You can choose courage or you can choose comfort (but) you cannot have both. – Bene Brown
I have lost count of the number of times I have heard “It used to be so good back then. No pollution, so much greenery and the traffic was less too. Today we are just choking and nothing we eat is safe – from water to food, all is tainted in pollutants.”
Yes, this is so true and all of us would agree with it. Today we are drowning in pollution – air, water and soil. Low ground water tables, diminishing forests and growing heaps of garbage in every country , every city.
If we look at the pattern of general consumption, it’s a lot to do with convenience which is leading to a lot of this chaos.
Earlier times, our grandparents, parents would home make so many items like papad, achar, dried veggies, jams, sauces which would last a year. These were made with freshest ingredients, didn’t use much preservatives and best part no packaging.
Vegetable patches were tended meticulously and every home had at least one lemon tree and grape/guava/mango tree. There was fresh produce on the table. Even butter was churned fresh from all the cream skimmed off the milk which came from cows that didn’t graze on pollutant laden greens.
Today we go to the grocery store for everything and it comes with a tonne of packaging, often plastic. This plastic is what is choking our soil and water for decades now. Our landfills are also being robbed of anaerobic action (which leads to breaking down of all organic waste matter) as a result the piles are growing without breaking down. Plus all the preservatives that goes in making all of this food (as it has to last long) is killing our body systems.
There is a rise in a spate of health traumas like asthma, allergies, cancer, thyroid and other illnesses which is making us spend tonnes annually on our medical bills. We are eating supplements as our food is not sufficient to give us adequate nutrition.
The need of the hour is to practice sustainable living wherein we become harmonious with nature and go back to age-old traditions of growing/preserving foods, eating healthy organic food and incorporate chemical free product usage in our life.
I have been mulling over this for long and had decided two years ago to go healthy and make certain adjustments in my lifestyle which were not comfortable but in the long run would benefit me greatly. I have been aided in this largely by the growing tribe of folks aspiring to live a Zero Waste lifestyle which is god damned courageous and I am not there yet. It takes immense courage to ditch all sort of modern-day convenience and go commando over not using beauty products, buying clothes at thrift shops and recycling everything. I salute these brave men and women for their heroic lifestyle adjustments and am trying to learn from them in small ways which are doable by me to lead a sustainable lifestyle.
Going clutter free
I started practicing clutter free approach to everything I own. From my clothes to shoes to handbags to cosmetics in the toilet – all were scrutinised for usability and discarded with the simple principle “If I havent used it in last six months, I am not going to use it ever.” Believe me when I say how much this has reduces the “junk” in my house. We all tend to hoard never-to-be-used articles all the time. I have started collecting all such stuff and putting it all in a bag for various collection camps like Goonj which takes a lot of such stuff to distribute to the needy. They conduct periodic camps in neighbourhoods, do check out one nearest to you on their website.
Growing food at home:
I started growing my leafy veggies at home without any pesticides and specially brought organic manure for it. often hauling it from god forsaken places. I would crush eggshells, powder custard apple seeds to add as supplements to my plants. Dry neem leaves and add them as natural pesticides. Grew a combination of plants to invite scores of bees and butterflies to support pollination. I couldnt go on long holidays as my plants needed tending and would die out without water.
Now I am in touch with a network of such folks who are happy to share their seeds, which they save from their harvest and also give tips to grow on your own.
I started saving the RO water every time I switch on the machine. Did you know that for every litre of pure water, 3 litre goes waste in the RO? I have used this water in a number of ways – washing machine, pocha water and also to water the plants. Yes its a pain to haul the heavy bucket and tip into the washing machine but when I see how much water I re-utilise, it brings a smile to my face.
Natural laundry detergent
I recently read Rachna’s blog on using soapnuts to wash clothes and have switched to that after a short trial period. Now I don’t buy the expensive washing detergents every month and am happy to realise that the water being discharged from my washing machine is chemical free. The effort of loading the small sock with the soapnuts after every wash, or hunting for the ones fallen in the washing machine (sometimes) is nothing compared to my grocery bill savings.
Did you know that generations (and even today) have used soapnuts to wash precious woollen shawls like toosh and pashmina? My nani used to, so my mother tells me and yeah my mom also religiously washed our hair with this natural shampoo that she used to diligently make every weekend. I am thinking of switching back to this soon.
