Ritu Primlani

Ashoka Fellow
Berkeley, California, United States
Fellow Since 2004


This profile was prepared when Ritu Primlani was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Ritu Primlani is bringing high impact, practical environmentalism to hard-to-reach minority and ethnic restaurateurs. She founded an organization, Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education, which runs the Thimmakka Certified Green Restaurants (TCGR) program. With TCGR, Ritu demonstrates the significant economic benefits of environmentally friendly practices and helps participating restaurants implement these practices free of charge. By favoring solutions that are simple, that cut down on energy use, and that help restaurants buy supplies in bulk, TCGR helps restaurant owners save money while at the same time protecting the environment. Her “green-certified” restaurants implement at least 60 environmental measures in four key areas: Solid Waste Reduction, Water Conservation, Energy Conservation, and Pollution Prevention.

Ritu brings together all the major environmental stakeholders—community leaders, restaurant owners and employees, as well as government, private, and nonprofit agencies—and provides restaurants with a single point of contact for all their environmental needs. That single point person is a member of the restaurateur’s own ethnic community. State and federal environment and utilities agencies are therefore able to deliver their services and programs through this single point person, removing the barriers of culture and language. Ritu’s program provides a way for non-English speaking business owners to understand civic policies, comply with complex regulations, and become environmental leaders in their communities. Furthermore, TCGR is demonstrating the competitive advantage of environmentally friendly practices and paving the way for restaurants around the country to follow suit.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

More For You