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.

photo M. Noonan

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.

photo M. Noonan

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.


photo M. Noonan

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.

Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.