The Greenagers: Small Steps towards Change

Posted By: Sanjay Sondhi|Dated: September 5, 2011

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!

The Greenagers: Small Steps towards Change

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 and join them in their quest for a greener lifestyle.  You can also write to Sanjay at 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

The views expressed above are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of the views of the Mahindra Group.


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  • Channe Pooja

    This is so inspiring :)

  • prabaker singh

    i think lots of people would want to do a career thats more green or more passionate, but sadly it’s another luxury of the rich to do something they love…

    • DK

      Well said Mr Prabakar

  • Sumantajena

    idea is very good…….. but practically doing this requires lots of efforts like promotion through mass media… reaching out to communities… education ………. is essential.

    • Ram Attur

      A noble initiative indeed,anything big it small is good as the seeds sown today will bear fruit soon.
      Just a word on NIMPY,wish you did not claim on fame for what is Judy playing around the words on NIMBY sm-a global acronym coined while back “not in my backyard”

  • Vinay Choletti

    Please see our webstore

  • Dreamspace Roversoul

    i really like your thoughts. i am trying to do similar thing but a different approach. during my last visit to Dhanaulti, i felt that benefit of tourism is going to a very small number of rich persons who have resorts, hotels and restaurants at such a places. people with small investments and less educations are no more than a labor at such places. my effort is to promote co-operative tourism. where a community can originate, develop and promote new concepts in tourism industry. where everyone can have benefit regardless of their investments and status. 
    i know, you may be busy in other important tasks, but can you suggest me that how i can promote these niche travel packages to international audiences. You have access to India’s best brains there. may be they can find a solution, or they can help those communities. 

    • Rohit Jhanwar


      Its a Fabulous thought. Could You please elaborate on this, as i am religiously interested in joining these kind of things and would like to opt this as a my life long carrier. Could you please mail me at this my ID rohit.jhanwar88@gmail:disqus .com

    • Sanjay Sondhi1


      Apologies for a slow response. Been traveling to Arunachal. Good that you are promoting cooperative tourism. Let me know if I can be of any help. 

  • Rahul Nagpaul

    Lets save the Earth & Environment to protect our Kid of the Future
    Now in 64 Languages thanks to visit


  • Augustin Hermann

    Very Inspiring, way to go… I would be part of this journey.

  • andy appan

    INV 700 Bn$.  RET 5400 Bn$/Yr

  • andy appan





    CO2E = G/Hour = 2325* FUEL-Hr

    = 2325/ TON-KMPL



  • Amit Saha


    That in the subject which I would like to NAME your initiative.

    Would be interested in knowing more.,

    Amit Saha

    Kolkata, WEST BENGAL.

    • Sanjay Sondhi1

      Amit Do write in to Greenagers at or email me at for any thoughts/inputs/comments

    • Jainnimit92

      Hello Mr.Saha,
      Hope you received our presentation. Do stay in touch!Cheers,Nimit

  • Shreya_mehrotra

    “Greenagers” is actually a wonderful feeling and to be a part of this Greenage i think everyone today will add a contribution. Imagine every place in India green n clean….

    • nimit jain

      Absolutely! We stand with you on this aspiration.

      • Rihan_m

        This is a gud iniciative by mr sanjay ,we must manage our consumption and try to use recycle product.

  • Manjunath

    I have come across news where a Granny was recognized for growing trees(100s) on sides of road, In this modern world where we are busy building better and better infrastructure and cutting trees, Let us Grow trees on both sides of Highway or where ever possible in this world. if not in City at least outside City. Create Awareness

    • nimit jain

      Thanks for sharing this news!
      Indeed your thoughts are very well in line with the rampant tree clearance prevalent in Uttar Pradesh,for the very purpose of road widening. Bangalore is an excellent example of implementation of what you just mentioned. Truly Sustainability is not ‘Rocket Science’. 
      What it actually is Basic sense and your story proves it.-Greenagers

  • Rockety Ryder

    I applaud the “Greenagers” for their initiatives and efforts, since it is a noble intention.

    Unfortunately, “go green” has just become a fashionable mantra for many youth and corporate companies these days. But their achievements are either too local or temporary, without a broader vision, without a greater outreach, and unsustainable in the long run. And for every tree planted, or every green event accomplished, there are thousands of trees that are cut and ecology takes a crippling hit every day.

    So I hope the Greenagers can continue their initiatives, and subsequent generations of IIT students emulate and propagate the efforts of these pioneers.

    When extraordinary vision meets extraordinary passion and is backed up by selfless dedication, “go green” becomes “gone green” and “keep green”.

    I’ll give an example, and tell you a story. A story about unsung heroes, the forgotten Green Crusaders.

    Bangalore (err… Bengaluru) once used to be called the “Garden City”, but unfortunately it is no longer so. If you take a look at Google maps and compare Bengaluru’s Greenery with Madras (err.. Chennai), you will find Chennai has more greenery! Huh, how is a place that is so hot and humid having more greenery? Is it the soil, is it the rainfall, is it the municipal corporation’s initiatives?

