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Ditch convenience to support sustainable lifestyle [ #writebravely ]

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 toΒ 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.”Β  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:

chintan-goonj-sustainable-lifestyle-writetribe-write-bravely-challenge-composting-decluttering-soapnuts-alternate-lifetyleI 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.

Recycling Water

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

chintan-goonj-sustainable-lifestyle-writetribe-write-bravely-challenge-composting-decluttering-soapnuts-alternate-lifetyleI 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, soΒ  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

chintan-goonj-sustainable-lifestyle-writetribe-write-bravely-challenge-composting-decluttering-soapnuts-alternate-lifetyleTwo 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 ChintanΒ that recycles this waste responsibly. You can contact them to pick up dry waste from your colony/home too.

Home composting

chintan-goonj-sustainable-lifestyle-writetribe-write-bravely-challenge-composting-decluttering-soapnuts-alternate-lifetyleI 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. πŸ™‚ Pssssst: I brought the home composter from Sampooran and you could check out Daily Dump too for it.

Bio Enzymes

chintan-goonj-sustainable-lifestyle-writetribe-write-bravely-challenge-composting-decluttering-soapnuts-alternate-lifetyleI 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. IfΒ  you want to learn more on this, check out here.

Beauty Products

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 πŸ™

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 πŸ˜‰ Psssst: I would love to share recipes, so don’t be shy to ask πŸ™‚

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:

#writetribe #writebravely

I’m taking part in the Write Tribe ProBlogger Challenge

Also Linking up with Sanch for #fridayreflections

sounds-of-silence-grace-Mothers-day-india-mom-me-childhood-manners-motherhood-children-well-mannered-manners-beahviourΒ disobedience-terminal-nostalgia-write-tribe-problogger-challenge-write-bravely-pattern-bank

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63 thoughts on “Ditch convenience to support sustainable lifestyle [ #writebravely ]

    1. Thanks for saying so Sreedeep; I am happy to note the growing tribe of peeps concerned about the environment and doing their bit for it in whatever little way possible. Carrying your own bag is one such easy thing to do and I pray it catches on universally in a big way!

  1. Wow thats quite a lot you are doing to get into the sustainable living mode Shalz. I have a long way to go. I am a crazy shopaholic and love buying clothes, shoes, bags etc which means I have a wardrobe full. I do try and declutter and I am quite savage but sometimes it breaks my heart – thinking of the money I paid for something and hardly used it. Coming to using natural ingredients – I am all for it but honestly with such a hectic schedule find it really tough to invest time in this. I would need to see if any of this homemade stuff is readily available

    1. God I remember my shopping sprees and now feel so ashamed of myself! Its truly a waste of money and I am learning to economise it better. I will post pics of the stuff when its ready- another month to go for the first batch of bio enzyme…. YAY!!!

    1. Thanks V! Yes growing food is very very satisfying and I feel its a great stressbuster too!!:-) The thrill of collecting the harvest is something that can lift your mood to high ends!

  2. I agree with you that to have a sustainable life style which in turn will sustain our PLANET means giving up a lot of comfort and also dealing with neighbours who may not agree with you.
    I would love to have a kitchen garden but have no space in my Mumbai apartment for a composting kit leave alone growing plants. The few plants that I had led to an attack of Malaria one year and Dengue the next so I’d rather buy stuff from the market than grow my own.
    But our building is collecting kitchen waste to make into compost and I have stopped using plastic bags.
    I remember washing my hair in areetha ( soap seeds) but that was quite a messy affair and don’t really want to mess up with my washing machine as getting that fixed is more than a fiddle.
    I think your ideas are doable in a house rather than a cramped apartment which you have to share with several people with different ideas, needs and habits. But of course worth pursuing in terms of declutter ( I am known for my war cry – pitch it out which I practice every quarter) and also for my re-cycling passion.

    1. I am in an apartment too Sunita and have learnt to space manage by decluttering a lot! I have started resuing so many of the containers and bottles / layer my pots to hang one on top of another as the balcony is so small- its astruggle to fit the poccha balti, clothes stand, ppots and the compost bins- but I manage by stacking things or whatever!! Actually its all grown on me and now I am not inhibited by the thought of lack of space. If you do get in the head space of this – you too will start doing it so!
      Reetha doesnt spoil the washing machine at all; infact its very gentle on the machine and clothes. Plus its in a sock/musling bag – so no residue spills into the machine to go anywhere! Try it you will be amazed – my machine is now 13 years old & Touchwood – no troubles!!!

      1. Ok will take your word for it . Is yours a front loaf machine ? Do you put the soap seeds with the wash and not in the soap container? So you soak the seeds before hand to soften them?

