Goa is the hub of flea markets. Now that the rains have gone, and the tourist season has almost kickstarted, you will find them in every corner of this beautiful state. There are so many that they even take place on weekdays.
Starting on Thursdays, they make a fantastic outing for locals as well as tourists as an early start to the weekend. It is usually a one stop place for many things you would not find otherwise. They also support the local artisans and small businesses, which the state has no dearth off. Sometimes, you will find vendors from other states coming in specially for the market.
FLEA FACTS & SOLUTIONS
With such markets, comes the problem of producing, encouraging and managing waste. Often, the packaging used is not good for the planet. For the products to not gather dust and yet be visible, they may be packed in single use plastic. Food may be served with disposable cutlery and crockery for convenience.
All these single use items, firstly, use up a lot of resources to be produced, and then more when they are trashed. The carbon footprint is high, and on the other hand, if they are not recycled or composted, they will stay on the planet forever in landfills, polluting the neighbourhood areas.
Close to 99% of the things purchased are thrown out within a span of six months. About 2.12 billion tonnes of waste is produced every year in the world. We humans have not successfully dealt with it yet and can no way leave it all for our future generations to deal with.
So, how can market organisers do their bit to reduce the carbon footprint, lower the waste produced and do their bit to encourage sustainability?
1. Set vendor criteria
Choose vendors whose products are of good quality so that they are long lasting. It is best if the materials are good for the environment and consume few resources in their production and have a planet-friendly end of life. They should be available package-free for customers, who get their own packaging as well as in sustainable ones.
2. Provide supporting amenities
Keep jars or filters and reusable glasses for drinking water. Reusable cutlery and crockery would be essential, too. There could be provisions of a sink and tap where these, along with recyclable waste, if any can be washed and dried.
3. Manage waste better
Even if there is some inevitable waste, it must be segregated in various categories, beyond wet and dry. There could be bins for pure compostable waste, like food waste that can be composted, as well as one for clean waste like paper, plastic, tins and glass that could be sent to recyclers. And another one for e-waste.
4. Choose appropriate times
Less electricity would be required for markets that happen during daylight and outdoors.
5. Encourage thrifting
Everyone needs a change. So, instead of creating and buying new products, buying secondhand is the best for our mother Earth. Keep special stalls or tables for people wanting to sell secondhand.
(Heena Shah is an avid traveller and covers topics such as sustainable travel and lifestyle. Got comments, suggestions? Contact: Explorer.firstname.lastname@example.org)