15 Sep 2017 Press release Water

Afroz Shah and UN Environment celebrate 100-week anniversary of world’s largest beach cleanup…with another cleanup

To celebrate the 100 weeks that have passed since the world’s largest beach clean-up project ever undertaken, organizer Afroz Shah is heading to Mumbai’s Versova beach again this Saturday, for yet another massive cleanup endeavor.

“Week 100 of the cleanup in Mumbai gives hope to the world that citizens can work sincerely, consistently, and persistently to save our ocean,” Afroz Shah said. “It may be small steps, but they have a big impact.”

The clean-up of Versova beach started in 2015 when Shah and a neighbor decided to take on the piles of rubbish that had completely covered what was then the dirtiest beach in Mumbai. They started with picking up the trash themselves, and over time the cleanup grew into a national movement, with everyone from celebrities to slum dwellers and from schoolchildren to politicians joining Shah for his weekly “dates with the ocean”.

"What Afroz Shah has achieved on Versova beach is nothing short of remarkable. These 100 weeks of hard work and determination by Afroz and countless volunteers goes way beyond dealing with a local crisis. This has inspired what is becoming a nationwide and global movement to turn the tide on plastic and waste," said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

"We all owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for proving that we can all make a positive difference. Afroz is a true Champion of the Earth!"

To keep the beach and its immediate surroundings clean and prevent rubbish to take over the white sands again, Shah has since expanded his cleanup endeavors to include the creeks and mangroves that border the coast.

To commemorate the 100-week anniversary, which coincides with International Coastal Cleanup Day, Shah will lead thousands of volunteers to a different stretch of Versova. He will continue his cleanup crusade and return this part of the Mumbai coastline, too, to its pre-plastic glory.

Over the last 2 years, the beach Versova cleanup activities and successes have drawn attention to the problem of marine litter around the world. Other cleanup movements have sprung up across India and around the world, inspired by the results. Shah has vowed to continue his beach clean-up efforts until people and their governments around the world change their approach to producing, using and discarding plastic and other products that wash up onto beaches all over the world.

Notes to reporters

The beach cleanup will take place on Saturday September 16th, from 3-5 pm on Versova Beach, Mumbai. For more information on the cleanup activities, visit: https://www.facebook.com/cleanupversovarockbeach/

About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world. Find out more at http://unep.org/

About Afroz Shah

Afroz Shah, a young Indian lawyer from Mumbai, is best known for orchestrating the world’s largest beach cleanup project. Together with his neighbor Harbansh Mathur, who has since passed away, he started to clean Versova Beach in 2015, one piece of rubbish at a time. The cleanups grew into a movement that has inspired people all over the world to take environmental action and clean up their surroundings eco-systems. https://twitter.com/AfrozShah1

UN Environment Assembly

The UN Environment Assembly, the world's highest-level decision-making body on the environment, will gather in Nairobi, Kenya, from 4-6 December 2017 under the overarching theme of pollution. Find out more at: http://www.unep.org/environmentassembly/un-environment-assembly