Lachen is a picturesque little village in North Sikkim. Located at a height of 2,750 meters amidst the Himalayas, the place is a paradise for nature lovers and is also the gateway to some of the most popular tourist hotspots in Sikkim. Gurudongmar Lake, Buddhist Monastery, and the famous UNESCO world heritage site Kanchenjunga National Park are some of the popular tourist hangouts.
Every year thousands of trekkers, campers, adrenaline junkies, wildlife enthusiasts, food lovers from across the globe visit this small town.
While the tourists bring in the money and take back memories, they also deposit a lot of waste, litter, and plastic. Taking note of this major issue, the authorities along with local residents had decided to ban the plastic water bottles in the town long back. To ensure the implementation of the ban, rigid checks on tourist bags & vehicles were carried out and any offence meant monetary penalties. While it helped in saving the environment but it caused inconveniences to the visitors.
The alternative has come in the form of eco-friendly bottles made with Bamboo, a type of grass, found predominantly in the northeastern part of India. The hardy plant grows very rapidly and can be harvested in 3–5 years, making it an excellent resource for creating objects, building roads & houses, cooking tools and now water bottles.
As part of the initiative, the administration has ordered 1000 bamboo water bottles, which is expected to increase the number based on usage and people’s feedback. The novel attempt will not only help in reducing plastic waste but would also bring awareness towards the ills of plastic among tourists and give a boost to the incomes of the local businesses who will manufacture/sell such bottles.
The plastic problem is not Lachen or Sikkim problem, it is a widespread global problem across cities and towns, which get accentuated if the place is a tourist attraction. Let’s hope more such destinations take inspiration from Lachen and solve it through sustainable local resources.
Originally published at http://changestarted.com on March 3, 2020.