|Sauraha's Recycling Project|
|Sauraha's extensive bottle collection|
Other than the usual detritus accumulated in every village, town, and city everywhere, Sauraha accumulates a huge amount of plastic bottles. Empty plastic bottles tend to accumulate quickly in a country where tourists would rather invest in bottled H20 than risk trying drinking local water.
|Organizing the detritus|
Those bottles are turned into rope by the thousands. The heavier plastic recyclables are converted into plastic bags and pipes for plumbing use. Glass is being crushed and reused to make more bottles. All other reusables are separated (sort of, as the photo illustrates) and are sent to places where they can be saved and made into useful and profitable articles.
How Martina did this is a testament to the patience, education, and support from Nepalis who were aware of the dangers of filling the planet with garbage. She started by convincing the larger and better lodges to separate everything that could be recycled. She then convinced the smaller shops and local people to follow suit. Like anywhere else, some folks just didn't get it, or just didn't care to get it.
Martina would go herself and, in front of the embarrassed shopkeeper or homeowner, take the time to start separating waste from recyclables. Martina tells me that the shame alone caused many reluctant doubters to comply. Martina still encounters people who think burning plastic bottles — or better still, throwing reusables into the river — is the best thing to do. Martina's patience with them is remarkable. She says that "shame on them" seems to work in due time. Gentle persuasion and more awareness programs are doing the trick.
Our little village is now littered with marked refuse containers that are filling up with the appropriate material. From someone who hated seeing piles of recyclable and reusable articles piling up along the river or smelling burning plastic, the sight of locals carrying out their "garbage" all separated and ready for pickup is a wonderful indeed. Three cheers for Martina Manders!