Post Event Write Up: CTC Joins hands with EFI – Thiruvanmiyur beach Cleanup

About EFI:

EFI (Environmentalist Foundation of India) is an organization, comprising of passionate people who are focusing on real time, result oriented conservation efforts. Animals are such a large and integral part of our ecology and they need a lot of sensitivity and care from our end. It is our sincere endeavor to protect this group – domestic and wild, in the best possible way. Not only do we wish to provide food and shelter for as many animals as we possibly can, we also work tirelessly towards inculcating greater compassion in the minds of people towards animals. 

EFI is here to prove to the world that change is POSSIBLE, and change is HAPPENING. We are not just a group of people who care, but a group of people who care enough to do something for our country and its environment. GO GREEN – is not just a slogan, but a way of life for us.

Write up from Girish:
Btw, I used to be a member of Greenpeace India, once…But, I never could participate in any event due to lack of communication from them. But I always wanted to do something for the society and done a few with my friends. I should really comment on the Cleanup activity. It started very well. No lack of communication. We all just met at a spot and started cleaning. I really enjoyed it with the team.
I am eagerly waiting for more activities. Not only beach cleanups but also some street theatre stuffs as I always think that’s the best way to teach public. A good script and a right team would definitely do the job.
Me along with my friend, Raj, a law college student, we both participated in that cleanup activity. Nowadays, in this fast world, we don’t even dare to know who our neighbor is. We don’t care about any….we simply not that compassionate. But, as we know, this whole world is not only for us to live. It belongs to those creatures which struggle to live with us, social animals. In fact there is nothing wrong in helping them, no matter whether it’s a house sparrow or a turtle, as they don’t at least spoil our environment. I could also see there were a lot of youngsters there in the cleanup activity. I am sure, if we could bring more and more people to support, we will bring a big change.
Write up from Krithika:

A simple walk on any beach, anywhere, we can find the plastic waste spectacle or any other garbage is present. All over the world the statistics are ever growing, staggeringly.
I know it for sure that even if we take effort to clean the beach, again it will turn back to the original state after few days. But this beach cleaning activity is aimed at creating a clean eco-friendly environment for Olive Ridley Turtles which will be laying/hatching eggs in the forth coming weeks.
I was more excited when I get the mail from CTC regarding beach cleanup activity. We assembled at Marutheeswarar temple, Thiruvanmayur around 6.45 am. And we proceeded to Thiruvanmayur beach and finally we reached the beach around 7.
The activity is for four hours. Arun gave a small speech about this activity and the importance of cleaning the beach and about the Turtles. Immediately after the speech we all are provided with gloves, buckets and spading forks. We all started collecting the garbage in groups.
Felt happy and proud to see the children involving in this kind of activity.
I thought most of the garbage will be plastic covers or some other plastic materials. But whisky, rum & brandy bottles dominated! Found many bottles and plastic cups.
The trash gets left on the beach and can harm both humans and the surrounding wildlife. For example, if a broken soda or beer bottle is left in the sand, anybody could step on the broken bits of glass and get seriously injured. It is unsafe to swim also.
Around 8.30 we had breakfast along with the satisfaction of cleaning the beach to some extent and took rest for some time.
We want to utilize the four hours completely for cleaning. So we did not take cameras with us. Organizers arranged a separate team for shooting photos.
Again the cleaning process continued after the breakfast. We collected all the garbage’s in a bucket and stored it in the corner side of the road. Arrangements were made by the organizers’ to collect the garbage by the corporation truck. Few started removing the plants with the spading forks.
It was around 10.40. The sun was getting hotter. Our caps, gloves and socks were not able to help us. So we called it for a day. Took few group photos… and finally we dispersed with lot and lots of satisfaction.
Write up from Gomathi Sankar:
On February 10, 2013, I chose to wake up early on a Sunday morning and ended up feeling very contented for the decision eventually. Chennai Trekking Club had partnered with Environmentalist Foundation of India to organize a clean-up morning at the Tiruvanmiyur beach, Chennai. This initiative was to keep the beach in a welcome position for the Olive Ridley Turtles that are soon to migrate in masses to these shores to lay eggs. The cause intrigued me and I signed up for the project and managed to convince 2 other friends too to wake up early that day.
At around 7 AM, I went to the beach and there was already a lot of activity going on. Around 50 volunteers were actively picking up all sorts of garbage from the sands in a particularly ear-marked space in the vast beach and dumping them all in a common place to be collected later. All volunteers were provided with gloves and garbage was collected in many plastic buckets. There was another pile of black garbage bags filled with waste cleaned up on the earlier day. It was pleasing to see the spirit of people participating in the mission. 

