If switching plastic with eco-friendly alternatives seems like a challenging task, then you have not heard of a Mumbai-based Preeti Singh who will happily tell you that boycotting plastic-packed personal and home products has reduced her expenses by 25 per cent!
A staunch supporter of a sustainable lifestyle, the home-maker has also cut down a major share of her waste. Here’s her simple but inspiring story.
A cracked heel that set the journey afoot:
Sometimes, the beginning of a strong resolution starts with a seemingly unremarkable incident. For Preeti, it was a request from the domestic help.
“She pointed at her painful-looking cracked heels, and said that they hurt terribly and even bleed. Nothing she tried had worked for her and the poor woman was asking for good creams. My mother, who had been visiting at the time, asked me for some mustard oil and a candle. Within the next 10 minutes, she had heated and mixed the two to make a healing oil,” Preeti shares with The Better India.
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When Preeti’s mother enquired from the maid whether the oil worked or not, surely enough, she was told that the ointment worked like a charm!
That was Preeti’s AHA! moment. Beginning that day, Preeti learnt from her mother the tricks of making creams and oils at home. Today, she has branched out to making 30+ varieties of detergents, handwashes, lip balms, floor cleaners, shampoo, conditioners right at her home.
Plastic-cutting is cost-cutting:
It’s not just about handmade creams for the Mumbai homemaker. The plastic burden that comes with her groceries is something she has thrown out of the window completely. It started with her carrying her own bags and containers to every store she went to.
“Big supermarkets and malls are a complete no-no for me when it comes to simple groceries. Instead, I go to the neighbourhood kirana shop with my containers. When I had just begun this initiative, I would forget or miscalculate the number of containers I would need. But then I disciplined myself,” she says. She had made the choice and there was no turning back from that promise.
Now, her neighbourhood grocer and baker know that Preeti didi will never take a polythene bag from them and so they go out of their way to help her out. That’s the advantage of shopping local. Not only do you help the environment but also build interpersonal skills.
Stop contributing to waste in Mumbai.
How often do you throw out your garbage? Every day? Thrice a week? For Preeti, these numbers are a thing of the past. Now that she segregates her waste as plastic, glass and wet waste, the garbage goes out only once a week.
“Citrus fruits are preserved to be made into bio-enzymes. The remaining wet waste is dumped in a basket and, every week, I give it away to the gardener of a neighbouring school. He turns it into compost for the school garden. This reduces my garbage by almost half and so, I have to throw it away just once every five days or so. It really doesn’t take any effort from my side and we need to help the government in waste management. This is my contribution,” she informs.
What does the Mumbai mom gain from all this?
Well for one, she has the satisfaction of knowing that she is doing everything in her best capacity to ease the burden of landfills off Mumbai’s shoulders. But that’s not all. Even if you calculate the raw materials Preeti needs to buy to make her 30-odd personal care, cleaning and kitchen products, she still manages to save about Rs 10,000 every month.
“Simple tricks like taking coconuts to an extractor instead of buying oil from the shop help me cut down on the cost. Thankfully, both my kids have grown up and I can afford to spend the time in making these products. Plus tips from online tutorials and videos really helped,” Preeti says.
At the end of the day, it’s all about your priorities, right?
When you know you can utilise your time in making your home a safer place, why not do it? For Preeti, the satisfaction comes not from the fact that she is saving thousands of rupees every month but from her friends when they ask her for her creams.
“My son and daughter still love having biscuits which come in plastic packets. And I let them have it. This journey is a personal one, not about punishing anyone. I know they will come around eventually. Here’s hoping to a brighter, cleaner future!” she signs off.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)