Deepak Varma from Palakkad district walked more than 100 kilometres in 24 hours, holding a placard that read, “Don't throw waste in public place”. But it was not just the board that caught the attention of the public.
He wore a full-length robe made from plastic waste items that are often found littered on the roads: chips packet, shampoo bottles and plastic containers, among other plastic articles.
On October 2, Deepak, who is an environmentalist and a resource person for Palakkad district Suchitwa Mission, completed a walk from Palakkad to Ernakulam district carrying 35 kilograms of plastic waste tied to his body.
He started his walk along with two volunteers October 1, 8 am, from Victoria College Palakkad and finished the walk at Ernakulam Darbar Hall ground within 24 hours. “The walk was to create awareness among the public, to not throw plastic waste in public places," Deepak tells TNM after completing his mission.
He added that, as his campaign slogan says, he aims to provide awareness on efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic waste. During his mission, he spoke about plastic waste management to the people he met.
Deepak Varma was initially disappointed by the way the public managed their waste. Later, he started a one-man mission, a '24-hour Clean India' campaign. Initially, he would select a particular street or area in Palakkad and would clean the area continuously within 24 hours, all by himself.
The walk, which he completed on Wednesday, was his fourth successful 24-hour mission. He used the plastic waste collected from these clean-up campaigns for the walk.
The first 24-hour campaign was in 2018 February, where he collected 4,000 kgs of waste. During another attempt to clean a 16-kilometre stretch, he collected more than one lakh chocolate and toffee wrappers.
"For this walk, I initially selected 1,400 plastic items that we use on a daily basis, around 700 plastic covers and 700 different types of plastic bottles. Among them, we selected 600 low-weight items and stitched it to my cloth," he says.
“We were able to build a network in all districts of Kerala. Many such campaigns are not followed up. But we are glad that we were able to carry on with our campaigns with more and more support,” adds Deepak, who aims to spread his campaigns across the country.