In 2015, lawyer Afroz Shah started picking up trash from Versova beach in Mumbai. Since then, his weekend clean-ups have attracted scores of volunteers who have till date removed 13 million kg of waste!
Soon after, for the first time in decades, volunteers spotted 80 Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings on the same beach, heading towards the sea.
We’ve been organizing clean ups for a few years now; the largest being the Bengaluru Plog Run last year. With 5 clusters, 10 routes, 54 collection points and 5000+ ploggers, this was our largest cleanup. This event resulted is us collecting and transporting over 6 tonnes of waste to our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in a day.
In the weeks leading up to Swachh Bharat month, we decided to get out there and tidy up our streets. Our Sustainable Sunday initiative saw 20 volunteers get to work on a hot day in Jigani. We managed to collect 460 kg of waste in just 3 hours.
In association with the Jigani Town Municipal Council (TMC), we also asked offices in the neighborhood to segregate their waste in proper bins and send it to our MRF for further processing.
A few weeks later, Tata Global Beverages Limited approached us to clean Chikkabanavara Lake. Bengaluru’s oldest lake was now littered with single-use plastic and other waste. 60 volunteers and 10 local waste workers joined SZW for the cleanup and to understand issues with waste management in our city.
In a few hours, we’d recovered 2810 kg of waste. Shoes were also distributed to waste workers before the event.
On the eve of Gandhi Jayanti, nearly 100 determined volunteers gathered in Whitefield to do their bit for the city- this time it was Britannia Industries that needed our help to clean the streets choked by trash.
This one posed added difficulty with biomedical waste like diapers and pads lying around, which indicated a complete lack of waste management in the area. We still managed to collect 490 kg of waste.
Within a span of 30 days, we’ve diverted 3.7 tonnes of waste from landfills through cleanups alone! That’s 2.2 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions averted, as per the EPA WARM tool.
While conducting such drives it is imperative to remember that without an authorized service provider on board, the collected waste would just go back to another landfill or get burnt in the open. All waste from our cleanups is taken to our Material Recovery Facility, where it is processed and sent to suitable recyclers.
Further, for the area to remain clean, dumping of waste which creates these black spots, needs to be stopped and this can happen only through strict enforcement of laws and public awareness.