Vihaan  Agarwal
  • Vihaan Agarwal

    Founder, One Step Greener
  • 30 Under 30
  • 2021

Vihaan is an environmental changemaker implementing solutions to tackle the problems of air pollution through education and action in waste management, recycling, and urban afforestation.

How are you using education to build more sustainable and equitable communities? 

The One Step Greener Activity Book for high-school students and an 8-module curriculum was developed & distributed in partnership with the NGO Vidya in New Delhi, inspiring children to undertake ecological literacy from a young age.

In the last 3 years, we have engaged with 45,000+ people through talks and social media, and have operated a monthly pickup service of dry waste in over 1300 homes across 14 communities, schools, and corporations across two cities. Additionally, we have planted, and take care of, 2000+ native trees, in the heart of Delhi. 

Presenting at Children’s Climate Talk.

Presenting at Children’s Climate Talk.

One Step Greener has collected and recycled over 160,198 kgs (~353,176 lbs) of total waste, including paper, cardboard, plastic, glass bottles, metal, and e-waste. Through our efforts, we have saved the equivalent of 3,735 trees, 2,193,270 liters of water, 945 cubic meters of landfill space, and electricity enough to power 125,117 average Indian households for a day! On a monthly basis, we collect approximately 30 truckloads of waste for recycling—waste that would otherwise go to a landfill. We have helped produce 22,407,563 lbs of oxygen and sequestered 119,760 lbs of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today.

I have delivered talks at international summits ranging from the Children’s Climate Prize, Stockholm to International Youth Day by The Global Goals in association with UNICEF. I am also featured as one of India’s 6 eco-warriors in Cosmopolitan Magazine. Through every step of my journey, I acquire new partnerships and foster global discourse on sustainable conservation practices, from door-to-door waste pick-up, sorting waste, recycling materials, and planting trees for a cleaner and greener environment. 

Planting trees during the pandemic.

Planting trees during the pandemic.

This journey, however, came with significant challenges. In order to effectively sustain such a massive endeavor, I needed the collective support of the community to make a scalable impact. Prompting individuals to change their behavioral patterns with respect to waste management, I guided them to adopt responsible modes of waste separation; from individuals, I expanded to households, corporations, and schools, and collaborated with certified recyclers for scientific waste management practices. Ultimately, I established a systematic two-way process of door-to-door pickups and drop-offs, which is not only efficient but also sustainable in the long term. 

Who keeps you hopeful for the future? 

The youth keep me hopeful for the future.

Who do you look up to as inspiration? 

Jane Goodall is a source of inspiration.

What are you happiest doing? 

Spending time in nature and bird watching.