Phenomenal producer, sensational environmentalist and a loving mother of two, Pragya Kapoor, born and brought up in a small, quaint town of Sweden, relocated to India in 2009 to try her hand at acting. Post her Bollywood debut in the 2014 film ‘Hawaa Hawaai’, the actress tied the knot with the celebrated film director Abhishek Kapoor in 2015.
Whilst pursuing her work in Hindi cinema, Pragya is also an avid conservationist with colossal zeal for sustainability and eco-friendly practices. Her practice of ensuring zero waste at home later inspired her to establish Ek Saath- The Earth Foundation, a not for profit entity that works towards making the country more sustainable. Pragya also strives to inculcate the idea of sustainability in her role as a mother as she celebrated her younger son’s birthday by organizing a beach clean-up drive. Recently, even her production house went 100% green by switching to solar power!
Conscious Carma gets into a candid chat with the Environmentalist
Q1. How and when were you inspired towards sustainability?
Spending my formative years in a country like Sweden ensured that I’m raised in an environment that has values of sustainability ingrained in its very culture. So practising recycling or managing our waste responsibly were things that just came naturally to us. But it was a completely different story down here in Mumbai. It took me a fair amount of time while getting used to the drastically different ways of living here. That was until I became a mother and the thought of raising my kids in a world which doesn’t offer the same values that I inculcated growing up, seemed unacceptable to me. That triggered a drive in me to not be complacent with how things are and trace back my sustainable ways of living, one step at a time.
Q2. Please tell us more about your life as an environmentalist, both in Sweden and India
It’s just a gift that keeps giving. I feel blessed to have this opportunity where my actions can translate into making the world a better place for so many others in the long run. That being said, being an environmentalist you’re always aware that reaching the uphill milestones you chase is never going to be a one-person job. Bringing about a change demands a united effort on so many different fronts. Teaming up with kindred spirits, garnering the government’s support, empowering the locals. I got to juggle between many different roles and hope that I am able to set an example for others to follow.
Q3. You’ve been in India for more than a decade. Have you seen any remarkable difference in people’s and organisational behaviour with respect to the conservation of the environment?
Most certainly. It’s hard to turn a blind eye towards nature when its severe consequences are all around you. People are starting to care, it’s overwhelming to see how our youth today has begun to raise important questions, come out on the streets to save trees and support other causes. Organisations too are offering increasing support to important initiatives that would never see the light of the day without their aid. Social Media has played a crucial role in setting up the momentum for so many important movements that have overturned government’s decisions, led to landmark verdicts and what not. So yes, there’s been a remarkable shift in the attitude and that’s also the need of the hour. That being said, I think we still have a long way to go in order to bring about a considerable change. The kind of ecological hazard these consumer giants have become today, it’s hard to compensate for that with a few CSR drives from the aware ones. Until we don’t strive to change the very model on which these companies function, there’s little we can do to salvage the situation.
Q4. Please tell us more about Ek Saath- The Earth Foundation and its various activities
Ek Saath was a lifelong dream that I happened to realise last year. Over time, we’ve grown to sideline the tender relationship we all share with nature. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to climb trees, walk barefoot on grass. Instead, we pollute our seas, land, air only to face the consequences of it later. The more we nourish our surroundings, the more it shall nurture us in turn. Ek Saath stands to harmonise this very critical rapport that lies terribly compromised of late. In barely a year we’ve managed to conquer such great heights, we’ve conducted massive beach clean-up drives to rid it off tons of harmful plastic trash, carried out urban afforestation drives to make our cities greener. Throughout the lockdown period, we took up the daunting task of supporting thousands of needy migrant families by providing them with daily meals and rations to help them sustain the threatening phase. More than an NGO, I consider Ek Saath to be a force that is out there to make people accountable for their own surroundings. It’s a drive to empower people to take charge of the nature around them. A team effort that unites like-minded individuals headed in the same direction.
Q5. Going forward, how do you plan to take forward your mission of saving the environment?
Last year we broadened our horizons by setting up a waste management centre in Rakccham, a tiny picturesque hamlet in Himachal Pradesh, with an objective of eliminating primitive waste disposal methods and promoting eco-tourism. Going forward, we aim to move across different parts of the state to make it the first waste-free state of India. Apart from that we shall also continue with our existing drives- afforestation programmes, beach clean-ups, awareness campaigns. Our two main goals for the year remain promoting sustainable development and waste management. We aim to make the corporations, government and the masses aware of the sustainable alternatives they can opt for without compromising on their convenience to reduce their carbon footprints. Waste is another major issue plaguing our ecosystems. Other than being a breeding ground for diseases, improper disposal methods have had devastating impacts on marine life. We hope to minimise the damage by making people and organisations more responsible with their waste.