The clean-up drive was conducted in collaboration with the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Chennai Trekking Club.

IIT-Madras students collect over 15 sacks of trash from 500m stretch of Elliots beach
news Environment Wednesday, August 28, 2019 - 13:50

Garbage continues to be a stinky problem not just in the far-away hinterlands of Chennai, but also in the relatively upscale Besant Nagar. A 1.5-hour-long clean up drive on a 500 metre-stretch of Elliots beach in Besant Nagar yielded the students of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M) more than 15 sacks of trash.

The beach clean-up drive was organised by Sustainability Network (S-Net) -- a new student organisation in IIT-M focussed on making the campus eco-friendly and sustainable, in collaboration with Zero Waste Initiatives of the Greater Chennai Corporation. Over 200 students participated in the drive on Sunday with the aim of increasing awareness on the usage of non-recyclable waste.

“We segregated the waste into three categories - plastic, glass and leather plus clothing items. Most of the garbage we picked consisted of plastic bags, plastic wrappers. There were a lot of glass pieces as well,” said K Shivani, a fourth-year B.Tech student, who participated in the drive. Washed away sandals, glass bottles and small plastic pieces were other major items found by the students along the coastline. Lending support to the army of students were the Chennai Trekking Club and the Greater Chennai Corporation, that supplied safety equipment like gloves and surgical masks for the volunteers.

It was during the clean-up drive that the students realised the amount of garbage present in every layer of the coast, Shivani said. “We have always read about waste and garbage issues. It is easy to read about it. But this is the first time that we had a hands-on experience. This has made us all more sensitive towards the issue,” she pointed out. The team ended up with more than 15 gunny bags of non-biodegradable trash from the coast picked up in over 1.5 hours, which was handed over to the workforce from the Greater Chennai Corporation.

Encouraged by the impact of their first initiative, S-Net has decided to extend its efforts to the more impactful campus-sustainability efforts. The group intends to encourage students to reduce, reuse, recycle, redesign and rethink the waste generated in the campus.

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