New Delhi: On Sunday, Goa’s Baga beach was decked up with all things made from waste! On one side there were flotation devices (devices used by people to float in the water) and art installations made out of plastic trash items, while on the other side there was a waste bar, where garbage like straws, cigarette butts, plastic wrappers, bottle caps and paper can be traded for beverages and sun-downers and a music corner, where jam sessions were happening using instruments fabricated from garbage. The reason – it was the end of mega 150-days #TeraMeraBeach campaign, a unique beach cleanliness initiative that was rolled out across the popular beaches of Goa – Baga, Miramar, Calangute, Candolim and Colva, last year in mid-November.
For 150 days, we have been cleaning these beaches. Not just that, we have been drumming on the Goan beaches as well. So far, we have convinced at least 25,000 tourists to contribute to a clean Goa mission, by simply following one thumb rule – throw litter where it belongs – in bins, says Noreen who initiated this 150-days cleanliness campaign after realising that Goa is losing its pristine beauty to garbage.
Explaining the various things that have been done in these 150-days, Noreen added,
We have put up the art installations using garbage that has been picked up by our beach warriors during the course of the campaign with a motive that tourist will also pick up garbage and tie it to the installation. We also organised music sessions every evening, but what set this music parties apart were the instruments that were used. The instruments were made using trash or waste items. Moreover, there were awareness camps that would educate people on the need to save India’s beaches from garbage.
This campaign was also supported by Drishti Marine, which provides lifeguard services in the city, Goa Tourism, the Museum of Goa and other departments.
Drishti Marine’s Chief Executive Officer Ravi Shankar added,
“On land, it is easy to do clean-up. In the case of oceans, it costs you 100 times more. Mostly, once anything goes into the ocean, it is there forever. For us to retrieve debris from the oceans costs a fortune and I think we owe it to the oceans to do our bit to keep it clean. That is our tax we have to pay to live here. The last 150 days have seen a series of efforts as part of the #TeraMeraBeach campaign organised by the agency, to create awareness about garbage and littering, a common phenomenon on Goa’s beaches, which attract a bulk of the nearly seven million tourists who visit the state every year.”
He further added,
“Goa is one of the most popular beach tourism destinations in the country but has been plagued by the garbage menace, especially along coastal areas, which caters to tourism. A concerted effort to keep the beaches clean started a few years ago. However, one of the biggest handicaps vis-a-vis keeping Goa’s beaches clean is the ignorance among the tourists about responsible tourism. And that’s what we targeted through this campaign.”
Mr Shankar also suggested, “Trash can be converted into usable commodities, the idea behind using trash items and making all these creative things during the course of the campaign was to tell and educate people that trash is valuable, all we have to do is think of innovative ways to use it.”
Talking about the future plans of the campaign, Mr Shankar added that currently, the team is experimenting with how to convert seaweed into compost which is a high-value item.
“With beach trash, at the moment what we are experimenting with is to convert seaweed into compost which is a high-value item. We are working on an experimental project. In the worldwide market, seaweed is sold at the rate of $20 per kg.”
In 150-days of #TeraMeraBeach campaign, more than 25,000 tourists have been motivated to keep the Goan beaches clean. Moreover, the regular clean-ups in the beaches have become a daily routine as volunteers perform weekly clean-ups on the beaches. Noreen adds,
During the course of these 150-days we have seen the change here, now people are accustomed to using the dustbin and are motivated enough to keep the beaches clean. Currently, 1500 dustbins have been deployed on the beaches and soon this number will increase.
Apart from the education and awareness, #TereMeraBeach has also provided an avenue to transform waste into usable products.