A Brit Garbage Girl’s Mission: Make India Garbage Free

DEHRADUN, UTTARAKHAND (INDIA):  Mountain Cleaners and Waste Warriors may sound a bit like fantasy names from the IPL cricket championship, but in reality, they are what they sound: a mission to clean this sylvan, upscale resort of its public defacements and refuse, started by a woman from Britain.
Judith Underhill with a group of children who were part of recent clean-up drive in Dehradun

Judith Underhill with a group of children who were part of recent clean-up drive in Dehradun

“India must be the only country in the world where citizens have no sense of civic pride as the condition of one’s area is the reflection of one’s community. This makes India one of the dirtiest countries in the world,” says Judith Underhill, 37, who came to India as a tourist in 2008.

Underhill has now entrenched her roots to usher in a cleanliness drive in this town, famous also for housing some of the Ivy League of India’s boarding schools, including the Doon School, where many of the scions of India’s rich and elite study.

“Indians clean their homes and dump the muck in the public space that they don’t consider their own. We wanted to make the city polythene free, so that this city, nestling in the lap of the Himalayas could regain its natural charm,” says Underhill, known as the “Garbage Girl” in these parts.

She initiated Mountain Cleaners (MC) soon after she arrived in Dharamsala, a quaint mountain resort in Himachal Pradesh, in 2008. Four years later, she moved to Dehradun and started Waste Warriors (WW), an NGO with the goal of cleaning up India of its garbage strewn in public places.

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