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How One Man Is Making India Litter Free

How One Man Is Making India Litter Free

Career, Entrepreneurship, Health & Wellness, Mindset
Guest Writer Guest Writer
Career, Entrepreneurship, Health & Wellness, Mindset

From the voice of the Plogman of India, Ripu Daman Bevli:

It was one fine morning a few years ago in Delhi when I was training for a marathon and after the run, cleaned up some litter and put it in a trash bin nearby. Nothing special about that day as it has been a common routine for me to pick up litter for years, apart from the fact that I decided to make it a nation-wide movement.

Created a social media group My City My Responsibility and started posting ‘Before & After’ pics of the places I cleaned up since.

The response was instant, and people wanted to join in. So, we made ‘run and clean up’ part of the cool-down routine for running groups across several cities in India. However, if I wanted to make it a truly national movement where the youth was fully involved, it had to be something cool and interesting.

So my mission statement became ‘Make Cleaning up other people’s litter the coolest thing to do in India’.

The inspiration came from Mahatma Gandhi’s words, ‘Everyone needs to be their own scavenger’.

"Everyone needs to be their own scavenger" ~ Mahatma Gandhi
ploggers of india

Credit: Instagram: plogmanofindia

How Plogging Came To India

Now wanting to make something look cool, sound cool, and not have a cool term is not cool. We chanced upon the cool term a few months later, towards the end of 2017 – Plogging. It’s a Swedish term combining ‘plocka up’ for pick up and jogging. We renamed ourselves to Ploggers of India, but the mission remained the same- Run to make India Litter Free.

How The Movement Has Grown

Over the last few years, we created the holistic #TrashWorkout, which is not just a holistic full body workout improving your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing but also fighting the societal misconception that the litter on the roads is not our responsibility.

To that point, we drive home the message to our participants that the people cleaning up the streets, the rag pickers, and the sanitation workers are not ‘kachrewalas’ as they are called, but safaiwalas. If anyone is a kachrewala, it is you and I who trash and litter. Over time, Ploggers of India has become a national movement with communities in several cities, and thousands of drives have been organized. We, ourselves, have organized and supported about 500 such drives across the country.

"If anyone is a kachrewala, it is you and I who trash and litter." ~ Ripu Daman Bevli

Credit: Instagram: plogmanofindia

How We Are Making a Real Impact

Our biggest target audience has been kids and schools. Through our drives, we raise actionable awareness so people can cut down the use of single-use items and reduce their waste.

We started the #PlasticUpvaas challenge where we motivate people to start with shunning just one single-use item like straws, polythene, etc. from their daily lives. The idea is that a journey of 1000 steps is only made possible when you take that first step. With single-use and disposable items all-pervasive, it’s difficult to know where to start, and hence #PlasticUpvaas gives that push.

A simple change but one that has the potential to create a major impact. “No Single-use plastic bottle”, what if 7.5 billion said the same thing?

We will see a Litter Free India!

The Amplification Of The Movement

In 2019 with Run to Make India Litter Free, I ran and cleaned up across 50 cities in 2 months, which became an unprecedented cleanup campaign in the world. Thousands of people and kids across every city joined us during the mission. From starting solo from Kochi in September 2019 to having 50 L Indians participate by the end of the campaign 2 months later, it had truly become a national movement.

The Government of India adopted my mission. One of my proudest moments was when my mother accepted the title of Plogging Ambassador of India from the Sports Minister on my behalf. And then to come back home to my beaming nieces and nephews who shared how they boasted about their ‘Chachu’ in front of their teachers and friends when they saw my name in their GK books. From being an avid quizzer to becoming a GK fact, it was a surreal feeling.

plogging ambassador

Credit: Instagram: plogmanofindia

The work goes on and we face newer challenges in this COVID World. Firstly, the proliferation of single-use PPEs like masks and gloves coming out of each household threatens to undo the good work that’s been done over the years to #BeatPlasticPollution. And hence, we want people to understand that they can switch to reusable cloth masks either DIY or from the market and there is no substitute for hand hygiene.

As for schools especially once the COVID settles down or there is a vaccine in place and things get back to some sort of normalcy, it is high time that we add climate change into the curriculums along with having practical activities like the #TrashWorkout part of a weekly program for every student so that our future is in secure hands.

Stay up to date with the mission here:

Who is Ripu Daman Bevli?

Born and brought up in Delhi for the first 17 years and since then have traveled and lived all over India over the next 15 years. I studied Engineering and then went on to live 6 years of IT Corporate life before a Tech Startup which I did for 1.5 years. I am a marathoner and a solo traveler having traveled to 21 countries. I left my Tech startup to fully devote myself to the mission to make India Litter Free 3 years ago and since then, have been bootstrapping the mission. I don’t think of myself as an environmentalist or an activist but just a regular guy trying to live in harmony with Mother Earth.