What began as a movement to clean up Tada with 150 CTC volunteers in 2009 to promote ‘Eco-tourism’, has now taken the shape of one of the biggest volunteer-driven cleanup activities in the Chennai Coastline. As more hands joined this initiative, these cleanup activities made their way to the beautiful beaches of Chennai along a 15km coastal stretch from Marina till Injambakkam, marking the first edition of Chennai Coastal Cleanup (CCC) in 2010.
From then on, with every passing year, the movement has gained momentum, with volunteers covering the entire stretch of Chennai coastline, segregating, recycling the waste, exploring alternatives for plastics and taking a conscious effort to reducing the garbage footprint.
There are plastics everywhere from the landfill in your own street to the beautiful blue beaches. There are continents of floating garbage in the massive oceans. A whopping 6 million straws were collected in CCC5 in just few hours of cleaning up. These plastics are polluting the deep seas, killing the turtles and fishes, poisoning the birds and messing up our environment. One of the first of a kind initiatives of CCC - ‘#NoPlasticChallenge’ challenged Chennaiites to avoid plastic usage and to encourage reduce, re-use and recycle.
With a huge response to the #NoPlasticChallenge this year, next proposal was to invite interested residential colonies, apartments and corporates to set up their own long term Solid waste Management system by partnering with recyclers. To limit the waste landing into sewers and landfills, a Kabadiwala connect was needed, and an online form was shared in Social media for gathering information to create a local recycle shop network. The team also organized a weekend event to arrange doorstep collection of segregated thin/thick plastics and cardboards on 30-May, 31-May.
Every year has been a new learning experience for the team, starting from mere collection of waste in 2009 to progress to a stage where they perform waste segregation at the time of collection followed by recycling of the waste.
There have been some trend-setting collaborations with recyclers in the recent editions of the cleanup. The previous two editions of Chennai Coastal Cleanup saw collection and recycling of over 3.3 tonnes of plastics, 4.3 tonnes of Shoes/Slippers, 2.5 tonnes of liquors bottles, 476 Kg of Thermocole and 98 Kgs of metal cans, thus saving 27.8 MWh of energy and over 3, 00,000 liters of water. That’s not all of it, the thin plastics collected in CCC5 were used for laying plastic roads in Madambakkam, a locality in Chennai.
A number of volunteers from Chennai Dive Club, Temple Adventures (Pondicherry) and Coastal Security group scuba-dived for an underwater cleanup in CCC4 and CCC5 to remove the nylon fishing nets and the marine debris.
In 2012, the group made it to the Limca book of Records with a National record of fastest garbage cleaning with a collection of 17.6 tonnes of garbage in a 15km stretch of Chennai coast.
Chennai Trekking Club is the brains behind this massive cleanup effort every year. This movement has seen a spontaneous splurge in the volunteer count with more people joining up to assist with the logistics and event planning in the last 6 years. Many corporates and NGOs have joined hands have supported this movement with each edition of the cleanup. Last year, this movement spread its wings with 10 other Indian cities joining this movement under the name ‘India Clean Sweep’. 2014 edition of CCC5 & India Clean Sweep involved 6200 volunteers from 150 Corporates, NGOs, colleges, schools and individuals and the total garbage collected was 50 tonnes. The 2015 edition of India Clean Sweep will be carried out in 12 Indian cities.
CCC6 Team has gone an extra mile this year to generate awareness about harmful effects of plastic disposal this year to prevent them making their way to landfills and beaches. From street plays, wall paintings, story-telling sessions, flash-mobs, posters, drawing competition for kids and younger generation connect, the team has put in every possible effort to generate awareness on plastics and the need for waste management.
Many volunteers have worked behind the screens in poster design, putting in every possible information in the form of daily quiz, ‘Did you know’ posts, promotional videos and much more on the Chennai Coastal Clean Facebook page. The organizing team has designed a stainless steel reusable water bottle and ceramic coffee mug as a move to prevent a huge number of disposable plastic bottles, cups and wax coated paper cups making their way to landfills. The group has also identified mobile kiosks/water vending machines in public places as an alternative for bottled water.
Few volunteers have also interacted with juice shop and food stall owners, by suggesting them a few alternatives for disposables to go litter-free in their business. Some juice stall owners now have CCC6 posters on their stall to raise awareness to avoid disposables.
Chennai generates 50 tonnes of garbage every day. From the first coastal cleanup in 2010 with 880 volunteers and collection of 8.9 tons of garbage, the team has marched on in the fight against plastics by amassing 50 tonnes in 2014 edition of India Clean Sweep/CCC5. There is yet another ambitious target this year to meet. Wish our team all the luck and do share the post to send a strong message of environmental awareness to our society to preserve our natural inheritances in and around our polluted metros.
An anti-littering revolution has begun. Catch the wave as the countdown begins for one of the biggest Clean up activities along the coastline.
Follow the updates in the ‘Chennai CoastalCleanup’ Facebook page.
Chennai Coastal Cleanup