We are always consuming, absorbing, feasting on gadgets, electronics, plasticware and innumerable disposable items mindlessly strewn around ranging from something as trivial as cotton swabs in our houses to plastic straws and paper napkins outdoors. This constant devouring of resources, the capitalist’s strategy of ‘design to dispose’ and making the use-and-throw attitude a public norm have gotten our land and the oceans into facing some serious environmental troubles leading to an inevitable catastrophe, no sooner than later. To combat these problems while maintaining the existing lifestyle we live, BUT doing that in an organic sustainable manner has become the focal point of discussion and ideation for scientists, environmentalists, researchers, leaders, organisations, institutions and also of different kinds of lifestyle bloggers too, all around the world.
It has always strained my heart, ever since I was a young girl, to see water running off from a tap in its full glory with zero accountability. Minimal or no literacy about water wastage, understanding the dire needs of rightful waste segregation method along with proper means of waste disposal are essential domains in our country that call for action NOW!
And so, I decided to kick-start my own speedboat in sailing towards a lifestyle of frugal living which comprises of minimal wastage, reduced usage of ‘use-and-throw’ items and delayed consumption and interaction with objects of daily use.
For the past eight months, I have been trying to take small steps of a staircase which seem to rise each time with every move I make. Environmental consciousness coupled with my personal admiration for Indian ayurvedic ways of living steered me towards making certain choices that are not only environmentally sound but also have proven to be much healthier and a safer choice for my body and mind.
India does not quite really live ‘out of the box’. We are the kinds who stack our kitchen cupboards and drawers with ordered-in food containers or plastic dabbas which we later use to pack our own lunch for travel or simply passing them on to our domestic help and staff with food and condiments. Our own kitchen drawer in my house overflows with reusable air tight containers, bowls, plastic cutlery and water bottles.
But let’s have a look at certain important conversions that I have made in my daily routine for an alternative lifestyle in order to minimise my trash while also living healthily and successfully moving towards my goal of frugal living.
1. DIY Toothpaste
Toothpastes available in the market are well, part drug and part cosmetic. Excessive consumption of fluoride and other substances present in toothpaste compositions can lead to different kinds of fluorosis and severe erosion of the tooth matter over time. The packaging of a toothpaste requires significant amounts of paper, plastic and aluminium along with other metals like tin, zinc or lead making it completely non-recyclable. Therefore, I decided to start my own voyage of ‘frugal living’ by replacing the first item we use to start our day with. I started making my own toothpaste. Yes! And that too by using only organic ingredients which are commonly found in our everyday kitchen i.e one, a paste of turmeric, rock salt and mustard oil, sometimes switching it up with two, oil pulling using cold pressed coconut oil during the week. This concoction is extremely good for your oral hygiene and the health of your teeth (yes, the rotten ones, weak ones and sensitive ones too!) while oil pulling, not only does it clean your teeth but it also helps to detoxify your body completely by throwing out the excess mucus and toxins which get accumulated over time. Also, it facilitates weight loss too.
Shop for Rock Salt Here
Shop for Turmeric Here
Shop for Mustard Oil Here
Shop for Cold Pressed Coconut Oil Here
2. The Silicon Cup
Using a menstrual cup during my periods has been a complete game changer for me ever since I started using one. Experiencing periods have now become a hassle free endeavour with much demanded ease and comfort. Especially, while travelling, playing a sport and even while I am dancing. Oh! You can also go for a swim too, for as long as you want. Menstrual cups are revolutionary in terms of minimising / almost wiping out the environmental deterioration sanitary napkins and tampons disposal bring about.
Shop for Menstrual Cup Here
3. Steel Straw Pipes
Commonly used plastic straws do not biodegrade very easily and lie around in the landfills and oceans for a millions of years. Instead, they break down into micro plastics which contaminate the soil and water, almost ending up in the food chain. These plastic straws in the oceans are completely destroying the ocean bed and marine life below. Thus, I decided to ditch the twenty minute utility plastic straws and instead, buy myself a stainless steel straw pipe which is reusable, easy to clean and very affordable too.
Shop for Reusable Steel Metal Straws Here
Bring Your Own (Water) Bottle is my effort towards reducing the plastic consumption we indulge in each time we buy a bottle of packaged water while travelling, commuting or eating out. Carrying your own water bottle, not only saves the environment from the amount of plastic getting tossed in the trash cart but it also saves a good amount of money from our wallets.
5. A Stitch in Time
Carrying my own cotton or jute bags every time I go out to buy grocery or visit the nearby departmental store outlet is something I do very responsibly and diligently. I pointedly ask the shopkeepers to not give me any of my items in polyethylene bags or paper envelopes unless it has been made out of recycled newspaper. Small attempts and measures like these can go a long run when you calculate the quantity of paper and plastic you have said NO! to in a week, month and cumulatively in a year.
Shop for Grocery Bags Here
6. Eat Local
Buying fruits and vegetables that are locally grown is a much healthier and friendlier option than asking for some olives and avocados sitting in a humid city of India. Local produce directly affects your diet and overall wellbeing while at the same time, cutting down on soil exhaustion, water depletion along with bringing down the fuel costs, tax and the overall expense of these products.
7. Bucket Baths
I have made a major change in my life by switching from long hot showers in the bathroom which I totally relish to taking a bath from a bucket filled under a tap. You will not believe me when I say that by doing just this, one can save around 20 litres of water daily, if not more. You not only save water but also gain some extra time which was earlier spent standing mindlessly under the shower. I also control the force of the flushes in a toilet in terms of the quantity of water each flush expels. With each flush, we throw roughly around 15-20 litres of water which is just not required every time you go take a pee.
8. Newspaper Covers
I have also started lining the inside of my kitchen bin with two sheets of old newspaper rather than using the commonly available black disposal bags. Newspapers are not only eco-friendly but are also excellent moisture absorbers which keep the wet waste odour at bay.
9. Collect Rain Water
I also make it a point to keep out our buckets and small tubs outside in the balcony or in our terrace every time it pours. This water is later used to feed the birds that come to our veranda every morning and also to mop the floor which is done twice in a day at my house.
10. Recycling Old Clothes & Paper
Yes, we’ve all at least once in our lives heard that ‘sharing is caring’, isn’t it? Well, it is. Care for the community, for the society and for the environment holistically. Giving away your old clothes not only saves the increasing pressure on industries and save money, but it also reduces the pressure from where these raw materials come from. Wearing clothes till they are worn out or giving it away to the maid who works in your house not only saves you and them some money, it also reduces the impact of excessive consumption and the need for industries to meet the demands. Alternatively, switch to organic cotton that is far more sustainable and less detrimental to the environment.
These are some of my ways in which I try to live plastic free and reduce not just my own carbon footprint, but in some way my whole family’s as well. I am always on the lookout for learning new ways of living trash free, constantly exploring new ways of doing away with plastic and packaging as much as I can and researching and inventing new sustainable DIY recipes every day.