My Stars of Sustainable Living

20140503One of the biggest challenges in the world of sustainability is that a lot of us who talk about it, blog about it, attend international meets, work at environmentally sustainable businesses do not ‘Walk the Talk’.

It is time we changed the narrative and celebrated the real unsung heroes of sustainable living who are arguably contributing directly to sustainability of India and the world. Here’s one shop owner Das from Kuilapalayam near Auroville in India. Das (58) is in the centre of picture along with his grandson Ritish (9) and his staff Karthavarien (64).  Das runs a small stall that specializes in making and repairing leather shoes and bags. He is friendly and is very capable in fixing things. He is friendly and reasonably priced. He lives locally and walks/cycles/scoots to work from another village Kottakarai just 5 km away.



Das has saved me from buying new things by repairing some of my dear possessions. He probably does not realize that by fixing things for people he is contributing significantly to the sustainability of India. However, he belongs to the declining breed of people as there isn’t much money or respect in such a profession.  Das would like his grandchildren to study and find a respectable job in a city.replaced the slider of the zip of my black laptop backpack. It is now a non-matching silver slider. His touch has made the backpack even more valuable for me. He has fixed our bamboo shopping bag by replacing the worn out bag handles with durable leather ones giving it a new lease life. The soles of my Reebok came off due to humidity.  Das stitched the soles back on the shoes. I have been jogging with them for over six months now.

It is high time we changed the narrative of what is respectable and what is important for our society. We should celebrate people and craftsmen like Das who help us consume fewer resources and reduce our environmental impact by extending the life of our things.

Let’s talk about them next time in the next party instead of Al Gore, Pachori or DiCaprio. Let’s thank them and show them the respect they deserve.

If you live in India, I bet there is someone like Das still there round the corner from you. Next time you pass by them slow down and salute them as they are the real heroes of sustainable living.

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