Auroville is a special place in many ways. People come here from all over the world to live together despite their different cultures, religions and beliefs. They live in unity and try to make use of all the resources in their community and to minimize their waste as much as possible. About half of the population in Auroville has put this into practice in their daily lives and created their own economic system of minimum waste and sustainable living.
It is called Pour Tous Distribution Centre and the members of the system put an amount of around 2900 rupees every month into the service coop. The amount is depending on their needs, size of family etc, so some pay more and others pay less money. There are special stores and shops organized for the people who do this. There is a grocery store where people can go and pick up the food they need and there is also a clothing store where you can pick up clothes and shoes. Prices are not shown and bills are not given. One month maybe you pick up clothes and food for a bigger amount of what you have paid, and other months you might pick up supplies for less money than the monthly amount you pay. The thought is that in the end, it will be evened out between all the members. This amount of money you pay is planned to go to many different things, for example health care. If, for example, there is a health situation where your family can’t afford the treatment, the community will pay for it. This is to create security and a way for the community to provide you with what you need.
That is the common purpose with this idea, to provide the people with what they could possibly need on a monthly basis, and also to even out the different economic divisions in society to create a more even balance. There should not be a certain value on certain things, everyone should get what they need, not more not less. This idea of a limited supply of products is to decrease the capitalistic way of thinking when it comes to purchasing and shopping. If there is a limited amount of products you will only get what you really need and that way the consumerism decreases. Also the materialistic view of thinking is changing since you don’t shop for clothes that you don’t need, or shop just because you can. You only get new clothes when you really need them, and that also decreases the materialistic needs and consumption.
Decreased shopping habits contributes to less waste and less negative effect on our planet. PTDC also takes great environmental responsibility and tries to avoid plastic and unnecessary packaging. It is important to prove to people that you don’t need as much as you might think you need. When using this system you decrease the waste to improve the environment, you work against the capitalist society of materialism and consumerism and in that way you work against the uneven division of development and the economic differences in the world.
Personally I feel that PTDC is a good thing in theory although there are some threats, for example there is always a chance that people will take advantage of the system. I also feel that this only could work in a small group. Although it is a great idea with necessary and important outcomes, this could never work in a more global context. If PTDC’s goal is to expand I don’t know, but I think that it would be hard and a great challenge. However I do believe in PTDC and their system if the goal on a more global scale is to influence people and make them more aware of their consumption and their effect on the environment. For a PTDC system to work all over the world I think is a utopia, but if it works in Auroville I think it is a great thing.
By Louise Sjöberg, Linnaeus University