Plastic pollution is a glaring problem that is consuming our planet earth every single day. In light of various environmental hazards that the use of this material poses, it is imperative that we shift to alternatives that are more sustainable and eco-friendly. Amidst the drive to eradicate the use of plastic, Varun Pal Singh, a young man from Gurgaon is all set to cycle the vertical length of India to spread awareness against plastic use. Tripoto caught up with Varun as he prepares to commence his journey for a cause in one week's time!
Hi, tell us about yourself!
"I am Varun Pal Singh, a former manager at a leading financial services MNC in Gurgaon. After working there for 8 long years, I recently quit my job in order to begin a new chapter in my life. Apart from my work, I have been passionate about cycling, running and travelling whenever I get the chance. Over the last few years, I have volunteered for a couple of NGOs like Healing Himalayas and I am Gurgaon – experiences that have greatly influenced my plans for the future."
What inspired you to start a journey to #BeatPlasicPollution?
"I am an outdoor person and like to go for short runs and cycling rides around Delhi NCR. The amount of garbage dumped on the roadside used to disgust me and I have seen the situation getting worse over the years."
Varun goes on to talk about how even on Gurgaon-Faridabad road, a route that is surrounded with trees, one can spot heaps of waste dumped irresponsibly. Most of this waste, he says, is plastic waste. Observing cycling tracks sandwiched between dumped waste is when Varun first got motivated to work towards the glaring problem of plastic waste and participated in a cleaning drive at Kheerganga. Organised by Healing Himalayas, an NGO that works towards preserving cities by collecting dumped waste, the drive resulted in clearing 7500 plastic bottles over a 24km trekking patch.
He adds, "Healing Himalayas later held a few cleaning drives in Gurgaon which I was a part of. While discussing the problems and possible solutions with founder Pradeep Sanghwan, I realized cleaning would not be enough and we need to create awareness about this problem. Our country's land, rivers and oceans are full of plastic which are going to lead to contamination over the years. This is when I thought that I needed to contribute towards saving our planet and do something about this plastic problem."
We then talked about Varun's upcoming journey where he is going to cycle from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in order to spread awareness about plastic pollution. Varun talks about what his plan of action is going to be like on this epic journey.
Varun has previously undertaken shorter but challenging cycling expeditions between Delhi-Chandigarh, Ambala-Haridwar and even Manali-Leh. He says, " I have combined my love for cycling and a cause that I strongly believe in. This time its going to be self supported solo ride for the betterment of the country and the world at large."
As for the plan of action, he says, "I am in constant touch with Mr. Pradeep Sanghwan, founder of Healing Himalayas and with his help, I plan to conduct workshops in cities between Kashmir and Kanyakumari and educate school kids as well as general public around plastic pollution and how each one of us can fight it."
Varun believes that most people are not even conscious of the amount of plastic that they use. Plastic has become such an inherent part of our lives, that inspite of being aware of its cons, we are unable to completely stop using it. So Varun's workshops are going to focus on making people aware of how much plastic they use and how it eventually turns into a pollutant. The idea is to get people to acknowledge this as a issue and talk about what can be done to curb plastic use.
Varun has created a Facebook Page where he will be updating activities from his journey. You can check it out here. He is also in the process of creating a crowdfunding page, the proceeds of which will go to Healing Himalayas.
What are your next few months going to look like? When do you aim to complete your journey?
"I plan to spend at least the next two months riding across the country. My aim will be to reach out to as many people as I can and create leaders who can continue the strife to beat plastic pollution in their own stride," said Varun.
Can you give our readers and travellers some quick tips on how they can reduce plastic use in their everyday life? Give us some tips that you use to reduce your plastic consumption.
"There are so many things that we do to contribute. Here are a few things that you can try:
1. Stop using plastic carry bags, carry your own cloth bag/s whenever you head out.
2. Say no to plastic cutlery even when you're travelling. Try to carry at least your own spoons and forks.
3. Refuse the use of plastic straws.
4. Don't buy plastic bottles every time you go out. We all can carry steel bottles and refill them at every chance we get.
5. Look for shampoo and bathing bars instead of shampoo bottles and shower gels. There are plenty of options available.
6. Limit the consumption of packaged food like chips and Maggi.
I follow all the aforementioned steps to cut down my plastic consumption and try to follow a more eco-friendly way of living. I know that avoiding plastic is a difficult task because it is very convenient to use plastic. However, we need to understand that a majority of plastic that we use ends up in landfills and oceans which in turn leaks toxins into our water and impacts marine life."
Truly, it is upon each one of us to continue being mindless, ignorant consumers of plastic, or become responsible and try to curb plastic pollution just by changing our daily habits. The planet is ours to live on but only if we start protecting it from our terrible habits.
We are very inspired by Varun's vision for the country and we hope that all of us can learn from him. Let's all become ambassadors against plastic pollution and join hands to protect our planet!
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