A sustainable lifestyle is an unshakable commitment that contributes to being more green.
Plastic our greatest enemy today- WHY?
Plastic was introduced in 1907. During the 1930’s, it was widely used in World War II’s arsenal. Plastic became very popular during the 1960’s and has been an inseparable part of our lifestyle ever-since.
- Today, our oceans are polluted with the amount of plastics equivalent to the size of islands. As a result, our marine life is suffering; choking on the plastic or consuming it as food.
- Even the wild-life on dry land gets attracted to garbage produced by humans, leading to poor nutrition, poisoning and ultimately, death.
- Ground-water is becoming polluted by the toxins released from plastics buried in the landfills.
- Incineration of plastic releases toxic fumes that also end up in the atmosphere around us. On inhalation it causes respiratory problems in humans and animals.
What changes can make your lifestyle greener?
Usually, when I ask someone to take-up a more sustainable lifestyle, they don’t know where to begin. We live in India and there is, literally, a mountain of garbage in the capital. I think we can start with reducing our contribution to that.
Limit the amount of waste you produce, daily.
1. Refuse- Say NO to the things you don’t need.
This means, say no to every single use plastic item you come across. It can be take-away containers, straws, plastic bags (the thing Indian market just can’t get rid of), single-use cutlery, etc.
What I recommend, is to carry a few things in your bag or your car when you leave. Such as, a reusable bag, a reusable straw, a coffee mug, a water bottle, steel cutlery and a cloth napkin. It might seem like a lot. But, when you think of how much it would effect the need for making new single-use plastic. You will understand what difference this small step would make.
2. Reduce- Decrease the things that you do need.
Buy your groceries in bulk. And you can put them in your own bags or jars. There are many stores that give you the option of buying loose flour, sugar, pulses, etc. Similarly, most farmer’s markets (your local ‘apni mandi‘) also give you these options. This reduces the need for plastic packaging and also, saves the time you spend putting them in jars after bringing them home.
Also, buy your make-up in bulk or buy from brands that use biodegradable packaging.
This applies to many other things if you set your mind to reduce the need for packaging. Remember that for every packed item that you replace, consequently, reduces the need for a new one.
3. Reuse- What you have already brought home
Use your old clothes that you can not donate as rags to clean surfaces. Being an Indian, we know that old t-shirts and towels become ‘pocha’. Keep that tradition alive! The clothes that still have good fabric can be stitched into handkerchiefs, cotton shorts, night gowns, masks etc. (Also something my mother taught me)
I have friends who reuse empty bottles of wine as water bottles and those look super cool.
Use the bread packets to pack sandwiches. And use old take-away containers as bowls to feed stray animals or birds. Contemplate before you throw something away as garbage. Watch some DIY videos and Improvise!
Buy things that can be used over and over again instead of single use things. For instance, women can switch to diva cups in place of sanitary pads or tampons. This can make a major impact, given that a woman uses about 200 pads/year. Also, think of the money that you’ll save. Have a zero-waste period!
4. Recycle- The things you can’t refuse, reduce or reuse.
Don’t throw your empty shampoo bottles, lotions bottles, fruit-jam jars etc. with rest of the garbage. SEPARATE! Sell these things to a scrap-merchant. Also an Indian tradition- selling old books, bottles, buckets, etc to Raddi Wale Bhaiya. As there aren’t many places with recycle bins in India (none that I know of, honestly), Raddi Wale Bhaiya is our sustainability-savior. And you make money here as well. Everyone profits from a sustainable lifestyle.
Remember – Wash containers before selling them because sometimes they end-up back in the trash due to contamination. Contaminated items can’t be recycled and they spoil any other items close to them, too.
Reusing is better than recycling as a lot of energy is driven from our natural resources in that process.
5. Rot- COMPOST!
We eat 3 to 5 meals a day. All the waste produced from preparing food is mostly organic. You can compost all the organic waste in your house and create natural fertilizer. It’s also good for the environment as it reduces soil erosion. Healthy soil has better water holding capacity and attracts worms, bacteria and birds which helps biodiversity. It is pretty easy to learn, too.
Organic waste occupies about 20-25% of the space in landfills per year. And it doesn’t have to end up there. It can be put to better use. If more people compost, it will reduce the green-house effect in the landfills.
Above all, if you don’t take anything out of this article, the least you could do is avoid plastic bags and compost organic waste. The whole concept is to segregate and limit the amount of garbage you throw-out, daily.
I hope this is helpful to those who have been wondering where to begin. Share this article with someone who could use a little help, too!
A sustainable lifestyle does not make you less cool. If anything, it makes you a better human being.
Be kinder to the planet that nurtures you.