Green warriors are true to their cause

Just days before the World Environment Day on June 5, environmentalist Robert Swan, who was in the capital recently to launch a project by TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) and Tetra Pak, to promote environmental awareness and sustainable lifestyles among students, said that Delhiites would care about environment issues only if it sounds upmarket and cool.

Swan, was quoted as saying, “I’m sure the day I make caring for the environment very upmarket, the rich Delhiites will start caring about their environment. If I could, I would get every rich Delhi girl into this initiative. Just make it sound cool, hip and sexy to care about the planet and the stupid men will follow this in minutes. We have to find a sophisticated-sounding way to get their participation.”

Environment enthusiasts fail to understand what prompted Swan to say something like that. They say that those who do their bit for the environment/society do so without thinking about the hip quotient attached to a cause.

Photographer and artist Atul Bhalla, who has been involved with various environment-related art projects, says that it’s a very individual perspective. “I wouldn’t blanket everyone into it. There are individuals who are doing very good work irrespective of the classes or economic strata they belong to. And then there are people who do things just to getnoticed,” he says.

A lawyer and an environment enthusiast Aman Panwar, who has helmed various cleanliness drives in the city in the past, finds the comment funny.

“People now want to be associated with environment-related causes because they want to save it from further deterioration. I remember a hotelier came down on the streets with us to clean the area just because he wanted to become a part of it. He didn’t think about his status or anything. And that particular campaign was not even being covered by the media,” says Aman.

Some environmentalists have a slightly different take on this. Mani Makar, who has just passed out of school and has been doing various things for the environment, says that if you convince youngsters that working for the environment is “cool”, they may take it more seriously. “But making it sound sophisticated or upmarket isn’t at all important to pull the attention. However, economical benefits can help. Like, if you tell somebody to use a CFL bulb because it’s good for the environment, he may not pay attention. But if you say that it would save money, they may easily opt for it,” says Mani.

However, Rajiv Chhibber, an ex-TERI employee, says that whatever Swan is saying isn’t utopian. “The mindset of people depends upon the lifestyle change that people are witnessing. But then you’ve to look at the kind of initiatives that work. Like these days, you would see people carrying a carry bag with them when they enter a mall just because most of the shops have started charging for an eco-friendly bag. It’s working fine. You’ve to mould the initiative in the way it works,” he concludes.

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