Giving-Up Plastic Water Bottles, Sikkim Introduces Bamboo Bottles for Tourists
Lachen, a beautiful town in Sikkim completely banned packaged drinking water bottles some eight years ago and is now set to introduce bamboo bottles as an alternative. The bamboo water bottles will be launched at the Lachen Losar festival later this year.
Located 129 km from Gangtok, at a height of 2,750 metres, the Himalayan town attracts many tourists every year for its snow-capped hills, aquamarine lakes, red pandas and rhododendron trek.
The huge amount of plastic bottles left behind by the tourists prompted the town to introduce the ban. This initiative was completely community-driven, with only 2,500 inhabitants of mostly the Lachengpa community supporting the ban.
Sikkim Rajya Sabha MP Hishey Lachungpa has ordered the bamboo bottles from Assam. Sikkim was the first state in the country to take steps against the use of plastic since 1998. In 2016, it banned the use of packaged drinking water in government offices and all government events.
We started a cleanliness drive in 2006. For that we looked at waste seriously. The mounds of garbage that Lachen had, especially due to the number of tourists, would be left in informal dumping grounds. We did not have a system of recycling. In 2011, as plastic waste overwhelmed Lachen, we took the decision to ban packaged drinking water altogether. In 2018, we followed this up by banning plastic carry bags.
Head of Lachen’s local panchayat Gyatso Lachenpa said. After them, he adds – two other towns, Lachung and Chungthang, banned packaged drinking water.
The community reached out to the World Wide Fund for Nature, which helped Lachen through the process of plastic ban. Two monitoring committees help implement the crackdown by keeping random checks of tourist vehicles entering the town to make sure no one brings in packaged water.
The local panchayat has provided water filters to each homestay, hotel and commercial outlet in the area. Water is provided in steel or aluminum bottles to the guests.
After efficiently dealing with the plastic bottles, the town is trying to abolish plastic pollution caused by wafer and biscuit packets.
Via: Indian Express