The Curious Case of the Missing Dustbins

December 2, 2010

Trying to bring back the energy in ROB would require us to be focussed on one goal and to work towards it. Even after having miles worth of email discussions and meetings devoted to figure out how to reinvigorate ourselves, the one common agreement that emerged and kept resurfacing, was that we needed something to work towards. We reminisced on how enthusiastic we were last year when we worked towards the Big Clean Up on January 30th, 2010. Be it organising a concert to raise funds for the Clean Up or putting up posters or having small clean ups building up to the big event, our energy was palpable because we could see where we were going. However clichéd, that the journey becomes quicker, easier and more inspiring when we know where we are headed, still holds true and always will, especially when it involves a team. And that is how our Dustbins On the Beach Campaign (DOB as we fondly call it) was born.

To have dustbins on the beach had always been on the ROB agenda, but it was always hovering in the background. Right from day one, we had clearly understood and consciously made it known to the others that cleaning up is not we intend to do. Metaphorically yes, but not in its literal sense. Through the clean ups we wanted to show the public that it was dirtying; we wanted to spread awareness and also give them guilt trips.

But where will they put the garbage in? Sadly, the beaches don’t have dustbins. What’s the point in spreading awareness when there is no way to put the awareness to use? But somehow, we kept postponing taking up the issue of putting dustbins on the beach, because we always seemed to have other things to do. In our last meeting, we decided that DOB is all we shall focus on till January 30th, by when we would try to get the  Corporation to install dustbins on the beach.

We decided to send a petition to the Corporation urging them to take note of the fact that our beaches lack basic sanitation facilities such as absence of dustbins and toilets. Petitioning on the beaches, in our own schools and colleges, we managed to get 1010 signatures. And still counting. Initially we did have problems with dates not working out and even after a week into deciding that we’ll collect signatures we hadn’t managed a single one. Time and schedules were just lame excuses we shamefully leaned upon. How much time does one require to circulate a sheet of paper in one’s own classroom?

We had decided to announce a competition to invite entries for dustbin designs – practical ones unlike the failed penguin and rabbit models. And announce we did, with some funky posters designed by Kau. But we failed to advertise it aggressively the way we would have advertised a
cultural fest in our colleges. Result – the dustbin contest was a failure with even the ROBers failing to participate, even though a few had pledged to put their engineering minds to use.

But when Hande joined us again, the DOB mantra caught us and…we happily gave in.

Petitioning, garbage audit, press releases, flash mobs, the clean up – we got a series of events that would help build the momentum for the ROB campaign lined up. And guess what? The excitement and relentlessness was back!

Having got the petitioning going, we did our garbage audit successfully, though this also missed its original deadlines. The thought of Nity standing on the beach, on the day set for the garbage audit, all by himself, without a clue that the audit had been cancelled for want of  participation of required number of people, still makes us cast our eyes downwards in guilt. But this guilt also taught us the importance of planning and co-ordination, resulting in a successful audit whose data will soon be made available to the media along with the survey we conducted to gauge people’s opinion on the cleanliness of the beach and their responsibility towards it.

The survey happened the day after the audit, and people still turned up – a sign of the re-infused enthusiasm.

We are now all set for the Big Clean Up on the beach on Dec 18th, to mark ROB’s anniversary. The cleanup will be dedicated to spread the message of “the missing dustbins”. And to make the clean up successful in terms of turn out, ROB will be organising a flash mob on Dec 11th – a little teaser for our clean up.

ROB is all about democratising the beaches, about reclaiming it and establishing our rights on it. But before that we should ensure that we inherit a clean beach. Who wants a garbage dump for a beach?

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