Ahmedabad, Gujarat| Ahmedabad’s Great Gamified Cleanup successfully collected half a ton of waste on International Earth Day, April 22, 2023. The Earth Day Network India, in collaboration with the Gujarat Forest Department, the British Deputy High Commission in Gujarat, and World Around You, marked the day with the theme “Invest in Our Planet” by organizing a cleanup of Thol Bird Sanctuary. The initiative aimed to encourage people to protect the planet and promote sustainability.
Thol Lake is a Ramsar site and a bird sanctuary that provides freshwater for five nearby villages and supports a canal-based irrigation system. The lake, established in 1912, was previously utilized as a tank by the Gaekwad regime. It is home to about 250 bird species, including resident, migratory, and endangered species. The surrounding grasslands, wetlands, and scrublands provide natural bird habitat, making it a popular spot for birdwatchers.
More than 100 volunteers participated in the year-long intervention launched by Earth Day Network India and its partners to clean up Thol Lake and raise awareness about plastic pollution, biodiversity, and climate change. They collected over 554.4kg of waste, including 1600 single-use plastic bottles, 517 glass and metal cans, and approximately 162.5 kilograms of mixed plastic waste. The organizations involved reduced plastic and other waste pollution, which is crucial to protecting lake biodiversity and mitigating climate change. The success of the cleanup is a testament to the importance of reducing plastic waste and other pollutants in the lake.
Aside from Ahmedabad, several cleanups were initiated in Maharashtra, Chennai, Delhi, Lucknow, Bengal, and other major cities nationwide. Multiple partnerships between different organizations aimed to reduce plastic usage and promote more sustainable practices under The Great Global Cleanup initiative. These cleanups also raised awareness of plastic’s environmental damage and how everyone can reduce it.
The gamified Great Global Cleanup activity in Thol aimed to create an impact in society and raise awareness of individual social responsibility towards the environment. “Gamified Cleanups have the potential of mitigating climate change and igniting the spirit of cleanups,” stated Madhish Parikh, Manager of Programs at Earth Day Network India.
The volunteers were dispersed into teams, given one and a half hours to collect waste, and the team with the highest points received prizes. “We all should be the Cleanness Warriors (Safaiwala’s) rather than waste spreaders (Kachrawala)” says Krunal Shah, Program Manager, Elixir Foundation.
Waste measurement and evaluation were conducted by dividing the accumulated waste into three categories: plastic bottles, glass bottles & metal cans, and mixed plastics. The teams assessed the primary waste present and developed an idea for a waste mitigation technique to end plastic pollution in birds’ homes. “Our world faces a crisis right now, and eliminating plastic is the first step in resolving it,” said World Around You Founders Wricha and Prakshal.
Eventually, a waste management program was developed to reduce plastic waste at and around Thol Bird Sanctuary. The year-long program aimed to raise awareness of plastic waste dangers in the local community and promote sustainable practices. “Community-based adaptation and awareness is the key to climate resilience,” said Krishna Sodha, Environmental Specialist at Office of Programs Manager, Earth Day Network India. The program aimed to protect birds and their habitats in the future.