Is India Leading the Way in Recycling?

Feb 2012

India faces huge challenges in its future. Education, sanitation, and housing (urban planning) immediately come to mind. But their recycling efforts are a cause for celebration. There is an awareness in the country unlike anything I have seen before. Indians re-use everything. AND I MEAN EVERYTHING!
A perfect example is the possible life cycle for the banana leaf. In the south, it is used as a plate for the famous Thali meal. You can also find it wrapped around food as a fragrant cooking implement, a favorite is steamed fish.

In addition, they are also made into pressed leaf, disposable plates and dishes readily available in the markets. When discarded, they are eaten by the ever present Holy Cows on the streets.

In turn, the cow dung is made into pattys and used as fuel, you can see them drying everywhere. In a small gift shop I discovered the company Elephant Poo Paper ingeniously turning poo into all kinds of stationary. Their web site is very clever in a different kind of way ;).

Newspaper is reused for all kinds of packaging. Many of my purchases were put into one of these handmade paper bags. The bill from the hotel was folded into paper envelopes and purchases in the market place-everything from wine to the banana leaves above-are wrapped in newsprint.

Handmade coconut oil soap is packaged in husks from the plant.

Traditional ludo games {shoots and ladders} are reinvented on up cycled paper pulp.

Rice sacks become sails or planters for cabbages. Notice the coconut shells lining the raised beds below.

I could go on and on about this topic and the examples of environmental awareness I saw. Mind you, the country still has plenty of room for improvement. But in the years since I’ve been here, I have definitely seen a vast change for the better. It’s cleaner, and the effort is obvious and has made a difference. For that they should be commended!