I’m definitely not the right person to talk about eco-friendly living or conscious consumerism, for my hands quickly go to my wallet when a beautiful pair of shoes catches my fancy.
However, I feel slightly less guilty as I try to make-up for the environmental damage I inflict with the other practices I have inculcated in my life over years. Yes, it takes years of practice and then it becomes a habit.
My eco-friendly and nomadic friends and living in the villages, jungles and mountains with the bare minimum, convinced me that we could all live a happy life with very little. It aided all my practices.
Here are some of the things I practice; I am prone to buying a pair of shoes and other extravagances that could just gather dust in a corner or on a loft; though, I’m making a gradual effort to get rid of this habit too. Remember “Sharing is caring” for the environment, so here I am sharing my best practices and tips for eco-friendly living:
- Never leave home without a water bottle and refill it at every opportunity. Thus, you are avoiding single-use plastic tumblers or buying mineral water bottles while on the move. This practice is not only comfortable, but also keeps you hydrated all day. More than 90% of the PET water bottles are not recycled and they take hundreds of years to decompose. Believe me; I have travelled for days without buying a single bottle of water and I have never had trouble in finding fresh drinking water to refill my bottle.
- Carry an extra shopping bag in a handbag and avoid polythene covers while shopping. It’s not a bad idea to make a one-time investment and buy a trendy shopping bag. Moreover, a reusable cloth grocery bag could carry much more weight than an ordinary plastic cover. There are many alternatives to a plastic bag these days like jute, cotton, synthetic material, etc.
- Avoid taking food parcels as they always involve using layers of plastic sheets, aluminium foils and plastic containers to make it leak-proof. Besides, walking up to a nearby place to eat would mean burning some calories and tasting the local food as well.
- Although an obsolete item, especially for women, keep a handy handkerchief and avoid using serviette/tissues as much as possible.
- Use bath-powder made of lentils and soapnut instead of chemical soap/shower gels. Where I come from it is called ‘Sunni pindi’ and you will find the recipe online. It is chemical free and acts as a gentle scrub. Use boiled Reetha water for hand wash, Hibiscus leaves for shampoo. You have no clue, how much plastic, chemicals, energy and your waste contribution you will reduce by doing this that would go towards the landfill. Furthermore, most of your skin and hair-related problems would be well under control.
- Exchange your old books for new ones. There are many second-hand bookshops; Blossoms bookstore is one such store in Bangalore. Further, there are dime a dozen websites to sell/exchange your old or unused goods for something else you want.
- Separate wet waste and make compost out of it and use it as manure for your kitchen garden. Growing your own food and using your own manure is happiness too!
- If possible choose products that are in glass containers over plastic containers. Don’t use straws while drinking juice or coconut water? Try it, it is fun.
- Change old incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs. That can bring down your power bill by 30-40%.
- Travel everywhere with E-tickets. It’s hassle free. I can tell the trend is catching up , for my father took to it too!
- Buy your own coffee mugs and skip the paper cup and the stirrer.
- Turn off the lights, shut-down your laptops when not in use.
- Pay bills online and stop paper statements. Don’t opt for a balance summary receipt when you draw cash from an ATM.
- Never brush your teeth or shave with a running tap; instead use a mug. You will save up to 20 litres of water a day. Water is a precious commodity, more precious than gold.
SmallSteps foldable bag
As you may have already realized, it is a long list and you are probably aware of all these things yourself. Putting it in practice is not very difficult; if I can do it, everybody can do it.
The name of the game is to buy products that are durable, sustainable and recyclable. Living an eco-friendly life and being a conscious consumer is not only heroic and better for the planet, it is also better for your own health and that of your family.
These things may seem trivial, but small habits like these will go a long way and have a big impact. If each one of us influence at least one more person in developing these habits in his/her life, then we have made the difference. I have influenced my family and a few friends to a small extent; initially, they detested me and resisted the change, but now it has become their way of living and without regrets!
If you need some inspiration to get you started watch this: Story About Stuff
Today, on the eve of Earth Day, let’s pledge to make the slightest difference in our way of living to build a better planet!
Is there something you do you want to share? Be generous and share away.