India-based environmentalist and lawyer, Afroz Shah, started the biggest beach cleanup project in Mumbai, Maharashtra, all by himself in 2015. Heartbroken after seeing the Versova beach near his house filled with garbage and all kinds of trash, Afroz decided to take matters into his own hands – literally. He along with a senior neighbour started picking up garbage from the beach everyday.
“I still remember the day very vividly of October 2015. The whole beach had tonnes of plastic,” recalls Shah. Eventually, he was joined by volunteers, that only grew in numbers each day.A shocking amount of 15 million kilograms of plastic and filth was collected from the 2.5 kilometers stretch of beach over a period of 21 months. United Nations labelled the campaign the “world’s largest beach clean-up project.”His effort recognised by no less than the United Nations, which awarded him the Champions of the Earth award.
It is my failure and I have no one to blame. I started this mission as I wanted to change the mindsets of people towards littering and why it is important to protect our oceans. Infrastructure and facilities can be built, but if the mindset is not changed then there is a problem and that’s why my campaign involves volunteers to come and do beach cleanup on their own. I attempted to make a change and if people are abusing the ones who have cleaned their garbage instead of saying ‘Thank You’, then I have failed miserably, as I couldn’t change their mindsets.This campaign ends up failure at week 109.