A champion of clean-up drives and climate strikes, actor Bhumi Pednekar recently became a ‘Climate Warrior’ and called upon fellow countrymen to do the same. We caught up with the Bollywood actor to talk about her environment initiative, bucket-list destinations, and favourite travel memories. By Adila Matra
Concept Bhumi Pednekar
Photographs Laksheta Modgil Team
Team Bhaktee Modgil & Nimisha Tiwari
Tell us a little about ‘Climate Warrior’. How important is such an initiative in today’s world?
I have been very conscious about climate change since I was a little girl. I spent many nights thinking of it when I was a teenager. After I became an actor, my work and opinions regarding the crisis came to the forefront. Subsequently, my team at Yash Raj Films (YRF) and I decided to use my social media platform to communicate, and to celebrate the people who were actively working towards saving the planet. Climate Warrior is an attempt to change the thought process and help people recognise that climate crisis is the biggest threat that mankind has ever faced.
What are the challenges you face?
The biggest challenge is getting people to accept that there is a threat to our existence. I don’t think people understand that all the recent natural disasters and the frequency at which these are happening are something to be worried about. We think of it as a far-off phenomenon, but it is not. Major rivers are drying up, we are battling a pandemic, the ice caps are melting, and Arctic forests are on fire. Another thing we don’t understand is that these changes are irreversible.
In a post-COVID world, discarded masks and PPE kits pose a threat to the environment. What is your take on this?
People should not discard masks on the street. Set aside a place in your house to dispose of masks, and send them to a recycling plant as bio-hazardous waste. In Mumbai, the high tide throws up gloves and masks on the shore—it is a horrible sight.
What are the other sustainability practices you recommend?
Making basic adjustments can have a huge impact. Discard your plastic straw, use a bamboo toothbrush, try to not take long showers, plant a tree, cycle, walk, share your rides. These are adjustments we all can make. Until a few months ago, my family and I were the only ones in the building who segregated waste; now all the floors are doing it. Most of our plastic is sent to a recycling facility, and wet waste is turned into compost. This can go a long way because landfills are some of the most toxic places on earth.
What changes should we bring about in the way we travel to minimise the negative impact on the environment?
You can start with small things like carrying your own cutlery when you travel and being mindful of the waste you generate on a road trip. When you go shopping, try and opt for sustainable brands, support local businesses and those that are conscious about animal cruelty, water consumption, and child labour.
Do you think the ‘new normal’ will bring about innovations in the movie industry?
Sure, there are a lot of movies being released on OTT platforms. But I think one has to experience cinema in a theatre. I really hope they do open soon. I also feel technology is going to be our best friend.
You must have travelled widely for film shoots. Any experience/destination that stands out?
I had great fun shooting for Saand Ki Aankh in Johri village, Uttar Pradesh. I was there for two months—there were huge farms; we would pluck our own vegetables and cook on chulhas. Another enriching experience was shooting in Chambal for Sonchiriya. I have never seen terrain like that—the ravines are spectacular, and the river is so serene. We also stayed at a rustic heritage property that had been converted into a resort.
Which is your most memorable vacation?
My mom, sister, and I took a road trip from Mumbai to Haridwar around eight years ago. We have travelled the world since and before then, but nothing beats that trip.
In these times, it’s important to stay physically and mentally fit. What is your mantra?
I stay with my family, so my days are busy. Cooking, cleaning, organising, reading books, watching shows—there is a lot to do. Another thing that has kept me going since the first day of the lockdown is a workout routine. It makes me feel positive and happy, and I recommend that all of you try to squeeze some kind of workout into your routine every day. Even if it is 50 jumping jacks, it will make a huge difference to your mood.
What’s on your India bucket list?
I want to visit Gulmarg; I’ve heard wonderful things about it. I haven’t really explored the south of India, so Kerala is definitely on the list. I also want to explore the Seven Sisters, hopefully soon.