Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sustainability in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is no doubt a developing country. At the time of this writing, it is the 9th most populous country in the world. Imagine a population half that of the US all crammed into Iowa. There is virtually no tourism industry here. People don't come to Bangladesh to visit. Why? maybe because there are other countries close by with well known tourist spots and amazing beaches.

 The thing that amazes me about Bangladesh however, is their level of sustainability. Here, there is very little infrastructure for waste management. There are not trash trucks that come around and collect garbage every week (maybe in Dhaka, but not in the villages). There are no trash cans as you walk down the street or even in most buildings. The people here seem to make very little waste and have an amazing ability to reuse things. The main waste that they do have is from imported items packaged overseas. Often when I have made purchases the bag that my items come in is made out of someone's homework. In addition, Bangladesh does not use plastic bags. They have been banned here. Instead they use jute bags. These bags not only save the environment as they are biodegradable but they also promote the local jute industry.
This looks like a recycling station, but no...This is someones
shop, and these items are for sale!

This is not to say that you will not see trash here. In fact, at first glance it seems dirty and the littering is a huge problem, however, the fact that these people are able to reuse so much without having recycling bins and recycling management programs is truly amazing. 

Two boys bathing (or maybe just playing) at the river. All
that "stuff" in the water is water hyacinth which helps
keep the river clean.
In the larger cities you will find many concrete block style houses (like the one I’m living in currently) which are very unattractive and uncomfortable. However, in the villages, many houses are made from mud. These houses are very attractive, stay cool in the summer and warm in winter and are therefore also very efficient not to mention sustainable. In the Hindu villages you will also find very neatly organized sticks of cow manure. This is what they use for cooking fuel. Villagers bath in the river, or use a bucket bath system. Both methods save a significant amount of water compared to a western shower or bath. 

For a developing, poverty stricken country, Bangladesh sure has a lot to teach the Western world!

1 comment:

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