Vivek Gurav, a 26-year-old techie, won a special award from the UK PM for “Plogging” after quitting his IT job to combat climate change.
It all began in 2019 when Vivek Gurav, a software engineer from Jaysingpur, close to Kolhapur in Maharashtra, and a supporter of active cleaning, along with his friends, pioneered community plogging initiative in Pune that combines jogging and litter picking as a step towards solving the plastic crisis of the city. The largest community of ploggers in the world, which actively plogs every weekend, has expanded to more than 28 cities in India.
The general public frequently rejects changemakers. But what motivates them is their commitment and resolve. You may be wondering what plogging is. It involves both jogging and picking up trash. In 2016, it began as a solitary hobby in Sweden and eventually spread to other nations.
‘Pune Ploggers’, an effort started by Vivek to unite people from various backgrounds to pick up litter while running, has more than 10,000 ploggers worldwide who have teamed up to spread awareness about plastic pollution and biodiversity conservation.
Vivek relocated to Pune in 2013 to complete his computer engineering bachelor’s degree at the MIT Academy of Engineering in Alandi, Pune. Vivek made the decision to adopt the River Indrayani in Alandi after seeing the polluted drivers in Pune. He realised the project needed a specific strategy to plastic litter after cleaning the riverbank every day, so he began the plogging campaign in 2019 to invite residents of the city to join forces with him.
He claims that social media was the only instrument that allowed him to connect with volunteers all over the nation. As a result, the programme now has chapters all over the nation in cities like Mumbai, Patiala, Nagpur, Kolkata, and Aurangabad.
Pune Ploggers has now finished 300 plogging campaigns in the city and gathered more than 1000 tonnes of rubbish. Moving further, Vivek was recognised by the University of Bristol in the UK and was given the opportunity to study MSc Environmental Policy and Management there with a Think Big Postgraduate Scholarship to do research in the area of Climate Change Science and policy making.
After joining the University he started ‘Bristol Ploggers’, a 140-strong volunteer group that has picked up 3,750 kg of litter from all over the city in UK. Twelve nationalities are involved in the group and they have covered 400 miles of streets.
Pune Ploggers are distinctive in that they neither solicit nor accept financial contributions from others. This Pune-based software engineer explains, “All we want people to do is spend time picking the rubbish while they jog or walk throughout the weekends. He is now the recipient of a Points of Light award, which the Prime Minister bestows upon “inspirational volunteers” who “make an impact in their society.”
Vivek was commended for his efforts in Pune as well as in the UK when the British Deputy High Commission in Mumbai tweeted about the prize.
“I had goosebumps when I found out I’d received the prize; I was genuinely astonished!” stated Vivek. “For me, it’s a genuine honour and confirmation that practises like plogging are necessary in both India and the UK. I’m hoping that this recognition will help to further our cause. My parents questioned whether I was lying after I informed them. They appear to be really happy, and my father stated “he was very proud of me.”
Vivek’s desire to improve the world is very motivating, according to Professor Judith Squires, acting vice chancellor and president of the University of Bristol. Thousands of tonnes of trash have been removed by him and his volunteers. It has required a lot of effort, intelligence, and generosity of spirit – qualities that Vivek possesses in abundance.
It is also thrilling to know that the Prime Minister has recognized his incredible efforts on the streets of Bristol, Pune, and beyond. And he mentioned the work of Vivek in ‘MankiBaat’.
“I want to study as much as I can so I may return home with new perspectives,” he declared. I have a strong commitment to bridging the information gap between industrialized and developing nations regarding climate change. I wanted to study climate science because of this, so I came to the UK.
What was initially a small project has started to take form. It makes sense that it will soon manifest as a sizable movement. Do your part to assist him in cleaning up the plastic waste if you are in or near Pune by plogging!
To stay connected with his mission and to explore how you can do it for your own city, join their community Pune Ploggers on facebook.
India needs more such youth in action as torchbearers of change for a better tomorrow.