Plough up the plastic

The Asian Age.  | Trisha Ghoroi

Life, More Features

As World Environment Day approaches, the city buckles up to get rid of arguably the biggest threat to the environment: Plastic

According to a report published by Central Pollution Control Board in June 2013, Maharashtra produced over 1,000 tons of plastic waste.

Walking past a busy bus stop, crowded market or beach, one common sight that escapes no onlooker is that of garbage littered all around. However, piles of decaying trash are not only an eyesore, but are also slowly killing the environment.

According to a report published by the Central Pollution Control Board in June 2013, Maharashtra produced over 1,000 tons of plastic waste. And steps need to be taken to solve the problem.  On the occasion of World Environment Day, environmental organisations across the city are organising events and clean-up drives. The theme for this year is Beat Plastic Pollution, and India is the host. Earth 5R, a Powai-based organisation is ready with a troop of about 200 people to clean up Powai lake. Their main policy is  ‘No clean-up wit-hout recycling’,” says Saurabh G-upta, founder a-nd director, Earth 5R. Instead of disposing of waste collected af-ter a clean-up in a dumping ground, they have tied up with recycling plants to utilise it.

A child plants a tree

Saurabh believes that a clean-up should always be followed up with recycling. He says, “All clean-up drives become a garbage-shifting exercise and ultimately the garbage gets dumped from one ecosystem to another.” Hence, this does not solve the problem.  Saurabh also makes it a point to include local ragpickers in his endeavours. “Apart from sending the waste for recycling, we also give plastic bottles to ragpickers and through them, we make sure it goes for recycling,” he says. Apart from engaging in clean-up drives, Earth 5R also hosts training sessions at slums. “We have a ‘waste-to-livelihood’ model where we train people from slums about how to make innovative products from garbage. They use papier-mâché and waste clothes to make interior decoration products,” he concludes.

There won’t be a massive need of clean-up drives if the problem is solved at the root, which is the use of single-use plastic. Young Environmentalist Prog-ramme Trust has been distributing cloth bags to the public for 12 years. Though there is a plastic ban in place, Elsie Gabriel, mentor, Climate Reality Project USA, believes that the law is not enough. “The implementation is not enforced, and hen-ce people don’t follow it seriously,” says Elsie. And to help remind people to give up plastic and opt for reusable bags, the Young Environmentalist Programme Trust will be distributing cloth bags on June 5.

Volunteers at the tree planting site

Plastic is part of the problem, and to actually beautify the environment, increasing the number of trees in residential areas is crucial. Elsie’s organisation is also holding a tree-plantation drive in Hiranandani Gardens, but are only planting about 10 saplings. It is voicing an important message: It’s not the quantity that matters, but the upkeep that is important.

The organisation is looking for volunteers for the drive and anyone willing to help can contact it at