But not everyone is on board with this approach. Some young, untrained divers mock their advice about sustainable tourism practices. And when the group started independent beach clean ups, they faced resistance and discouragement. But they remain keen on setting an example through their actions. “We began cleaning up our local beaches and at first people laughed at us. But over time, they have seen the difference it makes to their own beaches and we have started getting calls from people who are interested in similar activities,” Bhushan explains, adding that plastic is the most collected waste in their cleanups.
The group’s knowledge of plastic pollution comes from first-hand experience. “Every piece of plastic that has ever been generated, still remains on earth. Plastic does not decompose. This is what people should note and become more conscious about their use of plastic,” says Vijay Kolamkar, one of the divers. “Check our pockets. We all have little bits of plastic waste stored with us everywhere.” Prashant Todankar, another diver from the group, points to their motorbikes and adds, “The boot of our bikes is full of plastic waste that either we have generated ourselves or collected on the way”.
The group admits that they were not always this mindful of everyday waste. After the scuba diving training and their self-financed ocean cleanups, they have developed a new perspective towards protecting their environment. They now want to do their part in giving back to the community. “We want to fund and train the next generation so that they are involved in conservation activities from an early age. We wish we had learnt all of this earlier in our lives so we could do much more with it,” says Bhushan.