Let’s talk trash! And taking responsibility for it

As anyone who knows me/runs with me will be aware, I HATE the litter that is omni-present all over India.

For decades now, I’ve picked up the litter wherever I am, on the basis that why walk past litter if you can pick it up & dispose of it properly?

I have been praised for such actions, which is nice, but I’d much rather people followed by example.

I have also been roundly abused for it in the process, mainly here in India, sad to say.

Apparently a quote unquote f***ing foreigner picking up Indian trash is offensive. Go figure.

One day, about 18 month ago, Ripu Daman, a running mate, & I decided we’d try and galvanise people into taking some responsibility for the garbage problem in India in whatever way we could. After each training session, we started picking up the trash in the park here in New Delhi where we trained together.

Momentum gradually built up, and we started a Facebook page and Instagram handle @ploggersofindia.

By the way – in the next few days, Ripu is embarking on a huge project, a nation-wide plog, which I’ll be reporting on here in the blog.

Stay tuned for that!

But back to talking trash…

Can’t deny it, there are moments of total despair in the quest to clean up the country and sensitise people into not littering in the first place.

And then there are moments of total WOW, like this morning, when I read the Twitter posts of a young man called Srini Swaminathan who, in a series of tweets and photos, shared his experience of a race he took part in yesterday in Mumbai.

I contacted Srini, and with his permission, am sharing his story with you all.

It is a great story – one of putting the public need over the private.

It is a great story – one of taking initiative, instead of blaming the powers that be.

Arre, why am I explaining his words, when they can speak for themselves so much better than I can!

So, here you are.

In his own words, here is the story of Srini’s 12km run:

“I ran my worst ever 12km run at the BNPEndurathon today inside Borivli National Park. It was also my best ever 12 km run.

Here is why: One by one, I picked up nearly 35+ kgs of plastic trash (left by tourists/locals/runners from previous years and this year) over 3.5 hours

Since the only run category at the BNPendurathon is 25kms, and I did only one loop (12.5 kms), I decided not to get a medal (obviously!)

But I am immensely happy and fulfilled that I left the 12 km trail inside Borivli National Park much better – for the animals and people.

If I had not done plogging (picking plastic trash while running) I could have finished the run in time and gotten a medal but then that became secondary priority when I saw so much convenience trash – chips packets, plastic water/soft drink bottles, single use plastic spoons.

I am aware of many debates around trash “it’s not my job”, & “why isn’t the Govt doing it?” etc., but I’m purely driven by two things:

1) lot of love & gratitude for the Borivli park & Mumbai

2) “What will I do about it?”

I’ve got no time for debates. I picked up trash because of gratitude.

Here’s the break up of plastic trash I picked up today inside Borivli park during the BNPendurathon run:

200+ chips namkeen packets

100+ single use plastic spoons

200+ PET water/soft drink bottles

100+ plastic carry bags

30+ alcohol bottles

100+ gutka and biscuit packets

During the run, I carried my own cup for water/tea at finish line and during travel I don’t buy water bottles but carry water+ use a kettle to boil water. I carried food in leaf & paper etc. That’s my commitment to not generating non bio-degradable waste. I try to walk the talk.

I really hope these dustbins inside Borivli National Park are cleared regularly and the trash is taken away, because I couldn’t carry all that plastic trash outside the park. In total, I cleared 6 bags worth today. But there is a lot more out there by the side of other roads

Srini, first of all, well done, thank you & let’s hope you have inspired other people to follow your example.

None of you needs me to interpret Srini’s words & actions – they speak eloquently for themselves – but one thing I especially liked is his reaction to people saying “it’s not my job.”

Oh, but it is.

It is EVERYONE’S job.

We are the ones who litter in the first place.

So we must damn well pick it up And stop littering.

There are no 2 ways about it.

We cannot sit around blaming other people. The garbage problem is w-a-y too big for that.

If you see trash, pick it up.

End of story.

One comment

  • Myriam

    Well done. I try to pick up the trash I find. But if I’m in Spain, it’s really terrible there. I do my best, and if I pick up a empty bottle that’s not mine, some people gave me the look… Keep on the good work.
    Greetings
    Myriam

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