As I enjoy the last day of my time in India I find I have been recently reflecting on the post I wrote towards the start of my journey, ‘Plastic, Pollution and Poverty’. I have discovered that throughout India there is a huge effort to remove single use plastic from everyday lives. There is a move to return to natural resources. This drive was first apparent to me in Tamil Nadu, amidst the Nilgiri Hill Stations in Ooty.
Ooty recently declared itself a plastic free town. No plastic bottled water is sold or allowed in public places. There is a fine if you even take a bottle into the parks. Very admirable. However, my husband and I had become used to purchasing bottled water in order to avoid the inevitable Delhi Belly through drinking tap water. In Ooty the choices on offer were two fold. To drink ‘filtered’ water from machines, which looked invariably like they had not been cleaned or serviced in 20 years, or to buy a 10 litre drum. These were allowed to be sold for replenishing water stations. So, we went for the latter! Fortunately, we had smuggled in 2 one litre bottles from Mysore. These, once empty we refilled from our drum and used again and again…but not in public!
This ‘Green India’ ‘Plastic Free’ theme is a re-occurring one throughout India. Promotional signage demonstrates that there is most definitely a conscious effort, in most states and cities, to encourage a more environmentally friendly approach to every day life. Mumbai needs to sit up and take notice. She should be ashamed of the level of refuse and squalor on her streets.
In addition to a conscious effort to remove plastic, I began to notice how once out of the cities the people in the towns and villages use natural resources over anything else. Bamboo scaffolding tightly tied with jute twine. Beautifully interwoven coconut palm leaf panels used for walls and roof covering.
Wooden hand-built boats in Varanasi and Coconut matting in Kerala. Natural resources abound.
My beach hut in Goa, as I type this post before heading back to Mumbai, is entirely made of natural materials. Wooden furniture, floors and walls, bamboo balustrade, cotton drapes and hand woven recycled fabric rugs.
Jute washing lines hang in every town and coconuts are sold on every street for their naturally nutritious water. The shop fronts are constantly kept clean with bundles of grass tied together to form a sweeping brush. Jute and Sisal twine is even used to strap boat panels together before the boats are waterproofed with natural resin from the plentiful forests.
The list is endless and the use by the Indian people of what nature provides is ingenious. Beyond the madness of the cities, throughout India century old traditions of using creatively what Mother Nature provides have been maintained. Long may this continue.