Montero (on the Kochi leg) of her ride from Leh to Kanyakumari, to promote cycling. She also teaches children in the Army Schools in Jaipur, Leh, Pune and Patiala about recycling, creative composting, starting organic gardens and saving water. “My Re-Cyclothon initiative—workshops conducted across the country, where I promote cycling and greener commuting—was inspired by the Army, as they started practising the ‘No vehicle to work’ day almost two decades ago. It’s great to see the increase of cycling clubs, and I hope to start women-centric bicycle clubs in Shillong, Kochi and Delhi soon,” says the kalarayapayittu artiste. Details:


cov5Smart ride
Name: Sivaraj Muthuraman | Location: Tirupur
Four years ago, Sivaraj Muthuraman made waves in the city when he rode his cycle rickshaw-turned-pedal bike at Marina Beach. The zero-emission concept vehicle, now a solar and battery-powered one, caught the attention of many, but its lack of a licence raised roadblocks with the police. “I own five of these vehicles, out of which two have been donated to Sathak Engineering College (Chennai) where students are working on them for research and development purposes,” says the 31-year-old MBA graduate from Heriott Watt University, Singapore, adding, “I am looking to improve the design now, get my licence and hit the roads in six months,” he concludes. Details:


cov6Couch therapy
Name: Anu Tandon | Location: Mumbai
While on a holiday in Greece, textile designer, artist and sculptor, Anu Tandon, met an elderly woman who had retired from a cushy job in America to set up a loom in her home, to make the most beautiful fabrics. “That struck a chord as I had been working as a freelance designer for years. I started thinking about the larger picture and wanted to make a difference,” begins Tandon, who started her furniture brand, The Retyrement Plan, three years ago. She uses the waste from tailoring units, old tyres and packaging, to handcraft cane furniture that is best described as a riot of colours. Ottomans, arm chairs, stools and couches make up her quirky collection. “I also wanted to give local artisans and craftsmen a living. I currently work with small-time craftsmen in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar and West Bengal,” explains the artist, who’s excited to be participating in the London Design Week in October. Details:


cov7Creative upcycling
Name: Abhijit Sinha | Location: Bengaluru
It was late 2013 when Abhijit Sinha decided he had had enough of city life. So the engineering graduate moved to Banjarapalya, a little hamlet about 30 km south of Bengaluru. When the village children, fascinated by his smartphone (something they’d never even seen before), figured out how to use it in no time, he realised here was something he could tap into. “With the help of the NGO, Jaaga, I helped them learn from the Internet and adopt DIY methods to invent things out of unused, upcycled material (think robots made with used toothbrushes and drones with plastic bottles). That’s how Project DEFY (Design Education For Yourself) was born,” he shares, adding it has two makerspaces now, equipped with computers, tools and raw materials. “It costs me about `25,000 a month to maintain each space, which is not much, and the rewards are priceless,” he smiles. Sinha hopes to set up similar makerspaces in Kochi, Bihar and Uganda (in collaboration with local outfits), by next year. Details:

The worldwide aviation industry unleashed more than 770 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere last year. But Kochi’s International Airport, the world’s first fully solar-powered one, is hoping to put a dent in that statistic in the near future. “With over 46,000 solar panels laid across 45 acres, we create over 15.5 MW daily. Thanks to a power-bank arrangement, we feed the excess energy produced into Kerala’s main power grid,” shares airport director ACK Nair, adding that airports around the world are studying their solar-powered set-up

What started as a tree-planting initiative in Cuddalore, to counter any future tsunamis, is now a movement that benefits around 2,500 farmers every month. In its current format, Isha Foundation’s Project Green Hands accepts online donations (Rs 100 per tree) for planting their in-house, nursery-grown saplings in farms across the state. The trees are either medicinal or fruit-bearing ones, and aid in agroforestry. “You can track the status of your tree with a special code, which gives details of its location and the farmer,” says E Anand, the project’s 31-yearold operational head. So far they have helped 36,000 farmers and planted over a million trees.

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