Actor, Producer, and Climate Champion Dia Mirza, hosted an Insta Live edition of her show, ‘Down to Earth with Dee’ where she invited lawyer and acclaimed environmentalist Afroz Shah to discuss how he inspired thousands to join him in not just cleaning the once polluted Versova beach but in adopting the principles of circular economy to generate less waste.
Afroz Shah, the founder of the Afroz Shah Foundation, is a UN – Champion of the Earth
and a young change-maker reclaiming beaches, oceans, rivers, and mangroves from trash and apathy.
As Dia mentioned during the interaction, “The UN went on to label the much-talked-about ‘Versova Clean-Up’ as the “Biggest Beach Clean-up in World History.” Inspired by him, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) also launched the ‘Clean Seas’ campaign globally.
Afroz also discussed how the Gandhian principles of leading with love rather than with negativity, helped him to motivate legions of volunteers to join him when he was single-handedly cleaning Versova beach. As he said, “If you spread love, it will be returned to you. If you spread hate, that is what you will receive. With love for the ocean and for each other, we have built a large family of volunteers who has bonded over picking trash from beaches!”
The two also discussed how the policy of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) (an approach that holds producers responsible for financial and/or physical treatment or disposal of post-consumer products like plastic), will remain ineffective if it is not implemented stringently and without loopholes.
Afroz also explained how a circular economy where things are reused and repurposed and not thrown away, can ease the earth’s waste burden. As Dia pointed out, thanks to Afroz, “60+ Million kgs of plastic and filth have been removed from oceans, beaches, creeks, rivers, and forests. Over 2,00,000 citizens and 168,650 students from 91 schools and colleges are now regularly working on a weekly roster system to clean beaches, mangroves, and rivers and around 6.35 million plastic pieces including multi-layer packaging and single-use plastic have been stopped from entering water bodies in the last 6 years. “
Around 43 villages in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park have also adopted a circular economy to reduce ‘human-animal conflict.’
Afroz truly demonstrates the power of one and exemplifies how a single positive action can be more powerful than copious words, especially at a time when climate change is looming before us, she added.