So, back from India, and man does it feel cold now!
The whole trip was definitely an interesting experience of consumer consumption.
I mentioned the whole big issue of flying so far, so I won’t bring that up again, but in all I took four different flights which I still feel pretty guilty about.
I did end up eating quite a bit on the planes though. Most of the planes I was on served at least two meals/snacks. All of it was individually wrapped and sometimes miniature versions of things. I was happy to see some hard plastic, assumingly reusable, plates and cups. Still, I have no idea if the rest of the packaging was recycled in any way. All of it seemed to be out of material that could be sorted and recycled but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was I suppose (I was flying mainly Air France if anyone knows the answer to that).
India itself felt like a bit of a conundrum. There was often trash everywhere. It mainly looked to be made up of consumer goods, things like wrappers, containers, etc. Even in the most rural school which was made up of clay and wood buildings there was some tinfoil lids or other random debris around (though I was happy to see that that same school still had a recycling program). Now, as much as it looked like there was a lot of trash around, there also didn’t seem to be any overall trash removal system either. It made me wonder if North America didn’t have our waste system to truck it all away if our cities and streets would look the same, and honestly I think they’d look even worse with our consumption levels. We did pass an Indian landfill on one of the highways that looked pretty massive, but it’s hard to know whether they really produce more waste than we do. I think it would be safe to say that they recycle less of their consumer waste than North America, but I’m not sure if they consume less because of their economic standing than say, the U.S., or more because of their much greater population. I was impressed with how much they can often achieve with the limited resources and goods they do have. I visited some NGOs which seemed much more efficient with their resources than North American ones, though possibly out of necessity rather than choice.
My own consumption habits felt pretty limited while I was there. Bottled water was a must, but I also had a bad habit of forgetting my bottles at various places, requiring me to get more than I probably needed. Buffet food was mostly served which, at least from personal experience working at a banquet hall, can be very wasteful. I avoided buying random trinkets and gifts as much as possible. We did drive a lot while I was there. The first three days was pretty much all driving, and then there was regular transportation after that to and from places. Plus the driving to and from airports which were longer hauls. They did give me a large metal reusable water bottle which I’m very happy about, even if I couldn’t use it while I was in India. I had been really needing a new one.
Overall it was a very interesting trip and an interesting experience in ideas regarding sustainable practices. Lots of interesting new social enterprises trying to improve sustainability and its a beautiful country so hopefully they succeed.