Udaipur, called the city of lakes, is defined by its natural beauty and grandeur of the architecture. Located in the southern region of Rajasthan, the city is surrounded by the Aravalli mountain ranges and thrives under a clump of greenery.
However, a few years ago, many lakes around the city began to dry up due to extreme heatwaves. According to reports, it also prevents the gradual degradation of the environment.
Born and raised in Udaipur, 17-year-old Mehul Kumut was fond of taking long walks on the lush green trails of the city, listening to the bitter rain of the monsoon and watching the sparkling water bodies.
He was disappointed to witness the fall of these scenarios. However, he did not lose hope and decided to do his job to revive the water bodies.
In 2018, he founded Kritash, a non-governmental organization aimed at restoring the ecological community. ‘Kritash’, which literally means ‘hope for a better future’, is now involved in recycling waste papers and organizing afforestation drives from its income.
Mehul Kumut told BK,
“Climate change is one of the biggest threats that mankind is currently facing. Due to poor water and changes in air quality due to inclement weather, it has taken a toll on the entire ecosystem. In order to secure a better future for the planet, it is important to include this generation. I started an NGO with the same intention. ”
An effort for a greener tomorrow
Mehul, studying in class XII at Study Senior Secondary School in Udaipur, is known as ‘Ecofrik’. He was actively engaged in leading several afforestation campaigns in the school each year.
Once he pledged to set up an NGO, he merged four of his like-minded friends with him. Together they figured out a way to recycle huge mounds of paper waste by filling landfills in items such as paper bags, bookmarks and invitation cards.
“After doing some research on recycling methods, we started collecting paper waste and old newspapers from scrap shops in our neighborhood. Then, we set up a small system in our home and performed a series of activities – by excreting the paper using a mixer, laying out the pulp in the form of thin sheets, drying them under the sun, finally coloring and Preparing them to make products with folding, ”explains Mehul.
While Mehul’s elder sister, Dutyu Kumut, guided him through the process, his father helped him with an initial fund of Rs 35,000.
Although Mehul relied on word-of-mouth marketing, he eventually began promoting Kritash’s output on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. He also wrote some blog posts to raise awareness about the importance of recycling waste and leading sustainable lives.
“So far, we have managed to sell 600 paper bags, 500 bookmarks and 50 invitation cards. Each item was priced at Rs 20, Rs 30 and Rs 50 respectively. And, we used all the sales proceeds – which cost around Rs 30,000 – to plant trees in or around our area, or to give gifts to other people, ”he said.
To attract the attention of young minds about various environmental issues, Mehul and his friends took up the task of conducting workshops in several schools in Udaipur.
When asked about the challenges he faced during the journey, he said,
With this, it was a little difficult to balance the work of NGOs and my academics. I used to spend about three to four hours making and marketing a paper product. When I’m not working, I spend time learning codes and playing guitar. “
Achievement in every way
In addition to working towards creating a positive impact on the environment, Mehul is trying his hand at hydroponic farming – the technology of growing plants using just water and nutrients instead of soil. He has established a vertical terrace garden at home and has also developed some highly powerful greens.
“Hydroponics is the future of farming. This allows crops to grow in places where soil conditions are too poor to aid farming. Also, since it does not require pest-control, the resulting production is generally of high nutritional value. And, that’s why I’m eager to learn it, “says Mehul.
Recently, Mehul received a scholarship to be part of a four-week e-learning summer camp organized by the prestigious Young Entrepreneur Academy, New York Times bestselling author and social entrepreneur Roger James Hamilton. He was the only Indian teen among 30 others selected for the event. Introduced by the Genius School through its digital education platform Genius, the curriculum focuses on providing entrepreneurial and leadership skills to students.
The 17-year-old Mehul plans to expand Kritash’s activities and hopes to build a hydroponic farm of his own in the near future.