We need to challenge the system we live in

While I was in Pondicherry, India, doing NGO work for the Gypsy community, I noticed that as soon as girls had their periods they had to be sent back to the village. As far as I recall, there was a 16 year old with a baby in the village who had been to Samugam, Bruno Savio’s orphanage, created for the Gypsy Community. After hearing and witnessing this. What can be done about this? Why is it that even when one had created the proper infrastructures and help, some of the children would go back to the village? Tradition was among other factors. How can values and traditions be changed? Should they be changed for the sake of development?
These issues do not just concern India; as human beings, we need to change our habits as active members of the world community for a better future. How do you make people change their habits? How do you make them realize that they need to change them?
Since I came back from India, I see things differently, I had a violent epiphany about the problems linked to how we live in the West. What can we do to change how things are done? I can no longer stand on the side and look at the world crumbling because of us. I need to start acting; we all share responsibility! Since I came back, I have paid attention to how much waste I consume, I constantly think about all the NGOs we visited and try to apply the solutions these people came up with. I think about these discussions regarding the seen and the unseen. I always think about the hole in the O-zone layer and how because people cannot actually see it, they think there is no problem. Do we have to get to the point that we see everything in order to act? In thinking about the waste I consume and how I recycle. I have now created one trash for compost, one trash for plastic, cardboard, paper, glass, and one trash for garbage and other non- recyclables. Ever since I got back, I have furthered my knowledge and understanding of what steps can be taken in the right direction, by learning from people who try to live with Zero Waste and off the grid by challenging the system. We all need to challenge the system we live in; we all need to challenge ourselves.
The lack of sufficient infrastructure for recycling, disposable waste and compost creates a problem in cities, as does the lack of second hand, damaged or unpacked goods in retail stores. Cloth bags should also be used in lieu of plastic ones.
I am fully aware that taking the organic route might cost more in the long run, and that it isn’t the top priority for families and people who have trouble to make ends meet. Living sustainably needs to become more affordable because we are going on a slippery slope. My dream is that we get together as a community and act! Actually, when you think about it, are alternative ways to living better that expensive? The answer is NO! On the contrary, living sustainably is affordable and actually costs less; making your own toothpaste, shampoo, and laundry detergent are a few things you could do, for a fraction of the price you buy them at! Little by little, I would like to get to the point where I too only have a little jar of trash in a year. How can we communicate these things effectively to the global community?

-Chelsea Carter

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