    Nope. It is just 2 Green Crusaders that made this metropolis into breathable, green oasis!!

    Hats off to their heroic (and long-sustained) efforts that started 23 years ago!

    “How Subramanian and Madhavan (Global Greenways initiative) greenified a whole city”:

    Please read that article, and if anyone ever says to you that green initiatives are a waste of time, tell them this story. It has certainly inspired me, as I hope it will inspire you all.

    And yeah, the best way to appreciate the Greenagers and the Global Greenways, is to emulate their efforts in your neighborhood and city.

    Go Green, Think Green, Start Green.

    • nimit jain

      Thanks for sharing the story!
      We sincerely believe that our approach towards the Green arena is actually ‘Sustainable’
      and would carve out our niche in the field,soon.

      Thought Leader:Greenagers

  • Ansh

    Some months ago, I read an article somewhere about small wind mill plans (of fan size) that can be installed on terraces for generating electricity at housing and rural areas. Does anybody has an idea about such a project???

  • Preeti


    Your gmail id is incorrect. according to the notification, it does not exist. can you pls share correct email id?


  • Munir Chopra

    its the best way to contribute… am ready…greenagers

    • nimit jain

      Wow! Good to see your enthusiasm.
      Let’s connect & share ideas.
      Join us at:

  • Sourish17

    Dear Sanjay,introducing myself, well am Sourish Mukherjee,a tiny speck trying to bring in a change in the lives who is in need…and by saying this i feel we all are in need of a bit of support from one another to really make our vicinity a healthier and safe place. Just going through the above lines…i can say that am not alone in this mission of healing the society whenever,wherever and however possible. I run a non profitable organisation in the name of COSMOS VIGOUR ( Well i should also say that the Greenagers are really doing a fabulous job and have proved the saying “ A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity”. And to my surprise i found that we are doing the same good job from the same good place called Dehradun. Knowing TITLI TRUST is a pleasure….Great going i must say….

    • nimit jain

      Great to hear from you!
      We look forward to connect with you for the good. 


  • Vikas K

    Nature is something that touches my heart.Being a Greenager would be a great feeling. I would love to be part of this initiative.

  • Hasmukh

    Good initiative indeed by Sanjay!!! I feel we could also do a bit supporting this cause. Review our lifestyle…by this what I feel is that reduce our consumption. For example, many of us purchase clothes not because there is need, but we liked it. Now because of this more of these would be produced leading to more burden on environment. Remember, more production of anything adds more burden on environment.

    Another thing I feel we need to conserve is Water. For instance, we can use 15 liters of water for bathing. While rinsing our scalp, we can allow the water to fall into the same bucket. This needs to be done once the lather is gone off :) . This would really conserve water to maximum extent.

    Always keep the windows open to reduce the fan and AC dependence. Dispose the electronic gadgets properly. And one more thing, always carry a cloth bag with you whenever you move out of home, this would reduce the usage of Plastic.

    Plant trees whereever there is open space.

  • Rajeev Sharma

    Your observation is very true. I can share something which is very easy and is environmentally benefitial and have been doing for last 3-4 years now. In my lawn I have dug around 4 pits of 2/3 feet in which we drop all bio-degradable waste like vegetable & fruit peels, used tea leaves, egg shells, shredded paper, left over food items. It takes around 1-3 months for all these to decompose and become good quality pure organic manure. The amazing thing is that this does not induce any kind of smell or flies etc. Using this manure in my lawn also enhances the mineral content of the soil. It is a small act but atleast I must have reduced my waste generation by around 1000 kg in last 3-4 years plus I do not have to buy the chemical based manure for my kitchen garden.

    • nimit jain

      Your story bears clear testimony to the fact that giving a thought & implementing ideas in sync with Nature is in-fact not Rocket Science! and that it just takes a bit of open-mindedness to create a difference.
      Sir,would you mind sharing about it on our facebook page?Here’s the link:,Nimit

  • Pradeep

    Many congratulations for the initiatives.
    I have a suggestion. In view of ammendment of Company Bill in the recent past; disclosure of Corporate Social responsibility by Private Corpoartes is mandatory. PSU otherwise are following a system where they earmark 2% of their annual profit for CSR.

    All initiatives mentioned above would qualify for CSR funding. I feel to create awareness and implement such beautiful thoughts, stakeholders should tap these resources so that paucity of capital is not felt in the mission.

    For example: Drinking Water (Healthy) is a big problem. Bottlers are marketing packaged product at each Bus Stop on national basis. Majority of these products are spurious and produced by unauthorised bottlers. Cost is also abhorable.

    I have suggestion. If we can secure permission from state government, we can develop Permanent Water Dispensing Kiosk at each bus stop. We will use RO technology for safety, security and health reasons. We will sell water at much reduced cost  and revenue can be shared with government agencies.

