Greening the Blue

On a late Sunday morning, I was on my way to a workshop. It was a good start to a Sunday, a hearty breakfast and the grey skies promised nice weather. I got into a cab and was enjoying the wind in my hair, it was high tide and the sea was lapping up against the walls. Things were great, until I realized that with each wave the sea regurgitated a mound of trash. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first and only time that waste has turned up from the sea.

Mumbai’s most popular beaches are also the most polluted beaches in the world. As per ReefWatch Marine Conservation, a city based organization, the beaches are saturated with plastic bags, food wrappers, discarded tyres, Styrofoam, PET bottles, glass shards, batteries, paper, cardboard, cement, fishing nets, automobile scraps and the list goes on. The ReefWatch warns us that waste might land up in our stomachs in the future. According to their findings, the bottom of the food chain is affected as plankton are ingesting plastic that are about 5-10 microns in size. This plankton is consumed by larger fish which in turn is consumed by human beings. Watch out when you decide to indulge in sea food, who knows you might just be eating microplastics along with your food.

Watch this video to know more about how plastic ends up in our food -

How did this waste land up in the sea? Not only from littering on the beach but from open garbage dumps in the city. Monsoon showers carry waste from these dumps to creeks, drains and eventually the sea. The next time you think that your community is clean, think again. Is it enough to clean within the four walls of your society and dump waste on the street? Most citizens are happy keeping things within the four walls of their building compound clean. The trash strewn on the roads are somebody else’s business or perhaps the BMC. Might be cliché, but any Indian citizen who travels abroad marvels at the levels of cleanliness and follows rules there but in our own country it’s not their business.

A gyre (pronounced jaier) is a circular ocean current like a slow whirlpool that attracts trash from the shores to the center of the ocean. The Indian Ocean gyre part of the big 5 across the globe is known for having the highest plastic content, otherwise described as ‘a plastic soup’.  There is so much trash that search parties have difficulty in identifying debris from the missing Malaysian flight 370.  Moreover, the Guardian avers that in the next 10 years Mumbai is going to be one the biggest plastic garbage patches in the world.

On a brighter note, Afroz Shah, lawyer and environmentalist headed an 85-week beach cleanup for Versova. Transforming the beach by removing 5.3 million kgs of trash from the beach. It is indeed a remarkable feat, but is this a permanent solution and what happened to the tons of waste? Perhaps dumped in landfills? We must keep in mind that the Indian Ocean gyre is continuously churning garbage between oceans and coasts.

Coming back to my morning workshop, I was on my way to teach residents of an affluent society to segregate waste at home. I work with Green Communities Foundation, a non-profit that supports and handholds residences in becoming Waste Free. GCF conducts site surveys, discussions with the management committee, a waste audit, segregation workshops and recommends the best solution for the client. GCF provides handholding until the society is self-sustainable in managing its waste. In other words, GCF offers an end-to-end holistic package for waste management. Hoping to do our bit and slow down the massive waste problem in India.



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