Celebrating People Who Are Transforming Intangible Values Into Life Changing Lessons

Every year on 5th June we celebrate World Environment Day .Today, we wish to acknowledge and celebrate those who are actually doing their bit. Not for any personal gain, but only because they feel a sense of responsibility, a need to give back, and they are working hard to make us understand the importance of these intangible values.

1. Afroz Shah:  This man is a perfect example for the saying that “with perseverance, everything is possible”.In 2015 he took it upon himself to do something about the disgusting filth that covered Versova beach for so long and single handedly started a cleanliness drive that soon snowballed into the biggest beach cleanup in the world.This initiative became a global agenda and UN joined hands with him. Over the period of 85 weeks, he cleaned 5 million kg of garbage from Versova beach and became a  globally recognized man for his Nobel deeds.


2. Shubhendu Sharma: A successful autonomic engineer before he quit his high paying job,  Shubhendu Sharma was driven by a thought to build a forest.This all started with a curiosity to learn the methodology to build a forest and he started with his own backyard and the results amazed him to a level where he started his own company called Afforestt. Afforestt makes natural forest in small spaces using the unique Miyawaki methodology to grow saplings.This allows them to convert any land into a self-sustainable forest in a couple of years. They’ve successfully grown 48 of these forests over 4 years. His one thought of transforming the planet for better has lead him to become a very renowned Ted x speaker.

3.Chewang Norphel : The ice man, who constructed an artificial glacier in the infertile land of Ladakh. He is a 79 year old civil engineer and he was well aware of the water shortages that occur during cropping season, so he started experimenting with various methods of water conservation that he learned as a civil engineer. He noticed that a small stream had frozen solid just under the poplar tree’s shade. This has happened because the flow was too quick to freeze, while the sluggish trickle of the water beneath the trees was just slow enough. By diverting the river into the shady valley and slowing the stream while constructing checks, Norphel gave a birth to his very first artificial glacier. By now, he has constructed 12 of them, going beyond the prayers of desperate farmers. Every selfless thought always pays off in the long run and same happened with Chewang Norphel. He is a hero both at home and abroad and an award-winning documentary filmmaker Aarti Shrivastava directed a short film on Norphel’s life. Entitled the White Knight, the film was screened in many film festivals.

4. Ankit Agarwal and Karan Rastogi: They have founded a Kanpur based  social enterprise called HelpUsGreen in 2015. Their mission is  to save the Ganges. With the help of their startup, the duo is preserving river Ganges from becoming a religious sewer by flower-cycling. They collect floral waste from the temples and mosques in Uttar Pradesh and recycle it into patented lifestyle products providing livelihoods to 1200 rural families. The waste is handcrafted by rural women Self-help groups into patented organic fertilizer and incense sticks. According to their website, they have collected 3,35,000 kilograms of flowers from the temples and mosques and “flower cycled” into organic products.

5. Graviky Labs : A startup lead by a group of environmental enthusiasts who are working towards transforming the industrial pollution into ink.The startup has built a contraption that gets connected to the exhaust on the tailpipe of a vehicle, and once it is done collecting the raw carbon, the soot, it takes it through a purification process which successfully converts that air pollution into printing ink. The same procedure can be done using chimneys or boats to collect effluence and then convert that into ink.This initiative taken by this startup could be the solution for all our industrial smoke related problems and it will also lessen the amount of  the cancer causing bacteria in the air.

6.ONergy (Punam Energy Pvt. Ltd.): It is a Kolkata-based social enterprise that provides decentralized energy solutions to undeserved households and institutions. It is being operated by networks of local NGOs, SHGs and MFIs. Currently, it operates across West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand through a network of RECs that reach out to remote areas. The company provides complete energy solutions with an entire range of solar products. Till date, ONergy claims to impacted 2,50,000 lives by providing solutions such as solar lanterns, solar home systems, solar water heating systems, solar inverters, solar street lighting, cookstoves, KW installations for households and institutions. Not only this, ONergy has also launched innovative products such as solar TV, solar computer, solar microgrids and solar irrigation systems.

7.Marina Silva : A women who rose from being illiterate at 16 to become Brazil’s youngest senator. Her motto is   “We don’t want charity, it’s a question of ethics of solidarity,” as a daughter of a Brazilian rubber tapper, she spent her childhood collecting rubber from the Amazon forest and demonstrating against the destruction wrought by illegal loggers. After one of the greatest political journey she is now the women most able to prevent the Amazon’s wholesale ruin. Under her watch, deforestation has reduced by nearly 75% and millions of square miles of reserves have been given to traditional communities. Last year 1,500 companies were raided and one million cubic meters of illegally felled timber were confiscated. But the future, says Silva, is perilous. The only way that long-term loss will be averted is with foreign help.

8.Leonardo DiCaprio:  Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio not only shows his passion for acting, but also for the environment. DiCaprio promotes environmental awareness through the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. The foundation works with and supports organizations such as Global Green USA and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Recently, DiCaprio joined forces with the World Wildlife Fund to help with the Save Tigers Now campaign. DiCaprio also produced and narrated the documentary, “The 11th Hour,” about the state of the environment. His next Eco-project is already in production – he’s a producer for a Discovery Channel show called Eco-Town, which records how a Kansas town devastated by a tornado in 2006 attempts to rebuild itself as a “model of green living”. He’s also actively involved in protecting endangered species – which is why he was named the UN Messenger of Peace on Climate Change in 2014. His New York City apartment is known to be one of the most Eco -efficient urban dwellings on the planet.

9. Rajendra Singh: Thirty-five years ago, Singh revived an ancient dam technology in his hot, dry home state of Rajasthan in north-west India. Working with local people he has returned water to more than 1,200 villages. The landscape and climate have been transformed; seven long-dead rivers have begun to flow, wells are full and once-parched fields are now fertile. He is being called “Waterman of India” and he  will walk across five continents to raise awareness for his campaign to have the human rights to river water and access to nature recognized by the UN.

10.Ellen DeGeneres: Comedian, talk show host and “American Idol” judge, Ellen DeGeneres makes protecting the environment a big part of her life. DeGeneres is a huge animal and environment lover, which she demonstrates through her support for organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). DeGeneres also turned vegan after educating herself about factory farming and cruelty to animals. She even provides educational Eco-friendly information on her Ellen’s Life page.

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