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One Less Plastic Daily, and All is Coming

by Marianne Navada

Here’s a story:

In Mumbai, India, a young lawyer named Afroz Shah moved to his new flat and saw plastic on the beach about 5.5 feet high. He and his neighbor began cleaning the beach in 2015. Eventually, more than 1,000 volunteers joined him and in 21 months, they collected more than 116 million pounds of trash spanning 1.5 miles of beach. What Shah calls “dates with the ocean” happens during the weekend. It’s a simple plan: pick up trash regardless of who it belonged to.

It’s estimated that “18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into our oceans every year from coastal regions and 40% of plastics produced is for packaging.”

National Geographic

The problem is enormous and an individual looking at this issue can feel helpless or even feel taken advantaged of if you think you’re doing more than the rest. These leads to statements such as:

I’m only 1 out of 7.7 billion. Why should I bother?

Even if I’m reducing my plastic waste, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is going to make the same behavioral change. Why should I?

It’s these types of feelings that lead to the free rider problem. We all know that we benefit from the oceans, but because our oceans are a part of the public goods, as individuals, we don’t feel obligated to take care of them.

We’re just hoping that the rest of the 7.7 billion will find a way to solve the problem.

But the Versova Beach Cleanup shows us that we can overcome the free rider problem.

Lessons & Mantras

One person can make a difference.

Commit to do what you can, no matter how small.

Yes, even those who don’t put in the effort will enjoy the benefits of what you do, but so will you.

Feel good about your efforts. Dramatic results are sure to come in the future.

This is a privilege–not a sacrifice. You get to do this for planet earth. That’s lucky!

A clean shoreline from Versova Beach. Check out Shah’s Twitter for a closer look at the cleanup efforts and future projects.

You don’t have to start a massive cleanup like Shah to protect our oceans from plastics and trash, but we can certainly start at home and with the choices we make. I know it’s easy to get discouraged, but say this:

One less plastic daily and all is coming. 


Two years after the clean-up, at least 80 Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, a vulnerable species, have been spotted in Versova Beach for the first time in decades.

The Guardian

Shoppers in the U.S. use one plastic bag per resident daily, while shoppers in Denmark use an average of four plastic bags per year.

National Geographic

In 2018, California became the first U.S. state to ban plastic straws in sit-in restaurants, unless a customer asks.

“Humans buy about 1,000,000 plastic bottles per minute in total. Only about 23% of plastic bottles are recycled within the U.S.”

Earth Day

Commit to living.