In 2017, Ori, a Green Trails intern, conducted a waste audit. This was an eye-opener for all of us. It gave us a break up of the kind of wrappers and covers that formed the bulk of the plastic waste on the slopes. It came as no surprise that Nestle topped the list at over 20%. After all, “Maggi in the mountains” is a blockbuster product!
The story you will read below is about a man who took it upon himself to reduce the impact of plastic waste by providing people with sustainable alternatives to Maggi.
How did Devendar become a Green Trails Hero
Our Green Trails fellow at Lohajung, Anagha approached one of the most popular shop-restaurant owners in Lohajung, Devendar. From tea to sandwiches, chilli paneer to chow mein, Devendar caters to both the local and the trekker-tourist food palette.
Removing Maggi from his shelves
Anagha shared the results of the Green Trails audit with Devendar. This was initially tough for Devendar to digest as his shop had a massive yellow shelf right at the entrance of his shop. Maggi packets stacked one over the other inside it. The 2-minute noodle took less than a minute to sell. It was the most preferred and sold food item on his menu.
However, it took no effort at all for him to be convinced about what he had to do. Without Anagha even mentioning it, he removed ALL the Maggi from the shelf behind him. Score number 1!
Recommending local alternatives
When Anagha saw him selling hot plates of macaroni a couple of days later – macaroni that he bought in cloth sacks, she was thrilled. Over the next couple of weeks, he came up with quite a few new dishes. These were all displayed on his whiteboard menu. His proactive nature surprised all our Green Trails Fellows.
Devendar consciously recommends delicious alternatives to packaged food to all his customers now. They have a wider menu to choose from – bread-omelette, soups and vegetarian kebabs. Score number 2!
This was not it. Devendar had another surprise for us.
Replacing plastic bags with upcycled cloth bags
The Indiahikes team at Lohajung were upcycling our old tents to stitch grocery bags. We wanted shopkeepers to replace the plastic bags with these bags and encourage villagers to reuse them.
The moment Devendar heard about this, he ordered 50 bags! He plans to give these out to his customers for a refundable deposit. This venture is first of its kind in a place like Lohajung. Score number 3!
Why Devendar’s story is significant
Devendar refused to see the obstacles as dead-ends. More importantly, at each juncture, he found new ways or altered his old ones to favour both the environment and his revenue. He is spearheading change by changing his own ways – he is a true reformist!
By forcing less wasteful choices on his customers, Devendar is not only a role model, but he is also changing his customers’ behaviours.
On that uplifting note, I would like to reach out to all you folks out there – to nudge you towards a little sustainable living.
We are not talking about radical changes like growing your own food or cycling to the office or cleaning your locality.
We are talking about the smaller things that make a bigger difference in the longer run.
Have your own herb garden.
Cycle to your grocery store instead of driving down.
Segregate household waste and have a compost for your food waste.
So Carpe diem! In your change lies the difference!
For more tips read our article on how to keep the Green Trails spirit alive in your homes.
On another note, if you have ideas to share or want to know more about our projects, drop in a comment below!
What you should do now
1. If you want to serve as a Green Trails Intern: Read this article by our Green Trails Head – Lakshmi.
2. If you want to work with us: Head over to our careers page. We have lots of positions open. We also have lots of applications coming in. So the sooner you apply, the better.
3. If you ended up here by chance and were actually looking for treks to do: Then head over to our upcoming treks page. You’ll find all our Himalayan treks there.
4. If you want to see the 13 best treks of India: Then get our guide here.