INITIATIVE ‘Ek Titli' provides a platform for green warriors in the country and abroad to bring about a change in the environment

“W e are the ones that set out to change the world,” says Vaibhav Dugar, about his team. It all started off when he and his buddy Bhavik Kaul urged their friends and family to use the money they received as gifts, for buying seeds and saplings. Then, the duo began distributing saplings at multiplexes in Maharashtra. Vaibhav and Bhavik are the founders of Ek Titli, a platform for people who want to contribute to a cleaner, greener environment.

The duo has always wanted to do something for the environment and the green space. Says Vaibhav: “As they say, where there's a will, there's a way. We quit our jobs and took the plunge.” Ek Titli, the ‘Green Tech' start-up, now has a bunch of like-minded people working towards bringing about a change in society. Initially, the Ek Titli team wanted to convert people into ‘green evangelists' and make them switch over to sustainable practices. “Then we realised changing people was difficult, so we changed our approach. Today, we encourage them to grow their own vegetables at home, in their balconies or terrace. We provide them assistance,” says Vaibhav.

As of now, the team is taking up projects in and around Pune, but it has reached out to a number of people all over the country and abroad through www.ektitli.org. It gets requests from people to conduct activities such as sapling distribution and workshops in cities across India. “It's just a matter of time before we take this ahead,” says Vaibhav.

The website was started as a virtual extension of the work being carried out on the field. Today, says Pallavi Walia (public relations officer of Ek Titli), the website is the place to have “green conversations” and interact with green warriors across the world. “It is a voluntary initiative where we showcase constructive work happening in the green space,” says Pallavi. “Anyone who talks Green — be it a traveller or an organisation, is welcome to talk and be heard through us.”

The website has more than 350 hits every day, and there are 2,500 people subscribing to their updates. Their Facebook page www.facebook.com/ek.titli has more than 4,000 members. There are people posting environment-related questions, facts, reviews and interviews on the portal as well as on the Facebook page. There are articles about composting and growing Brahmakamal flowers in gardens, and even one on India's zero-emission car, Reva. There are interesting interviews (such as the one with two-time Ashden award winners Anand Karve and Priyadarshini Karve) on the website too.

Contributions flow in from Assam, Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, and Hong Kong, Ohio and Seattle as well. “Readers come looking for meaningful stuff, and writers wish to share their stories through articles, interviews and photo features,” notes Pallavi. “There is a retired Army officer in Delhi who has an organic farm. He wanted to share his story about the farm with others and we posted it on our website.” Another contributor's story on discovering wild cats was a big hit among the readers too.

Seeking answers

The team at Ek Titli aids people in finding answers to their green queries. Says Pallavi: “A reader from Gurgaon was looking for neem oil (a natural pesticide) for her plants. We helped her source it.”

They field questions pertaining to green soaps, detergents and manure too. The website also aids them in promoting their organic workshops and green drives. “People enthusiastically wait for us to do something, so that they too can join in,” she says.

Asked how someone from a smaller town could contribute to Ek Titli's endeavours, Pallavi answers: “We do simple activities that make a huge difference. These activities can be done by anyone, anywhere. If you have Internet access and a green story, an idea or even a tip to share, you can write to us and we will action it! This is what makes us a no-fuss-green-talk-it-all initiative.”

Vaibhav and his team are looking to tie up with corporates who are interested in doing their bit for the environment. “We plan to do more number of on-field activities. Very soon, we'll be conducting workshops in various cities in India, apart from Pune,” he says. The very name ‘Ek Titli' encapsulates the philosophy of the team. Says Pallavi: “We want to communicate to people that something as small as a flap of a butterfly's wings can bring about some remarkable changes in the surroundings. We translate our beliefs into action.”

NITHYA SIVASHANKAR

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