Sweaty shops and recycling plants

It’s 10:30pm, and I’m writing from the safety of our air conditioned guest house in a make shift work space of hotel furniture and Indian electrical plug adapters. That being say, I feel like this air conditioned break is well deserved, because today was a great long and sweaty day.

We began the morning by exploring some new marketplaces, and getting a feel for what resources we have at hand for the upcoming project. As a long, somewhat awkward train of foreigners, we wandered through local shops selling fabrics, metal, clothing, and strange pyramid shaped sweets called “Jaggery.” We attracted the usual stares, but overall we were treated warmly by everyone we encountered.

Later in the afternoon, we had a chance to get meet with a local entrepreneur, who explained to us about the extreme lack of waste removal and recycling services in India, and even brought us inside a local recycling plant. The details he gave us were shocking, but I was extremely impressed by how passionately his team was working to address the issue. Not only were they efficient and organized, but they were actively involved in lobbying for new policies, and spreading recycling awareness to their community.

What also made a big impression was his commitment to address this huge issue in a series of small ways. Instead of aiming to continually scale his business as large as possible, he insisted on remaining small to avoid complications and to maintain a strong relationship with his employees and the community. He would then allow others to freely replicate the business model in different regions, leaving everything he did as “copyleft,” (an awesomee term for free to-use).

His mindset seemed to echo the idea of, “only taking as much as you need,” which I have heard repeatedly in these two weeks of India. I’m excited to see how we can learn more from this perspective, and bring it with us as our projects begin to develop.