You could be fined Rs 2,000 for drinking beer on a Goa beach, but thanks to an innovative green initiative, 10 beer bottle caps or 20 used cigarette butts can fetch you a beer in Goa, if you exchange them at a pop-up waste-bar. The idea is to engage beach visitors in activities that create awareness about environment and conservation, while also cleaning the beaches.
Conceived by Drishti Marine, a private beach management agency roped in by the state tourism ministry to rein in the garbage menace on Goa's beaches, the waste-bar is a hang out of sorts, where one can exchange segregated garbage for a drink.
The initiative kicked off on January 30, when the first of the pop-up waste-bars opened up at the Zanzibar shack, located at the beach end of the popular Tito's Lane in the North Goan beach village of Baga.
"The waste-bar is a win-win concept. It is positive for the venue as it is a positive event that attracts a crowd. You get very happy customers as they feel they contribute to the society and get a free drink for it. And for brands, it helps in positioning," Noreen van Holstein, who conceptualised the campaign along with Drishti Marine, told IANS.
"People come to Goa for two things: beach and the bar. So let's give them what they come for - free drinks in exchange for garbage that they collect. This ensures that they become conscious of the waste that is there on the beach and that trash actually has value! They will leave Goa with a positive feeling and a clean beach," she added.
According to Van Holstein, waste-bars kicked-off in the Netherlands years back and the idea is catching on. Apart from cigarette butts and bottle caps, five used plastic straws will get you a bottle of chilled beer or a cocktail.
The waste-bar will pop up in various venues in the next few months.
Goa's beaches attract nearly eight million tourists annually. Garbage piling up on the beaches in recent years has been a cause for concern and has led to the appointment of a private agency to keep the beaches clean and garbage-free.
Over the last few weeks however, the government's inability to deal with the garbage menace, especially in areas which are popular with tourists, has been a major area of concern for the travel and tourism industry stakeholders in Goa following a drop in tourist arrivals.
An ongoing tussle between the government and Drishti Marine, the beach management agency tasked with Goa's beaches clean, has also resulted in slackening in the pace of garbage collection, with the opposition blaming the government for not handling the issue properly, especially during the peak tourist season.
"We ran an extremely successful campaign over 150 days in the last tourist season with the intention of creating awareness on beach clean-up and teach people about the importance of waste segregation. We made a significantly positive impact on that front and hence have decided to run the campaign this season as well," Drishti Marine CEO Ravi Shankar said.
Among other things, the waste items collected during the campaign are used to create various useful items including music instruments during workshops run by the organisation.
Goa is one of the top beach tourism destinations in the country and attracts nearly seven million tourists, which includes more than half a million foreigners.