The salty breeze, the cool water grazing the legs that are planted firmly on the shore and the picturesque view until the horizon is a core memory most Sri Lankans grew up with. Fast forward to today, these encounters will have some uninvited guests; the empty plastic bottle, the floating ‘sily sily’ bag, a punctured yoghurt or ice cream cup, a mask or maybe even a needle-less syringe. This transforms what once used to be a heavenly view into a garbage-dump. Is this what we want to leave for our future generations? The founder of Sustainable Lanka, M.Imam didn’t want the future generations to have a polluted mess in the name of beaches and his initiative has transformed many beaches.
As a beach lover who grew up spending most evenings seeing the misty waves grace the shore without any litter, Sustainable Clean Lanka was initiated with an aim to preserve the beautiful beaches for the future generations too. Sustainable Clean Lanka is an organization located in Arugam Bay that works together with local community-based groups, cooperatives, local councils and municipalities, and fisheries associations to enhance waste segregation and educate people on plastic, in order to improve the quality of life for the local community. This also enhances the beach environment and provides a better experience for locals and foreigners.
The majority of the waste collected from Sri Lankan beaches is plastic, which poses a serious threat to marine life and ecosystems. According to a report by the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) of Sri Lanka, there has been a significant increase in marine litter, including plastic waste, washing up on Sri Lankan beaches over the past few years. The report states that in 2018, 4,000 metric tons of waste was collected from Sri Lankan beaches, while in 2019, the figure increased to 5,500 metric tons. This figure keeps continuously increasing and polluting our coastal waters.
Although the organization mainly focuses on beaches, they also perform cleanups in jungles and urban areas. Since a cleanup is just one part of the solution to this problem, the organization also provides plastic education programs and plastic pollution awareness programs among the local community. They also contribute towards the education of underprivileged children because education is a right that every child must have. Although the cleaning efforts are limited to the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, the organization aims to spread its services throughout all beaches on the island. Sustainable Clean Lanka has grown, with many volunteers and organizations offering their support. Their vision and mission statement is a proof of their dedication to transform Sri Lankan environment for the better:
Sustainable clean Lanka envisions a plastic-free community and a cleaner Sri Lanka by conserving our natural resources.
To create a plastic-free community, protect the ocean and the environment and contribute to a cleaner Sri Lanka by promoting waste management practices and educating the public on the harmful effects of plastic pollution.
A short introduction to the workshop instructors and why their background should inspire potential students’ confidence.