Environmental awareness takes a novel and entertaining approach.
Whenever an environment enthusiast tries to get his/her message across, it’s often conveyed through horrifying statistics and stark images. It may seem like a no-brainer to try a different approach other than jolting the audience, but the credit goes to the collective Kommune, and its partner National Geographic, for curating a concept like ‘Living Room’—where people come together to talk, eat, meet, etc, just like in the living room in every house—to entertain the audience, as well as inform them about environmental conservation.
Mumbai-based Kommume, which works to revive performance art through personalised storytelling, recently put together a handful of young go-getters in the national capital to share stories of their efforts to safeguard the planet. Host Roshan Abbas opened the interactive session with an anecdote of his own: “While participating in a cleaning drive at Versova Beach, Mumbai, I noticed volunteers who had come just to post to social media. While I tried to change that, I realised that we must work to create ‘intent’ and not just ‘content’,” he said.
As Abbas threw the stage open to the speakers of the evening, the audience was serenaded by songwriter Ditty, an architect by profession, who strummed the guitar to her creations on environmental issues.
The next speaker was Sankalp Mohan Sharma. The 17-year-old, who hails from Bengaluru, said he always wanted to do something different, so he joined the ethics club in his school at 12 years of age and kickstarted his journey to be named India’s youngest climate change leader. Recently, Sharma, through his pet project #WalkforWater, managed to restore over 15,000 dried-up borewells through donations that helped 80-100 villagers across the country. A former Vice President of the US was the inspiration, he says. “Watching Sir Al Gore’s TED Talks on YouTube fuelled my love and concern for the environment. It also encouraged me to complete my Leadership Training in Houston, post which I was awarded the title of Climate Reality Leader in August (2017),” says Sharma.
The driven teenager, who plans to take the year off to launch his own organisation, wants his first project to focus on raising funds for NGOs that work towards environmental conservation. “There are tons of people doing a great job, but they lack public support. I plan to rope in celebrities to bring in the crowds and help raise funds,” he says.
Another changemaker, Divya Ravichandran, was jolted when a major fire broke out at Mumbai’s Deonar dumping ground in January last year, covering a large part of the city in an ominous-looking smog. Ravichandran, who performed a moving piece onstage about her battle with waste management and the subsequent journey to waste segregation and composting at home, is the brain behind Skrap, a company that specialises in solid waste management for events, restaurants and offices.
It was born when some friends who were running start-ups asked her to handle waste management for their offices. This eventually led to a contract with a larger company, Only Much Louder, which was followed by stints at even larger events, such the NH7 Weekender, YouTube FanFest and Mahindra Blues Festival, etc, this year. “All of us can help conserve the environment if we reflect on the waste we create everyday. In fact, over 80% of the garbage that we throw in landfills can be recycled or composted. All we have to do is segregate our waste, recycle what we can and compost what is biodegradable,” she says.
Then there was London School of Fashion alumna Kriti Tula whose focus is on addressing waste management in the fashion industry. “When I started working in the fashion industry, I knew I wanted to do something beyond the superficial,” said the New Delhi-based 28-year-old. So she founded the fashion label, Doodlage, which aims to redesign, reconstruct and recycle good-quality waste into high-street fashion. It has been working with post-production waste, dead stock and rejected shipments since 2011. The designer, who says upcycling is the ethos of her brand, is best known for her use of organic cotton, corn and banana fabric. Besides popularising the idea of upcycling through Doodlage, she wants consumers to realise that garment industries are major contributors to the fabric waste that chokes landfills.
Swati Mohan, business head, National Geographic and Fox Networks Group India, said that with this tie-up with Kommune they aim to gather changemakers and give them a larger audience to talk about the planet and its conservation in an engaging way.