Why use a refrigerator to store water when you can use a clay pot?

Decreasing demand in India for earthen pots to store drinking water has affected thousands of potters' livelihoods. The film 'Vanishing Potters' provides a closer look.
A potter making a clay pot in Jevra Sirsa village in Durg district A potter making a clay pot in Jevra Sirsa village in Durg district

What's not to like about clay pots? "They cool water naturally due to the tiny air pores present in them, are affordable, save energy and are eco-friendly when compared to refrigerators", says Gautam Bandhopadhaya, a water expert in Chhattisgarh. Apart from cooling water, the alkaline clay interacts with the acidity of water and provides the proper pH balance. It's unfortunate that people have forgotten these benefits and have stopped using clay pots to store water. This decrease in the use of earthen pots has impacted the livelihood of thousands of potters.

"Two decades ago, in Jevra-Sirsa village in Durg, Chhattisgarh, 150 households depended upon pottery for their income but only 20 families continue this trade today", says Satish Kumbhakar, a potter from the village. Since the 1990's, there has been a continuous decline in the production of clay pots due to changing lifestyles, increased use of refrigerators and the use of bottled water.

Water bottles are usually made from completely recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics, but the plastic used in these bottles is not biodegradable. They not only pollute the environment but also affect our health in the long run. Studies have shown that the plastic bottle leaks a chemical called Bisphenol A in the water that disrupts the distribution of hormones in the human body and causes cancer. Additionally, more than 80 percent of recyclable plastic bottles end up in landfills each year. They do not break down naturally and release toxic chemicals when they finally do decompose, according to the Columbia Water Center.

Clearly, clay pots are beneficial in more ways than one. Maybe using them again will save our environment as well as the livelihoods of thousands of potters.  

 

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