We keep hearing about climate change, depletion of natural resources and global warming. We know these are real issues that are affecting human and animal lives adversely. We all understand, but the question is, how can we help? How can we, the city dwellers adopt a sustainable life and become agents of change?
The answer is by practicing zero waste living wherein we reduce our usage of natural resources by making simple, doable lifestyle changes.
Deepa, a sustainable lifestyles coach, shares her thoughts and some tips on how one can overcome inertia and slowly inch towards a more sustainable, mutually beneficial existence.
Having worked in various avatars across industries, Deepa says that in order to start afresh, she had to first ‘unlearn’ everything that had been conditioned by the society.
“Take something as basic as wearing the same shirt several times over as an example. It took me a long time to understand that it was absolutely okay to repeat clothes. To understand that I was not the shirt,” she emphasises.
She believes that the way to true joy is to live in harmony with the four relationships: Oneself (physically, emotionally and spiritually), Others (family, friends, and people in general), Animals (all living creatures) and Nature (soil, water and air). She noticed that the moment there was a conflict amongst any of the four, everything else got affected.
Some simple suggestions that Deepa makes to make for a more sustainable life include:
Stop shopping – Understand the need between ‘want’ and ‘need’
Today we are living a life of unimaginable luxury. Throw consumerism out of the window and understand what you really need. “I depend on free gift shops, thrift shops and hand me downs, thus consuming what is already there/ discarded by others, putting less pressure on the planet and its resources.”
Deepa often invites people to take a ‘four month no shopping challenge’ in a Facebook page she runs.
She also runs the ‘Zero Waste Lifestyle – India’ group and the gift economy forum ‘Dariya Dil Dukaan’ on Facebook.
Get to know your dustbin and manage it
We may not litter, but do we really know where the garbage from our bins go? Into landfills… now, agreeably some of them are functional and designed to be a part of integrated waste management. But, most of them are unattended dump sites that cause a build-up of all sorts of solid waste materials.
Deepa says, “Over time, I chose to stop blaming everyone and become the solution. My kitchen waste is treated in a home composter. The organic manure generated is used for my terrace vegetable garden. I have switched from tampons and single use panty liners to a mooncup and cloth panty liners. Newspapers are donated to a local animal shelter, E-waste goes to an E-waste recycler and I am still trying to figure out the best way to recycle tube lights, bulbs etc. Once we actually start caring about what we bin, we will find a way to reduce, reuse, and recycle.”
Watch what you eat, how you eat
Little changes like switching to cold pressed oils, rock salt, indigenously grown millets can bring about a significant change,” Deepa asserts. I have made eating home-cooked, healthy meals a priority. I am also vegan, no-tobacco- alcohol-carbonated drink person and try to keep away from processed food.
We are what we eat, literally. “At my home in Delhi, I grow a lot of greens/ salad vegetables on my terrace in bathtubs that people discarded,” Deepa says.
On dining out, she says, “avoid take-aways and if that is not a possibility, try to get the food packed in your containers. For potlucks and get-togethers, carry your own cutlery.”
“As far as cosmetics go, ‘If I cannot eat it, I cannot put in on my body’ is the thumb rule I go by. I use things either available in my kitchen or locally made (perfume and chemical free), keeping in mind it must have no harm on my body, animals and nature.”
A few more easy to follow things are:
- Take a public transport or car pool as much as possible
- Carry a cloth bag, carry your water bottle
- Avoid chemical floor cleaners, surface cleansers and disinfectants
- Collect the water thrown out by the RO/ water filter and use it to flush toilets/mop floors/ wash vessels
- Switch from disposable batteries to rechargeable ones
- Avoid chemical air purifiers; buy air cleansing plants like Areca palm, money plant or Viper’s bowstring hemp (snake plant) instead
- Grow something in the available space, even if it is just one pot of herbs – growing a plant brings you that much closer to the marvel that is nature
- Wash your hands instead of using tissues, hand sanitizers, wet wipes etc
- Say NO to bills/ receipts/ pamphlets/ adverts/ visiting cards etc
Making small shifts lead to larger ones and eventually an effective path to a sustainable life becomes clearer. One very important thing that Deepa stresses is, “Do not be dogmatic with your approach. Remember, we are working towards an inclusive society where we can live and let live.”
To understand more about her journey, sustainable life and zero waste lifestyle, write to Deepa: email@example.com