A hands-on session at Bhoomi College, Bengaluru
“We are living in a bubble. From Monday to Friday, we are in survival mode, and on weekends, our time is spent in malls, eating out and putting our lives up on social media. This insular lifestyle has disconnected us from our water bodies and forests, which we are so lucky to have within the city limits,” says Dharmesh Patel.
The apathy among Mumbaikars towards their environment became more obvious to Patel when miffed with his 15-year-old career in the IT sector, he moved to Bengaluru for a year to pursue a fellowship in sustainable living from Bhoomi College, an institution that promotes ecological lifestyle through its academic programmes.
“The residents of Bengaluru are far more involved in safeguarding the city’s environment — from the housing society level to more consolidated action concerning the city. While we have individuals and groups doing wonderful work in Mumbai, their message needs to reach far greater numbers, and especially the youth,” says Patel, 37, who returned to Mumbai last month and is embarking on his first initiative as an alumnus, where Bengaluru’s Bhoomi Network (of which Bhoomi College is a part) and The Blue Ribbon Movement, Mumbai, have organised Spirited Talks on Urban Sustainability. The discussion brings together experts specialising in a range of green initiatives to raise ecological awareness among the youth of Mumbai and share directions to become change makers.
Meet the change-makers
A pioneer in the field of organic awareness, Mumbai-based eco-nutritionist Kavita Mukhi started one of the first farmers’ markets in India, which continues to thrive at Bandra’s D’Monte Park, which has been its home for the last eight years. The market, held every Sunday, promotes rural, organic-certified produce cultivated by farmers with small holdings from across Maharashtra.
Having worked in holistic education for years, Farah Khan, director of programmes at Bhoomi College, will discuss the academic aspect of sustainable living and how education can foster a responsible attitude towards the environment. “We need to bring a change in the way youngsters are thinking and making choices. For that, ecology must be at the core of education,” Khan explains.
For over a year, Mumbai-based physiotherapist Meera Shah has been successful in leading an almost zero-waste lifestyle by following the four Rs — refuse (what one can do without), reduce, reuse and recycle. She has never used a plastic carry bag, recycles kitchen waste, and collects plastic packaging and donates it to Urja Foundation for recycling every month. Shah will talk about this experience, and give young Mumbaikars tips on how they can lead a sustainable lifestyle like her.
As the threat of “development” looms large over the city’s green lungs, the Save Aarey citizen movement has been pivotal in bringing to the fore the crucial role that the verdant Goregaon colony plays in Mumbai’s well-being. “A young member from the Aarey Conservation Group (ACG) will talk about the importance of Aarey as a forest for Mumbai and how it will affect all of us if we allow it to give way to the metro car shed, which can be easily shifted out,” says Amrita Bhattacharjee of ACG.