Some of the most encouraging developments in sustainability arise from citizens concerned about the effects of commonplace activities on their community. In this case, a group of women in Kovalam, India, motivated by a public interest research organization, Thanal, took on the challenge of eliminating the problems associated with incinerating toxic waste. As reported by Truthout, a horiculturist, S. Ushakumari, helped establish a zero waste team and worked to develop alternatives to incineration based on rethinking the materials being used in the region. The movement took root in the community and quickly spread. In her words:
The idea from Kovalam has gone all over the world now, which I think is the most beautiful part of the project. At least six or seven states are now modeling their zero waste programs after the one in Kovalam. Other countries — like the tourism department in the Philippines — are keen on implementing a zero waste program.
I think zero waste is what Gandhiji taught us. He didn’t coin the words ‘zero waste’, but what he told us about self-reliance, about non-violence, it’s all the principle of zero waste. The basic philosophy, the basic efforts, the basic understanding, is the same.The article concludes with a list of resources for anyone who wants to get involved with similar efforts. Small steps—from the bottom up—often surpass top down efforts.