In Mumbai, India, an astonishing 12,000 tons of plastic waste was removed from a short stretch of the Versova beach, all thanks to the work of volunteers.
The two-mile stretch of the Versova beach is visited by hundreds of people every weekend and, unfortunately, there is always a lot of trash left behind. Before the clean-up, plastic waste on the beach had reached waist-height. As we have learned through numerous tragedies, plastic is especially threatening to marine life and can take hundreds of years to break down into microscopic pieces.
“This beach laps the plastic up,” Afroz Shah said. “It acts like a net. You must pick it up or the next high tide will take it out and it will never come back. Then it harms marine life.”
School children and many adult volunteers happily pitched in to help restore the beach. One of the participants shared a message that is hauntingly poignant. “We are clearing the mess created by our parents,” said 15-year-old Titiksha Kabra. “If we don’t want our generation to face the problem of plastic we have to come here and clean it up.”
The clean-up was a fantastic initiative with immediate positive results and a great example of teamwork. Nevertheless, the volunteers who took part realize that this kind of one-time action, no matter how big, will not solve the problem once and for all. Even more than clean-up efforts, the area needs city authorities to improve waste management, and perhaps even look to Scotland where there is a proposed ban on all disposable plastics.
To Shah, solving this problem starts by working with people. There is a large population of migrants that are ignored by authorities living in slums by riverbanks. “There is no garbage pick up here. Nobody tells them how to handle plastic,” he explained. Volunteers are now working to encourage people living in the slums to start taking their plastic to a recycler. They are paid five rupees for each kilogram of plastic they collect, thanks to this effort 20,000 kilograms of plastic is already being sent for processing each month. A win-win for people and the planet!
The problem of plastic pollution of our planet has reached critical proportions, but there are things we can do in our own homes to make a difference – to learn what they are, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!
Image source: Sky News