Kanchan Agarwal | June 16, 2013 |
At 29, Vaibhav Dugar is living the life we were taught about in school. A sustainable life. His venture ektitli.org is a comprehensive journal of all activities in favour of environment and sustainable living around the world. He also, out of passion, does the noble deed of setting up organic farms for whoever is interested. Postnoon speaks to this simple man living an enriched life.
How did ek titli come about?
Ek Titli came about in school but back then, we only copy pasted stories. In school and college days, lot of our decisions are taken by parents. I wanted to pursue environmental studies and my second dream was to be an engineer; I like to make things. I joined an engineering college and realised soon it was not my cup of tea. I finished it anyway and began working for media but I had this urge to take a risk and make Ek Titli my full-time occupation.
What is the aim of ektitli.org?
There are two aims. One is to spread the good word — to let others know about people who are making efforts for a better today and tomorrow. The second aim is to inculcate the habit of organic farming and food.
What would you say is the status of sustainable living in India?
It is growing. People are getting aware and looking for the first step. There is a mount difference now. People are buying solar and organic products. The change is evident now.
What has been the impact of Ek Titli?
Every story has an impact on one or another. When we were in school, we didn’t know what problems environment could face in the future. Now, students know about these issues. On their way to school, they see a river which is black. They notice that it is supposed to be blue. They wonder about these things. Other people who we have worked with come back to know more about such practices. They want to try them. There is definitely an impact on a person-to-person level.
Tell me about one of your favourite projects.
We just finished this project in Tulapur, 40Kms from Pune. It is a place of historical significance. Shivaji’s son was killed near the Shiv temple there. Behind the temple, there is a brilliant government school which has 99 per cent passing rate. The management too is very sound and they invited us to teach the kids about environment. We gave each child a patch of land and showed them organic farming. While they were having a practical experience of it, we also had the theoretical imparting on the side. We told them about the existing problems and the possible solutions in organic farming.
You don’t charge for your services..
I realised I can’t be charging money for this. When a mango tree is ready, it droops, and fruits fall. It wants people to take it. It does not ask you for anything. I do what I do because I want to do it. For me, it is a great honour to be called to set up an organic farm for anyone, and that people want to live sustainably. Apart from the basic costs of material, I don’t take anything.
Does that mean you live a life of few luxuries?
It depends on how people define luxury. I am a man with simple wants and needs. I am trying to have a minimum impact on environment.
Tell me more about your lifestyle.
I eat organic food. I use the cycle unless it is unbearably hot. I avoid using four-wheelers, and if I do I keep a check on kilometres travelled to know how much petrol is being burned, hence, how much CO2 is emitted. That way I know how many trees have to be planted in compensation. And there are the simple habits of letting go of lifts and using solar lamps. We don’t read newspaper. Firstly, because it is wastage of paper, and secondly there is nothing happy about the news these days. I read books though. That I can’t forego. And I am not into e-book reading.
Where does one who aspires to live sustainably start off?
It is the little things that we do everyday that make an impact. It is not enough to just plant trees on one day of the year, that is not the solution for everything. People call and ask me where to plant trees on Environment Day, especially companies. I don’t want to be rude so I just redirect them to someone else. Instead, you can start off with veggies at home. All you have to do is water it, and the plant takes care of itself. Say no to chemical foods. Procure a solar charger. It will last you 25 years, save you a lot of money and consume less coal as 80 per cent of power is generated by coal. Walk it. Get a cycle. I do it. I am not a superhuman. If I can do it, I am sure so can you.
Which plants can be grown now?
Since, it is the monsoon, you can grow any veggies. You can grow gourds, tomatoes, potatoes and ginger. You have to be careful with growing leaves as insects are more prevalent.
Do you plan to expand your work to other cities?
Sure. Wherever we can, we would love to be there.