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Indian student in UK on a 30-city plogging drive


The journey to clean litter started in Pune when he was a student of computer engineering there in 2014. And today, Vivek Gurav, a 27-year-old Indian student at the University of Bristol, is on a plogging drive across 30 cities in the UK to raise awareness on climate change and environmental issues.
“Picking up litter is a simple and easy thing but it also helps to demonstrate that individual action can be the solution in protecting the environment. It’s not rocket science but people themselves can go beyond government policy,” Gurav told the Times of India in a telephonic interview from London.
He had launched the idea in 2014 to clean up rivers in Pune through community action. “Plogging was a popular concept from Sweden and the innovative idea was globally trending back then. Our Pune Ploggers group became a huge community of thousands of people,” Gurav recollects. He has left behind his IT career and job as software developer at a firm in Pune to join an MSc course at Bristol University in environmental policy in 2020.
“I felt that I needed a higher education degree to pursue my passion for environmental issues,” says Gurav who sees his 30-city challenge in the UK as a way to give back to his university community from where he has learnt and gained a lot.
As he proceeds on his plogging drive across the UK, the harsh winter conditions across the country do not deter him because he feels that a platform to address the climate crisis should not be within one’s comfort zone.
“I have been usually carrying out my plogging drive to pick up litter at city and town centres and I find a lot of people coming up to me out of curiosity. Many of them have been listening to me with a lot of interest when I have talked about the climate crisis and environmental issues,” says Gurav who has recently covered the famous university towns of Oxford and Cambridge through his plogging initiative. Several non-governmental organisations, university authorities and students have reached out to him and offered support for his mission.
Interestingly, he doesn’t think that the streets of cities of a western country are litter free compared to their Indian counterparts.
“The culture of consumerism is very visible in western cities and there is a lot of litter on the streets. Talking to people about this has helped to raise awareness on it and other larger environmental issues. There is a lot of interest in me because I am an outsider and an Indian guy who’s out on the street cleaning up the litter left by citizens. Many of the local people have come up and showed a lot of interest in what I was doing and even joined me in my efforts,” he said. He has found a lot of support from the Indian community in the UK, especially students. “I am looking at building up a strong network of Indian students in the UK to support the causes that I am fighting for,” he said.
For Gurav the most gratifying experience during his current mission has been talking to a group of school kids at a school in Leicester and joining them on a plogging drive at their school. He has so far funded the 30-city initiative with personal resources and with support from his university. “I now wish to take this initiative ahead not just in the UK but in India as well. I feel that there are opportunities for co-operation between the two countries and environmental issues have the potential to become the living bridge between India and the UK,” says Gurav who has recently finished his master’s course and now plans to join a PhD programme in the UK.



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