        1. Take about 6-8 soapnuts and put them in a small muslin bag or a cotton sock will do to. Tie the know so that none of the nuts fall out. My machine is top loading and what I do is I put in the clothes and soak the clothes and the soapnut bag for about an hour in water in the machine. After that the normal cycle for wash rinse spin continues.
          The soapnuts give you 3-4 wash atleast; keep checking the bag to see if they have turned to mush/white – thats when you discard them and add new! Its really simple. Check this link for more info on it

  3. WOW! I am super impressed by your Sustainable lifestyle, Shalz! Way to go!
    I started making compost for my plants with my kitchen waste some time back. I am really not very regular, but will definitely be..your post has inspired me to take it seriously! I too love using kitchen ingredients for beauty products. Besan and dahi are an all time fav face wash. But, do share your recipes, too. Looking forward to it. I too carry my cloth bag for veggie shopping etc. And, yes, de-cluttering is a fav pastime! If we don’t use it, don’t keep it. Make way for some positive energy!
    A highly motivating post, Shalz!

    1. Thanks Shilps; now that I read back I am super impressed with myself too and yes that cloth bag is become an omnipresent thing in my bag now. I have been a bit lackadaisal about the composting as in I am just dumping wet waste into the bins as of now. I will properly get into the mode once my balconies are rearranged – again something I am being lazy on! I need to plant my winter plants and this week have decided to ensure that its done! Maybe then the compost will become a thing of joy for me πŸ™‚
      Yup I love besan and dahi too! I also used salt /sugar to make scrubs with mint/coconutoil/lemon peels/coffee beans which I use as body or face scrubs. Send me your email ids I will send you links to some really good ones I found on the net that are super easy to make and keep!

      1. If you want to do something simpler about the compost, all you need to do is collect the daily kitchen waste, grind it in the mixer and then put that paste in your flower pots..a spoon or two depending on the size of the plant. My cousin gave me this tip and I find it doable than the vermi-compost procedure. It takes me five minutes after my cooking is done in the morning.
        WIll send my email id for this easy to make beauty recipes! πŸ˜› Thanks so much! <3

        1. Though breaking it down to smaller components is the way to make it mulch faster but I am too lazy or have other stuff to wind up and this is just not practical for mein the long run! But its a great idea for sure.

  4. Wow Shalz That is indeed incredible! We have a mango tree and a coconut tree in our yard and a neem tree and some other trees (Names i am not aware of) in the front. My mom still makes home made butter and ghee which tastes yummy than the store brought one. Yup I bake at home right from cookies to bread to as well. This is something i follow until now and try not to buy lot of junkfood/processed food or namkeens from store. Namkeens part is covered as my mom makes lot of yummy stuff at home itself so my craving for store brought snacks/namkeens have been very minimal or Zero right from childhood! I used to use home made scrubs for bathing which my mami ji used to get for us but somehow stopped using it now and after reading this post i feel like i need to get back to that habit! Also we have a compost pit in our yard! πŸ™‚

    1. Yay!!!! way to go Keerthi and may I say I am so J!!!! I want those home made murukku , chakli and other stuff too! When ever I vist the southern part of the country my luggage is full of banana chips and all of these assorted namkeens from the various hot chips shops πŸ˜‰
      I think keeping out processed food from our diet is what will keep us away from these diseases that are popping up with such regualrity – diseases that were once considered to be associated with old age only!

  5. This is amazing. How do you manage to do all of this. It takes so much effort to do all of it. Lot to learn from you. Especially, I wish I could grow my own veggies considering how the ones in the market are artificially grown. Way to go. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Thanks Meha- I would say just start. You would be surprised how easy it is to grow veggies like spinach, methi, amaranth, corriander, etc in your home that you can harvest multiple times in the season from just one seed planting.
      When I started I was reluctant to as I thought this is so tough- but gradually got used to doing it and when those first seedlings sprouted – Hallelujah – the feeling was incredible!

  6. It should be about sustainable living!! From growing your own organic produce to home compost, this must become a part and parcel of our lives. The only thing I really feel is, that the importance has still not sunk deep within us people. The first step- get schools to initiate this through children on a more serious level… My kids’ school do do it a bit, but I feel they should include it as apart of curriculum. Atleast the future generation may learn to live a better life.

    1. We have ruined it for our future generations and now if we dont amp up our effrts on a war front on this; we will be consigning them to doomsday as a future for sure!

  7. It is going to be more in focus in coming years, I’m sure, if it isn’t already. I’ve heard of many such ideas, like the soapnuts one. It requires a start, and that start takes a bit of courage, I think. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks Vinay; it was easie than I thought it to be and now its a habit like brushing my teeth! I am so happy to have jumped on this bandwagon and pray more and more folks do too as this is a growing need – make than an alarmingly growing need of the hour!

