Everyone can be an eco-warrior

if you really want to do something for your country, decide to go green – it’s simpler than you think...

American naturalist John Burroughs famously said: “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” Chennai-based Vidya Gogul, however, felt her senses were knocked out for a six on a hiking trip 10 years ago in the jungles of Valparai in Coimbatore. Gogul and her mates spotted a stream, which they previously used as a water source, clogged with chips wrappers and water bottles.

“It shocked my system into being aware in a far more conscious manner. The clock is ticking for us and Earth,” says Gogul, the founder of a sustainable brand. Since then, her only goal was a zero-waste household – and she has achieved 70 per cent of her target.

Zero-waste, shopping bans, crockery banks, composting, no-flight travels, turning vegetarian – the millennial green goals are as varied as the ways to achieve it. As the word ‘environmentalist’ goes the way of ‘feminist’ — considered a more hyper, supercharged, politicised being — the new green warriors are bringing in new terminologies and new ways of living. The biggest discovery has been that it’s quite easy to go green – for all of us.


More often than not, new-age environmentalists are finding inspiration closer home. Waste management activist and Gurugram’s crockery bank revolution-starter Sameera Satija started her bank with 30 steel glasses after seeing the wastage from bhandaras near her home last year. Within 2-3 days, the local group had saved 10,000 disposables from ending up in trash! Her Facebook group ‘Crockery Bank for Everyone’ runs 12 chapters in Gurugram, three in Delhi and is affiliated to two groups in Noida. At last count, the group calculated they had saved 2 lakh plus disposables from reaching the landfills – in just a year.

“People think trash goes away when they get it out of their house – out of sight, out of mind. But they don’t realise that it’s adding to the load of Earth by going into landfills,” Satija says. In fact, as a waste-watcher (she has been managing her trash sustainably through composting and segregating), she feels that just like we visit malls, people should go and visit their local landfill to realise how they are part of the problem. “This is the only way people can become aware about how to manage waste,” she says.


  • Do you carry cloth/reusable grocery bags to the shops or markets?
  • Do you compost in your own house i.e., separate your biodegradable garbage from non-biodegradable ones?
  • When you order in, do you save the boxes and reuse them later?
  • Have you quit smoking?
  • Do you limit the amount of clothes you buy each month?
  • Have you cut down meat/dairy or turned vegetarian yet?
  • Do you carry reusable water bottles, or carry home the mineral water bottles you order at restaurants, especially when they still have water in them?
  • If you’re a woman, have you shifted to a menstrual cup yet?
  • Do you carpool?
  • Do you engage with people on the topic of single-use plastic?

Going green, one day at a time

The growing tribe of eco warriors is gaining traction because they are talking a language we understand. For instance, recently a Twitter user @filmibaaz replied on Anand Mahindra’s tweet of a boardroom filled with plastic bottles, saying they should use steel ones. Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra Group, with 7 million followers, admitted that we could all do better. Since then he has been working towards reducing plastic waste across his company.

It could take a tweet, a hashtag or opening an Instagram account on waste management to get people to start paying attention. Instagram is what helped Bengaluru-based waste management expert Vani Murthy to reach a wider audience. Going by the handle of @wormrani, Murthy says that she was always a homemaker but has found her calling with solid waste management when she started talking about trash management, in 2009. She has achieved a zero-waste household and is a composting champion, who refers to it as ‘black gold’. “What really struck a chord with me is when I read somewhere, ‘We don’t inherit this Earth, we only borrow it from the coming generation’,” she recalls. And keeping that goal in mind, Murthy has been advocating waste management at the home level and her biggest supporters are young kids.


Climate policy researcher Padmini Gopal (runs an Instagram page @climatekarma) started her little green goals three years ago. Her first step was to turn vegetarian and adopt a more plant-based diet by gradually reducing her dairy intake as well. Her next green goal is to reduce flight travel – the biggest contributor to one’s carbon emissions. While reducing work travel is a bit difficult, she admits, she aims to offset that by funding afforestation organisations. But going forward, she plans to travel locally for her holidays and embrace slow travel by travelling via train. She says, “It’s not an all or nothing scenario.” Her practical tip: Start with one green goal – preferably the more impactful and financially feasible ones. “Take one small step at a time, as I think it can help in inculcating green habits that last. For instance, when I decided to become vegetarian three years ago, it took more than a month of slowly reducing the amount of meat and dairy I ate per week to basically eating no meat and consuming dairy maybe once every two weeks – I have maintained that habit since then,” says Gopal.


Gopal has zeroed in on another goal: to not buy any new clothing and only limit it to buying second hand/ recycled clothing. A shopping ban for a year is what Kolkata-based model, blogger and writer Karuna Parikh is going for as her first green goal. “Though I was raised in a home that always had green practices, I understood the urgency of taking individual and collective steps after reading The Overstory. I realised I wasn’t living by my own convictions, and I couldn’t continue to be devastated about climate change or the direction the world was moving in, if I wasn’t making changes in my personal life to reflect that,” she says. This was her turning point.

Parikh adds that it’s easier these days to cut down our carbon footprint as information is readily available. She says, “I think for all the bad social media does to us psychologically and socially, it actually is a wonderful space to connect with likeminded people. And when you decide you are interested in that kind of thing, it becomes a network of goodness.”

Gogul says that anyone who wants to go green needn’t get dejected that they are not doing enough. “The fact that you are aware is a win for the movement. This will ensure that you will watch out for ways you can help,” she adds. Gopal sums up: “It is practical and in your own interest to go green in this day and age – but what it finally boils down to is how far you are willing to go to create and demand for a greener environment.”

Given that the chatter around August 15 is about ‘what you can do for your country?’, maybe we can all take tiny steps to a greener future.


In 2018, new data found that Americans — specifically millennials, who control the future of the consumer market — don’t want to be caught dead shopping from any company that harms the planet. The latest ‘Eco Pulse’ data reveals that 90 per cent of millennials will buy from a brand whose social and environmental practices they trust


Want some easy lessons in going green? Follow these accounts on Instagram
@barenecessities_zerowasteindia Run by environmentalist Sahar Mansoor this is the go-to place for all green goals – it’s India specific
@theconsciousdesi Vandana K’s Instagram account blogs her journey of zero-waste with some practical takeaways
@mallikaarya30 Eco-warrior from Delhi, fighting the waste and climate crisis\
@earthwanderess Swedish vegan climate activist who travels without ever flying
@gretathunberg The teenage climate activist who sparked climate protests around the world
@forlife_online Their website carries the sustainability starter pack
@zerowastehome Bea Johnson’s account gives you practical advice on how to achieve your green goals
@fridaysforfuture.india and @indiaextinctionrebellion

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