GREEN INITIATIVES

 Armed with determination to mitigate the effect of global warming, young Bangaloreans — Hita Unnikrishnan (23), Supreeth S (23), Varshitha Jha    (19) and Ram N (23) from Bangalore are doing their bit — right from tree planting drives, reaching out to communities to switch to energy efficient lighting practices, proposing cycling as a substitute to other forms of commuting to discouraging the use of plastic — they have a lot on their plate and are charged up to do more! Call them Climate Champions as they are a part of British Council’s International Climate Champions (ICC) project, which aims to give young people (18-23 yrs), who have an active interest in environment resources and training to inspire positive action among people in their community and peers.

Take Supreeth for instance. A mechanical engineer, he works with an education portal and travels everyday to work (which is 13 kms from his home) by cycle — that’s a huge 26 kms everyday! “I know it has its disadvantages — you are exhausted by the time you reach work, are vulnerable to rain and pollution, but it’s worth it. At least personally, I am proud of reducing a few carbon footprints.” Part of the critical mass movement, a bicycling event conducted across the world, where people gather on a stipulated day and ride across their respective cities on bicycles, Supreeth has been participating in its Bangalore franchise, which was launched  in 2008. Ever since, on the last Saturday of every month, cyclists meet and cycle around the city. According to Supreeth the exercise is conducted to give cyclists some “visibility”. “Earlier public places like malls and hotels were not cyclist-friendly. We approached a few malls and hotels in the city and now, many of them have designated parking spaces for cyclists,” he says.

He continues to work on his project of encouraging education campuses to adopt ‘biking grids’ where students are motivated to use only bicycles to commute within the campus. “If people can inspire others, act as role models, we can help build a model similar to countries like France where establishments and people are pro-cycling and use it instead of cars or two-wheelers,” he adds.

Hita Unnikrishnan has similar green plans. A teacher at Jyoti Nivas College, she feels that climate change must be addressed at the individual level and not merely through bureaucratic efforts. Hita works to motivate people to use lighting equipment which are energy efficient. “Along with other volunteers, we started off by approaching families in Rajendranagar and distributed CFL bulbs among them, urging them to opt for CFL instead of incandescent bulbs.” Hita is also involved in door-to-door awareness campaign on CFLs and is working on bringing CFL retailers or  manufacturers and residents together where the former offers discounts while both groups work on collection and recycling of existing bulbs.

Talking about starting small, Varshitha Jha, a final year student of B.Com from Vidya Vardhaka Sangha has just one thing on her mind — ‘be drastic to plastic’ she says. Reaching out to schools, households and shops in various areas, including Basaveshwaranagar and HSR Layout, she yearns to move towards a total ban on toxic plastic and non–bio degradable waste in the city and help promote the use of paper or cloth bags. “Earlier shopkeepers, households were averse to the idea but a shift to plastic-free lifestyle takes time.” She regularly approaches schools with the idea as children can be used as agents of change and help change mindsets in their respective homes.

What binds all these youngsters together is their drive to do something. Ram N who works with a software firm came up with the concept of ‘Lush’trous and Lustrous Roofs’. “If implemented it will help in carbon capture, release oxygen on a larger scale and lead to increased evapotranspiration.” Ask him how it will help and he says, “It will give roofs that reduce the cooling energy requirements of the building, leading to reduced carbon footprints. Also, local surroundings would get cooler and cleaner,” he explains. Ram also helped create a group in his company which worked to restore the Gunjur lake by planting saplings. “Planting saplings is not the end of it. People need to nurture them for life.”

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