  8. That’s really fabulous! I am so proud of you. Like you said, a sustainable green lifestyle requires more effort. We have been composting for years now and as you may be aware, we also grow some veggies. Apart from the washing machine soapnut mixture, I also use it as shampoo. Have to make that culture that you mentioned. I remember the husband had made a huge batch earlier. He needed it for the plants too. I guess we all can do it with some awareness and intent. Thank you for linking my post.

    1. Thanks Rachna – I have been super duper impressed of your gardening skills- an avacado tree and a morniga tree is quite something to achieve! Pls check the Bio enzyme link in the post for all the deets on it. Basically a ratio of 1:3:10 or jaggery/citrus peels / water is what you need! I hoope you do get on it. Mine is still 2 months away from being ready but I have seen / smelt it in my friends house and its delightful!!!

  9. Thank you for this amazing post, Shalz. I’ve been decluttering my life for some time, ow, and it is really freeing. Loved the idea of bioenzymes, will be trying it out.

  10. Wow! Shalini, you are walking the talk and that is amazing. Just reading about it has made me realize how tough it must be but hats off to you for going ahead and doing it.Recently I read an article about home made hair colours and am saving the walnut shells for making the same. I have a terrace garden and but it has more of flowers and creepers less of vegetables. Only spinach is growing in two pots and I have lots of aloe vera πŸ™‚ Must check out how to make beauty products from it.

    1. Thanks so much Su for the praise; its become quite addictive to do this now actually!! For aloe vera, slit the leaf and take out the gel, whizz it in the small grinder jar of your mixie and voila gelis ready. Refreigerate it and use it as a great hair conditioning mask after putting color/mehindi or as a face pack at night; rinse in morning!!
      Hair colour from walnuts sounds brilliant as the walnut shell colour is very very fast and the stain is impossible to rid of!

  11. This is a big deal Shalini and you are an inspiration for all of us. I recycle the waste water from RO system by using it for cleaning the balcony and mopping purpose but there is a lot more I can do. I have bookmarked this page to come back to check out the links in this post. Let me see how much I can do for enduring a sustainable life.

    1. So happy to know that Anamika; give me a ping if you want some help with the measures; trust me these are super easy to practice!

  12. Quite an important topic to discuss, especially given the current state of affairs around the globe.
    We could all do with these handy tips – and better start now than never.

    Good of you to write on this, Shalini. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Mahak- its actually quite easy once you start off; more like a habit that needs to be cultivated than anything else!

  13. Wow, Shalini!! You are doing such great things to conserve the environment. I segregate dry waste from wet waste now regularly. I also roll the sanitary napkins in a newspaper and put a red mark on it so when the waste is segregated it goes into the plastic dump and not in the waste that gets recycled.

    1. Thanks Aesha – wow you are far more evolved than me in disposing the sanitary napkins; I am inspired to do the same! Lookng out for “other” options for the sanitary pads as they are a major landfill disaster!

    1. Wow Keerthi this is a huge one for me! Thank you so much! I hope there is sometime to do this award post as I am buried under work right now! πŸ™‚

  14. This post makes so much of sense. My husband keeps saying that for the sake of comfort we are calling a greater loss very soon. β€œIf I havent used it in last six months, I am not going to use it ever.” was my recent mantra to clean up nearly 80% of what I owned. Such a relief.

    1. Super proud of your mantra and more power to us like minded individuals! Your hubby is right- we are trading convenience for an apoclayptic future for sure!

  15. Shalz! There is danger every where with processed food and artificial vegetables which is detrimental to health. Time to chuck out those artificial produce and go green to be healthier. The idea of making baked products is a good way and like the idea of segregating materials. Hope more people will become conscious of good health and avoid wastage.

    1. Thanks Vishal! Yes hoping and praying more and more ppl join this bandwagon of environment consciousness and do whatever little bit they can!

  16. That’s such an inspiring lifestyle. I always keep hoping to be a positive influence on the environment in my own little way but sadly not quite there yet. The discussion on pollutants in India is a serious one. Our food especially is polluted with all sorts of toxicity.

    1. Yes Lavanya the threat to our food is real as is to our entire health. This awareness has got me started onto this train and I hope to grow in my efforts.

  17. You’ve got my respect and admiration with this post, Shalini! Many of us only ‘talk’ of saving the environment, but you are ‘doing’ so much for a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. I’m taking away several useful, practical points from you. Thanks so much for this simple, and healthy way of living!

    1. Awww thanks so much Venice. Trust me it’s easy to do all this. Now it’s all such a habit that I don’t think twice about it.

  18. Sustainable living is going to be the coarse of future if we wish to live without masks and air purifies. The government or administration take bigger measures however, we as individuals have to learn our basic duties first. very informative post.

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