Ways of Doing Things



In Ways of Doing Things I document often-overlooked objects and practices that I encounter in my daily life in India. These practices are attached to no specific craft or trend; they are an inherent part of life, a way of doing things that is so common that it usually goes unnoticed. These things and practices are functional yet highly intuitive. They have integrity of form that goes beyond the practical and convey a sense of human involvement that never fails to charm me.

Ways of Doing Things is not only about aesthetics; the practices are part of a broader, rather complex socio-cultural context. On the one hand they show the resourcefulness of a traditionally non-waste culture. On the other hand, resourcefulness is offset by inconsistency. People of all classes might re-use a piece of cloth until it falls apart, yet, with the same ease, dump their household waste in the river or on the street or burn it in the open. 

In many cases, there is simply no other place to dispose of garbage. However, it is not only the lack of a holistic waste management system that makes this problem so complex. In India, many common things like cups, bottles, product packaging and textiles were traditionally made and used in a local eco-system. They could be repaired, re-used, recycled and eventually thrown away without harming the environment. In a global economy, however, the product constituents have changed considerable, yet the behaviour of the people has remained the same. For many Indian households it is more habitual to resourcefully re-use a piece of cloth than to thoughtfully dispose of a plastic bag.

I would like to argue that in India, practices as repairing and recycling are first and foremost 'ways of doings things'. They are deeply embedded in the culture, in most cases not regarded as sustainable practices as such and detached from a general concern for the environment – hence people's seemingly inconsistent behaviour. 

Ways of Doing Things documents resourceful things and practices that are currently in place in India.



text & images: Eline Groeneweg-Bhatt
copy editor: The English Writer