Green and made of metal, he stands on one of the busiest roads of the city with his mouth open all day, encouraging pedestrians and passersby to ‘use him’. Adorned with a catchy four-line rhyme, he stands tall for a noble cause: Urging people to stop littering and to help keep the streets clean.
Affectionately dubbed as Mr. Trashy, is one of the series of six trashcans set up on the road between Gulshan 1 and 2, one of the busiest thoroughfares of the city. The initiative was taken by Green Channel, a non-governmental organization founded and run by young university and high school students most of whom are from Dhaka and some of whom live and study abroad. The experience and knowledge of students who have lived abroad combined with that of those within the country have led to the formation of such a group. With one common goal, Green Channel is driven to working towards making this country a better place to live in. This summer it has joined hands with the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) to set up trashcans in one of the busiest streets of Dhaka.
Co-founded by two United World College (UWC) graduates, Green Channel began its journey in the summer of 2011 when it hosted and conducted a two day long paper-recycling workshop. This was followed by a three day long lake cleaning project where more 300 volunteers and participants came together in their efforts to clean the Banani Lake which has the reputation of being one of the dirtiest lakes in the city. The third phase of the project consisted of a competition where student groups were urged to come up with ideas and initiatives to improve the environment of the city.
This year, upon receiving a donation of 3000 US dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Green Channel decided go forward with ‘Mr. Trashy’, a trash can set-up and anti littering campaign intended to discourage people from littering and raise awareness about proper waste disposal. Six trashcans were set up on the road between Gulshan 1 and 2 on Friday, July 27. The next day, volunteers most of whom are high school and university students and had opted to participate in the campaign were divided into groups and assigned to six different spots on the road. They stood there talking to random pedestrians and encouraging them to use the newly installed Mr. Trashy, occasionally picking up litter thrown around by nonchalant passersby. This six day long awareness campaign will continue till August 3, 2012.
“The people including local policemen have also started speaking to people randomly on the street, asking people to use the bins we have provided”, said Navin Rahman, co-founder of Green Channel. “We have heard people speaking on the phone beside our bins go like ‘I am standing in front of the new bin that has been set up.’ DCC has emptied all the six bins this morning for the first time which was full from the last 2 days’ of clean up and they will be emptied regularly. We had Shomoy TV and Radio Today come to cover our event yesterday. We actually had people walking by us today and using the bins, throwing little stuff like tissue papers! It makes me immensely to see that our campaign is really working.”
When asked how she plans to take this initiative forward she said that if this campaign is successful, Green Channel hopes to expand the project to other areas of North Dhaka and then the rest of Dhaka.
This anti-littering campaign is indeed a tremendously noble initiative to address the waste management problem of the city. It raises a clear voice for the city dwellers to take upon the responsibility of helping to keep their surroundings clean. Once the campaign is over, the DCC will be taking over in terms of actually collecting the waste thrown into these cans as well as their maintenance and upkeep. Both groups hope that this project is utilised to the fullest by the citizens of Dhaka Green Channel is now accepting on-spot registration as one more way to encourage people to support this initiative and help them raise awareness. I would like to urge the youth of this city to join this campaign. It is a great way to do something for the city you love.
Highlight: “The people including local policemen have also started speaking to people randomly on the street, asking people to use the bins we have provided”, said Navin Rahman, co-founder of Green Channel. “We actually had people walking by us today and using the bins, throwing little stuff like tissue papers!”
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