It was an intentional choice not to take photos of the trash, except in rare circumstances. I tried to capture the beauty of India in a way that would translate to our American sensibilities, while excluding the parts that would not have enough context to be acceptable… See, India has very little infrastructure for 1.3 billion people, and that means no one is there to pick up the trash. And even if some do-gooders wanted to get out there and clean it up out of the goodness of their hearts (my friends did this), the trash comes back. There are no public waste cans, and no trash pickup, so there’s nowhere for the trash to go… except on the ground. And you might think that biodegradable materials would be favored, given India’s population density and incredible ecosystem, but nope. Plastic. All the way, everything, in as much packaging as possible (it seems to me — heck, I just got a muffin, and it came with a non-recyclable paper wrap, a plastic spoon, a napkin, and a plastic plate… for one muffin).
So there’s litter on almost everything, and it was work not to take photos of it.
This “unspoilt wilderness” idea we have about India is misled.
In addition, countries like the US and Europe look to countries like India and China to handle their waste. We make too much, and someone has to take it, so why don’t we pay a lot for it to get shipped far away? Well, it’s not working. We can’t ship our problems to countries that have their own significantly larger problems.
We need to make a commitment to be leaders in trash reuse and elimination. The world has looked to the US for innovation on everything: computers, apps, cars, whole industries… we have the brainpower and the resources, we just need the WILL.
India’s trash problem isn’t unique: This is OUR problem too. We just have the infrastructure to hide it from our view. For now.