Day 2 kicked off in Nadia with a slow cycling event and a speech on the importance of a clean environment by Dr. Jatan Roy Choudhury, Dr. Sangita Roy Choudhury, Debashish Halder (Panchayat Pradhan), and Subhankar Banerjee. It was wonderful to see school children, youth and women come out to hear community leaders speak on issues that require collective action. The morning continued with a Waste Plogging and Awareness Drive, where we truly embodied the collective ethos of both #LoveforEarth and #MoveforEarth. I wrapped up the morning in Hanskhali by attending the inauguration of a Seed Festival. I had the pleasure of meeting with several government officials, panchayat leaders, and local farmers. During the festival, I attended some of the sustainable agriculture training sessions hosted for the farmers and had the opportunity to discuss issues related to high pesticide use and actionable steps to encourage sustainable and organic practices that eliminate the need for synthetic fertilisers.
My next stop was in keeping with the Sustainable Agriculture theme – I attended the inauguration of an Indigenous Rice festival in Purbasthali. After a couple of hours of enjoying the festival and speaking to farmers about their experiences using indigenous varieties, I got back on my bike and headed to Bardhaman City. While cycling on the highway, I was surrounded by lorries filled to the brim with goods, and it was a blatant reminder of our society’s collective consumption practices.
The day culminated in a government roundtable discussion on ‘Policy Advocacy Environment and Air Pollution’, a stakeholder discussion at the Burdwan Town Hall where I had the pleasure of meeting with the Mayor, the sub-divisional officers, and other government officials. It was an incredible way to end the day with such dedicated public servants and an engaged audience primarily comprising students.
Reflecting back on the day’s events, I am blown away by all the people I met. Oftentimes, we think of the environmental movement as only happening in small pockets, but today reminded me that it is much bigger than we realise. At SwitchON Foundation, we are on a mission to bring about a change in society that is sustainable, equitable, and long-lasting. To do that, we’re going to have to engage a lot more people, and this ride shows me how many more people are ready to be engaged and take concrete action against climate change.