While the world becomes more and more aware of plastic pollution, a group of 5,000 fishermen who rely on the “Mother Sea” to survive have taken it upon themselves to clean up the oceans – and use the piles of waste to repair their roads and create jobs.
In an interview with National Geographic, a local fisherman from the Indian city of Kollam explained how the sea has gotten more polluted over the years. Whenever he casts his nets, he “often comes up with more plastic than fish.”
For a while, Xavier Peters and his peers had simply tossed all the trash back into the water, but later, realizing the futility, began hauling it back to land.
So far, they have collected a whopping 65 metric tons worth of trash. After urging a few of their local government agencies to help, they managed to facilitate the creation of a new recycling center – the first in the region.
The Department for Women’s Empowerment, created to help women find employment, then hired an all-female crew to run the facility and sort through the plethora of assorted plastics. The most damaged plastic is then shredded into a fine confetti which is sold to local construction crews. These workers then use it to strengthen the asphalt used in the creation of new roads.
Peter Mathias, who is a local union representative for the fishermen, proudly described their success to NatGeo, saying, “We’ve roped in so many groups, so quickly for this effort … this comes from us, it comes from the fishermen.”
Not only has the entire town embraced the initiative, the innovative solution has spread to other seaside communities in the area, and the fishermen have adopted a leading role in helping them convert the plastic into dollars. The clam divers of Kerala and numerous other communities have now successfully raised funds for their own recycling plants.
According to one fishermen “All of Kerala, all of India, and all of the world will join us.”
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