Ocean Currents » Bangladesh http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:41:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Interview: Building an Ocean Cleanup Brigade in Bangladesh http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/02/11/interview-building-an-ocean-cleanup-brigade-in-bangladesh/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/02/11/interview-building-an-ocean-cleanup-brigade-in-bangladesh/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 14:00:20 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9838

Ocean trash.  Marine debris. You’ve heard it’s a problem. An ever-increasing amount of plastic pollution is entering our ocean every day. Surprisingly, many countries around the world lack the most basic trash collection services. As incomes rise, people are able to afford more and more plastic goods. But in many countries, the ability to collect and manage waste isn’t growing at nearly the same rate. As a result more plastic is ending up on beaches, in rivers and eventually the ocean.

We’re lucky at Ocean Conservancy to have an incredible network of passionate and devoted coordinators and volunteers through our International Coastal Cleanup who work tirelessly to keep their local beaches and waterways free of harmful plastic debris. Just last week, I had the honor of interviewing our Bangladesh Country Coordinator, Muntasir Mamun, about the problems with marine debris and how the Cleanups in his country have been successfully recruiting more and more volunteers.

OC: Why are you so invested in our ocean’s health?

Muntasir: Bangladesh is the biggest delta on Earth and has one of the largest natural sandy sea beaches. Due to over population, Bangladesh is heavily threatened by the impact of trash. Moreover, thousands of rivers are going across my country and ending up being at the ocean. So, the trash being in the rivers (intentionally or unintentionally) are going to be in the ocean. Not only that, geographically Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries from the impact of climate change.

OC: How did you first get started with the International Coastal Cleanup?

Muntasir: I heard about this program while I was attending an exchange program in Japan in 2005. One of the participants from the Philippines suggested that I become involved in Bangladesh since we have such a long coastal belt.

OC: What beaches have you helped clean up?

Muntasir: Cox’s Bazar and St. Martin’s Island

OC: Who did you work with during the Cleanup that inspired you?

Muntasir: I think the volunteers are the key inspiration factor for me.

OC: How has your Cleanup changed over the years?

Muntasir: When I first started this program in Bangladesh, 10 years ago, there were only four people involved. But now, it’s a program of more than thousands. Local government, corporations and educational institutions got involved in the program. The beach we used to see a long time ago, it’s cleaner than ever. The habit of littering was reduced and a number of trash bins have been installed.

OC: How would you describe your volunteers?

Muntasir: Volunteers are the heart of the International Coastal Cleanup. It’s the volunteers who keep the program running and successful.

OC: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve found during a Cleanup?

Muntasir: A huge abandoned fiberglass boat on the shore of St. Martin’s Island.

OC: Thanks for all your time, Muntasir, and for the tremendous effort you lead to keep the shores of Bangladesh free of trash!


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Bangladesh Cleanup Coordinator Bikes U.S. to Fight Ocean Trash http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/09/10/bangladesh-cleanup-coordinator-bikes-u-s-to-fight-ocean-trash/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/09/10/bangladesh-cleanup-coordinator-bikes-u-s-to-fight-ocean-trash/#comments Mon, 10 Sep 2012 16:54:12 +0000 Sarah van Schagen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2774 Riding along the highway

Credit: Muntasir Mamun

Muntasir Mamun was stopped at a gas station in Dayton, Ohio, when he saw a woman helping kids pick up the trash in their neighborhood.

As the International Coastal Cleanup Coordinator in Bangladesh, Muntasir would have found this scene inspiring in any context. But the fact that he was on a 3,500-mile bike ride across the United States to raise awareness about the impacts of trash made the moment all the more sweet.

Road to recovery

Traveling on a bicycle built for two, Muntasir and fellow activist Mohammad Ujjal wanted to get a sense of the amount of plastic and other waste they would encounter as they crossed the country.

They rode from Seattle to Washington, D.C., along highways and country roads, through cities and open spaces. And they rarely found a single mile without at least a beverage bottle or can, Muntasir says.

The bike in front of Mt. Rushmore

Credit: Muntasir Mamun

So why travel halfway around the world for a bike ride? Muntasir and Mohammad chose the United States because it has one of the highest consumption rates for plastic-based products and is one of the largest consumer markets for bottled water.

Muntasir says he hopes that by raising awareness about the issue, people will think twice the next time they use a plastic product.

“By undertaking this journey, we were trying to raise public awareness as to the impacts of trash not only on the immediate environment where it may be carelessly discarded,” Muntasir says, “but also to encourage people to think about the environmental impact chain that reaches right back to its production.”

Bringing home the message

Now that his cross-country bike ride in the United States is over, Muntasir will be re-focused on trash-activism in Bangladesh. Through his adventure and advocacy organization, Kewkradong, Muntasir will be coordinating International Coastal Cleanup events to collect items like cigarette butts and food wrappers that litter the country’s coastline and waterways.

He says despite cultural differences, attitudes about trash in Bangladesh are similar to those in the United States: “Nobody likes to remove it, and nobody wants to admit that it’s because of our own activity.”

Muntasir hopes to change that by continuing with his pedal-powered activism. He says he and his friends are looking at other countries with high per-capita plastic consumption and planning their next adventure.

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