What’s that smell?

In Auroville, my lungs started to expand and nerves began to relax within the first few days of coming here. A couple of nights ago it was a different experience though..

We felt a strange and strong burning smell in the middle of the night, and it continued for several hours. B said he too felt it, and said it could be due to waste matter getting burnt either in nearby villages or at the waste dump. That explains the smell, but makes every one of us nervous.

We Humans by nature aspire for more.. So we want to live in bigger house, drive a better car, wear better variety of clothes, drink purer water (bottled water), live a convenient life (plastic bags for grocery shopping, packaged drinks, packaged food, packaged tobacco etc.,).

Sadly, these aspirations are beginning to give a very uneasy picture of who we are..

As I used to take long walks on the country side of Floyds knobs, IN, USA I used to find trash such as cups, bottles and plastic bags lying next to the country roads. A few elders who could not bear seeing this used to take time out and clear the garbage. I am sure every country we travel to, we will find similar experience.

Here in Auroville…  as we walk on the main paths, or on the walking/bike paths we find plastic bags, plastic bottles, tobacco sachet, waste clothes, styrofoam etc., I saw a big pile right next to Bharat Nivas this afternoon as I came walking with my daughter. B says this is a relatively new phenomenon of growing plastic.. about 15 years old.

B is actively working on Zero Waste Auroville and there are other conscious groups too in Auroville who recycle waste. In spite of this, if we are seeing plastic everywhere in Auroville, its everyone’s guess how it would be in other villages across India and across the world. I know it cities it would be a different story, because it would be nicely tucked away from the eyes into a landfill where it be burnt to release green house gases and release other pollutants that enter our food chain. In some cases, it gets recycled too, but unfortunately we are at mercy of those few actively collecting waste to recycle.

Is there a better way out..? I think we need to give it a fresh thought.

Those who are aware are already doing their part.. But it is time for those of us who are unaware or callous (chalta hai attitude) who need to move our butts and start doing something. Otherwise, we will continue to experience bad smells. After all, Karma is that wise snake that will bite us in the butt and it wont spare anyone.

For more on Zero Waste Auroville initiative, you may get in touch with B by responding to this post.

– Raj

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