Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Indian Litter Problem

It is very easy to recycle in India. Basically, everything wrapped in plastic or glass is used again and again. I remember my Indian mother-in-law washing out plastic baggies and hanging them to dry when I visited over 20 years ago. You would not guess this though due to the amount of litter and garbage strewn pretty much wherever you turn in the city.

My neighborhood, Besant Nagar, in Chennai has regular trash pick up, but you have to walk your garbage down to a dumpster located about a block away. There is no such thing as residential curbside pick up service for your trash.

The other evening, I walked along the beach near where I live just off Coastal Road in Chennai. The beaches are littered with trash as far as the eye can see. I was getting pretty depressed about it, wondering what it would take for this country of over a billion people to start taking better care of the environment, when a young woman wearing a sari with two kids tagging along walked past me and put a bag of garbage right on the water's edge. She waited while the tide swept away what looked like her family's daily garbage accumulation, before walking back to her makeshift hut further up the beach.

In rural Tiruvannamalai, (the town I stay at on weekends) the school down the road from us has put on 'rallies' for the environment in the hopes that educating this generation of students might help the problem. I think it's at least a start to solving a problem so huge that one sometimes feels a sense of despair for the planet.