Young Indian brothers from Delhi win Blueair Clean Air Prize
Nav and Vishaan Agarwal, founders of One Step Greener, won for their efforts at improving the health and wellbeing of people in Delhi, the world’s most polluted city
Blueair and Children's Climate Prize earlier this year teamed up to fight air pollution with the launch of a new Clean Air Prize. The prize, 100 000 Swedish Krona, has been awarded to Nav and Vihaan Agarwal for their organisation 'One Step Greener' - which, by striving for a zero-waste future, aims to reduce air pollution and improve the health and wellbeing of people in Delhi, the world’s most polluted city.
The Agarwal brothers, aged 12 and 15 years old, travelled to Stockholm earlier this month to receive their prize handed out at the prestigeous Stockholm City Hall, also the home of the Nobel Prize ceremony.
The Children's Climate Prize was founded in 2016 to support action and innovation among children and youth aged 12-17. Every year, an independent panel of jury members including academicians and climate activists such as WWF, select one winner among the thousands of nominations that come in from around the world. In 2019, the Clean Air category was added in collaboration with Swedish Blueair, a world leader in air purification for home and professional use. The new Clean Air Prize comes in recognition of air pollution being the single biggest environmental threat to human health.
“We are proud to award the first Clean Air Prize, initiated to fight one of the most pressing issues of our time, to Nav and Vihaan for their activism for a zero-waste future,” said Sara Alsén, chief purpose officer at Blueair. “In addition to the prize money, intended to further their project, the brothers will also be offered an internship at the Blueair Innovation Hub in Stockholm.”
The jury motivation:
Air pollution is today the single biggest environmental threat to human health according to the WHO, with 9 out of 10 people breathing toxic air. New Delhi in India is the capital with the world’s dirtiest air. Here, as in many other cities, air pollution can be derived from a diverse range of sources, but a major one is trash burning. In Indian cities, 50% to 90% of trash collected ends up in landfills. Burning is typically the only removal method available today, filling the air with toxic gases and harmful particles. Nav and Vihaan Agarwal have with their organisation One Step Greener, which strives for a zero-waste future, reduced air pollution and improved the health and wellbeing of people in New Delhi.
They are facing a giant problem where they have created a system to counteract the garbage that is burned on large dumps, by educating people about the importance of recycling waste at source and offering door-to-door dry waste pick-ups. Since materials are recycled, they attack the problem from two different directions - the first one being that materials are not burnt, and air pollution is not released into the air. The second is that recycling is so much better from an energy standpoint, and it is even more important in countries where the energy comes from fossil fuels. In India, 75% of electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, which also emit huge amounts of air pollution.
One Step Greener has, so far, recycled over 65 tons of waste, preventing about three tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.
Blueair is a world leading producer of air purification solutions for home and professional use. Founded in Sweden, Blueair delivers innovative, best-in-class, energy-efficient products and services sold in over 60 countries around the world. Blueair is part of the Unilever family of brands.
The founder and CEO of Blueair, Bengt Rittri, has expressed his ‘horror’ at the news that India now suffers worse air pollution than China. The head of the world’s largest mobile indoor air cleaning technology company said he was horrified by a recent Greenpeace report that said air pollution levels in India have increased to record high levels that are worse than those in China.