Friday, March 26, 2010

Dharamsala, India Bans Plastic Bags

Photo courtesy: Care2

Dharamsala India, the exiled home of the Dahlai Lama, has banned plastic bags.

The government of Dharamsala found that the followers of the Dahlai Lama were wreaking havoc on the local environment. Not intentionally, of course; but, with the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims came a mountain of garbage and plastic bags. One of the biggest problems was the non-biodegradable plastic bag pollution. To combat this problem, the government looked first at the merchants since they were the ones handing out the plastic bags in the first place. If the merchants didn't hand them out, the customer couldn't leave them behind as litter.

The government has decreed that if you go into a shop in Dharamsala and don't bring your own bag, you are given a bag made out of discarded paper that has been hand-glued by a local worker. This has created new jobs in the local economy besides tackling the plastic bag problem. Each hand-glued bag is different because there is now also a growing market for used paper; and, home collections are becoming exceedingly popular. An example of this is the bag created from the discarded physics homework of a high school student. How interesting!

Dharamsala is a small city in India; and, they are taking extremely progressive action on pollution. The USA, larger and wealthier, is sending a million plastic bags a minute to the landfills. What is wrong with this picture? Surely if a small city in India can do this; so, can we. Time, effort and a few changes to the consumers' shopping habits is all it will take to eradicate one of (if not the largest) contributor to environmental pollution.

Dharamsala may have discovered the true path due to their smaller size; thereby, reaching a quicker understanding of how their trash footprint was affecting them in particular and the environment in general.

If you think we should and could follow Dharamsala, contact your local representatives and ask them to ban the bag today.

Via Care2

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