We got into the act straightaway and started to pick waste. Plastic cups, chocolate/ ice-cream/ gutkha covers, polythene covers, single leg slippers, torn underwear, bottles (plastic and glass), thermacoal sheets, dog skull bones, what not… I was able to find them all half-buried in the sand. There were a few interesting people whom I spotted during the session. There was a father and a 10-year old son participating very eagerly in the act. The father was educating his son all the while about cleanliness in public places and the impact of pollution. The son’s enthusiasm was evident as he was pestering his father with questions on what is degradable and what is not and it all seemed good sport to him. I paid a moral salute to the father for trying to mould a responsible citizen.

There were many youngsters as expected from both sexes and it was very reassuring to see their involvement. There were even a significant lot of middle-aged people – again from both sexes – which was even more heartening. Many onlookers and beach-walkers enquired about it to us and a few of them joined in impromptu in our mission too. But most onlookers just continued on with their regular chores. 
A few foreigners who were walking/ jogging there stopped by and checked about the event very enthusiastically. They also expressed praise for this country and its people for taking this initiative. 
I also met a curious character that day. He seemed a very pessimistic, dejected old man and he approached me with a cynical look. He asked me, “What good can you do by cleaning up this small area today? There is so much of garbage out there in the society. What are you going to do about it?”… “Well. This is just a step in the big movement.. If more hands join together, we can try to make a difference” – I replied. He took the conversation on to new levels of cynicism and started to talk figuratively about garbage and went on to politics, Justice Party, Periyar, casteism, corruption and all sorts of topics and eventually ended up with this astonishing statement – “Nothing will work here. Only guns can change this nation. You youngsters should drop all these garbage bags and start taking up guns in your hand.” !!!!  It was not even a conversation. It was more of a soliloquy. I felt that I was just an audience to his sermon.

Though I agree not just a bit to his views, I was just curious to test his limits and let him talk on for some time while collecting garbage nearby. At the end of his sermon, I asked him a simple question. “All is good.. Sir, why don’t you put on a pair of gloves and join us first in this cleanup. We ll work to clean this beach for a few hours before deciding whether to take up guns”.. His reply – “I am sick pa.. I have dust allergy.. blah blah.. In my age, I was more active than you and all. Now I can only rant. But if you youngsters take guns, I will stand behind you” .. I was half-expecting this answer from him :-)What do they say about barking dogs?
When a reasonable stretch was cleaned up and the sun reached the peak, we came to the close of the session. There was a group photo session and a thank-you note from the EFI team along with a briefing on olive ridley turtles and their activities along the Chennai coast. I was expecting such a brief at the start of the day so as to align all people with more knowledge on what they were working on. Anyway, the information was well-delivered! I also made a mental note to check on these turtles in Wikipedia that evening. 
It was real hot and I could see a significant tan on my skin almost immediately after I reached home driving from the beach, though it was partly due to my own negligence. Sufficient warnings were given to carry sun protection from the organizers. Indha moonjiku idellam thevaiya nu I was careless about it 🙂 
Takeaways from the activity:-
1. Boosted moral responsibility not to litter in public places
2. Boosted knowledge about turtles and their mass breeding phenomenon
3. Boosted confidence in the greater good that will somehow survive in the society
4. Boosted tan on the skin

And I posted this as a status update on FB that day: “Brothers and sisters.. there are good souls out there ready to get their hands dirty cleaning up your mess.. But please don’t overburden them”. — Gomathi Sankar.

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