On 19 June, about 4,500 citizens of the city gathered along the 20-km stretch from Marina beach to Uthandi in Chennai, with a plan – to clean up the city’s shore. After the instructions were given and the gloves and garbage bags distributed, the cleaning mission began along the coast of the city littered with plastic and glass, among other recyclable and non-recyclable waste.
According to a report in Live Mint, it was the seventh edition of the Chennai Coastal Cleanup organised by the Chennai Trekking Club (CTC). “(This year) our main focus was to create awareness in two key areas. First, to sensitise the public on the negative impact of plastic on the environment. Second, to educate people on how to reduce our growing garbage footprint through segregation at home—separating wet waste and dry waste,” said Peter Van Geit, coordinator of the CTC.
On Sunday, more than 5,800 volunteers collected 59 tonnes of garbage in Chennai and 12 other cities. In Chennai alone, nearly 4,500 volunteers from 140 organisations segregated 38 tonnes and recycled 56 percent and moved the rest to the landfill.
An email sent to the volunteers’ inbox a few days ahead of the clean-up activity said, “We are dumping all the garbage in Pallikaranai. Let’s not just clean the garbage from the coastal areas and dump them in beautiful Pallikaranai Marsh Land,” stressing the importance of segregation. The marshland—the only surviving wetland ecosystem of the city—also houses one of Chennai Corporation’s largest dump yards. “Wet kitchen waste can be composted; dry waste can be collected and recycled. This way we can reduce 90 percent of our garbage generation,” said Peter.
Ezhil V.M., a volunteer at the CTC who was involved in the clean-up from the Besant Nagar Broken Bridge area, said: “Volunteers successfully segregated all garbage and collected one lorry full of glass and plastic which will be recycled to reduce impact on our environment.”
The others cities—including Tirunelveli, Trichy, Yelagiri, Puducherry, Hyderabad, Cumbum, Thoothukudi, Coimbatore, Parvathi Valley, Kanyakumari, Cuddalore and Tenkasi—saw around 1,300 volunteers in total gather to clean the beaches, rivers and lakes.