There are many people who believe the answers to the world's problems require high-tech, greentech solutions. I have nothing against high tech. I am typing this post on a computer, after all. But I don't kid myself; this computer is not "green". For one thing, a simple google search uses a lot more energy than you might imagine. And this computer will eventually contribute to the 500% increase in e-waste from old computers over 2007 levels that India will likely see by 2020. Much of that waste is poison, by the way. Of course it's not just e-waste; though India has very high uses of recycling, we still produce a lot of trash, and that problem is not going to be solved by Waste to Energy plants, no matter how "green" they purport t be.
It gets worse. If you stop and think about it, you realize the "health" of the world economy, as it is presently organized, requires continued production and consumption even before it requires disposal. Endless production requires endless amounts of energy and mining. Unfortunately, we don't live on planet with endless resources.
To put it simply, there is no way that current consumption patterns can be sustainable, greentech or not! Those of us who use things like computers will have to use them a lot less. People who go by car will have to learn how to take the bus. In addition to high tech, we will have to rely on low tech solutions. Like fixing things!
All the items in the photo to the right could easily have been thrown away. But because I live in Delhi, they were fixed. The shoes have been stitched up in many ways, inside and out, and they still look good, thanks to the skill of my local mochi. The water bottle's lid broke and I was able to find a replacement in the market. The school bag's zipper has been replaced at least once. The handle of the low quality pot has been fixed or replaced at least twice in the past five years.
When we fix something, we reduce energy use, mining, pollution and waste. In India, because labour is cheap, having things fixed almost always saves money as well. But in many places, it is cheaper to throw away a broken product than it is to fix it. World wide, need to stop subsidizing the production disposal of stuff that is made for the dump; in fact, we need to make sure that companies and consumers pay the full cost of most consumer products, from the mine to the dump; subsidies should be reserved for sustainable things, like public transportation--and for things like food that we all need.
Most of India lives sustainably, of course. But a small group of industrialists and hyper consumers are getting the lion's share of government support, as P. Sainath makes clear here. It's time we give help to those who need it most--that, by the way, is another way we can fix things!
For other low-tech, greentech ideas, including our Best Dhabas in Delhi series, look here.