New Delhi: With ‘One World, One Family’, as their motto, two warriors – 29-year-old Kumar Prashant, an artist and an engineer from Pune and Ben Reid-Howells, a Canadian educator, who has been teaching in Pune’s United World College, decided to leave everything behind and embark a journey on bikes from India to Scotland, a journey of more than 60,000 kilometres through crowdfunding. Their motive is to teach people two important things – one how they can live a sustainable life, and second, how they can utilise waste in their everyday life effectively. This one-of-a-kind ride has been named as Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, a Sanskrit phrase that means ‘the whole world is one family’.
With more than one year of planning and preparations and mere few thousands of rupees, the duo started their ride from India, went to Nepal, Tibet, crossed China and from Asian Silk route reached Kyrgyzstan, where they are currently teaching the local youth the waste management techniques.
Next on their route is Uzbekistan, Caspian Sea, Asbazana, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Poland, Germany, Chez Republic and the ride will then end at Scotland.
Talking to NDTV about how this initiative became a reality, Kumar Prashant said,
We didn’t have money, proper bikes, and gears to undertake such kind of expedition. What we had was the will to do it. We started approaching people, started educating them about what we do and what we want to achieve. Today wherever we are, it is because of different people who have come forward and have decided to help us fulfill this dream. Some of my relatives contributed, some friends of Ben transferred money to his account. Some unknown people also came forward, I got my bike as a gift from a person living in Bihar, someone gifted us the gears, someone contributed by making our website. We also have a crowdfunding page, where people from across the world are donating as in when they are getting to know us. As of today, we have some 2 lakhs in our account.
The Roots Of The Journey To Promote Sustainable Living
Explaining how Kumar Prashant and Ben met each other and why they chose this path, Kumar added,
Waste is one of the biggest challenges that concern our country today. Being an engineer, I always wanted to be part of the solutions and do something about the issues. I have been born and brought up in Bihar, being an avid traveller I have seen many areas and one thing which motivated me to do something like this is the current waste status of all our cities. I realised how important IT is for citizens to do their bit for the environment and that’s when I decided to teach them the basics of waste management.
In 2013, Kumar Prashant opened a small upcycling company named Rebirth and started creating artistic products through waste materials. As time passed, Kumar Prashant’s company started to take off, he completed some 21 projects including designing interiors for offices, pubs and bars, making products for individuals.
In 2015, Kumar met Ben at an International Art Workshop in 2015, and it was their mutual love for music, bikes and thoughts on managing the waste crisis that brought them together. Kumar Prashant adds,
The ride was Ben’s idea; I gave it a name Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Slowly we started making plans for our journey; we decided to do various projects along our way that teach people things like how to live a sustainable life, how to include waste in everyday lifestyle and how to live peacefully with the environment. We really wanted to give back to the world in some way. So here we are today! We are living on roads, our expenses are basically of petrol, visas and food sometimes as mostly we indulge ourselves with locals and enjoy some local food.
The duo goes to the next location only when they crowdfunded enough money to move ahead and this they do by undertaking different projects in different areas where they teach people the art of upcycling, sustainability and more.
Projects Undertaken So Far By The Biker Duo
Prashant and Ben started their journey from Mumbai, where they taught to school children about sustainability and upcycling. Next, the duo visited Pushkar in Northern Rajasthan, where they designed and built an affordable house that is being used as a community house in a budget of Rs 1 Lakh using only natural and waste materials.
The third project was undertaken in Prashant’s hometown which is in Bihar. Here the waste warriors built a huge sustainable house from waste materials, upcycled materials. The house is made in such a way that is 100% sustainable in nature – meaning it treats its water, generates electricity and grows its own veggies and fruits. What’s more, this house costs 40% less as compared to a traditional urban house construction cost in Bihar.
Nothing was wasted in the process of building these structures – everything was put to some or the other good use. For example, post-construction cement debris was transformed into intricate mosaics that now adorn upcycled wooden doorways and the windows of pushcarts. Whereas grills that were of no use were put together to make windows and walls with mud plastering.
Bihar project is very close to my heart, it is part of my longtime goal. Currently, a family is living in that house, when I head back from this ride, I will turn that house into a skilled developing training centre through which I will teach my people the art of managing their own waste, adds Prashant.
The tentative plan to finish this epic trail is March 2019. Till then the duo hopes to do more and more projects and teach people the importance of managing waste.
There is a lot that we can do with the waste. One just needs to realise the right ways to turn waste into treasure and that’s why we have undertaken this initiative. Managing our own waste is currently the need of the hour, we hope more and more people realise this fact and reality and help reduce the waste load, signs off the waste warrior duo.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.