Botany is considered to be a dud as far as career-opportunities are concerned. Both Yashaswini and I being post-graduates in Botany, we found it depressing to note this. When A Journalist Reveals started out looking for environmental entrepreneurs to be covered by our website, we wanted to know how could entrepreneurial intervention create jobs as well as help save the environment for posterity. We were not very happy with the responses that we received from the entrepreneurial fraternity. But then, we came across the response from Sheetal Pachpande and we were excited. We knew Botany had potential but were worried if the potential was being used at all. We found Sheetal Pachpande, who is not only an environmental entrepreneur but also a woman entrepreneur and we went ahead to ask her to reveal the real potential Botany has as a career option. I remember what one of my Botany Professors Patkar Sir had told me about the scope of any subject, “Scope is what you make of the subject.” Sheetal Pachpande’s attitude toward Botany follows the same doctrine.
First of all, what inspired you to take up Botany?
The reason I studied Botany is all because of my passion for plants and I was fortunate to have good professors like Dr. Shraddha Shimpi, Dr. Almeida, and Dr. Rajendra Shinde, who always made us realize that plant taxonomy will become rare if people don’t study it and if that happens knowledge about plants will become extinct. Study of Botany has always been something that you see all around where I collected memories of very plant I know today.
What is your specialty in MSc and Ph.D.?
I did my MSc in Plant Taxonomy and Phytogenetics. I did my Ph.D. on Mangrove ecosystems, the plant system that heals the environment and still goes unnoticed and uncared by most people.
What inspired you to take these specialties?
St Xaviers College. I always wanted to study in this college and when I came to know it offered post-graduation in Plant Taxonomy, I became more focused and made all efforts to get the admission. During 2007, it was still difficult to get admission in these colleges. I was happy I could get it.
Which college are you from?
M.Sc from St. Xavier’s College. Ph.D. from VPM’s B N Bandodkar College.
What inspired you to take up this mission for the environment?
Ever since I completed Ph.D., I always wondered looking for the purpose of my life. I always wanted to do something for the environment in a broader sense that would change the attitude of people towards conserving and saving the environment. This learning I have imbibed from my guide/mentor Dr. Madhuri Pejaver. She has always made us work like free birds and tell us to be independent, boosting our morale to a great extent. I have, now, worked with various organizations, pursuing my ambition of doing something for the environment.
What is Ecovibes all about?
Ecovibes India is all about providing consultancy services on Gardening and Waste management.
Being a Botanist I cannot watch the indigenous flora (flora that existed in India since years/centuries) being neglected by people. Plants are a very important part of our ecosystem as the entire biota (all life forms) depends on them. Ecovibes has been envisioned to incorporate our floral wealth to support the biota that always existed in India by developing conceptual or thematic gardens like Butterfly Garden, Herb Garden, Nakshatra Van, a musical garden, biodiversity garden and now also edible gardens. We need to create edible gardens to deal with the near future food crises.
As far as waste management is concerned, it is the biggest issue we need to look at it and we really need experts to solve this problem. I have been doing bio-degradable waste management for over 5 years. It’s all about understanding the basic science involved in composting and we will soon be a waste-free India.
Ecovibes also conducts regular training programs for people on composting and kitchen gardening. We have the vision to involve people in this environment sensitive topics in all possible ways. We also have come up with innovative eco-friendly gifting concepts like a mini live garden in a glass container (Terrarium), seed jewelry, birds nests, vegetable garden kits, etc. so that people invest more in greenery. We understand that since greenery is unavailable it is not purchased often. We aim to create that market for green products along with the other entrepreneurial products.
What is your support system?
My family, friends and my huge student network.
What are your future plans?
To conduct corporate training programs and involve them in environment-related topics. Create a platform for selling eco-friendly products. To form a private limited company and create huge employment opportunities for all my students and individuals who genuinely want to contribute and earn from green activities.
Do you think what is being done for the environment is enough and can be beneficial in the long run?
We have degraded and exploited the environment in every possible way. Whatever we do will never be enough but will be a healing factor for the environment. Yes, but in the long run, these activities will make a difference, hopefully before it’s too late.
Finally, people just have written off about Botany. You being a Botanist, we would like you to tell our readers the scope of Botany as a career.
Yes, don’t hesitate to choose Botany. It is because of Botany, I could identify plants, which most of the people cannot. With the wellbeing of plants, we can conserve our ancient Ayurveda. Awareness about herbal and Ayurvedic products is increasing. We have passed the antibiotic era and it is only Ayurveda on which we can rely on. But, without conservation of plants, we cannot develop Ayurveda in this age of technology.
Being Botanists, you, both, will understand the importance of certain species in order to protect the biodiversity as most of the species are food specific.
Botany can change the entire garden perspective, which is the need of the day, for our own good future. We are moving into an era of hydroponics and organic farming and being Botanists, you can perceive that knowledge very well.
Plants give us food, shelter, pure water and oxygen. Planting specific species of plants results in the release of more oxygen in the air that gives us scope on indoor gardening and oxygen releasing plantations for community gardens.
Among the plant ecosystems like mangroves that filters all the pollution from land, we can use this science to cope with polluted water problems and there are endless opportunities that only lies in your creativity.