A techie by profession and a Global Youth Ambassador, Pune’s Plog Man Vivek Gurav’s relentless passion for the betterment of the environment and clean cities is not newfound. He has wholeheartedly decided to work for his mission to make Pune a Clean and Plastic-free city.
How Plog Man started his journey?
Pune has seen a huge rise in population in last 10 years. With the rising population issues like pollution and waste management have become a grave concern. There is quite a good number of people in the city who go for a morning jog.
“Mobilizing them in one additional activity while doing their daily routine jogging was a better thing to do instead of asking them to join us for a cleanup drive,” says Vivek.
Plogging was never introduced to Pune citizens as a routine. That’s when he decided to be a pioneer of Plogging in Pune. It has now become a fitness trend since September with more than 100 ploggers plogging in the city.
Hectic work life has made people face health issues like obesity and diabetes. Plogging for health and cleanup is addressing concerns for both – Health & Environment in one GO! Conservation of Biodiversity is need of the hour and Plogging is his way to act for it. Plogging simply means jogging while collecting litter. And his initiative ‘Pune Ploggers’ has a simple agenda in mind – keeping the city clean, conservation of biodiversity, and loving nature.
One does not necessarily have to run or jog. Plogging can be done walking down the road, while biking, cycling, swimming or wherever you are. You do not have to set a separate plan to do it and can be a part of any routine activity you do on streets. Multitasking – is the KEY and it saves nine!
Impact created by plogging
To date, the Plog Man has undertaken cleanliness drives in several areas including Hinjawadi, Shivajinagar and Wakad in Pune, to which they have received an amazing response. While the participants plog on weekends, 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 a span of 4 weeks completing his #30DaysPloggingChallenge. Plogging is itself a unique idea actually setup to address the mindset and attitude of citizens towards cleanliness and waste management.
Vivek says, “We want to change this basic idea of calling sanitation workers – Litter Pickers. People’s reaction has changed from calling us – ‘Kachrawalas’ to ‘Eco-Warriors’! We want to be the ‘Proud Trash Managers’ and make people realize that its all their waste which is ending up in landfills. Reactions won’t matter until we are ourselves clear with this basic thought.”
Presently, he is 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 his 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, his agenda is to maintain this love for nature by protecting biodiversity.
How plogging happens?
Around 20-50 participants usually join him on weekends for plogging. It depends on the areas he chooses for plogging. Weekend plogging runs see a huge participation.The majority of participants are techies around the city working with different MNC’s who wish to join during weekends.
Senior Citizens, SHGs, NSS College Groups, Swachh Bharat Teams and schools have been a part of the past plogging runs in the city. Many other corporate teams have approached him to arrange one day runs for their employees.
Pune Ploggers has completed 10 weeks and conducted more than 50 Plog Runs across the city. Vivek has collaborated with Local Trash Collectors and Pune Municipal Corporation’s Solid Waste Management department. They have been helping him in recycling the plastic collected. Other waste is sent for composting and further treatment. His team has collected more than 1400 kg Plastic and more than 3000 kg trash till date which itself is a huge collection.
To address this issue of littering at source, Vivek has launched a trash bank. People from societies can deposit plastic from their household waste in the trash bank. This will be sent for reuse or recycling.
Plog Man- Achievements so far
His efforts were recognized by Embassy of Sweden in India, Mann Ki Baat Team, Pune Municipal Corporation, All India Radio (Akashwani)- Pune and many other media channels. Last month Vivek was awarded with the coveted TCC REX Karmaveer Chakra Award and Global young Leaders Fellowship, an award instituted by iCONGO and the United Nations in New Delhi. He is now known as ‘The Plog Man of Pune’ and wants to be a voice behind the Clean City Initiative.
He hopes this initiative becomes a collective effort of all the stakeholders and turns into a mass movement with public participation.
Contributed by Vivek Gurav