Eco causes have lately been popular with Bollywood stars from Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta (city cleanliness drives) to Priyanka Chopra (Green-a-thon) and Abhishek Bachchan (Earth hour). Now, Abhay Deol, who is the face of the India Project of Climate Change Worldwide, initiated by former US Vice President Al Gore, has been chosen to kickstart Mumbai Green Life, the country’s first mainstream green lifestyle magazine, which he will launch this evening. “The idea is to expand awareness of environmental issues, to get to colleges and residential societies,” he says.
The actor was also the first to spread awareness on compost bins and is working closely with Daily Dump, an NGO that deals with waste management issues to make optimum use of garbage as manure for the city’s landscape. Deol concedes that he was not always an active promoter of civic cleanliness. “We all wish that Mumbai was a cleaner place, but corruption in the system has rendered us helpless,” he shrugs. So when the Climate Change society approached him to be the ambassador of their India Project, he was more than happy. “I found this empowering. When I take it up, as an average guy, I can empower other people too,” he beams.
Deol recalls that it was through his interactions with the Climate Change representatives that he came up with the idea of compost bins. “Firstly, we can avoid packing garbage into our environment by separating the dry waste. Secondly, wet waste can be recycled and converted into fertilizer for our gardens and other green spaces,” he explains, adding that Indians already have a culture of recycling. “By combining both waste management and recycling, we can contribute to the improvement of our environment. It’s a lot better than complaining and not doing anything about it.”
Not only has he initiated this concept in his own household, but the actor is also taking it further and creating awareness among his fraternity. Apparently, Imran Khan was the first recipient of Deol’s compost bin initiative. “In our country, celebrities get plenty of media space, which can be used to reach out to the masses,” asserts the actor, who’s also planning to rope in colleagues like Hrithik Roshan and Farhan Akhtar.
Deol is also building a foundation to expand the compost bin drive. “Currently, I know only one person who makes these bins, but we need considerable manpower to hit the numbers required to make this effective,” he says. Pointing out that the city’s garbage problem causes clogged drains and flooding, Deol admits that it’s not a one-time solution. “We have to sustain efforts over a longer period of time, with a large number of people working together,” he reiterates. “Right now, it may just be a spark, but we have work on it continuously to turn it into a fire.”