Plastic not so Fantastic

Beach Clean, Clean4Shore, Plastic not so Fantastic, Waste Management

Organizing A Beach Cleanup


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Early this year, a friend and I had been toying with the idea of organizing a beach cleanup in Mumbai. I’ve been cleaning beaches for a while, usually picking up a bagful of stuff every time I pay a visit. Sometimes only 3 items (check out #take3forthesea on instagram). She saw one of my pictures and messaged me.

Even though summer had come early to Mumbai and we were hitting 40ºC + in April! (go ahead and tell me climate change isn’t real). we started scoping out a few sites. Chowpatty beach, our number one option was pretty clean, it seems the BMC has been doing a good job there for the past decade. So, that was a no go. Next we checked out a small spot opposite the aquarium. There was trash, but mostly flowers, and even in low tide the spot wasn’t too big. On top of that there was ongoing construction.

Somehow we ended up at the Bay View Marina garden at Cuffe parade. It seemed to check off all our boxes.

  • Covered in Trash? – Yes.
  • Large enough to host a cleanup? – Yes
  • Accessible? – Mostly

Free of Poop? – Ummm. Nope! – Unfortunately so many people in India still live without access to a toilet, and sometimes even when they do often prefer to go out in the open

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So despite the poo situation, we picked the spot. In the meantime a friend just happened to put me in touch with Divya from Skrap. The timing couldn’t be better.  Permissions fell into place super easily – I have to say, I didn’t think working with the BMC or the local corporator would be such a smooth or pleasant experience.

In the week leading up to the cleanup things got a bit crazy. I made a little graphic on Canva, (not exactly the best graphic, but hey, it was my first time) and shared it with a bunch of groups and on social media.

3 days went by  and it was mostly people who said they couldn’t make it. I was so nervous, what if no one came? What if it was just Annuja and me, squatting on the rocks picking up trash? I had already placed the smallest possible order for facemasks, and 100 of them were arriving at my house soon. What was I going to do with so many?

By Tuesday, a few friends had said they would be there. So that wasn’t so bad. Annuja and I made a couple of site visits, once with the BMC and once after the Farmer’s Market with Divya. We figured out that we could use this time as a dry run and learn from it for when we plan to make it regular.

People who had seen the infographic were emailing , suddenly the registrations started rolling in. Okay, now I was nervous again. What if too many people showed up. What if there wasn’t enough trash (yes, for some reason I thought that was a serious concern)

Anu and I made a checklist, masks, gloves, bagasse glasses for lemonade, lemonade (duh!), a tarp for sorting the waste and finally old cement sacks for collecting the garbage in.

Everything in hand by Saturday evening, except the tarp, I went to bed early. I needed to be on time for starters and no matter how much I try, I am just not a morning person. As it goes, I didn’t sleep that whole night. I had dreams, no nightmares, that it had rained and everything was ruined.

Woke up, got to the site, and I swear one person had shown up early, in Mumbai? Like I said earlier, I was afraid that there wasn’t enough garbage for everyone so we did a bit of a walkabout scouting the shoreline for a “trashier” but came back to our original plan.

But once we started cleaning there was so much. The pieces were small and wedged between the rocks that were piled up to break the tide. Things went incredibly. There were over 30 of us cleaning up (Including some lovely girls from the Udayan Shalini Foundation), filling bag after bag with milk packets and ghost nets. In the end we picked up 50 bags of trash. It isn’t even a dent in the amount of plastic waste that litters our shorelines, but it’s a start.

Stay tuned, because we’re planning the next one, and you are invited! Leave your details here so that we can keep you updated.

Happy cleaning

Plastic not so Fantastic

3 Things That are Terrible for the Environment you may not Already Know About


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Glitter

gray starfish and white and gray paper on blue surface
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Glitter, although shiny and pretty, is a microplastic. Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that pollute the environment. While there is some contention over their size, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) classifies microplastics as less than 5 mm in diameter. The ocean is basically a microplastic soup and these are really easy for sea creatures to swallow. Plankton have been caught on camera munching on tiny pieces of plastic. Larger animals like whale sharks and other filter feeders will end up swallowing microplastics along with the plankton they are after. Although a whole bunch of this will be excreted, it is possible for plastics, especially at the nanoscale to be absorbed into the body.

So, next time you’re at the store, don’t buy the greeting card with glitter on it, or that cell phone cover (can someone recommend a plastic free option here for the next time I buy a case), or just plain old glitter as a craft supply.

For crafts, it’s easy enough to use rice and various lentils.

Toothpaste & Facescrub

blur bristle brush clean
Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

Surprise! Your toothpaste and face scrub can also contain microplastics. Those microbeads promising to make your teeth super white or that face scrub that swears it’s going to go inside your pore and take out all the goop are just teeny tiny pieces of plastic. Forget the environment, swallowing these could end up being a direct health concern. Pick something not so icky the next time you need to make a switch. There are super duper scrubs made from walnut shells and apricots and whatnots, and scrubbing your teeth with something that rough isn’t good for you anyways

Balloons

five assorted balloons
Photo by Padli Pradana on Pexels.com

Depressing, I know right. When your balloon is done being super fun and floats off into the sunset it turns into trash. I’m just going to leave this picture of a poor Olive Ridley Turtle who swallowed a balloon. Poor guy must have thought it was a jellyfish – their primary diet.

Turtle balloon
Photo by NOAA