    As far as investments are concerned, it can be invited from corporates under CSR. Alternately, HNI do invest in such initiatives for Philanthropic reasons. It will save lot of water as well as improve health of masses which otherwise is consuming polluted and unsafe water.

    Declaration: I am not from Water Industry and I do not have any financial vested interest in the idea. It is just an idea that I have been working on for quite sometime.

    • nimit jain

      Dear Sir,
      Glad to hear about your simple yet far-reaching idea!
      To be true it was much of a surprise to listen to your idea,as it had been lurking in my mind since long.   

      Also,I am pretty sure you heard about that some Australian cities turning to tap water against the bottled ones and making it a social movement.

      I am definitely looking forward to listen further on your project.
      Do drop a mail on letsbeagreenager@gmail:disqus .com.


  • Pathela Kanika

    Good movement started by IITians…This is true innovation…THINK DIFFERENT ACT DIFFERENT

    • nimit jain

      Thank you for your cheerful words!
      Thought Leader: Greenagers

    • nimit jain

      Thank you!

  • Kiranmayi_penumarty

    Its a fantastic initiative.Like all things important, this is hidden between layers of junk news we deal with everyday. Most effective way to get people to think and do something is create awareness not only about what is being done but also what every person can do without having a grand plan. 
    Urge you to make this known across various media and come up with articles regularly. Facebook too is an effective medium. I googled up “the greenagers” and couldnt find any. May be you are under a different name. You can send a tip a day for people who subscribe to it and then come up with newsletters etc.All the best to the team. Earth needs more like you

    • nimit jain

      Thank you for your kind words!
      We value your suggestions and look forward to hear more of it from you.
      Is connecting on facebook,a great idea: ?


  • Vadhar Dhaval

    Each one of us should avoid using “Polythene” bags wherever possible. Carry things in your personal bags or in your hand, avoid using the polythene bags as much as possible. We should also avoid throwing the garbage, specifically plastic bags, anywhere. On my last visit to Gangotri, I have seen lots of plastic garbage on the way to Gaumukh. People are throwing these things even after enough notices like “Don’t throw plastic bags. Please save environment.”. This type of misbehavior/behavior of even a educated people is slowly destroying our environment. 

  • Meera menon

    Very good thought. Would like to be a carrier of this excellent programme.Do let me know how can I be of a help  towards this. Extend my complete support to it.

    • nimit jain

      We are humbled by your kind words.
      Do drop a mail on letsbeagreenager@gmail to connect with us.
      You may also surf the wave with us at

      Looking forward to hear from you,soon!

      Thought Leader: Greenagers

  • Faisa Khan

    Very good idea. in fact if we have a group of people having same ambitions, we can work more better and faster to develop green belt in our respective regions

  • Anjali Pandya

    Unfortunately when we were kids the plastic and styrofoam was not in the picture and the leaves of trees were used as plates, then came the environmentalist and it was banned, what lacked was the information to grow more trees, the waste used as manure and also now for renewable energy.

    The development of India has to look back into its tradition and find many such methods that were environment friendly……….. but we still look to the west not dwelling into our past for better life

    • nimit jain

      Very true indeed.
      Instead of just looking up for path-breaking tech we ought to ponder over our roots.

  • Mulay Sachin

    Have a look at our program ‘earthian’ visit This is a sustainability program for schools and colleges.

    • nimit jain

      Thanks for sharing the link.
      Though we already heard about it & are optimistic about joining it this time.

  • Pankaj Sharma

    Just a simple thought: Why can we promote Cycle rickshaw in some places, like small town or a society which is covered in large areas. I guess Auto rickshaw is not required in inner areas of any township, in fact cycle rickshaw should be promoted. It will provide jobs to people and reduce pollution conserving the greenery. I still see a lot of space where this can implemented. Also in most of the places the auto rickshaw that ply is on meter, i think the concept of sharing auto should be promoted in some specific areas, agree in order to travel long distance meter is required, but in some office areas where public has to travel only for less than 5-6 km, sharing auto should be promoted. This is reduce traffic to a great extent. These all have to be implemented by local govt in every place. Why not corporates like Mahindra do this? They can start this as Corporate Social Responsibility and promote sharing vehicles, employ people and talk to govt, just like the Mahindra has taken an intiative to train females in every house of farmers to operate tractor so that agriculture is continued.

  • Sridar kannan

    Good initiative indeed. I felt that I should also certainly contribute for this change – Green Action.

  • Narayan

    Could not agree more that we need to cultivate some sort of civic sense in us, which seems to be lost in this material world. Would love to be part of such a group to make a real difference.

  • Ashok M Vaishnav

    This inititative now needs to be communicated to a wider cross section of the people.
    Hence, it would be essentail that this amy be taken aup by the netizen community to spread the word  and invite suggestions, in as amny Indian languages as possible.

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