Nature activist Somini Sen Dua on her latest Puja campaign
She campaigns against plastic banners and suggests alternatives for it
As Durga Puja approaches, like every year, the accompanying climate hazards it brings in terms of all kinds of event-related pollution, is a great cause of concern for city climate warriors and environmental activists. Publicist turned social entrepreneur Somini Sen Dua of Mrittika Earthy Talks, takes a step forward to a cleaner and greener city by launching the campaign Prakritir Pujo Praner Pujo along with Ajay Mittal, director, climate change, Earthday.org and Swati Nandi Chakraborty, climate activist and UNESCO fellow. She engages in a conversation with Indulge on having a safe environment co-existing with celebrations and leading a healthier life by making subtle changes in everyday lifestyle.
Excerpts from the conversation
How do banners during Puja affect the climate?
Banners are made out of PVC which is primarily plastic. They are not recyclable and are dumped in landfills. When in contact with air, water, and soil they produce carcinogenic byproducts which we consume unknowingly. That is why we are doing the campaign Prakritir Pujo Praner Pujo.
What’s the campaign about?
As an activist, we work with plastic waste management. First, there are no guidelines in place. Second, since these cannot be recycled we can reuse it. Hawkers need plastic sheets so instead of buying these banners can be given to them for use. Also, they can be used to build shelters for street animals and people living on roads.
What is sustainability for you?
We come from Earth and we go back to Earth. I lead a conscious life and follow the four R’s. My organs are donated. I am being recycled. That is how you live sustainably.
How do you up-cycle?
We up-cycle clothes, curtains, etc., and make bags. Earlier we used to wear hand-me-downs. But we don’t do that today because we are so eager to prove to others. To me it doesn’t matter, the pandemic has taught us we are nothing in front of nature.
What is plogging?
Plogging is jogging or walking and waste disposal through segregation. We collect plastics and send them to Bintix which recycles plastics or AdMyBinn. Details are available on social media.
Tell us about your terrace garden.
This journey came out of the pain of losing loved ones. The NGO Hari Mitti helps me in this. They made a bed where I do the composting. I grow lady's finger, brinjal, pumpkin, cucumber, and bitter gourd. Some vegetables are seasonal like tomatoes.
What made you shift from being a publicist to climate conservation?
Had I undergone these losses mentioned earlier, I think I would have shifted from any field by changing my pain into power.
How excited are you about taking the new position with WICCI?
I am taking the position of State President of the West Bengal Climate Action Council. Though I have formed my committee, it is under process.
How to start off climate conservation practices at the earliest?
You can always say stop spitting. This generation relies a lot on deliveries which create a lot of carbon. So, be carbon conscious.
Photo Courtesy: Pritam Sarkar