Monday, June 1, 2009

Saving the Planet... Indian Style

Anyone who has been to India has seen the trash littered streets, even parts of my hike to the Valley of Flowers seemed to be trash piles, but there are some very interesting things Indians do, that help the environment. Although many of these practices could be attributed to necessity, as oppose to altruism to the earth, people in other countries can still learn from them as all of us battle climate change.
1) The bucket shower- a normal (spray shower) wastes a lot of water, most Indians take a shower by filling a large bucket and then taking a smaller bucket/cup with a handle, dipping that in to the water in the bucket and then pouring it on themselves. You save a lot of water this way- when you lather up with soup, no water is being wasted, and when its 95 degrees out there is nothing nicer then dumping cold water on your head. India has many water issues, and water shortages are not uncommon, so while the bucket shower saves water for the environment, it also means you have more water for other things. Now if people would stop washing their cars everyday...
2) Soda in reusable glass bottles. Most sodas in India served by restaurants or road side stands come in glass bottles. You are given a cup or a straw to drink from (some people just drink from the bottle Indian style without the bottle touching your lips), and when you are finished, you give the bottle back. When a new order of soda comes in the old (used bottles) are given back, they are taken to the plant and re-filled etc. This means less plastic bottles are used, although you can buy sodas and drinks in plastic bottles (and they are becoming more prevalent) but they are more expensive. The downside is that you cannot take the bottles to go. Store owners are very unwilling to part with their glass bottles because then they have one less bottle of soda to sell on a daily basis.
3) Lunch breaks in offices means a lunch break for the air conditioner too. A lot of offices turn off their air conditioners during the office lunch break (usually from 1:00 to 2:00). This saves electricity for an hour and encourages employees to take this time off to (to eat and take a break).
4) Mass transit is what most people take in Bombay. A Bombay commuter train (think NYC subway) can fit 6000 people per train in what is called a "super crush load."
5) Hello Scooties- Scooters are a big form of transport, if you cannot afford a car or if you want to cut your commute in half by weaving around cars and traffic jams then you can save gas and use a scooter (some are even electric). In fact, many families travel on scooters, one kid in the front, the father, then the mother in the back holding the baby. Although most Indians would love to own a car, not everyone can and a scooter is a good answer. Also many women are learning to drive scooters (often called scooties) and are becoming more independent by doing so. There are specific scooty models marketed towards women.

These are just some of the interesting things going on in India that save energy and resources and maybe can be used (built upon) to help stop climate change.

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