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5 Times Ordinary Citizens Took Extraordinary Steps for a Greener Future!

These regular citizens wanted to improve their environment, and took matters into their own hands.

World Environment Day is celebrated to raise awareness about conservation, and sustainability and also remind us just how harmful pollution is. India will be hosting World Environment Day on June 5, 2018, with “Beat Plastic Pollution” as the central theme this time.

Dr Harsh Vardhan Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and Erik Solheim, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Head of UN Environment jointly made the announcement that India will be hosting the celebrations, laying emphasis on the theme and stressing how plastic is polluting our oceans and threatening the ecosystem.

World Environment Day will be celebrated via a series of engaging activities as well as events of public interest.

On World Environment Day, initiatives will be taken to promote a clean environment for citizens.Representative image only. Image Courtesy: Pixabay.
On World Environment Day, initiatives will be taken to promote a clean environment for citizens.Representative image only. Image Courtesy: Pixabay.

Plastic clean-up drives will be organised in public areas, national reserves and forests, and beaches. India will lead by example, and try and make the most of this UN Environment-led global event, which happens to be the single most important yearly celebration of our environment.

However, every effort doesn’t need to come from large governmental or private organisations. Efforts even come from individual citizens. In the recent past, we have seen a number of citizens take it upon themselves, to clean up the environment and make our country a tad bit cleaner. Here are some of the initiatives by individual citizens, that created an impact and most importantly, gave birth to awareness.

1. Chennai Coastal Clean-up:

The team that organised the clean-up in Chennai.Image Courtesy: Dinesh Kumar
The team that organised the clean-up in Chennai.Image Courtesy: Dinesh Kumar

This was organised by volunteers trying to minimise the damage that plastic has been inflicting on the coastline. The first edition of this yearly clean-up was started in 2010 with 500 volunteers. The same event organised in 2017, saw 6000 volunteers and 130 organisations getting involved. The Chennai Trekking Club, the brains behind the initiative, even worked with various communities, trying to implement a zero-waste community model. Read the rest of this amazing story here.

2. Versova Beach Clean-up:

Afroz Shah, collecting litter on the beach. Picture Courtesy: Facebook.
Afroz Shah, collecting litter on the beach. Picture Courtesy: Facebook.

This event was in the news, because the volunteers faced obstacles in the form of people, preventing them from doing their work! Afroz Shah was behind this unique initiative, which decided to clean up Mumbai’s beach after Ganpati Visarjan. On the first day of the immersion, the team picked up 1900 idols and their pieces, from Versova beach. Concerned citizens worked 24X7, to ensure all the trash was cleared off the beach. Learn about the rest of this activity here.

3. Mobile Dustbins by Jodhpur Residents:

Jodhpur's residents pledged to keep their city clean.Representative image only. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.
Jodhpur’s residents pledged to keep their city clean.Representative image only. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

In June 2017, residents of Jodphur took it upon themselves to keep their city clean and employed unusual means to do so. The residents tie waste bins to their cars, from hatchbacks to luxury sedans, and collect trash in those bins, as and when they can, irrespective of where they are going. Learn how Jodhpur’s residents took on the garbage menace here. 

4. Dal Lake Clean-Up:

Citizens vowed to clean up the Dal lake, which was choking with weeds and garbage.Image Courtesy: Wikipedia.
Citizens vowed to clean up the Dal lake, which was choking with weeds and garbage.Image Courtesy: Wikipedia.

The picturesque Dal Lake in Kashmir, is a tourist’s dream. However, the lake is getting choked by an increasing web of weeds, and garbage, amongst other things. For the residents of the Moti Mahalla village, near the lake, this was a massive problem as the water body is their lifeline. Braving the chill, people commenced cleaning the lake. Over 1 lakh square meter area covered and cleaned, in two phases. Read how the residents braved the cold to clean up the lake here. 

5. ‘Leader’s Group,’ cleaning Chennai’s streets:

Lakshmi Narayan was getting worried by the extent of garbage piling up on the streets in Mylapore, a neighbourhood in Chennai. Implementing the adage “be the change you want to see,” Lakshmi picked up a shovel, and started cleaning the streets himself. His workplace colleagues joined him, and that is how ‘Leader’s Group’ was born. Starting with a school compound, the team went on to clean many places in Chennai and received widespread support and accolades for their selfless service. Read about Lakshmi Narayan’s amazing initiative here.


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In each of the initiatives mentioned above, there is one common factor. A frustrated citizen, who decided that the only way to do something about the magnitude of garbage and waste, was to clean it themselves! Naturally, others drawn to the cause joined along the way, but starting off alone did not deter these eco-warriors. Let us hope they continue to inspire future citizens to keep their surroundings clean!

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