World Environment Day is celebrated on June 5 every year to spread awareness about environmental issues and promote the people, organisations working on them. The theme of this year is ‘Ecosystem Restoration’.
For every action, there is always a reaction following up. This reaction, like a slow poison, leads to the biggest disasters. Our ecosystem is constantly changing and getting affected by our actions.
Today, on World Environment Day, WeJan managed to talk with Vivek Gurav, a 25-year-old software engineer from Pune who is working for the environmental cause with his huge community.
What does he exactly do? Instead of choosing a regular job, Vivek decided to work on the problems related to waste and garbage.
Vivek started doing ‘Plogging’. Plogging is a practice like doing exercise where you go for a run or jogging and simultaneously pick up the trash around you. It is like a work out routine which makes you and your surroundings fit.
• Can you tell us about plogging in detail?
Plogging is a concept that was originally introduced in Sweden. It refers to picking up trash while jogging or running. When you squat to pick up plastic waste while running, you are exercising every bit of the body. Instead of hitting a gymnasium, you work towards creating a better environment and also get the best effect of working out.
I founded Pune Ploggers – a community of people who contribute their bit to the environment while plogging. We fix particular spots for their plogging runs in advance and create events on social media handles. People who wish to join can register online or directly be on the spot.
Different areas in the city are covered every week to reach out to a larger audience.
• What was the triggering point that changed your mindset?
When I shifted to Pune for Higher studies, I joined MIT Academy of Engineering, Alandi in 2014. The river Indrayani was a place where I went for a daily walk with my friends in the evening. We observed people who carelessly dumped a lot of trash and plastic in the river body as well as surrounding areas.
Me and my friends initially blamed the local body and government for all these actions. But, I personally felt it was the moral duty of citizens, including me, to follow cleanliness norms and keep the city clean.
I appealed to my friends to join me in cleaning river Indrayani who initially were quite resistant, many of them ridiculed but I took up this Challenge and started the cleanup Journey. Few friends started supporting me and we adopted River Indrayani for a mega Cleanup Mission.
The efforts lasted for 4 continuous years on a routine basis and we saw a behavioral change in the visitors after a span who minimize littering at the Indrayani Ghat near Alandi temple.
After my college days we stopped the campaign and took up the charge to not only clean rivers but all the public spaces in the city.
• What do we humans lack in terms of taking care of nature?
Humans are actually responsible for nature’s aggressive behavior because we have become very careless and self centered. All the natural calamities are giving our trash, garbage back to us. Not just that the bigger picture is even more dangerous. Changing the climate cycle, pollution has started affecting our lives already and they are going to affect us badly in future.
Soon, people are not going to bear these calamities and weather changes. Their health is going to be affected. Since we are so busy in our own lives, setting our lifestyle, earning money, getting stability in all aspects we have simply forgotten about what we owe to nature.
• In terms of scale, how are you contributing?
We have 4,500 registered members, completed around 182 drives.
More than 5,000 tonnes of waste has been collected through different campaigns I have been working on for the last seven years.
Most of the waste collected from river bodies is segregated. Recyclable waste is then sent for recycling to the local Kabadiwalas, which adds as a source of income for them. That’s how we were able to involve them in the community as well.
We make Eco-Bricks out of non- recyclable plastic waste. Cigarette Butts are being recycled as well.
Glass Bottles are upcycled by a team of rural women who get some extra income by selling those.
• What is the collective solution for the cause?
Addressing the mindset of the citizens, promoting zero-littering habits, raising awareness through schools and colleges, talking to local communities and making them a part of this mission will drive the true purpose why I started this cause.
I have been promoting a Zero-Waste lifestyle. I have been talking about how Climate Change is impacting all of us and the role of youth led action can be the ultimate Climate Action.
If the problem of a cause is a human then a solution is a human as well. It’s our turn to be a solution.