Bin there, done that: Vani Murthy knows how to refuse
At 59, Bengaluru-based Vani Murthy is an unusual kind of social-media influencer. As @wormrani on Instagram, she posts about composting, terrace gardening and natural cleaning products. Most videos and pictures are accompanied by classic rock hits – it’s almost like the Bee Gees, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and Billy Joel are yeah-yeah-yeahing their approval. On Valentine’s Day, she appeared in a rap song about breaking up with single-use plastics. It’s easy to see why she has more than 1.2 lakh followers. Are landfills, biodegradables, hand-pollination and worms really that cool? Her bright-eyed videos certainly make it seem so. She spoke to WKND about all that we can’t leave behind.
You’ve been championing zero-waste living for over a decade. Does it get harder or easier over the years?
It has definitely become more exciting. I started posting on Facebook in 2007 and realised early on that online platforms are great places to talk about sustainability. There’s so much more engagement on social media. Most of my followers are between 25 and 35 years old and this is a fantastic age group for me to influence. People need to be reminded every day to stop using single-use plastics and to recycle waste. I don’t think I’ll see a fantastic waste management system being implemented in my lifetime. But it’s the engagement and appreciation that keeps me excited about talking about trash.
Your music clips match the posts perfectly. How much thought do you put into selecting the right songs?
I discovered my love for soft rock as a teenager. I have a Spotify playlist full of songs from the ’70s and ’80s and I spend at least 10-15 minutes choosing one that really captures the mood for each video. When I wanted to show off my cauliflower patch, I chose the acoustic version of Clapton’s Layla and used the part where the audience breaks into applause. At other times, I’ll go with instrumental music or some jazz.
So which band would most enjoy composting?
U2. Bono seems like a compassionate person. I think he would think about living sustainably.
What would make a great gift to give you?
I love dried leaves, because they’re essential for composting. People give me dried leaves all the time and they tell me, “these are the cleanest leaves you’ll ever find”. Leaves are valuable biomass that otherwise get lost because people burn them or throw them away. I stock and store leaves. I don’t mind if my house is full of dry leaves, but I’ll never turn down a bag of them.
There’s a funny post of your niece photobombing one of your videos. Does she do that often?
No! It was just that once, thankfully. I was busy talking and suddenly I saw something appear on the screen. I got such a shock. My niece says she was bringing me tea and wanted to slip the cup beside me discreetly. But she’s very naughty and I think she did it on purpose. She enjoyed reading all the comments I got on the video about her unexpected appearance.