Blog by Ruchi Agrawal and Jeet Singh Arya
An overwhelming growth in tourism has revealed that a tourist can be a Boon and Bane to a place. With rise in tourism, Bastar is facing the challenges of plastic waste as it is now reaching the destinations and spoiling nature, just like at other blooming destinations in India. However, overcrowding and littering especially wrappers and plastic water bottles are making tourist places dirty and causing a lot of damage to the entire environment. Also, tourism waste has become an alarming issue for places all around the world and along with adverse effects on that particular region and its people, it degrades the quality of environment in the long run.
We stand for a Change
Unexplored Bastar as a social enterprise takes utmost care in the development of responsible tourism in the region of Bastar. As being a part of the tourism industry since 5 years, we believe that tourism can be advanced in such a way that it contributes towards a better environment leading to a better tomorrow. So, when it comes to eco-tourism, we are always on toes!
With the arrival of thousands of the tourists at the popular destinations of Bastar like Chitrakote waterfalls, Tirathgarh waterfalls, Dantewada, Dholkal etc, the problem of plastic waste becomes prominent. However, the idea of responsible tourism has not influenced a lot of travelers till now and there are just a handful of travelers who care for nature and are aware of their eco responsibilities while travelling. Every day the tourism Self Help Groups (SHG) cleans the tourist places just to find it full of trash the next day. This was quite discouraging and taught us that the rise in tourists will keep worsening the situation.
We extended our support to the SHGs in maintaining the cleanliness each and every day but, the worsening situations demanded a permanent solution. Another question was “What to do with collected plastic waste?” . We researched and tried many solutions but nothing seemed feasible for us till the time our teammate Anubhav Swara came with the solution of making Ecobricks. Our entire team supported the idea and decided to implement it on a pilot basis in a village with a small project. However, before testing it at the village level, we tried it at our office and Aesa Casa, a community house that provides an affordable stay option to the tourists who visit Bastar.
The process which we followed;
1) A primarily level training was conducted by the team members of Unexplored Bastar at Aesa Casa, UB office and the villages near to tourist’s places
2) Plastic waste of individual consumption was collected by the individuals, by the office employees and by the community house
3) The plastic wrappers were cleaned with water
4) All wrappers were dried so that no water is left inside the bottle or on the wrappers
5) The wrappers were shredded into small pieces
6) All the shredded pieces were put into the plastic bottle which has a good solid base.
7) Making a useful utility with the number of bottles made
What is Eco Brick?
An ecobrick is a PET bottle packed solid with clean and dry used plastic. This are made to a set density to create reusable building blocks that sequester plastic. Ecobricks terminally reduce the net surface area of packed plastic to effectively secure it from degrading into toxins and microplastics and put plastic on a safe and secure thousand-year journey out of the industry and out of the biosphere. Ecobricks can be put to short term use in modular units, lego-furniture and open spaces. Ecobrick can also be put to long-term use in earthen gardens and structures. In their making and all their applications ecobrick’s embody regenerative principles and an ayyew vision that is based on Earthen Ethics – the following of the Earth’s ancient example in our care of carbon.
For more information, one can go through their website: https://www.ecobricks.org/what/
Pilot Villages – The workshop for the mission
The pilot villages were Mendri Ghumar and Tamda Ghumar. This was chosen because these villages have waterfalls and because of the proximity to Chitrakote waterfalls, they have observed good footfalls of tourist. Recently with the help of District Administration Bastar and Arya Prerna Samiti, we have formed Tourism SHG at these places. The SHG are actively contributing in the formation of Ecobricks.
Journey – From plastic waste to Ecobricks
Plastic waste is the most hazardous gift to this world. To ensure that the cycle of plastic waste does not end up polluting the Earth, the sites are cleaned daily and the collected plastic waste is taken to the house of a tourism SHG member. Then, it segregated and cleaned. After that, water bottles are kept in a different place and all the plastic waste in another place. In their free time, mostly during the afternoon, the community members with the help of a bamboo stick, fill the plastic bottle with plastic wrappers after shredding it. The daily household plastic waste of villagers is also collected and is utilized for the same purpose.
To mark the achievement, we need to mention that a total of 18kg of plastic were collected to make 60 ecobricks in just 10 days. total of 18kg of plastic were collected to make 60 ecobricks in 10 days.
Contributing Hands, Conserving Nature
A group of twenty people from Tamda ghumar and Mendri Ghumar village contribute daily to the cause and play their significant role in nature conservation. Women of the village chose to collect the plastic waste, clean it, shred it and fill in the plastic bottles to create the ecobricks. The youth of the village engaged themselves in the construction of a utility out of those ecobricks.
Destiny of the Ecobricks
Eco BRICKS are called so, because it exhibits the strength comparable to a brick. It can be used to build strong house or anything else. We created a dustbin with mud and all the 60 Ecobricks which is placed near the Naka and serves as an inspiration of responsible tourism for the tourists visiting Tamda Ghumar.
Along with collecting other waste, the eco brick dustbin has enhanced the belief of nature conservation multiple times among the SHG and other villagers. This encouragement for the villagers towards conservation of nature and for tourists towards responsible tourism is the biggest achievement of the project.
Hurdles on the Way
As the famous saying goes, “Its easy said than done!” Making an ecobrick may sound really simple, but at the back stage, a lot of effort is required. Because of less or no availability of dustbins, the plastic wrappers and other plastic wastes were scattered along a long distance on land and beneath the water. It was quite difficult to collect plastics from there making it a laborious and time consuming task. However, these hurdles could not stop the SHG members from showing love for their mother nature. They just did it!
We at Unexplored Bastar have vowed to follow Sustainable Tourism in all aspects. Unexplored Bastar along with the support with District Administration Bastar, Forest dept at Kanger Valley National Park and local supporting organization would continue to implement the idea of Ecobricks in all other places of Bastar.
Do your bit!
If this article inspired you, lets come together to make Bastar an eco-sensitive destination. You can contribute by just being aware. Yes, it’s that simple! Read on to know how.
– Don’t litter at any tourist place and discourage it by fellow travelers
– Use dustbins at outdoor places and give your household garbage to the garbage collector who comes to your home
– Avoid purchase of goods packed in plastic. If possible, switch to alternatives of plastic toothbrush and other daily life plastic products.
– You can also avoid usage of plastic disposables by carrying your own wooden or steel cutlery, cups etc.
– Encourage at least one of your friends, family or colleagues to switch to sustainable lifestyle. That can bring a change.
If you loved our efforts, do write to us about your efforts in conserving nature and how would you move towards sustainability.
Need to volunteer just write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org