For zero waste and ecological justice to be positive, liberating forces, we need to replace the colonial infrastructure and the colonial mindsets that restrict communities like Darjeeling from cultivating real solutions rooted in traditional cultures, values, and ecosystems knowledge.

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) staff have just returned from a tour across the Himalayas, where members of the Zero Waste Himalayas network have been organizing community-based initiatives to reduce waste, reduce plastics and improve local livelihoods. At GAIA, we believe the world’s ecological crises are best addressed through local economic solutions that are developed, owned, and controlled by the communities and workers at the frontlines of these crises.

The legacy of the British Empire continues to be deeply felt in the “Hill Station” of Darjeeling. Hill stations were towns built by the British across the mountains of India, as places they could escape to during the heat of summer. Today, these townships continue to be popular tourist destinations, providing glimpses into the days of the Raj, with all its colonial trappings.

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