Every country undergoes difficult times. But among all, environmental issues are on the rise. Besides, the environmental hazards faced by Delhiites are a classic example. Despite the Swachh Bharat mission, people continue to dirty the rivers, throw plastic, and pollute the cities. Instead of contributing to the welfare of the country, many keep nagging about the problems. But Vivek Gurav – a Pune based techie is an exception. He has wholeheartedly decided to work relentlessly for the betterment of the environment. And this zeal and love for nature directed him to start Pune Ploggers wherein they undertake ‘plogging’.
Plogging simply means jogging while collecting litter. And Pune Ploggers have a simple agenda in mind – keeping the city clean, conservation of biodiversity, and loving nature. To date, they have undertaken cleanliness drives in several areas including Hinjawadi, and Wakad. To which they have received an amazing response. While the participants plog on weekends, but Vivek makes it a point to collect garbage every day of the week. He has managed to cleanup 500 kgs of plastic on road in the span of 4 weeks.
Thus, on this note, I decided to interview him. And here sharing some excerpts from our interaction.
How did you start with this initiative?
Answer: As a Global Youth Ambassador, I connect with various embassies on a global level. And while I was in touch with Sweden Embassy, I found the initiative of plogging. I found a video in which people carry their garbage bags while going for their morning jog. This Swedish trend is not just good for health but also for the environment. That’s when I felt that I should practice it in India. And that’s how I started Pune Ploggers in September. I am aware that many people go for a morning jog. So, my plea is to carry a garbage bag so that they can collect the litter on their track.
What challenges did you face to date?
Answer: We techies have tedious office hours. And convincing them to join on weekends was my first challenge. So, I had to explain to them the health issues and how jogging would benefit. Furthermore, persuading them to join. But as we started selecting areas and initiated plogging. We came across some areas that were badly covered in litter. It made us impossible to run. There was plastic everywhere. Not just this, but we encountered snakes, shrubs, and even beer bottles. The rainwater had accumulated in the bottles thus giving birth to dengue mosquito. To date, I have recovered more than 2000 beer bottles. It is challenging and disheartening to witness so much trash lying on the road.
So, how many members actively participate in this drive?
Answer: There are at least 100 people who have undertaken plogging at least once. And on average, we have 20-25 members who take part in the drive.
How do you choose the areas?
Answer: I undertake research and finalize areas that need cleanliness drive. Also, I urge people to suggest areas that need attention. Once the area is finalized I post it on Instagram or Facebook. Our Facebook page is already active with various upcoming events. Moreover, people who stay in the surrounding areas, join the drive. And interested participants can find all the details on our social media handles.
Do you have any ongoing projects?
Answer: Presently, we are targeting areas like Dighi Hills and Taljai Hills. These areas are rich in biodiversity. They are home to various species of plants and insects. Taljai Hills is famous for peacocks. But there is too much garbage dumped in these areas. So, what if these species go extinct? Thus, saving them is my priority. It is disheartening to see animals eating from plastic bags. Cattle rearing is done amid plastic and animals end up eating from them. So, my agenda is to maintain this love for nature by protecting biodiversity.
The second project that we are undertaking is the cleanliness of the Indrayani River. We have already started this drive from Alandi. We witnessed devotees taking a dip in the holy water. Besides, they also throw away waste and clothes. So, we are looking forward to creating awareness amongst the masses. We are already in talks with Alandi Nagar Parishad and have received a positive response. They have urged us to make it a people’s movement. For now, we are conducting one drive every month in Alandi.
Other than plogging, what are the other activities you undertake?
Answer: We are teaching people about the segregation of waste. So, in Alandi in one of the societies, we asked them to install a barrel called – plastic bank. We urged people to clean the plastic, dry it and discard it in the plastic bank. With this, the plastic gets discarded in the right manner. Also, we are teaching them the benefits of reusability. Alongside, in October, we conducted awareness drives in crowded PMPML buses. For this, we designed slogans, songs to enlighten people. We answered their queries related to garbage. Alongside this, we are undertaking social innovation too. In this, the MIT Academy of Engineering is helping us to design a plogging stick.
Do you have any specific criteria while joining for plogging?
Answer: Nothing as such. Just that people who are active, an athlete or boast good stamina. We urge them to go to higher altitudes for the cleanliness drive. Also, our drive is an interactive one as we urge members to share their positive experiences. The motto is to spread awareness about the environment, positivity while balancing mental and physical health.
While interacting with Vivek I already made up my mind to be a part of this movement. Do you also wish to join them? Then do visit their Instagram and Facebook page. Plogging is conducted on weekends for 3 hours in the morning from 6:00 am to 9:00 am.