With the rise of Social Media Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, influencers have become a major part of our lives. While many youngsters use these platforms for personal fame and gain, there are others who transform their reach to spread awareness about social causes and issues that impact humanity. Anuj Ramatri – a self-proclaimed ECOFREAK is also one such influencer who has taken these social media platforms by storm through his short films and engaging content to promote Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Living Habits among its audiences. By producing insightful and engaging content, Anuj has garnered a reach of 1.1 million followers on Facebook, 232K Subscribers on YouTube and 72.4K followers on Instagram.
In an exclusive interaction with Jagranjosh.com, Anuj shares his journey from a clueless child from Firozabad, Agra to a Global Climate Influencer who is inspiring millions every day to respect the planet and make better sustainable choices for a greener and cleaner tomorrow.
Excerpts from the Interview
Question1: Tell us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to become an EcoFREAK?
I have spent most of my childhood in Firozabad, a very small town near Agra. Growing up I was surrounded by people who always cared for animals and the environment. My mother used to feed squirrels and birds every day and she would also encourage us to do the same but when we moved to Delhi, I found that my neighbourhood had no squirrels, and birds were also rarely seen. This disturbed me to some extent and I tried to find the reason for it, then one thing lead to another and I discovered the plight of nature. I found that leather was made from animal skin and I decided to never buy another leather product again. And when I found that tissues were made from trees, I vowed to always keep a handkerchief in my pocket. But I realized that like me there would be many who didn’t know such facts so I started educating people around me about the importance of nature.
Question 2: You regularly produce Short Films on Environment, Wild Life and Conservation. What inspired you to pick these as the central themes?
I completed my post graduate diploma in Filmmaking back in 2010 and I started making corporate ad films. Every day I worked on promoting such brands and products whose values I never really supported due to their negative environmental impact but had to continue because of financial constraints.
Then, I started working with a friend and we made comedy short films for YouTube. I directed a web series called Bewadey which had more than 20 million views. I had a lot of fun making these films but I couldn’t see a change in society. One day while talking to a friend about this dilemma, he said something which would stay with me for the rest of my life. He said to me, that I’m always lecturing others about how we should all be environmentally conscious so why don’t I make films about the same? I realized what I had to do next.
Question 3: Many environmental activists produce a lot of awareness content, but your content is particularly informative and gripping. How do you make something as serious as an environment interesting for young audiences?
Ans: Before I start working on any particular subject or project, there are certain things that I always keep in mind, for instance, I always try to explain things in the most simple way possible. I always consider that my scripts are being written for a 5th grader who would not understand anything that is even slightly complex. Therefore, I take time to simplify and elaborate on complex things, because I truly believe that engaging and interesting audiences while giving them important and relevant information must be the top priority of my videos.
Question 4: You create a lot of content on recycling and sustainable use of household items, can you suggest a few simple tips that a regular person can adopt to embrace sustainable behaviour at home?
Ans: There are certain types of wastes that all households produce and all these wastes are mostly thrown away by us, for example, kitchen waste, plastic waste, paper waste, etc. We can make it a habit to make compost with our kitchen waste, and try to give away more and more of our plastic wastes to kabadiwalas to be recycled. We should also consider minimizing the use of items like tissue paper and toilet rolls apart from that, simple steps to conserve energy like switching off lights and fans when not required and always covering the food while cooking to reduce the fuel usage and even walking or taking a cycle ride to nearby places instead of using a car or bike, opting for sustainable brands and small start-ups for daily use items etc. These are the few simple steps that we all can take for the betterment of the environment at a personal level.
Question 5: What would be the five things that you feel people can do without in their daily life to protect the environment?
Ans: I think, to be able to do things on a regular basis we must try and incorporate these little habits as part of our day-to-day life. Using bamboo toothbrushes, keeping a handkerchief, using sustainable brands, repairing products before buying new items and living a minimalistic lifestyle. These actions should come to us naturally, almost like a default characteristic, for example, every morning we brush our teeth without forgetting it for even a single day, this is because brushing our teeth has become an integral part of our daily routine and we do it every day effortlessly. Similarly, making eco-friendly habits and passing them on to younger people in the family will surely make a long term impact on the environment.
Question 6: What would be your message to the youth of the country who want to work towards environmental conservation but are not sure where to start?
Ans: I have immense faith in the potential of our youth, they hold the capability to make a great impact towards the betterment of the environment and make things better for generations to come.
I would suggest they first start educating themselves about environmental issues from their proximity and also from around the globe and consider these problems as something that genuinely requires their attention and time. To start with, every individual should make it his or her responsibility to educate a younger and an older person to acquire sustainable habits and be proud of being able to help the environment in even the simplest way possible. Once we start feeling responsible for the things happening around us we will surely be more conscious and do the needful.
Question 7: Can you tell us about the new venture ECOFREAKY?
Ans: We are coming up with a new website called ECOFREAKY, this website will be a one-stop marketplace for people who are interested in buying sustainable and eco-friendly products for use. The idea for this venture emerged when I noticed that most of the eco-friendly start-ups were unable to get people to their websites to buy products. Another problem that I noticed was that people were finding it difficult to browse through hundreds of websites to buy different sustainable products from different sites and so I thought of creating a common space that would be a bridge between both buyers and sellers who want to opt for sustainability.
In line with this, this website will provide the users with a wide range of products that are sustainable and eco-friendly in nature. In this specially curated platform, anyone who wants to sell sustainable and eco-friendly products can sell their product via this platform and anyone who wants to buy sustainable products can buy products from this site. In simple words, ECOFREAKY will be a common platform for buyers and sellers who want to engage in sustainable products.