Over the past year, I’ve tried to learn and educate myself on ways through which one can lead a sustainable lifestyle, a way in which one can have less of a negative impact on the environment around. I’m a long way off from perfecting sustainability in every sphere of life, but I believe we all need to start somewhere. And every little change you make, every little step towards creating less waste and saving resources helps in the long run.
Baby steps, one day at a time. That’s how you go about it!
1. Skip single use items
I’m trying to reduce using items like paper towels and tissues in the kitchen and instead replace them with re-usable and washable kitchen napkins or better yet, use a cloth that can be washed. Other single use items to avoid include plastic cutlery, plastic covers, disposable bottles and basically anything plastic!
2. Compost all your wet waste
Composting at home has become so easy these days since you get everything needed to begin your composting journey at the click of a button. There are numerous videos showing you how to start off at home and what are the basic things you will need to begin. A lot of wet waste is generated in your kitchen every single day, and instead of all that going into the trash, you can turn into nutrient rich soil.
Buy: Home compost set
3. Use natural cleaners or make them at home
During the lockdown, my mom decided not to use any chemical floor cleaners and instead used plain water and a mop to clean the entire house, replacing the dirty water with a fresh bucket of water for each and every room. The floor remained dust free and relatively cleaner than usual with plain water than with a floor cleaner.
It’s especially important to not use chemicals cleaners when you have pets or kids at home. Some brands like The Better Home and Nimyle offer products that are all natural.
You can also make your own natural cleaners at home using these tips.
Buy: Natural home cleaner
4. Use energy saving bulbs
Every single day, I find myself switching off lights and fans in various rooms in the house which my husband leaves on (are all husbands like this?). While shopping for lights for your home, check out all the options available in the market, specifically energy saving options. Switching to energy saving bulbs is a great way to save on your overall power consumption
Buy: Energy saving bulbs
5. Fresh fruit juices instead of boxed ones
Boxed juices are not only high in sugar content and preservatives, they also come in packaged boxes, most of which are not 100% recyclable since there is some form of plastic lid or rim. Recycling is a conscious process that requires you to really put in effort. And try as you might, there will be days when you are tired and might just think of tossing it in the trash can. The best alternative is to avoid tetra packs as often as possible. Buy fresh fruits, and invest in a really good juicer – healthy for you body as well as the environment!
6. Shop local as much as you can
Be it your daily groceries or clothes or makeup products, shop from home-grown local brands. You are not only supporting small businesses, but there is also more transparency and communication between the brand and consumer. While I’m the first advocate for online shopping because of the convenience, I’m trying to make changes in the way I shop locally as much as I can!
7. Be aware of who you are buying from
Being a conscious consumer is important if you want your choices to have a positive impact on you and your surroundings. With so many choices around, it’s easy to ignore the ‘research and study’ process and give in to buying just any brand or product. But if you can put that laziness aside, and put in a little bit of effort, you can actually help in supporting the right kind of business – one that is authentic.
The kind of aspects you can research: tags and labels for ethical sourcing, ingredients for food items, reviews from other consumers, company background and manufacturing processes.
8. Carry water bottle, your own shopping bag everywhere
This has now become second nature to me, as I’m sure to most of you as well. Especially since Covid happened we are all more cautious than usual about carrying our own water bottles and shopping bags every where.
9. Repair, don’t replace
I mend my slightly torn dresses, replace zippers on old bags, get new straps onto old watches, re-use old worn out sarees by stitching them into tops or blouses, re-use broken furniture as decor pieces (to the extent possible), re-use extremely old clothes as dusting rags. The point is to try and extend the life of every item, think of ways to re-purpose broken/old things, and basically put even “waste” to good use.
10. Stop using straws!
Yes, even steel or bamboo! When it comes to single use products like plastic straws, a lot of people advocate just changing the material to something more sustainable. But we shouldn’t just assume that it’s the fix for every single-use product, and we shouldn’t forget that there is a long, energy-draining process that goes into making anything made of steel. Paper/bamboo isn’t that great either, as a lot of current versions of paper straws can’t be recycled, despite what we believe, due to thickness of the straws and lamination so they don’t disintegrate in liquids. The best thing to do is to avoid using straws altogether where possible and just take a sip directly!
11. Use daylight as much as possible
Resist the urge to switch on lights during the daytime, and instead throw open those doors and curtains. Use daylight as much as possible and only switch on lights when necessary. Working in my balcony or next to an open window in a well ventilated room makes sure I’m not switching on any lights at home until evening.
12. Avoid products with micro plastics – including tea bags
We all know how micro plastics contribute to pollution in water bodies. Since the past few years we have been pretty aware about not buying skin care or beauty products with micro plastics in them. In fact most them have even got banned over the years. But did you know that even tea bags have micro plastics in them? It’s aways a better option to use a tea powder/dust/leaves and a tea strainer instead of tea bags that you throw away after a single use.
13. Change your snacking and don’t buy items that have lot of packaging
Most of the packaged snacks come in plastic covers that quickly pile up into a load of plastic that’s going to end up in the landfill. With just a little bit of patience and planning, you can change your snacking habits and try home-made snacks, healthy snacks like fruits and nuts. If you don’t have time to make your own snacks and you MUST buy for some reason, try to buy ones that come in bottles, which can be re-used for other purposes instead of ones that come in plastic packets. A lot of stores these days, like Pure Naturals, even allow you to get your own containers and fill them up in the store with their healthy selection of snacks.
14. Use plastic & electronics recycling services
Services like Bintix, ScrapQ help in segregating waste products, plastic containers, and even old electronics that you no longer use and cannot dispose off easily. Check them out for ways in which you can use their services and recycle old stuff at home.