Ripu Daman Bevli- I wanted everyone to understand that ragpickers shouldn’t be addressed as ‘Kachrewale’ but as ‘Safaiwale’, because we litter and they clean

“After working with tech companies for almost 8 years, I quit my job to pick up litter from around the country.

In 2016, when I restarted running, post a major hamstring injury, I used to train in the morning and I used to see litter, trash, and plastic thrown on the road.

I realised the urgency of the situation and wanted contribute my bit to the environment. That’s when I introduced a cleanup initiative to my running group.

It was a two-pronged challenge that I wanted to solve – “Clean up and Stop Littering”. When we started out, ‘Plogging- picking up litter and jogging’ was a novel concept.

People felt that it is not their job to keep their surroundings clean, but the job of rag pickers. I wanted everyone to understand that they shouldn’t be addressed as ‘Kachrewale’ but as ‘Safaiwale’, because we litter and they clean.

So, the first task was to change the mindset of the people. Initially we saw low turnouts. But over the past years, a lot of things have changed. We’ve achieved our primary motive of changing people’s mindset. Recently, the Government of India has adopted our mission under the FIT India initiative.

During the pandemic, we came up with a holistic fitness trend called #TrashWorkout, which aimed to improve not just our physical and mental well-being but also to fight the societal misconception that litter on the road is not our responsibility. This drive received a lot of support and love from children to adults. Till date, I’ve covered around 80 cities in the last 3+ years and have done #trashworkout workshops with 50 schools across the country.

Today, when you ask people to come to join in for a clean-up, or a plogging drive, they love doing it. Post the pandemic, we’ve adopted the mantra of #PlasticUpvaas and shunned single-use plastic items (use surgical masks, instead use reusable masks).

We all should make sustainable choices daily by not littering, taking a bicycle wherever possible, switching to cleaner fuel and segregating waste.” said Ripu Daman Bevli

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