Taking forward its eight years old pledge of plastic pollution control, Lachen has revolutionized the way water is sold. This tourist-attracting town of Sikkim has introduced bamboo bottles, aiming to save its picturesque mountains and aquamarine lakes from plastic.
‘Use and throw’ has become a trending culture now when it comes to bottles. People find it unstylish and unnecessary to reuse the used bottles of soft-drinks, water, and other such beverages. Once consumed, they jump to another bottle, throwing aside the former and thereby increasing the plastic pollution problem.
Sikkim was the first in the country to start a battle against the use of plastic in 1998. In 2011, Lachen joined this battle of Sikkim by initiating a ban on packaged drinking water, which was further carried by Sikkim to government offices and government events in 2016.
Lachen, the 8,610 feet high located Himalayan village of Sikkim, is home to snow-capped mountains, bluish-green lakes, astounding floras, and red pandas. Its alluring natural beauty attracts a large number of tourists every year who leave the hill with the trash of thousands of plastic bottles.
The locals of Lachen started their journey of controlling plastic pollution in India with a cleanliness drive in 2006. Unwilling to see their motherland covered under plastic, they banned the use of plastic bottles in 2011 and plastic bags in 2018. As told by them, their plastic ban was supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Lachen has monitoring committees to randomly check tourist vehicles for ensuring that no plastic water bottles enter into the village. No plastic rule of Lachen is informed to tourists at a check post, 25 km away from the town, and all such bottles are disposed of there itself. In case of violation, a fine of rupees 5000 is imposed on the offender.
Considering the antifungal and antibacterial properties of bamboo, Lachen has now decided on using bamboo water bottles in place of plastic. The village has ordered 1,000 bamboo bottles from Assam through the Rajya Sabha MP of Sikkim, Hishey Lachungpa. Though 1,000 is a small number for a place that witnesses nearly a lakh of tourists annually, Lachen assures a future increment in this count.
After the successful elimination of plastic bottles from the village, the locals of Lachen are not targeting to find plastic pollution solutions for replacing packets of wafers and biscuits.