I will soon also start making the liquid version to use for dishwashing and yes that can also be used as laundry soap in the washing machine.
BTW I found them on Amazon here.
Dry waste segregation
Two years back I begged and cajoled kabbadiwalas in my neighbourhood to take the dry waste from me and dispose it off responsibly. From glass bottles to cheese spread containers to plastic wrappers of chips, dals, masala – I saved it all from the garbage bin and at the end of the month gave it all to him. I used to get sick of the bundles of dry waste stashed under my sink but every time it would go,it would bring a big smile to my face.
When I moved into a residential apartment block this year, I was happy to find like-minded souls in the RWA who agreed on doing this within the complex. Now there are two trash bins kept in the compound for collecting dry and electronic waste which is picked up by an NGO Chintan that recycles this waste responsibly. You can contact them to pick up dry waste from your colony/home too.
I invested in a home composting kit this year and havent looked back since then. I havent managed to get manure as yet as my bins get filled soon and I keep adding wet waste to it. But the fact that almost no garbage goes out of my house, is a thrill that I can’t describe in mere words. I just need to organise my composting cycles better to be able to harvest manure for my plants now. I am using the leachate from the compost bins as natural fertiliser for my plants.
Ummm yes it is a bit yucky to turn garbage every few days and the sight of the worms in the bin do make my stomach turn but its all for a good cause. 🙂 Pssssst: I brought the home composter from Sampooran and you could check out Daily Dump too for it.
I had been hearing about these since long but often the hassle and space constraint issues would desist me from indulging in this. I took the plunge a month back and now am waiting for one batch to be made – yeah it takes 3 months for the first batch as the fermentation process takes that long. But this miracle cleaner is made from citrus peels and can replace Lizol, Harpic and dishwashing liquid in our homes.
Not to mention that the water discharged is chemical free and the ease on grocery bills is mind-blowing. It’s quite a simple process and doesn’t require too much space or hassle on your part. If you want to learn more on this, check out here.
Remember all the home-made scrubs and creams that nani used to make for you whenever you went to her home in vacations? I used to hate them as they were often smelly (I hate the smell of milk) and would take ages to get out of my hair too. Now I yearn for them and have switched to natural cleansers from my kitchen into my bathing routine; drawback I need to make them myself 🙁
I use almond and rice scrub for my face, gramflour and yoghurt for body scrub, egg/yoghurt/honey for hair masks and a multitude of face packs from veggies and fruits (depending on weather/ailment). Also love making sugar/salt scrubs with some yummy ingredients like vanilla, coconut, mint and lemon which are great for exfoliation. I smell wow and so does my loo 😉 Psssst: I would love to share recipes, so don’t be shy to ask 🙂
All of these are chemical free and don’t pollute the bath water. Plus the improvements in my skin is a testament to their miracle. I don’t have to tell you how much I save on not buying beauty products.
On the anvil is to make soapnut shampoo and aloevera gel from my garden; shall update when I get around to it.
Going off processed food
Being diagnosed with thyroid this year was a huge health wake-up call for me and I started off by eliminating processed food stuff from my diet. I have started making home roasted namkeen, baking cookies/ crackers and using grains like jowar, bajra, ragi, oats, etc in my daily food.
Looking to start baking my own bread and other bakery items that I crave for soonest at home. Oh and I have also ditched eating out much and put a self-imposed ban on aerated drinks.
To sum it up, sustainable living is initially not very comfortable to practice and we may be put off by the hassles involved, paucity of time and space and other hang ups. But trust me when I say this, these few steps have created a world of difference in my health, environment, attitude and outlook towards life. Not to mention the huge savings on my monthly bills.
Do you practice any such sustainable living ideas? Do share some of your tips with me too please. What do you think about my views on this?
This post has been written for the #writetribeproblogger challenge October 2017 and the prompt for today is You can choose courage or you can choose comfort (but) you cannot have both. – Bene Brown
If you would like to read the posts on previous prompts:
- 16th Oct – Disobedience
- 13th Oct – Bated breath
- 9th Oct – Terminal
- 6th Oct – Nostalgia
- 2nd Oct – Pattern
Also Linking up with Sanch for #fridayreflections