World Cleanup Day: Pragya Kapoor talks about sustainability, parenting and clean eating

"One should try to nurture a genuine love for nature in their kids."

Film producer and an environmentalist Pragya Kapoor feels deeply about the environment. And she wants her children to feel as passionately about it. Which is why, the mother-of-two says that she makes sustainable choices and leads by example for her little ones to follow.

Her social media posts are peppered with the many environmental initiatives that she is a part of, beach cleanup being one of them. In an interaction with Express Parenting on the occasion of World Cleanup Day, Kapoor, who is married to film director and producer Abhishek Kapoor, said conversations about climate change begin at home, and that it is important for “these discussions to become a part of our education system”.

She opened up about her parenting style, her plans for World Cleanup Day 2021, and the role of parents for “laying a foundation” for their kids so they, too, can make sustainable choices, among other things. Excerpts:

You wear many hats, and being an environmentalist is one of them. What does it mean to you?

It’s one of those hats you can’t ever seem to take off. It’s really about being kind and letting that belief system permeate into your lifestyle. You find your love for the planet trickles down into your life, reforming everything around you. You always find yourself evaluating your lifestyle habits, the things you use and their possible impact on the planet. It’s a part of my identity now and I wouldn’t want to look at the world through any other lens.



A post shared by Pragya Kapoor 🌿 (@pragyakapoor_)

What would you be doing on World Cleanup Day this year?

We thought it would be prudent to have our beach cleanup drive coincide with the Ganesh Chaturthi visarjan when the coastline is in dire need of help. So, along with our volunteers, we shall gather at Juhu beach on September 20, to put on our gloves and get to business. More than the statistical impact, the aim with such drives is to always make the right noise about issues that matter. I’m hopeful we shall be able to bring about a real, desirable change once these issues become a relevant part of our day-to-day conversations. To ensure that, it’s important to keep the momentum going with such initiatives.

How much have your efforts to save the environment influenced your children?

With kids, you always have to lead by your actions more than words. Children have such malleable minds that they are quick to pick up what they see around. So instead of being preachy, I just hope to inculcate these values in them innately.

Do you have many conversations at home about climate change and our role as humans?

Yes, all the time. As clichéd as it sounds, it starts with your home. Always.

As a parent, do you think it is important to introduce these topics to kids from an early age?

Absolutely. I’m happy to see that many schools have started doing this. It’s important for these discussions to become a part of our education system. We see perfectly educated grown-ups throwing trash around like there’s no tomorrow. It’s not like they’re not aware of the potential hazard it poses to our environment, but they’re rather blissfully ignorant about it. Which is why it’s necessary to ingrain these values in early school, when the minds are still impressionable.



A post shared by Pragya Kapoor 🌿 (@pragyakapoor_)

You post regularly about your family life; do you consider yourself to be a cool parent or a strict one?

I think as parents, all of us constantly try to figure that fine balance between being the good cop, bad cop. I never reprimand my children for not making sustainable choices. I’d rather live by example so that I can at least lay a foundation for them to adopt whenever they’re ready for it. Just by observing me every day, they’re subjected to so many conversations concerning sustainability and the environment that it’s an active part of their lifestyle by default.

I think more than stressing on the importance of nature, one should rather try to nurture a genuine love for it in their kids. Let them spend quality time outdoors as close to natural surroundings as possible. Unless they don’t feel a natural belongingness to the world around them, they won’t harbour any affection towards it.



A post shared by Pragya Kapoor 🌿 (@pragyakapoor_)

How do you ensure health and fitness for your family?

Dietary choices are of primary importance. We always try to eat healthy. Fruits and veggies, which are in season, must always find their way to your plate; avoid processed sugars and eat local foods as much as possible. I always try to encourage outdoor activities for the family, lots of sports, occasional hikes and short trails whenever possible. Maintaining a consistent yoga routine is important, too.

And what do you do to ensure your own health, especially in the pandemic?

I try to focus a lot on my mental, emotional and physical well-being, so that I can look after my family to my best capacity. Again, it’s all about exercising, eating well, spending time outdoors and knowing when to slow down. It’s always been about taking it one day at a time for me.



A post shared by Pragya Kapoor 🌿 (@pragyakapoor_)

Would you have any suggestions for what a family can do to protect the environment?

Start small. Every small step counts and goes a long way. People tend to get dissuaded when they need to switch their lifestyle to make way for a more sustainable way of living. But it’s really not that cumbersome. Even making inconsequential changes like switching to an eco-friendly toothbrush or a detergent can create a meaningful impact. More importantly, we need to learn to be kind. Not just to each other, but also to other beings. We need to learn to look beyond our massive egos and not think of other creatures as lesser beings as we’re all interconnected.

We could spend exorbitant amounts of money on technology, but eventually, even after all the progress, our race relies on bees to enable our agriculture needs around the world! That’s a really telling phenomena, isn’t it? Something else that I’d like to stress upon is managing our waste. India is one of the highest producers of waste globally. Majority of them are either dumped in over utilised landfills or the oceans, leaving all of us vulnerable to its adverse effects.

It’s high time we start being conscious about what we put in our bins.

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