Bangalore has a large number of NGOs doing enormous work in various fields like leprosy eradication, caring for schizophrenics or dyslexics, protesting against felling of trees and so on. But there’s also a group of volunteers who prefer to remain just that, and quietly go about their work without evangelism. They belong to Clean and Green, an organisation instituted for the specific purpose of keeping Bangalore that way.
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Clean and Green was born in February 2006, when a group of six came together and decided ‘to do something’ about Bangalore’s environment. All six loved picnicking in the outskirts of Bangalore amidst nature. They were dismayed to see that these picnic areas were being littered and getting dirtier by the day. Rather than expect others to do something about it, the group took it upon themselves to do so, and thus the first Clean and Green cleanup drive was born.
Equipment for a cleanup drive
– Large Jute or HDPE Sacks
– Metal-pronged rakes to rake up the trash
– Jute thread and sack needle for stitching up the filled sacks
– Spring weighing scales for the final weighing of trash
– Heavy-duty gloves
For the volunteers
– Breakfast (and lunch for a group bigger than 25)
– Plenty of water to prevent dehydration
Contacting Clean & Green
Tel: 98453 45813
roopasankaran AT gmail.com
Tel: 4120 3831, 98441 15315
outrigor AT airtelmail.in
Their first target was the Sangam (Muthiyal Muduvu, or Pearl Valley), about 100 kms from Bangalore, off of the Kanakapura Road. They cleared the site of plastic trash. The enormity of the problem only made them more determined to repeat the trips. As the word spread, more volunteers came to strengthen the hands of Clean and Green.
The first destination of the group remained Sangam for a while, but to sustain this they found it necessary to educate and enthuse local people to take pride in their own surroundings, and follow up on the work done by them. However, their efforts to get the Karnataka Tourism Department participate in the drive was not very successful. The group next moved to the Muthathi area, where the response was better.
Muthathi is very close to the Bheemeshwari campus of Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR), and it can be reached either by the Kanakapura or the Mysore Road. The owners of the Bheemeshwari property of Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) at Muthathi reacted very positively to the efforts of Clean and Green.
Resources are a constraint for the volunteers, who have to fund their own trips to the areas they target for cleaning, which includes travel, equipment and food (see box). Clean and Green found support in the form of corporate sponsorship by Sun Microsystems, Honeywell and Oracle. Sun recently repeated its sponsored cleanup on 26 April, finding the goal and the efficiency of Clean and Green commendable. The corporates also agreed to put up circular concrete bins without their logo, as the Forest Department took objection to it.
A typical Clean and Green drive
On a cleanup day, volunteers get into a van and reach the site early enough to beat the hot sun. After briefing by a Clean and Green volunteer, sacks, rakes and gloves are distributed. A few volunteers man the central collection point; others fan out, picking out plastic and stuffing them into the sacks. Working in groups the volunteers’ job includes retrieving plastic trash that is entwined in bushes or embedded in the sands, requiring a fair amount of effort.
Clean and Green then divides the plastic waste into four categories: a) plain plastic, b) plastic bottles, c) composites that cannot be recycled (like Kurkure packets) and d) plastic cups and glasses. Some plastic like the pressed plates are left alone, as they disintegrate over a period of time. Volunteers also leave glass bottles alone so as not to get hurt, though a first-aid kit is available to take care of such mishaps.
All sacks are then sewn up and weighed. The waste is then picked up by JLR who delivers it to K K Plastics, an important link in the chain, who compress the waste so that they are ready to be used in the composite road-building material. Mixed with cement and asphalt, plastic waste is thus innovatively used in creating better roads.
JLR then sponsors a simple lunch for the tired volunteers at its premises, if the group is not more than 25 (in which case they carry their own lunch). The volunteers then head home, hoping that their efforts have created a dent in the litter and the littering habits of the local population.
250 kg of plastic in 3 hours!
Recently, the Oracle-sponsored clean up at Muthathi organised as part of the Oracle Global Volunteer Days project had 65 volunteers from the company, as well as the regular Clean and Green volunteers. The cleanup resulted in nearly 250 kg of plastic waste in about 3 hours…that’s the extent of littering that happens at picnic spots.
Over a period of time Clean and Green has streamlined its activities. It has a set of volunteers to reach and update details to the e-group; it has trip volunteers who organize the logistics of van, food and other small details. Then there are the volunteers who organize the cleanup materials like sacks, rakes, gloves and so on- all of them who work at the site as well.
The level of commitment that Clean and Green wants from its volunteers is entirely up to the individuals. Many volunteers come just once and move on to other initiatives; but several continue to associate themselves with Clean and Green, and have volunteered for many trips. So far, Clean and Green has organized about 15 cleanup trips, and one on 26 April being the fourth corporate-sponsored one.
A simple agenda for a lofty objective – that’s Clean and Green. Their motto says it all – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The core group of volunteers prefers to remain unidentified, as they feel that each person who comes for one cleanup drive is as much a volunteer for Clean and Green as them. The group has, with dedication, made sure that these eco-friendly initiatives continue to happen regularly and are not a flash in the environmental pan. Three cheers to them! ⊕