The Unseen Plastics- Ocean MicroPlastics!
Schools and colleges all over the world have been putting their curriculum online. The days are filled with digital communications, taking turns with mobile apps,webinars for most people. But there is one cluster of islands in Western India, the Lakshadweep islands which is covid free and declared a Green Zone.
Active islanders have shown great response in collaborating to clean up the plastic menace which pollutes their surroundings and beaches.
Various groups and clubs in association with the Young Environmentalists Programme Trust Mumbai and Climate Reality Project India have been joining forces to utilize the isolation months to conduct Beach and Lagoon cleanup series since February 2020.
Meet eminent artist doing his PhD in Pondicherry but stranded home on the islands, Rameer Khan -Founder of "Thrash to Treasure" in Chetlat Lakhshadweep Islands who explains, "We collected trash from the ocean and converted it to art forms from the recycled plastics. There was a fabulous response from the Islanders as they learned about Ocean pollution and Climate Change. Today many other groups have been inspired and also conduct beach Cleanups. I love art and using an interactive manner to educate citizens was very impactful."
Rameer has been an artist par excellence and is now painting classroom walls on the islands to welcome back students. When Rameer joined hands with Young Environmentalists Programme Trust Mumbai, he knew his mission was getting shaped and carried out his "thrash to treasure" from all the plastic waste on the beach and formed marine creatures out of the waste in order to educate the Islanders.
Today numerous other Islands have also risen to the need to clean their backyards and keep the islands free from plastics. In another instance Professor Mohammed Quasim teaching at the government Bitra Islands school also collaborated with the Young Environmentalists Programme to conduct Beach Cleanups in Kadmat which comprised of the school allumni students.Quasim outlines," Although Lakhshadweep Islands in India is a green zone during the Covid isolation, our students must understand the value of our prestine beaches and paradise Islands. It is up to us to clean up and be mindful about not using plastics. It is very educational and builds team spirit. " Quasim and Young Environmentalists Programme Trust Mumbai conducted another Beach Cleanup with junior students of the Bitra high school and now there's no turning back. Totally motivated Quasim and his team started the Lakshadweep Environmental Advocacy Foundation and is all set to conduct a mass beach cleanup programme "The Dr. Abdul Kalam Annual Beach Cleanup Awards" in association with Young Environmentalists Programme Trust Mumbai. In another collaboration the Laccadivens team in Androth Islands in Lakshadweep islands conducted numerous lagoon cleanups in association with Climate Reality Project India and Young Environmentalists Programme to ensure that the oceans are free from marine litter, where the marine life gets damaged the most. Today the Laccadivens team headed by their dynamic leader Jumah conducts these cleanups regularly every week.
Dynamic Climate Warrior Fathima, is all of 12, school girl from Kadmat Islands, started "Eco Warriors" who gathers plastics from the neighborhood beach, collects some good plastic parts to create artifacts and is also all set to start growing sapplings in coconut shells to fight the menace of coconut waste.
So far the JWAHAR club in Aggatti, the Lakshadweep Surf Club, Minicoy Panchyat Mangroves group,Islandstar Kiltan Beach, Eco Warriors Kadmat, Bangaram Eco Team, Minicoy Surf Club, Jeelani Cool Bar cafe, Chetlath WhatsApp group, Gul Foundation, Purakkara Lucky Brother's Amini besides others have successfully conducted several beach Cleanups leading the way for the community to follow.
Young Environmentalists Programme NGO known for classically training people in interactive Community development programmes have had a great impact on the citizens of Lakhshadweep Islands to take on the plastic challenge.
Their live Zoom webinars ,interactive clay therapy art classes together with lectures on climate change and pollution are being held successfully on Zoom since the lockdown.
“It was a two fold appraoch. We did it out of necessity to assist the citizens to stay productivly active during isolation and to create awareness through on the ground Climate action,” says Elsie Gabriel the Founder of Young Environmentalists Programme who recently trained Climate Reality leaders globally on Zoom Webinar series along with the former Vice President of USA Al Gore, Gabriel says, "Young Environmentalists Programme has collaborated with various community organizations, to not only mentor academics but conduct Beach cleanups, art, make Eco Ganesha idols with clay from the Powai lake.” Gabriel has been recently honoured with the post of the National Coordinator Oceans for Climate Reality Project India and is researching on Ocean communities as Agents of Change. Says Gabriel, "Besides conducting Eco Ganesha idols in Mumbai, cloth masks and cloth bags, promoting Sustainable Fashion, Zero waste living,Home Plastics Audits Programmes have also been on their agenda during the Covid isolation times. We have collaborated with beach communities in Orissa, Chennai, Borneo and Bali, Galapagos islands Ecuador and have plans outlined in Kerala, Maldivies and Sri Lanka."
The plastics live forever and they can never be recycled,only downcycled to keep on existing. Breaking down plastics also causes pollution. Enforcing the plastic ban and going biodegradable looks like the only way out. Today MicroPlastics live on, in sand, fish, marine creature's and even planktons which are the base of the ocean food chain. So next time you buy anything in plastic, think twice.
There is no stopping those committed to Planet Earth, is there? Covid or no Covid!