Until very recently, the Bhutanese
lived a purely agricultural lifestyle. Everything came
directly from nature, and all of their waste products
could easily be recycled back into nature. When someone
was finished with something, the refuse would simply be
discarded, and it would quickly decompose and give
nutrients back to the land.
However, the recent introduction
of modern conveniences has brought the modern challenge
of dealing with plastic and other durable materials.
Snacks now come in individual wrappers, and drinks are
in aluminum containers. Suddenly plastic bags have come
to be used to carry and wrap goods of every type.
Unfortunately, the Bhutanese
culture has been slow to adapt to this change. People
are still accustomed to the natural cycle of waste
decomposition, and they continue to simply toss their
garbage aside. Unfortunately, plastics take many years
to decompose, and many ditches and streams near
inhabited regions are now severely littered with trash.
The good news is that many
Bhutanese are finally becoming frustrated with this
problem, and are starting to take action to cope with
the problem. It is hoped that through national public
education effort, the country will come to realize that
special care must be taken with the new types of trash.
The domestic dog occupies an
interesting place in Bhutanese society. Although, it is
not customary for people in Bhutan to keep dogs as pets,
dogs are nevertheless very wide spread, and entirely
dependent on humans for their livelihoods. Since dogs
are regarded as the animal closest to humans in the
cycle of rebirth, they are not to be harmed in any way.
And stray dogs can be found everywhere, roaming streets
and hills throughout Bhutan, living off the refuse and
handouts of people. This is rapidly becoming a large
problem, as the number of dogs is quickly increasing,
with no end in sight. The Royal Society for the
Protection of Nature is a private, nonprofit
organization attempting to raise awareness about
environmental issues in Bhutan. One current effort of
that organization is a program geared to spay and neuter
the stray dogs in Bhutan.