As we move forward into the future, we must prioritise the cleanliness of our environment. To ensure that our planet remains healthy, we must take immediate action to promote a cleaner and more sustainable way of life. When Shankar Singh Rajput realised the same, he decided to do something. A few days of brainstorming gave birth to Vrikshit Foundation which is achieving remarkable feats today.
Their initiatives have inspired countless individuals to take action in their communities, and their message has reached far and wide. Through their dedication and hard work, they have shown that even small actions can make a big impact in creating a cleaner and greener future.
Here’s what Shankar says about Vrikshit Foundation and its future goals:
What progress has the Vrikshit Foundation made towards its goal of promoting a cleaner and healthier India since its inception four years ago?
Back in 2019, I spoke to government officials and MLAs about the dirty state of the streets in Rohini but nothing happened. One day, I read a story about Afroz Shah who cleaned up the beaches of Mumbai on his own. Rather than sitting quietly and waiting for others to take action, I started thinking about cleaning up the Yamuna beach. At that time, I was a software engineer and provided tuition in the evenings. I talked to my students about my plan, and five of them agreed to join me. The six of us cleaned about 200 metres of the area near the Yamuna Canal.
When we posted about our efforts on social media the next day, we received an overwhelming response from many people. We decided to continue the cleanup drive every weekend, and it gained momentum as more and more people joined us in our efforts.
How can instilling a culture of cleanliness and tidiness from an early age inspire young people to become more engaged in keeping their environment clean?
Before 2018, people had no concern about maintaining cleanliness on the streets. They would dispose of garbage indiscriminately without considering the hazardous effects. However, this attitude has started to change, and people now intervene if they see someone littering or dumping garbage.
The younger generation is becoming more aware of issues related to pollution, climate change, and the environment. They realise that it is essential to take action to protect the environment. I believe that more needs to be done at the grassroots level. If children are taught about waste management in their moral values classes in their school, it can bring about a significant change in mindset.
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When children learn about waste management, they often share knowledge with their parents. This can have a positive impact on the parents’ attitudes and behaviours towards waste management. Children can also influence their parents to adopt environmentally-friendly practices, such as reducing, reusing, and recycling waste. Therefore, educating children about waste management can create a ripple effect and lead to a broader change in society’s approach to waste management.
Can you list five awards and recognitions received by Vrikshit Foundation that have motivated you and your team in the few years since its establishment?
Just two months after the inception of the Vrikshit Foundation, we received a message from the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal on our Instagram account in July 2019. He invited us to meet him and congratulated us on our actions.
We were also declared the winners of the Champion Challenge 2019 for our efforts in transforming and cleaning five different locations, and we received a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh. Additionally, we received awards from over 70 MLAs, including Jitender Singh Tomar (MLA of Delhi) and Mohinder Goyal (MLA of Rithala).
Here are some of the contributions we have made to date:
- Collected over 8.5 million kg of waste to make the environment cleaner
- Recycled over 3.8 million kg of waste to save resources and promote sustainability
- Planted over 21,000 trees to reduce the impact of greenhouse gases
- Positively impacted over 500,000 people through various projects
- Transformed and landscaped over 430 sites to prevent them from becoming messy again
What are the foundation’s plans for the next five years?
We are now shifting our focus towards changing people’s mindsets. We have successfully converted many dumping yards into useful places such as an English learning centre in Sector-3 Rohini, a library in Sector-11, and a computer centre in Ashok Vihar. By doing so, we aim to change people’s perceptions.
The foundation plans to create engaging audio-visual content to educate people about waste segregation and bring about a change in their mindset. We are currently running a waste collection campaign where we reward people for collecting waste and giving it to us.
We plan to adopt Dwarka’s 50 and Rohini’s 50 apartments’ waste and segregate and process it ourselves. This will ensure that waste is eliminated at the initial stage and does not reach the dumping ground.
‘Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make a change.’ Vrikshit Foundation by Shankar Singh Rajput is a foundation to join. Let’s together contribute to a healthier and greener India.
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