Mahatma Gandhi said that and it couldn’t be more appropriate in India today.
We are lucky to live in an island as beautiful as Jersey in the Channel Islands where our coastline is mostly unspoilt and the beaches are clean.
Last week we were shocked when we saw the state of Alleppey beach and disappointed when we saw more of the same at Marari beach, which is supposed to be pristine and a bit special.
We have established that much of the cause is the flooding this summer. A lot of rubbish has been washed out to sea and the sea has spewed much of it back on the beach.
Today we were armed with a roll of 15 bin liners and a large sturdy plastic sack.
At 9 am we started our beach clean. Having joined the beach at its most popular entry point, we worked our way from the ruins of the pier and headed north (certainly no more than Greve d’Azette to La Mare, for Jersey readers).
We were soon joined by a young man called Jibin who mucked in and happily helped us fill bag after bag of rubbish.
Admittedly there was some obvious ‘new’ beach rubbish, things like ice cream containers, plastic spoons, crisp packets. And large bottles of Kingfisher beer – we filled the large sturdy plastic sack just with glass.
But there was also a lot of shoes and flip-flops, medicine bottles, toothpaste tubes, a nappy, a handkerchief, the remains of a television. God knows what story lies behind each one.
Another man came up to thank us, he took photos and said he would bring it up with the paid cleaners around here. There is a team who tend to sweep gently around the top of the beach by the road but they don’t come on to the beach to pick up litter.
I don’t think it would take much to clean up if all the tourism-related businesses – all the cafes, restaurants, ice cream sellers and watersport operators – mucked in and spared a couple of hours in the morning while it is cooler to get their immediate area clean, and then keep it that way.
We hauled the bags up the beach and deposited them where was a fire smouldering. As we did so, another man joined in to carry a couple bags. It was a small but welcome contribution. It was a shame that the four men who played cricket on the edge of where we were working did not volunteer any manpower.
We thanked Jibin by buying him a drink and an ice cream and we sat on a wall in the shade for a chat. As he was showing me a map of India on his phone and recommending places to visit, I decided to show him where Jersey is. A population of 100,000 and an area of 45 square miles is difficult to comprehend here.
And then he said something so simple and unexpected.
‘You have a small island, but a very big heart.’