On Saturday, 12th May, the Earth5R team, along with the Swachhalay team, conducted the third Powai Lake Cleanup. This took place on the banks of the west side of Powai Lake. Swachhalay mobilized a municipality truck so that the garbage we collected could be taken away to be recycled.
We started off with an introduction to ACT Powai and explained the idea behind becoming a green community. Then we handed out gloves and trash bags, and the cleanup began.
This time, many volunteers joined us (about 80-100 people). There was a diverse group of people, of all ages. All of which came together because they want to see a change in the area. Looking at the efforts of the citizen volunteers, an independent citizen-led organization “Nisarg Swasthya Sanstha” also joined the cleanup.
This was a great motivation for the volunteers. However, we could have used even more people as the amount of trash we found was absurd. It was shocking to find all the layers upon layers of trash that were cemented into the soil.
Some of the volunteers couldn’t believe their eyes at the sights.
“India is an incredibly beautiful place but the trash ruins the experience. I think right now I am standing on 3-4 feet of garbage. Even the national parks are covered in garbage,” commented Chris, a resident of Powai.
Volunteer shoe-deep in the trash, holding onto a friend for support.
The immense amount of garbage laying on the banks of Powai Lake.
With the amount of garbage that is in this area, it seems impossible for any wildlife to live. There were cigarette boxes, candy wrappers, bottles, ripped pieces of clothing, paper, and just about any other type of trash you could imagine. As you stepped down into the (what should be) dirt area, your foot instantly sinks into garbage. This kind of problem did not occur overnight and therefore will not be fixed overnight. It is going to take many hours of cleaning and re-educating in order to ensure that this will not happen again.
WHERE THE WASTE GOES
The teams worked hard together for an hour, however only picking up plastics as this can be recycled. The most crucial part of the cleanup was that the waste was sent to municipality resource centers so that it can be recycled as opposed being sent to a landfill. Otherwise, this would not fix the problem. It is important to our organization, as well as Swachhalay to create sustainable solutions rather than just temporary ones. As a group, we completely filled about 50 of bags of plastic waste and still, not even a dent was made. Therefore, we must keep continuing with our efforts.
At the end, the volunteers gathered together and sang songs in a group. It was a very community building experience. It helped end the cleanup on a good note, knowing that you are surrounded by people who care about the community and ecosystem just as much as you do.
Music and fun at the end of the cleanup