A delightful experience shared by Alvin Saldanha, Founder and head of Brandarms, our creative agency on Allcargo Greens initiative.

September 29 , 2018 | CATEGORY : SERVICES

All of us at Brandarms were excited about the Saturday Juhu beach cleanup invitation from Allcargo.


We have already been on one Allcargo CSR expedition to Mokhada and enjoyed it thoroughly, more so because it was so fulfilling. So when the morning of Saturday, September 29 rolled around, we were at the designated meeting spot. If we thought we would be on time, we were wrong. Dozens and dozens of Allcargo crew were already there, distinctive with their pristine white Allcargo caps, a little army of determined people all already in good spirits, waiting to start.


We gathered for a briefing; the preparations were top quality. Gloves were distributed to all, many of us wore two pairs one over the other. Very large wicker baskets had been arranged to move the collected plastic from the water's edge to large garbage truck waiting a short distance away. We got to work, directed to the area we would be cleaning. We all set off with enthusiasm and cheer.


When I reached the edge of the dry line, I was shocked. Since the tide had retreated it had left behind what the water carried with it, and for the first time, looking ahead and to my sides, I could see what is meant by the catastrophic destruction of our environment. One would think the beach was constructed of plastic, there was so much of it! Bottles, bottle caps. plastic bags of every shape, colour and size, huge pieces of plastic sheets, and the packaging of all the snacks and junk foods that people buy. The up-close sight of it is chilling. It's all there, embedded in the sand, and I couldn't help but think it is like seeing a beloved member of one's family suffering from a gruesome disease, their body scarred, marred and disfigured with ugly plastic wounds of every shape, size and colour.


One of the most gut-wrenching things to experience is to find the plastic that is embedded in layers under the plastic that is visible. You pull out one piece, there is another showing. You pull out that one and it is entwined with another piece, deeper. We were literally mining plastic. There was other dirt, like some cloth and discarded coir, but most of it was plastic. And we realised that to clean this up was not just a matter of covering the surface of an expanse of the beach, it was also of digging up the beach to find the plastic. You don't have to do much digging for that matter, it all comes out in giant strands of plastic all knotted up with each other.


I noticed that as we worked the joking and laughter died out. I knew what was on every single person's mind: what have we done? The camaraderie among the many dozens of all of us was still there, but it changed its tone. People were doing what they were doing with the furious desperation of an emergency. We were all digging up plastic with more and more speed, and carrying the collected mess in the wicker baskets to the truck. People were running with the baskets, it looked like some kind of an emergency situation. I suddenly realised that it most certainly was!


And so hours later, about 120 large wicker baskets loaded with heaps of dirty plastic for 5 different runs of the garbage truck finished, we decided to call it a day. I looked back at the large patch of the beach we had worked on and it looked remarkably less cluttered than the long expanse of the beach on either side. But I realised we had just cleared a patch, and it would soon be littered with more plastic when the tide came in, and as happy as I was with the morning, my heart sank, knowing that if this beach had to be clean, it would take lakhs of people repeatedly cleaning it for years to even begin to reclaim the sand and water, simply because lakhs of people had used it as a garbage bin for decades. 


What have we done to our waters? In every civilised city, the waterfronts are the ones that are lavished with care and love. It's not a matter of having pretty stretches of water, it's also a matter of protecting the safety of all our citizen's health. How did we let ourselves do this to ourselves? We have a culture of cleanliness and sanctifying life, which we speak of and fight about so frequently, and nature will tell us what it thinks of our manner of living ..... at every tide it quietly offers up for our conscience to see how great the gap is between what we say and do.


Again, thank you, to all at Allcargo, for a worthwhile Saturday morning. You are in every sense a superior moving force, because with mornings like these, you are helping us all move to a cleaner and greener future.