It’s the only home we have
There Is No Earth B is a community-based initiative that focuses on climate change through multiple actions that have proven hugely effective because they are inclusive, organic and decentralized. In an exclusive interview with GT, the team behind the initiative talks about the steps they have taken to make this earth a better place
How did this initiative come about? Was there a particular incident that triggered this decision?
On a hot, summer day in June 2018, we observed that some people were distributing Rooh Afza drinks in plastic cups. This incident happened in the Hauz Khaz area of New Delhi. The gesture was nice but these plastic cups were being discarded carelessly and we felt that we had to do something about the plastic menace. Twelve of us did an impromptu cleanup and There Is No Earth B was born! Bit by bit, TINEB mobilized more people and since July 15 in the same year, we have initiated some action every week. We have been conducting regular clean-ups in areas like parks, forests and river banks and even during treks. Other than that, we have also been hosting workshops, rallies and nukkad nataks (street plays) on climate change.
Can you share some initiatives that you have taken as part of this project?
So far, we have been able to conduct 232 clean-up drives and gather public support by engaging with 1,49,565 citizens, especially for campaigns like Save Dumna and Save Sattal. We have been able to create awareness in more than 61 lakh people. Speaking of the Save Sattal movement, in particular, we are aiming to stop certain ‘beautification and development’ projects that will destroy the ecology of the area as well as snatch the livelihood of some locals. Also, we’ve removed over 9 tons of non-biodegradable waste from Sanjay Vann, Central Ridge Reserve Forest, Yamuna Bank and Central Park. We weigh all the waste collected post-cleanup and all records are available publicly on our Instagram account. All the non-biodegradable waste is either given to a recycler or the salvageable waste is upcycled into art by our teammates!
Other than that, we also participate regularly in other social initiatives by other organisations. For instance, we partook in “Plog For Sewa’’ at Gopeshwar, Uttarakhand. The event saw participation of 800 volunteers and collected 1200 kg plastic waste from 5 different locations of Gopeshwar. Under this initiative we also managed events with artwork (Best out of waste workshop) made by school students and climate change playful workshop for local community and school’s students. There Is No Earth B as a project encompasses anything and everything related to climate action, which is a range of things and the list only keeps on expanding.
Take us through the initial phase and the challenges that you came across.
Getting people to recognise that climate change is a real threat has always been difficult. So, our initial struggle was to build a strong community of like-minded people. We had to figure out a way that made our actions speak louder than words. Thus, we developed a poster system with upcycled paper and pinned it on our bags and backs to explain our work. Also, ensuring that miscreants don’t abuse the open platform and protecting the safety of our volunteers have always been of paramount importance to us. We built a system where the actions of volunteers had a direct impact and were not misused for vested interests.
How does this community function in terms of its members?
There Is No Earth B has a decentralized structure with no hierarchy. This community is made up of concerned citizens who work as a team. No single person takes any credit for any work. We have volunteers from varied backgrounds and age brackets that range from school and college students to working professionals. Diversity is another hallmark that defines us and our work. So, there are no ‘main members’ — everyone is needed and everyone is welcome! In fact, the pillar of our organization is the commitment of our volunteers. Their dedication and passion drive us forward towards a better, more sustainable and equitable planet.
Climate activism is the main focus of There Is No Earth B. So, are there any similarities and differences between this organisation and the others that deal with the same subject?
What distinguishes us from other organizations is our emphasis on supporting indigenous people. We believe in empowering local communities so that it is their voice that reaches mainstream channels. Each time we undertake an initiative or a campaign, we interact with the local populace that is immediately affected by the problem at hand. Having understood their concerns, we often try to provide them with the means to take action in local government. Other than that we also provide them technical support by creating email petitions, fundraisers et al. We also try to bring their issues to the fore by use of social media. Speaking of similarities, we are all fighting for the same cause and against the same injustices.
Your website thereisnoearthb.com uses three words to describe your work related to climate action: Inclusive, Organic and Decentralised. How do they define the work you do?
The effects of climate change do not exist in a vacuum and, hence, climate action must involve all. The term ‘inclusive’ has a two-fold implication — one is that the community is open to all passionate humans without any restriction. The other is that we believe in empowering all stakeholders, especially directly impacted locals. By organic, we mean that we work as a community for issues that concern direct stakeholders. Ours is not a point of view coming from corporates or self-proclaimed ‘environmentalists’ who are neither stakeholders nor understand the core issue. Finally, it’s decentralized because climate change is everybody’s battle and everyone must have equal ownership of work. Therefore, there is no authority figure in this community. All members are equal, working towards the same goal.
So, we begin by understanding the matter at hand and then we connect with experts and locals to get a better grasp of the situation. After this comes the mobilization of public support for a campaign followed by registering our dissent and suggestions through proper channels. The final goal is to attract public attention so that it ultimately leads to substantial change.
Speaking of future, what are your forthcoming plans?
We want to continue nurturing the climate action that we’ve been practicing and continue lending our support to people who need it the most. We also want to expand to different cities and connect with more passionate and resilient people. Importantly, we want to make climate action everyone’s business and make them realize that there is no more time to delay for what needs to be done.
How can we make the subject of climate change reach out to the younger generation?
In this age of digital media reaching out to the younger generation is easy; what is difficult is holding their attention. This is why whilst tapping social media and like channels to reach out to the youth, we try to ensure that our content is relevant and relatable. We are constantly trying to look for fun and interactive ways like memes and tweets to reach out to young audiences. Instagram and twitter are our preferred platforms since they help reach out to large numbers. However, of late, we have also been working on blogs to give a more deailed account of our activities.
Do you think the youth can be change bearers in the current scenario?
Young people do realize they are the biggest stakeholders in the current scenario as they have their whole lives ahead of them. They aren’t ignorant, just not properly empowered as they should be. In fact, we don’t need to convince people as everybody already knows that There Is No Earth B. We can only hope that everyone collectively understands the value and importance of our home and preserves whatever is left of our planet.
Meet Anupriya Bhatnagar, a Class XII student of Amity International School, Vasundhara Sector-1, a prestigious school of Delhi NCR. An articulate writer, she has been writing for over 7 years and was the part of the school Editorial Board for the last five years. She likes to express herself through her pen and was the Editor in Chief of the school during 12th. She believes that the written word has the power to change the word and is the best medium of change.