Around 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally every yearReuters

Media professional Abhimanyu Chakrovorthy, 31, has set off on a 10,000 km crowdfunded motorcycle expedition through India and five neighbouring Southeast Asian countries to spread awareness about plastic pollution.

"I have always been environmentally conscious about issues such as climate change and wildlife, and I used to practice this concept of outdoor ethics called 'Leave No Trace' in the Himalayas where you pick up your own waste and dispose of it properly.

"I am also a motorcycle enthusiast who has toured quite extensively across India. So this presented a unique opportunity to merge my two passions: Motorcycling and addressing the menace of plastic pollution in Southeast Asia and India. Hence this trip from New Delhi, covering more than 10,000 km, travelling to Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Nepal to raise awareness on plastic pollution," Chakrovorthy told IANS in an interview just before he set off.

During the journey, through tie-ups with NGOs and schools in the five countries, he has planned beach and city clean-up initiatives and will conduct short sessions/presentations on the global scenario in plastic pollution and what India is doing to fight it.

"Through these workshops, I will share knowledge about India's waste management system, and also learn from them their solutions to the plastic pollution problem. Some of these countries have taken affirmative action on plastic and I want to understand more of what and how they're doing it. The focus of my work will be on reducing, reusing and recycling waste as much as possible. Through this trip, I plan to document plastic consumption in these countries and their waste management processes," Chakrovorthy explained.

The planning, he said, had been quite a nightmare. With costs going well beyond his means, Chakrovorthy was introduced to crowdsourcing platform Milaap through a friend. He prepared a statement of purpose, a process that took him over a week to raise funds. While his target is R. 3 lakh, so far he has managed to raise just Rs. 40,000. 

He has not lost hope, however, believing his story will resonate with people and help him fulfil the goal of raising awareness. Chakrovorthy also has a Plan B in mind, should he fail to raise sufficient funds. "The Plan B is to simply skip Nepal and put my bike on the train from Imphal (on the return leg) to New Delhi in case I fall short of money. Other than this, I don't see any other issue," he said.

In the future, he plans to organise more clean-up drives closer to home. Chakrovorthy is planning drives in association with embassies and institutions such as Delhi Civil Defence and Delhi Police, to ensure communities moderate their consumption and less waste is generated.

[With inputs from IANS]