You don’t need to be a chef to make a burger – how I became a human rights activistCulture & Education | January 25, 2012
After receiving a UN award that recognized me as human...
It began with an email out of the blue. A young student from IIT-Roorkee by the name of Nimit Jain wrote to me about an interesting movement that some students were attempting to begin. I was intrigued. Since quitting the corporate world three years ago, conservation education and outreach have remained one of my areas of focus. Watching the pillaging of the earth’s resources around us and faced with issues like climate change, water scarcity and habitat destruction driven by the seemingly insatiable needs of a burgeoning human race, I’m often left wondering what I can do to make a difference. It’s not rocket science to arrive at the conclusion that one of the critical steps to sustainability is a change in people’s lifestyles: reduced, smarter consumption. Easier said than done!
I write a column for Hindustan Times which focuses on the pretty sights of nature. In this column, I have a small blurb which provides tips on some things people can do in their daily lives to make a difference. On many occasions, people have come up to me to say they enjoy my writing. But when I veer the conversation to what they are doing personally to make a change, the discussion turns nasty! Everyone else has to take the action—the government, the municipal corporation, the neighbours…A word I coined a while ago sums up this attitude. NIMPY: Not In My Personal Yard! So others folks can take action, but I retain the right to complain without doing anything about it!
Against this background, Nimit’s email was a breath of fresh air. More discussions followed and a chance meeting on a train journey finally culminated in a discussion with a group of students on the IIT-Roorkee campus a few weeks ago. Nimit and band of merry men, the Greenagers, are attempting the unthinkable: to start a green movement on their campus whose focus is “green action.” Doing little things that can make a difference.
Working with the campus stakeholders—the local canteen operator and the students—the Greenagers managed to stop the use of styrofoam plates and substitute them with eco-friendly plates made from plant fibre. In nearby villages, Greenagers worked with the local community to provide eco-friendly lamps on a cost-sharing basis. Other initiatives are underway, including a green shop on campus, a competition for green innovations and lots of other ideas for “green action.”
The Greenagers have only just started their movement. But what’s heartening is that in an environment where careers, MBAs, scholarships and pay packages dominate the conversation, a group of young students are seeking to walk down a different path. They are attempting to figure out for themselves how they can support a more sustainable lifestyle, reduce consumption, and possibly create an entirely new career grounded in “green action”.
It takes courage to walk a different path, to seek solutions where none seemingly exist, to create careers which don’t exist today…. All of this begins with a few small steps of the kind that Greenagers have taken. Here’s hoping that the small steps towards change that the Greenagers have taken leave large footprints on the path to a more sustainable lifestyle!
What do you think holds people back from taking action to preserve the environment? What can you do to support sustainability?
If this story inspires you, write to the Greenagers at firstname.lastname@example.org and join them in their quest for a greener lifestyle. You can also write to Sanjay at email@example.com or join the conversation by commenting below.
About the author:
Sanjay is an engineer from IIT-Kanpur who gave up a successful corporate career to focus on his passion: nature conservation. In doing so, he hopes to give something back to society in return for all the pleasure he has received from spending time in the wilds. Learn more about Sanjay and the conservation research, education, and action group Titli Trust at www.titlitrust.com.
The views expressed above are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of the views of the Mahindra Group.