[Sustainability Agenda] This father-son duo is driving sustainability through tree plantation campaigns
In 2012, Nirbhay Kwatra, a 10-year-old student at Modern School, Delhi, decided he wanted to do something to save the planet. His vision was to garner support of people from all walks of life to form a significant 'green collective' and plant trees. He also wanted to spread awareness regarding the use of clean, renewable energy.
As a momentous 'first step' for his ambitious project, a 'SMILING TREE GO GREEN WALK' was organised on 15 January, 2012 at Lodhi Gardens, Delhi.
The event was a success, according to his father Mukesh Kwatra, as people from all age groups were both inquisitive and surprised to find a child launch a campaign. Mukesh has since taken over the initiative as Nirbhay has been busy with his studies.
Instead of generic messages to save the planet,asks its members to adopt a plant, wherein every individual is given a simple task: plant a tree and take care of it.
According to Mukesh, unlike usual plantations where plants and saplings are forgotten after sowing, Smiling Tree takes care of every life it plants in the true spirit of gardening.
The organisation also conducted an Anti-Plastic Drive on 4 August, 2018 in the bustling city center of Connaught Place, New Delhi, to generate awareness about plastic pollution.
Smiling Tree has so far carried out hundreds of plantation drives, particularly in Delhi-NCR region in places such as the University of Delhi - Hansraj College, Ramjas College, Sri Ram College of Commerce, Modern School at Barakhamba Road, British School at Chanakyapuri, Mother Teresa's Nirmal Hriday Centre in Delhi, Elders Home Society in Rohini, Hari Nagar Leelawanti Saraswati School, DIET - District Institute of Education and Training- to name a few.
The enterprise has also partnered with the Government for plantation drives in Namami Gange Programme, a national mission to clean river Ganga, with Karur Vysya Bank, Rotary Club, Platinum Motocorp of Maruti Suzuki, and many others to carry out Plantation Drives and/or gift plants at various other venues in and around Delhi.
Smiling Tree has been conducting Plantation Drives at the Community Development & Leadership Summits organised by leading schools in the country for the past several years. A total of 150 students from over 25 countries like USA, UK, Germany, Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Philippines, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa etc participate in this green endeavor.
“We will always strive for the Environment benefit at large. Be it climate change, deforestation, unsustainable use of natural resources, use of plastics, gas emissions, fossil fuels burning, or any other issues, all are of big concern. We aim to make our Earth green and will always give our best for that,” says Mukesh.
Celebrating cricket through environment
Smiling Tree has made several innovative landscaping gardens and vertical gardens. One of them is the 'Hall of Fame', a tribute to Indian Cricket and mark of respect to Team India and Roshanara Club's vintage legacy of Cricket.
“On a green landscape it showcases art installations like three giant size cricket bats, balls and stumps, tricolor stones flowing from one corner to another, gloves in the background, and some exquisite flowers and plants all around. It displays historic achievements of Indian Cricket, as the ‘Men in Blue’ have proudly unfurled the tricolour on the global stage with three World Cup victories in 1983, 2007 (T-20) and 2011, so the three bats have the names of the respective team members as a mark of respect,” Mukesh explains.
Mukesh, an environmentalist, has also made a terrace garden at his home, which in his words is, 'a humble tribute to God of Cricket', Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Besides a variety of exclusive plants meticulously arranged there, it has a vertical garden where a hundred used plastic bottles have been recycled into planters.
As Sachin had scored 100 international centuries in his illustrious career, so, 'each bottle is a memorabilia for a century scored by him', says Mukesh. There is a laminated sticker on each bottle depicting the runs scored, the country he was playing against, the date and the place where he scored the Century.
There is a big glow sign board in the center with Sachin's pictures and one of his famous quotes, 'Don't stop chasing your dreams, because dreams do come true.' There is another sign board on the side with Sachin in full flow in India colors and a small description of the vertical garden.
According to Mukesh, Smiling Tree has successfully planted over three lakhs plants and trees over the last ten years in and around Delhi-NCR.
However, motivating people to adopt trees and avoid using plastics has been a challenge. Smiling Tree has been funded solely by Mukesh. Now, the team, which comprises seven people of his family and freinds, is seeking donations to expand its operations.
Mukesh says that Smiling Tree’s aim is to plant trees and spread awareness about sustainable living. It also wants to educate children about environmental issues as well as help farmers access and learn eco-friendly agricultural practices.