It was a busy evening. My friend and I were tired after a long day at a documentary shoot. We walked about 4 kilometres hauling all our equipment with us. We were famished and wanted to grab a bite before we boarded our crowded BMTC bus back home.
The shawarma place by the side of the road was so inviting. The aroma of the tandoori chicken being grilled had filled the surrounding walkway. (This was on Cunningham road, so there was an actual footpath! The joy!) We did a quick checklist and decided it was a great idea because it was affordable and easy to eat on-the-go. We rushed to the vendor eagerly.
I was quick to pull out my tiffin box. I didn’t want the butter paper that rolls are typically wrapped in. We placed our order and explained to the vendor that we didn’t want the paper wrapping on one of rolls. The vendor looked confused and disgusted. Nevertheless, he agreed. He made my friend’s Shawarma and then I handed him my box and waited while he was making mine.
I must have had the same countenance that he had before, when I was given my box back, because he had served me a splat of chicken and sauce with the flat bread on top, like it was supposed to be eaten as roti and curry.
But hey, don’t give up! The friend I was with that day, went on to study an environment course for her Masters, because she was inspired. Who knows, maybe the vendor’s opinion on roll wrapping changed too!
1. Don’t feel like if you got it wrong once, it won’t work the next time. The more you ask for something, the more educated the vendors themselves become. Demand drives supply.
2. Don’t force your friends to go the same route that you have. If you’re getting something package free, they may not want to do the same thing. If they’re not living zero-waste or plastic free or whatever it is out of a real conviction to do so, the message is lost. It would be like blindly following something they don’t understand, like most trends these days. You don’t want that. You want to cause real change. My friend switched to a more conscious lifestyle only a couple of years after this event as she was influenced over time and by several different incidents.
3. Most people ask me why I say no to paper too, even though it’s biodegradable/recyclable. I avoid all single-use as much as I can because there’s still a lot of energy and resources that go into making something as seemingly insignificant as a sheet of paper.