AdityaThe Alternatives is led by Aditya Mukarji who is seen globally to be one of the young voices leading the change to better environmental practices. His journey started with a campaign to stop restaurants, hotels and theatres from using single use straws and then expanded to cover all aspects of the fight for a better environmental future.

Aditya is a dedicated Environmentalist

He says, #RefuseIfYouCannotReuse and #ForestofHope are my two major climate action initiatives. High school student. Help corporates with with their green footprint and make plans for them to become eco-friendly. Multi-credited activist delivering measurable change. Environment Writer. Government of India awarded AatmaNirbhar Champion, Diana Awardee’21, Plastic Free UK Awardee. Student Innovator of the year award 2018&2021. He has been identified as one of the 7 youth environmentalist to watch out for apart from Greta Thunberg by the BBC. He was an invitee to the 1st UN Youth Climate Summit, as a fully sponsored delegate on the UN Foundation. He has been invited by the Government of Italy to attend the Youth4Climate:Driving Ambition Event in Milan He is a regular Clubhouse speaker on Environment related issues.

Here is a little bit about Aditya’s mission in his own words:

I am a 16 year old student, in Class 11. I am greatly influenced by Ms. Bharati Chaturvedi (Founder and Director Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group) who drafted me as a volunteer. I wanted to start by reducing plastic waste at source. She helped me realize that my small effort and interventions could make a big difference.

I researched on the harmful impact of single use plastics, and end of March 2018, I chose plastic straws as my first point of intervention and began my journey to save the environment. During my research I learnt that the life span of plastics is such that every piece of plastic ever made still exists on our planet and will do so long after we are gone. Plastic Straws can never get sorted, never be recycled and hence reach the landfills and oceans; polluting our environment. This is a scary thought and I felt I needed to address it. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to do small acts as a friend of my planet.

At this stage of my journey, I have picked hospitality establishments and soon expanded my reach to corporate, cinema group etc. I encourage establishments to Not Offer a Straw, at all; if a customer desires then offer an alternative eco-friendly straw ( paper/ bamboo/ metal). This has led to a reduction in the wasteful consumption of straws.

I believe that Reducing plastic consumption is the only way. Recycling is good, but globally only 10-15% plastic gets recycled- most reach the oceans and landfill sites. Hence Recycling cannot be the sole answer to the increasing problem of plastic pollution.

Most establishments were willing to change once shown the alternatives and explained the benefits. Many people want to switch to eco-friendly alternatives but there is a lack of information, which I am helping bridge through researching and then sharing details of suppliers (with whom I have no business or financial connection) that they can access if they commit to stop using single use plastics. Anecdotal evidence from some of the establishments I have worked with, shows wasteful consumption reduction in the range of 20-25% as a consequence of switching to alternatives and also following my suggested policy of “Offer a Straw or Stirrer only when asked for by a customer”.

My research has helped me advise these establishments and help them find alternatives to other single-use plastics also – like plastic stirrers, cutlery, take away food boxes, glasses, plates, etc. Some also contact me, in case they are having difficulty in getting a customized alternative product.

I started working on my initiative from end-March 2018.

In June 2018, I was invited by the UN to give a talk on my work, as part of the World Environment day discussions. I was also the “Voice of the Youth” at the CII-FICCI seminar on 1st June 2018, at Vigyan Bhawan, to celebrate World Environment Day. In June 2018, spearheaded a campaign with NDMC-Chintan to get all restaurants in Khan Market, New Delhi ,to give up single use plastics. Within 4 months, we had managed to convince and convert nearly 80% restaurants, in this locality. Now nearly 95% of the establishments in the market have converted. All new places opening there, are starting without these single-use plastics. The balance left are places like Café Coffee day, Subway, Starbucks- who will change only when the law forces them to.

In the last week of September 2018, I was invited by India’s big Steel manufacturing group JSW Steel , to help make their main plant at Vijaynagar, Karnataka and their entire township single-use plastic free. This again is a process that will carry-on for few months, till we achieve the desired goals at their factories.

I have also been actively spreading awareness among general public, during the #plasticupvaas campaign in November-December 2018, against single use plastics and encouraging them to pledge to give up at least One item of single use from their lives. I did this through presentations at RWA, Cinema complexes, malls.

I have been going door-to door to hotels, restaurants, sports clubs in Delhi-Gurgaon, requesting them to give up single use plastics and switch to eco-friendly alternatives.

