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Archive for October, 2008

The ways of trash are infinite. Here, for instance, they include aerial trajectories from windows and balconies to streets or sidewalks. Or long residencies outside people’s front door, on the landing, until someone (someone else) comes to take it away. Trash occupies the sides of the roads, and it serves as food and bedding for strays and holy cows.

There is recycling, because there are people whose work is to take out from the dumps whatever could be sold: metal, glass, wood. But trash bins are an authentic rarity in Delhi, and most people don’t think there’s anything wrong in throwing any kind of waste on the streets. As there is nothing wrong in peeing on the sidewalks, or spitting, why not?

Anyways despite the garbage-ness of this city, I found at least three evidences that, traditionally, Indian culture would be quite eco-friendly.

Evidence #1: chai cups.
The cups in which chai – Indian most popular beverage, tea with milk and lot of sugar – is served are made of terra cotta. The invasion of plastic cups has begun, but terracotta seem to be winning the battle, at least in Old Delhi.

Evidence #2: take away dishes.
There is a lot of plastic happening in this sector too, but when people get street food, it’s served in small dishes made of some kind of leaves (I think its banana): exotic and non polluting. Totally in.

Evidence #3: shopping bags.
If here you go shopping, particularly for cheap stuff, your stuff is put inside a recycled paper bag. Which is not a bag made of recycled paper, but it is a bag made out of another paper bag that has been used to wrap something else. You buy a shirt in a cheap shop, and the bag they’ll give carry it might have been a bread bag in its past life (and still show it, although folded into a new size). I know very well which pleasure can give walking around with a nice shopping bag, and the local ones are maybe not so fashionable, yet it feels just right.

Now smashing the chai cup on the ground after finishing drinking the tea is not exactly the most environmentally conscious of habits, nor is spreading the banana-leave made plates or paper bags on the streets, but at least terra cotta becomes dust in a blink and banana leaves decompose quite quickly.
There’s a lot of potential there. Especially considering that someone hand-makes the cups, the dishes, the bags. Someone, simply makes a living out of those.
Not too bad, eh?

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