Green Living With Leaf Bowls

A plastic ban results in Rajasthanis reverting to traditional leaf bowls for carrying food.

‘Dona pattal’ or bowls made from leaves, were a common sight when Sunita was younger – at sweet shops, chaat stalls, in the market, at grocery stores. They were used widely at religious festivals and marriage ceremonies to hold both liquids and solids. Gradually, as plastic was made available easily and cheaply, the dona pattals became less omnipresent. Just recently, after the state-wide ban on usage of plastics of a certain type, Sunita began noticing that these environmentally-friendly, completely natural leaf bowls had come back into the lives of her villagers.

“I personally prefer them to plastic bags or cups to hold dahi (yoghurt), and I know many others do as well,” says Sunita. “The food is somehow tastier, fresher. I don’t feel it is contaminated when I eat it from a dona pattal.” She tells us that her town of Karauli has visibly become cleaner, as the gutters outside sweet shops and fast-food stalls are devoid of plastic.

The plastic ban in Rajasthan has also resulted in other traditions that had gone out of fashion being adopted in everyday life. Just recently, Sunita stitched ten carry bags from old saris she had lying around the house. A lot of women do this and one often sees women shoppers with brightly coloured sari-bags in the market.

“One thing is they don’t really have a choice, because plastic is not so commonly available anymore. But the other thing is that we always had ways of doing things that were good for our environment, and I’m happy that we have remembered these and are using them again.”

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