I have actively participated in Climate strikes in Delhi and New York, in order to draw attention of our policy makers to the immediate need to address this emergency. In June 2019, I interned with UNDP India, in their plastic waste management programme, to encourage the bulk generators of plastic waste to reduce the same and also segregate and send it for responsible recycling, under the leadership of Dr Prabhjot Sodhi. I have been appointed as the Youth Mentor for the National Geographic “A Million Yays for the Oceans, A Million Nays for Single Use Plastics” project in partnership with Chintan, from August 2019-June 2020. I was selected by the United Nations, as one of the Youth, to attend the UN Youth Climate Action Summit 2019, at New York from 19th -24th Sept 2019. I was one of the few to be fully sponsored by the UN Foundation for this summit.

It was a great honor to represent my beliefs and my nation. I was fully sponsored by the UN. I met with youth and leaders from all across the globe, sharing our ideas on climate change and the need to act now. Also met the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres.

I am a Youth Ambassador for the Earth Day Network Campaign #MyFutureMyVoice. I was awarded the ECO-Hero 2020 award by Action for Nature , U.K. During the Covid19 lockdown, I have successfully completed the UN Plastic Tide Turner challenge, in which I influenced over 100 people to give up at least three single-use plastics as a result of which I was invited as a panelist by WWF and UNEP National Youth Summit, In April 2020. I also advised them on the alternatives they could use. I am representing my school the Shri Ram School, Aravali and my state Haryana at the WWF Model Conference of Parties – I. in May 2020. I have received the Earth Day Network Rising Star award in December 2019 and the International Eco-Hero Award 2020 by Action for Nature U.K.. I am also spreading awareness about proper and safe disposal of bio-medical waste (in a properly marked yellow bag ), as use of PPE, masks etc has increased during the pandemic . In my home we are doing a 7-way waste segregation. I have held few awareness workshops on waste segregation also. In July 2020, I started a campaign “Forests of Hope”– an urban forestry initiative to grow 195 native/ fruit trees for the children and youth of the 195 nations of the world; as a message of hope for tomorrow by the youth of today. Within a month, I have encouraged youth globally to carry forward this initiative and already over 40 such forests have been planted and more will be done in the coming months. In July 2020, I have also initiated a contest campaign at my school, along with the support of my school administration, to inform students from grade 6 onwards, about the harms of single-use plastics and microplastics, encouraging them to give up & influence others to refuse single use plastics. The students who influence certain minimum number of people will get e-certificates from the school. My efforts have been covered in 4 books as yet. Two have been published in 2020 and two are under publication.

  • ‘United We are Unstoppable’ By Dr Akshat Rathi, U.K.
  • NCERT Book – My Big Book of Values vol 9
  • Japan Min of Education Text book to be released in 2022.
  • ‘How You Can Save The Planet’ by a UK publisher, to be released in Feb 2021.

Approximately 26 Million plastic straws and few million plastic cutlery and stirrers, on an annual consumption basis, have been removed in first 15 months, and the number is growing as my campaign is alive and will continue to be so. I have widened my campaign to include reduction of other single-use plastic items also. (The numbers from various establishments are still awaited- hence the above number will increase). Some esteemed corporates, who are part of my initiative are- The Holiday Inn hotels, Crowne Plaza Hotels, Oberoi Hotels, PVR Cinemas, INOX Cinemas, Park group of hotels, JW Marriott Aerocity, Lalit group, Jaypee hotels, Interglobe Hotels-Accor, Delhi Golf Club, Delhi Gymkhana Club, Delhi Club house, Tonino, Whiskey Samba, Wine Company, Eros Hotel, Accor group of hotels in India, Clarks Shiraz Hotels, Country Inn hotels, many more hotels, clubs, restaurants, schools, individuals etc. To spread my crusade, I ideated a Facebook community page, The Alternatives, to promote harm reduction to people and the planet. This page now has nearly 22,000 followers and is managed by my parents to ensure diminished personal presence on the web. The philosophy that I promote amongst establishments and the younger generation is – Refuse If You Cannot Reuse. I am promoting the most important R in the waste management hierarchy :- REFUSE ( So it should be Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and so on). I strongly believe in “Individual Social Responsibility”– where each one of us can make a change in our lives and influence others around us to change, for a sustainable planet. I truly believe that no one can ever do enough where saving the environment is concerned. No effort is either too small or too big when working for a sustainable planet. There is a lot to be achieved and I shall continue to work to make a difference to protect our planet.