Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Dirty Dozen - 12 simple steps towards a sustainable lifestyle

Neel - in touch with earth ;-) (pic by sandeep banerjee)

So I’ve been telling you about the 50 different things (err..well not 50, but you know what I mean) that I was up to this November. A lot of which centered around living greener & cleaner while reducing the carbon footprint of our family and leading a more sustainable life.

Now I’m the last one to preach a certain lifestyle. But once you’ve tasted the freshness, the goodness of a more natural way of living, it’s difficult to turn back to your older one. It’s difficult to go back to a more materialistic, more toxic, more ‘I don’t have to think about the environment’ way of life. And it's just as difficult to not share some of this goodness.

Also, a lot of you responded to my previous post with questions about living a natural life. So I thought what better than incorporate these 12 steps into your daily life. Take one simple step and make that change before moving onto the next. Choose whatever catches your fancy out of this list or whichever change you feel yourself gravitating towards. Work on it, and then add another one, slowly and steadily working through the list.

Let’s begin with these 12 things to add a pinch of green to our lives.

Cloth shopping bag - noricum

1. Carry a few cloth bags in your purse/tote/shopping basket whenever you step out to go to the veggie market, the mall or to the local bazaar. Stuff the goodies you buy into these rather than bringing home a dozen plastic packets along with your purchases. You can even recycle old plastic packets by taking them along for your shopping trips (yes, I’m known to do that!).

2. Reuse wine bottles (and even liquor bottles) to store drinking water at home. So, instead of using those old plastic bottles which may be leaching carcinogens into your water, try this double whammy of recycling old glass bottles + using glass to store water.

3. Start composting your kitchen waste. While I promise a detailed post on this one, what I can say to cheer you on to get started is that if you have a mix of greens (kitchen waste, fresh leaves) and browns (dry leaves, paper), a place to dig a pit or a large bucket with a lid, and the gumption to go green, then this one’s a very satisfying step. I’ve been composting for over a month now + I’ve seen my mother vermicompost for the past two decades, and it’s such a simple but effective way to reduce the garbage that goes out of your house + feed your garden with this nourishing ‘feast’ once the waste has been composted.

4. Read labels. Really read them, when you’re buying food products as well as bath, body and home cleaning products (I’m working on a post on this). The longer the list, the more wary you should get. Try buying products, whether these are for your meals and snacks or for your home and body that have fewer chemicals, fewer toxins.

5. Switch off the lights and fans and heaters and air conditioners if you’re not using them. Turn off the television if you’re not watching a program or are in another room altogether. Switch off the geyser, the water purifier or even plug points. Teach your kids as well as the help in your home to do so too. (I almost didn’t include this point, and then remembered how often I’ve seen fans whirring, lights on in all the rooms & the TV blaring from another room…all of this when nobody’s home or when a family is sitting in one room.)

6. Turn off the taps, rectify leakages, use water wisely. To that affect, after you’ve washed your veggies or lentils or rice before cooking, pour that into your pots or into your garden.

My herb + greens garden in containers - chandana banerjee

7. Grow something. Anything. A tree, a few herbs, a patch of vegetables, flowers, plants. You can start with a few potted plants or a tub or two of herbs. If you’re more ambitious or you have a large yard, grow some vegetables for your meals. But try to get your hands in the mud and do a bit of gardening yourself, instead of getting the gardener to do the job.

8. Walk/cycle/run to the gym (I’m tempted to suggest that you hit the road or your garden for some real time workout, but let’s not get that drastic, right? ;-)). Well yes, I know it’s trendy to drive to the gym, even if it’s just a 5-minute walk away from your home. And ah…it saves you time. But maybe, just maybe, you could walk or cycle or run to the gym, and to save time, cut back on 5 minutes of your workout.

9. Buy and use body and bath products wisely. Instead of using 4 kinds of deodorant, 3 kinds of soap, 5 kinds of lotion & cream, 10 kinds of perfume, try buying and using one from each category. This way you’re not only veering away a teeny bit from a life of excess (the bane & boon of modern day life), but are also going to cut back on all that packaging and chemicals that comes with these products.

Erika G (I loved this gift wrap the photographer has created with brown paper + magazine pages)

10. Please stop using that tinsely, shiny, plastic, gift wrapping paper that's so in vogue. I know a lot of you who are reading this are moms, and you must be packing a tonne of presents every year, for your own child’s birthday party or for their friends’. Try painting your own gift wrap with your child or make newspaper gift bags or get the tailor to upcycle those old skirts, saris and bedsheets into drawstring gift bags. There a multitude of gift wrapping options to wrap up those presents without using plastic gift-wrapping paper.

11. Minimize the use of plastic cling film. If you want to cover a dish before popping it into the fridge or sending it over to a friend, use a small plate instead.

12. Don’t use those black plastic garbage bags to line your garbage bins. Try lining your bin with a day’s (old) newspaper instead. Or if you insist on using plastic bags, try reusing all those plastic packets that you’ve collected from your trips to the veggie market as bin liners. But really, when you buy those garbage bags, you’re just adding another layer of plastic to our already packaging + plastic filled lives.

So, this was my dirty dozen – a bucket list of 12 simple ways to take that step towards a more natural way of life.

Which ones are you going to tackle now?

P.S Join me on Facebook to continue the conversation.

1 comment:

  1. good one chandana....i follow the most of it.. :-)


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