Beautiful Bengaluru, a voluntary citizen initiative is creating a massive impact on everyone's mind for making people understand, engage and involved in the idea of making the city greener, cleaner and safer. Started five years ago, Beautiful Bengaluru is continuously working towards enhancing our surroundings.

"We engage citizens and involve them in the idea of making the city cleaner, greener and safer. Besides the government's efforts on these issues, we emphasise caring for our nature," said Odette Katrak, Co-founder of Beautiful Bengaluru.

"We all contribute towards creating waste and depleting resources in one way or another. Our model is to firstly reduce waste. Less waste impacts our lifestyle, as well. We believe that it all works in conjunction. All of us are like drops of water in the ocean. If each one takes the initiative, it'll collectively make a difference. All the habits in our lifestyle should be directed towards sustainability," said Shikha, Co-founder of Beautiful Bengaluru

She said, "First, reduce the waste you generate and then segregate it."

She further said, "We want people to understand there is a way of life where you can minimise the waste you generate and the resources you use. One should limit the use of disposables and move on to reusable substitutes."

Odette also shared that to create awareness amongst the masses about this concept of a sustainable lifestyle, they are continuously sharing ideas and communicating with people. They create relevant posters, write articles, organise webinars, and circulate posters via social media. They also organise campaigns. Every month, they have a theme for different festivities and events.

Talking about the difficulties, Odette mentioned, "Since we don't pay our employees, we sometimes face the lack of volunteers. Also, people look at it as something that will affect only their lives and fail to understand that it's the environment that's also benefited. All the campaigns are around lifestyle changes, so we face difficulties in inculcating the ideas of sustainable living."

Odette said that a lot of inspiration is done by giving personal life experiences and examples to people. They provide them with role models so that it's relatable to them.

One of the biggest events we organise every year takes place at Lal Bagh Botanical Garden, Bengaluru, in which we organise a flower show that goes on for 20 days. During the event almost 7-8 lakhs of people take part in the event, hence the litter is quite a bit. We worked with the authorities and came up with many ways to reduce waste and create awareness amongst people. We requested the authorities to not sell plastic water bottles. As a result, they banned plastic water bottles and started selling reusable water bottles. Over six shows, we proved that it's possible to change people's habits.

We put a petition in Karnataka, which got tremendous success and resulted in banning plastic water bottles in all the events. This has become a law as well. Now, they don't charge people for drinking water, and even if they do so, they do it at a reasonable price, along with the permission to bring their water.

In March 2020, we petitioned the Prime Minister about the spitting problem in public places. This got viral, and we received over 14000 signatories from all over the nation. This has now become a national movement, and many people are working willingly in this direction.

"We can surely work towards the betterment of our mother earth by taking a little care and making small changes in our habits. This will be beneficial for our earth overall," said Odette as she signs off.

Written By: Anjalika Panwar