Meet a young Eco – Warrior from Prayagraj
This young girl from Prayagraj is on a mission to make India ‘plastic free’. Her videos on the you tube channel are so impressive that I could not stop myself from reaching out to her. She is creating awareness on the environment issues with some amazing content on her social media channels. Offdhook in conversation with ‘Waste Free Woman’.
What prompted you to start the ‘Plastic Free India’ initiative at this young age?
Once I realised the urgency that is needed to combat this threat, I decided to do all I can as an eco-warrior, as you put it, to ensure change in the way I live my life. My mindset did not change overnight. It started with steps taken to reduce my own carbon footprints. We are facing climate crisis and there’s no minimum or maximum age to change the way you think and live your life. I started as soon as I realised the importance and urgency of the environmental issues.
You are a zero waste warrior who is inspiring youth to make this planet plastic free. What is your approach and what inspires you the most ?
With solid waste continuing to accumulate in landfills and in our oceans, endangering wildlife, tackling pollution has never been so pressing. It is an urgent priority for us to live a sustainable lifestyle and take action. The problem itself is enough to inspire us all. We need to take our waste management more seriously now than ever.
On your You Tube channel you talk about waste disposal problem in India, plastic free shopping and many other relevant topics. How do you plan to take this approach ahead in the coming days? Do you seek some support to take it on another level as right now it’s in a very nascent stage?
The waste management challenges are big for the government alone to solve, and its consequences are being faced by us all. It is the need of the hour for businesses to be involved and think about how they can collaborate and implement various measures to reduce, reuse and recycle waste at their manufacturing plants and collaborate with various NGOs to collect segregated waste either from door to door or from the waste collection centres right outside the area of their businesses. My plan is to reach them all and discuss about the same and another step is to create awareness about the segregation of wet and dry waste at the household level because community participation is mandatory given that the onus of segregation is on the waste generator.
You hail from a metropolis like Prayagraj. What kind of support you garnered from your family for this initiative? Were they supportive?
Yes absolutely, they were very supportive. My dad loves gardening a lot, he has planted around 100 plants on our terrace garden himself. We understand the value of our environment and believe in climate change impacts. They have supported me in living a low waste lifestyle by making a few changes in their life as well by avoiding as much as plastic waste as they can.
How do you create awareness among the communities and local businesses in your city?
First, I educate myself about the environmental issue and then engage with local communities, family, and friends in a conversation about the urgency and importance of issues through my Instagram handle – “wastefreewoman” and also engage in a lot of private conversations with my friends and my Instagram connections to help them in living a low waste lifestyle. I like to engage with local business owners specifically the small vendors and street food centres and I try to make them understand about the plastic waste problems and then urge them to stop giving plastic straws and disposable plates with the food and use reusable cutlery and plates instead.
Who are your Icons?
Stories of personal and organised efforts influenced me, educated me and led me to a more sustainable path which I now follow passionately. It’s not just public personalities, but the unsung heroes whose stories can inspire passion and a sense of responsibility towards saving our planet. I follow a lot of amazing people and all of them inspire me differently. So, for me they’re all my icons.
Message to our youth?
Young people have the desire, drive and passion to transform the current state of the world. Young champions can make the difference needed when their voices are incorporated into the environmental discussion of our time. Sustainability, like charity, begins at home! Rope in your family and friends for a good cause, make it a community effort whenever possible. By yourself or as a part of a group. Every act counts and every effort matters. Be kind to everyone around you and have compassion towards animals and the environment you live in.
What will you #Choosetochallenge this women’s day ?
I #Choosetochallange -A week without single use plastic of any kind and document your experience of taking reusable containers with you every time you eat food outside.
Richa Sharma Puri