Know

‘People look at trash ... and think it is someone else’s problem’

Payel Majumdar Upreti | Updated on February 23, 2021

Clean and fit: Ripu Daman Bevli would pick up litter after jogging as a cool-down exercise well before plogging gained ground

If you see garbage lying on the streets, remove it, says a dedicated plogger on a clean-up drive

*Ripu Daman Bevli quit his job as an IT professional and decided to promote plogging, an environment-friendly fitness trend that involves picking up trash while jogging

*The ‘Ride For Change’ campaign will be launched on August 15 from Delhi and will cover the Golden Quadrilateral route of Delhi-Mumbai-Bengaluru-Chennai-Kolkata

*There is enough evidence to suggest that every week we ingest plastic equivalent to the amount present in a credit card

****

Marathon runner Ripu Daman Bevli calls himself a full-time plogger — practitioner of a fitness trend that involves jogging and picking up waste. A former software engineer, the 31-year-old Delhi resident has picked up 30 tonnes of garbage since 2017 and is raring to collect more. It all began after Bevli saw trash left on the entire route of a marathon — and decided to do something about it. Bevli quit his job and chose to dedicate his life to promoting sustainability in environmental options through plogging, and related activities. He conducted a 50-city ‘Run for a litter free India’ campaign in 2019 and was felicitated by sports minister Kiren Rijiju as an ambassador of Fit India — the Central government’s fitness campaign — after he completed 30 plogging drives across the country. Bevli, who featured as a guest in an episode of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s radio broadcast Mann ki Baat, is now planning out his next campaign — a cycling-cum-cleanliness drive across the country to be flagged off on August 15. BLink caught up with him for an interview:

When did you start plogging?

I used to be a marathon runner. My friends and I started organising clean-up drives after runs to ensure the race was litter free. We used to participate in such clean-ups even before it had a name. The name was actually coined in Sweden in 2016, but we were picking up waste post our runs for a long time before that. Once you’re out in the open running and spot litter at a place you love or where you jog regularly, it isn’t very unusual to get the urge to clean up the place since you like it so much. Plastics are the biggest culprits in our environment — there is enough evidence to suggest that every week we ingest plastic equivalent to the amount present in a credit card. When the situation is this dire, proper disposal of plastic waste becomes imperative. Needless to say, much more awareness is needed.

What is the connection between jogging and picking up waste?

Most people look at trash lying on the road and think it is someone else’s problem. They don’t feel responsible for it. If you ask people to come and collect trash as an activity, there might be very little interest in it. But if you tell people they can run and also help the environment, many people are interested. Plogging is a concept that brings the two together, and it aims at getting as many people as possible to pick up after them. As a fitness initiative, it has a huge potential to do good. We usually jog to a place and then pick up waste there, whether it is a beach or a park or any other public space. It also involves sorting the waste items into those that can be recycled, and those that can’t.

How do you plan to get the local community involved in your latest plogging drive?

The ‘Ride For Change’ campaign will be launched on August 15 from Delhi and will cover the Golden Quadrilateral route of Delhi-Mumbai-Bengaluru-Chennai-Kolkata. I will be covering over 70 cities. In all major cities, my team will be organising cyclothons, plogging drives and trash workout workshops to teach people how they can clean their surroundings as well as work out at the same time.

Make a change: Bevli believes that one need not be a marathon runner or even a jogger to participate in a trash clearing workout   -  SIDHARTH SHANKAR

 

We have contacted schools along the way, in whichever city I will be riding in. While I plan to ride alone for the entirety of the 7,500-km route, some local cycling communities might join me at different points. I will involve school children in a major way, as well as tie up with different municipal corporations and other local administration to participate in the drive, and spread awareness. A pre-event was held on February 14, when I cycled from the Rajpath Lawns [in central Delhi] to the Leisure Valley parking gate in Gurugram. Cycling should not just be limited to a morning activity. I want more people to join our cause of promoting sustainability. During the campaign, I want them to participate and choose cycling over driving for practical as well as environmental reasons.

Are safai karmcharis a part of your plogging drive?

I am deeply affected by the unfair treatment meted out to them by society who often call them kachrawallahs. In fact, if anyone is a kachrawallah, it is us, who litter without a thought, and cannot operate without them. Whenever I go on a site visit before a plogging drive, I involve them as they know best about the sanitation infrastructure rather than higher authorities. Unfortunately, I am yet to plan an initiative which focuses on them.

How has Covid-19 affected trash collection and generation of plastic waste?

Plastic waste has doubled post-Covid-19 with the several kinds of plastic items that have come into general use. Surgical masks have given rise to multiple problems. It is usually used once and then tossed and, being of mixed material, ends up in the landfill. On top of this, it also may be biomedical waste due to Covid-19, and therefore is a hazard for people who pick it up. It is much better to use reusable masks from this perspective. Apart from the masks, there are PPE kits, face shields and other kinds of plastic that are being accumulated as waste as a direct result of Covid-19. While we think of hygiene we seldom remember the environmental cost of all this plastic waste.

Tell us about your journey as a plogger.

It has been good so far. I was very enthused when the PM himself gave me a call, wanting to know about plogging, and wanted to learn about plogging. He picked up trash for a beach clean up (in Mamallapuram in 2019) and brought mainstream attention to the issue. The government is usually supportive of our endeavours. I’m also the Fit India Ambassador as a plogger.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to run a social media campaign popularising my ‘Ride for Change’ campaign to get as many people involved in it as possible.

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on February 23, 2021
  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu Business Line editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.