THE STATE OF THE YAMUNA RIVER
The Earth5R team went to Delhi on March 11, 2018, for various events including meeting the president of France and cleaning up the Yamuna River. Little did they know the extent of the impact they would leave on this community.
After founder of Earth5R, Saurabh Gupta, met with President Macron to discuss strategies for sustainable development, the team gathered 15-20 volunteers and went to the Yamuna River. There, they were shocked to find how utterly lifeless the river looked due to the pollution. The water was dark and there was trash everywhere. It was clear that their waste management strategies (or lack thereof) have not been successful.
Not all hope was lost, however, as certain citizens have taken initiative to reduce the pollution such as ragpicker, Mahesh. Each day he floats on the river in a boat made of some of the trash that he has collected. Once he collected waste from the river, he separates it and recycles it as a way to earn revenue.
The Earth5R team went across the river to a small, trash covered island area. People in the community take part in ceremonies here, consequently leaving behind large amounts of garbage.
The team realized it was time to take action. The volunteers spread out and cleaned up as much of the area that they could. As a result, we collected about 2-3 full bags of plastic and other rubbish from just that small area alone.
This waste was then given to the ragpicker who then is able to recycle it and earn some livelihood. He told the team that many people have come before to clean up trash, but they simply leave the garbage on the bank. This ultimately is thrown back in the river, making the clean-up non-effective. However, he was delighted to receive the waste collected by the team and wished that every clean-up activity ended like this.
The idea of recycling or upcycling items after its use is the sustainable model that Earth5R is striving to integrate into many communities across India. This model of waste management is a unique and new one to this community. However, it is a great example of a circular economy. With this model, every stakeholder benefits. It is a way of giving back to all sectors of the community, and as a result, creating a better environment to live in. We hope that the Yamuna River community continues to practice this and will one day see a clean Yamuna River again.