Whoever says one person can’t make a difference has yet to meet Afroz Shah, a 33-year-old lawyer who orchestrated a massive cleanup of Versova beach in Mumbai, India. Once known for being a prime fishing destination, the beach has more recently become famous for turning into a sprawling wasteland of trash. Luckily, Shah recognized the problem and took action. For weeks he has been recruiting volunteers to come assist in picking up the garbage, and in one week alone got over 500 volunteers to help pick up trash for eight hours. By week 43, 610,000 kilograms of trash had been removed from the beach – and by the end of the cleanup over two million kilograms (or four million pounds) had been completely cleared.
Shah’s cleanup project was big enough to attract the attention of UN Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh who traveled to Mumbai to aid in the trash removal. Pugh was astounded by the amount of garbage and after traveling to beaches all over the world, he stated that he’s “just never seen anything on this scale before.” In the video, the copious amounts of trash and plastic goods can be seen rolling in with the tide and littering the shoreline.
It’s no secret that we have a plastic and trash problem. Of the 300 million pounds of plastic manufactured every year, a staggering 85 percent of it is not recycled, and about 8.8 million pounds of that plastic ends up in the ocean. This plastic not only threatens the ecosystems but it is incredibly dangerous to the livelihood of sea animals. With 700 marine species facing extinction due to plastic, it’s more important than every that we reduce our consumption by finding alternatives to plastic, recycling, and following in the footsteps of Shah to facilitate similar types of cleanups.
For more tips and tricks on limiting your plastic intake check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign.