Since the lockdown started most of us have been stuck at home, juggling careers, family and personal needs, all in the space of one home. News reports talk about how pollution levels have fallen drastically, endangered wildlife species are gradually being sighted more and people are getting creative in the kitchen. Social media posts reminisce past travels and photographic opportunities. Throwback-posts talk about everything from coffee at favorite cafes to opportunities to dress up at events. Everyone has an itch to travel but what is interesting is that, when people were travelling only the tourists and people surviving off the sector were satisfied. Once the tourists left, the land and the waters would be filled with their memories in the form of the waste left behind and created because of them.
Environmental activists have been cleaning up beaches unsuccessfully for years, yet at any beach you visit, the sand is littered with plastic packets, ice cream sticks, foil, glass bottles etc.
Think of the last trip/ tour you had-
- How did you travel to and within the location?
- Did you try the local cuisine or did you ask for exotic foreign dishes?
- What bathroom products did you use? Did you carry your own products or did you out the mini packaged products provided by the hotel/ dorm?
- What did your shopping consist of and where was this shopping done?- local products and markets or big bazaar and reliance type super markets.
I asked myself these questions and a thought struck me-
When I am travelling I am seeing and feeling the people and the place, I am feeling their energy. Yet, what is the place feeling about me. If my journey is harming the place, then what is the worth of it all. While I was trying to make sense of these thoughts a friend suggested a trip to Himachal Pradesh, in January 2020. This felt like a great opportunity to experiment a change in my usual travelling style. We planned to travel frugally and create minimal impact on the environment of the location we were visiting. We also decided to carry back any of the waste we created.
My travel kit included reusable cup, tiffin box, water bottle, cutlery, bath powder made from chickpea flour, turmeric, menstrual cup and handkerchiefs. At the same time my friend had not made a complete switch to environment friendly products yet tried to reduce new purchases. I do not use the words ‘Zero waste’ as the wash off from toothpaste, detergents, our diet etc. are also adding to different forms of ‘waste’ or toxicity around us.
We stuck to our plan of ensuring our presence in the environment to be as friendly as possible, at the same time not once did we feel that this was stopping us from experiencing the place completely. In fact, I felt that this made us more receptive of the environment. It helped us start conversations with local people, explore areas that we would have missed had we taken taxis and experienced natural phenomena like snowfall and rains first hand.
The experience and experiments of having a low waste trip during this period of corona seem difficult yet not unachievable. The trick is to be mindful of our wants and needs and going slow is a completely fine act to do. If you cant avoid noodles, it is fine. You can check out ways to bring the empty packet back home. If you forget to carry a water bottle and have to buy one, make sure to refill it from shops and reuse it.
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” – Anne-Marie Bonneau
Read the full article here: https://alpaviram.org/2020/08/15/aching-for-zero-waste-travel/#more-3735