In light of the ever-growing piles of plastic wastes clogging water bodies and flooding landfills, a 31-year-old motorcycle enthusiast is planning to embark on a 10,000 km-long road trip across several countries of Southeast Asia to encourage people to shun the use of plastic.
Back in February, Abhimanyu Chakravorty, a media professional from Noida, was in Vietnam for a holiday when he witnessed the country's big trash problem first hand.
"I saw storm drains choked with discarded plastic from soft drink bottles to takeaway containers. Their ocean waters had a layer of plastic trash near its shores," Chakravorty told PTI.
Vietnam is one of the five countries in Southeast Asia believed to be responsible for 60 per cent of all plastic waste in the world's oceans, he said. The others include China, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
Chakravorty is planning to start his journey on September 10 from New Delhi. He will be covering over 10,000 km in a span of four months, travelling through north-eastern India to Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
He is currently raising funds for the journey through Milaap, an online crowd-funding platform.
"I read the news about a sperm whale that washed up dead on a beach in Spain with 29kg of garbage, mostly plastic, inside its stomach. This shook me and made me evaluate my own plastic footprint," Chakravorty said.
With a view to take immediate action, he decided to undertake an ambitious solo motorcycle journey to educate people about one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time - the hazards of disposable plastic on the human food chain and the environment.
"India was the global host for this year's World Environment Day with the theme 'Beat The Plastic'. Since India has a trash problem too, I thought this was a way to connect with the Southeast Asian countries, as well as share knowledge about their waste management issues," Chakravorty said.
"We could perhaps come up with actionable solutions in the long-term to prevent further damage to our oceans and land," he added.
During the journey, he will participate in several beach clean-up initiatives, undertake plogging activities and volunteer with NGOs raising awareness on the effects of plastic consumption.
In Laos, he has tied-up with an NGO called Trash Hero Laos which creates sustainable, community-based projects that remove existing waste and reduce future waste by inspiring long-term behavioural change.
He will be taking part in city clean-up initiatives based in Vientiane, the Laos capital and hold a session with the volunteers about the hazards of single-use disposable plastic.
In Cambodia, he plans to track waste from households to landfills. This will also involve finding out where and how the waste is recycled, their waste segregation plan, and also look into the lives of waste pickers in the country.
"The idea will be to understand how waste is managed in these countries and if they do it any differently or better than India," he said.
In Thailand, Chakravorty has teamed up with a student-based NGO in Bangkok and this will involve organising plogging campaign and interacting with school students about plastic pollution.
He also intends to visit some recycling centres which have found innovative ways to recycle discarded plastic items.
A recent survey conducted by market research company Velocity MR shows while over 85 per cent of the respondents were aware of a ban on plastic, the persisting usage was due to the lack of low-cost alternatives.
Jasal Shah, CEO of Velocity MR, attributed this behaviour to people's comfort with the regular usage of plastic.
"It's been observed that even with the plastic ban in 25 states of India, 15,000 tonnes of plastic is still procured from cities on a daily basis," Shah said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)