EDN Launches Student Carpooling Campaign in India

Earth Day Network has a fun new campaign to promote carpooling among students in India: Backseat Buddies!  

In India, not all primary and secondary schools have buses. Backseat Buddies encourages students from the same locality to travel together to and from school, instead of traveling in individual cars. This not only cuts down on carbon pollution and conserves resources, it helps to allieviate the severe traffic congestion in many Indian cities.

Earth Day Network’s India staff is working with principals at targeted schools in West Bengal – focusing on Kolkata - to introduce the program and explain all the steps: from awareness-building activities (targeting both students and parents) to the screening of an educational film to a Q and A session with an expert.

Students will also participate in a competition where they will submit write-ups, photo essays and artwork that showcase the benefits of carpooling and describe their experience with Backseat Buddies. A panel of distinguished judges will select the best entries and designate the winning students as Ambassadors. The Ambassadors will formulate programs to promote carpooling in their respective schools going forward.  On April 22, 2013 (Earth Day!) all Ambassadors will be invited to present a report on what they achieved at an Earth Day event in Kolkata. The best two out of these will receive trophies.

Check out this short video promoting the campaign:

Backseat Buddies has a foot-tapping theme song composed by Neel and the Lightbulbs, a popular Kolkata-based band. The song, which is already making waves, encourages students to “make a greener town” by joining the campaign. It has been featured on 93.5 RED FM, an extremely popular radio station across India. Movie stars like Rahul Bose and other celebrities – such as Harsha Bhogle, “the voice of Indian cricket” – have also begun lending their support to the campaign.

This initiative by Earth Day Network-India is supported by solar power company NVD Solar Ltd. and advertising agency Oglilvy & Mather’s Kolkata office.  It was launched before hundreds of students at the Confederation of Indian Industries’ “Gen Y Leadership 2012” program in Kolkata.

In Kolkata, when one is stuck in massive, bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic congestion (something quite usual), one wonders where is the “City of Joy” celebrated by so many writers. Automobile congestion today is limiting travel speeds to 20 km/hour or even less at some stretches. On 65 percent of the city’s arterial roads, the traffic volume has exceeded the designed capacity.  In addition, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board has confirmed that automobile pollution accounts for nearly 50 percent of the region’s air pollution. Backseat Buddies aims to slash some of these negative statistics.

Make sure to follow the Backseat Buddies program on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BackseatBuddies.

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