CHENNAI: It was a sunny Sunday morning at the Besant Nagar beach. Nearly 4,500 volunteers wore gloves, put on their masks and started getting their hands dirty — literally. The seventh edition of the Chennai Coastal Cleanup (CCC), an initiative by the Chennai Trekkers Club (CTC), got underway at 6 am along 20 km of coast line from Marina Beach all the way to Uthandi. They segregated 38 tonnes of garbage in the city.
“At the cleanup, it’s not just about picking up trash. We’re trying to put across two messages – segregate garbage at source and avoid one-time-use plastics. We may use a straw or a bottle or a plastic cup only for a few seconds or minutes, but they’re not biodegradable and they lie around for hundreds of years,” Peter Van Geit, founder of CTC, told City Express. To avoid the use of plastics, he suggested everyone carry an eco kit: a cloth bag, a mug and bottle, both made of steel.
As many as 140 companies, NGOs and other organisations teamed up for the initiative and pulled in hundreds and thousands of volunteers. Several families had turned up with their kids. “We come here, eat sundal and throw away the wrapper without realising the impact. We realise only when we come to cleanup. Last year, I came alone. This year, I decided to take the family along... We are just contributing in our own small way,” said Lakshmi from TCS, who had come with her husband and child. Naveen R Kumar from Infosys, who is part of CTC explained how plastic waste is dangerous to animals. “Turtles and fish choke on plastic waste on the sands and in the water. The beach is one of our best assets and we should maintain it,” he stressed.
The cleanup drive is divided into 15 zones, with about 50 CTC volunteers coordinating with hundreds of other volunteers in each zone. The initiative is going on in 12 cities including Hyderabad and Bengaluru. “We’re just trying to make a big shout!” smiles Peter.