The initiative ‘Vasai Beach Cleaners’ by Mumbai’s marketing professional Lisbon Ferrao is ensuring that Mumbaikars can enjoy their spotless sands once more.

In 2017, he noticed his kids encountering a ton of plastic during a beach outing. This put a damper on their plans of building sand castles.

“When I was young and we would go to the beach for the day, I remember having a fun time. There was sea and sand and it was clean,” says Lisbon.

“But when I saw my kids playing with plastic bags, I realised they wouldn’t have any fond memories of beaches. I did not want their childhood to be ruined,” he adds.

So he and his wife made a pact. “Every time we visited the beach, we would begin by clearing off a few plastic bags.”

After doing this a few times, he put up a Facebook post with the time and date for a beach clean-up. While not many turned up for this meet, he did not give up.

He along with his wife and kids began clearing off the plastic from the beach. The pictures eventually went viral.

Soon, volunteers started pouring in from all over Mumbai, each wanting to join Lisbon to clean the beaches.

Unknowingly, an act that started with four people had turned into an initiative driven by “12,000 volunteers”.

Today, the group handpicks plastic and other trash from across the beaches of the city. Lisbon says they have cleared over 650 tonnes of plastic to date.

Their aim is to create a trash-free environment for animals, birds, and forest ecosystems to thrive. To extend the process of sustainability, the equipment for collecting the trash is reusable too.

The group has worked on seven beaches in Vasai, with a focus on Bhuigaon beach.

During a typical beach clean-up lasting about an hour, various items such as backpacks, cement bags, milk packets, fishing nets, ropes, single-use cups, bags, toys, toothbrushes, and medicine bottles are collected as trash.

Lisbon, meanwhile, encourages volunteers not to be intimidated by the mounds of plastic. “I assure you that even if you pick up a single piece of plastic from the ground or recycle it, it will have an impact on the planet.”

If you would like to join Lisbon in his efforts, you can contact him at 9322342225.