Everyone who is following me on my Instagram, cannot help but see all the divine pics I had been sharing on my three weeks long hill travel in picturesque Uttarakhand. It was my first real break for 2018 and I lived it up to the maximum. Thanks in no small measures to my gracious and loving hosts who have already sent me the invite for the snow viewing in December 😉
In continuations to my #100HappyDays and #Gratitude mentions on my blog all of October, I am writing about my part 2 of this divine stay. This post is about the amazing things I learned about adapting to hill way of life via my gracious hosts.
When I prepared for the travel to Uttarakhand, little did I know the tips and treats I will get to imbibe – all an essential part of living in the hills. I knew my hosts are eco conscious people who practice tonnes of green practices and I was worried about the clutter I might add via my packed stuff. I tried to be as conscious as possible of making sure no single use plastic will be disposed by me in the hills.
During our various walks I noticed 2-3 things which made me curious enough to find out more about these practices. I could smell the lovely woodsmoke in the early mornings but there would be a divine tangy fragrance there which A pointed out at pine needles. Yup the natives collect the fallen needles and use it to fuel their stoves. I simply loved the smell and yearned to pack a bag full of them to bring back with me.
Second was seeing these symmetrical cuts on the pine trees and a small metal cup installed right under it – apparently this is done to collect the sap/oil from the tree which is then sent to the factory where its used in manufacturing of plastics. I was dismayed to see that over time the tree trunk turns black at the bottom and very soon the tree snaps and falls from this junction. Would you know more about this practice?
As I lived there, I realised that living in the hills is a huge mindset change. It’s not all about being amid nature, etc but also about adopting the practices that are important for sustainability of environment. In the cities, we take our garbage disposal for granted. I mean its collected from our homes; never mind that it maybe dumped right outside the corner of our house.
In the hills, people burn their daily rubbish and it’s not unusual to see smoking piles when you step out for a walk. My hosts were aware of this and had already made plans. They segregated their wet waste to be fed to the cows which belonged to the next door neighbour and all the dry waste was collected to be disposed on every trip to the city limits like Nainital/Almora where a municipal existed. Only the meat bones, coffee beans and egg shells were ground up to be added to the garden soil as we couldnt feed that to the cows.
Guess what- the cows loved the fresh peels and would moo with joy seeing one of us approach with the bowl. Ever since I am back in the city, I have been missing them 🙂
Bio-enzyme is something they make and use in place of Lizol, harpic , etc and it has replaced every chemical cleaner possible in their house. On top of this, they make hand soaps using natural ingredients, crushed soapnuts in hot water for washing utensils and citronella oil in place of odomos. I was amazed to see bamboo toothbrushes, charcoal tooth powder and bamboo cotton buds in their loo. And soapnuts in the washing machine to wash clothes which is a very cost and eco effective solution to detergents.
You could check my post on how to make Bio-enzyme at home here
Then there were the fresh things growing all around, which A happily turned into amazing feasts. First day I was there, she made these awesome apple oats and the apples were from the garden. So were all the other fruits in her house plus fresh mint, rosemary,lemongrass, etc.
You could check my post on the easy peasy Buttery apple oats here
All their kitchen containers were ceramic/stone or glass; plus they shop from wholesale shops to ensure nothing comes in packed in plastic. From their coffee beans to jaggery sugar to sea salt to chilli flakes – all are brought from the various wholesale shops they keep exploring. I was majorly crushing over the gorgeous stone pottery from Japan/Vietnam etc that they lovingly brought back on their many travels. Dont miss out on the pinewood chopping board which they got made when they shifted here.
I was overjoyed at their committment to the environment – never mind the extra efforts it involved. I came away with loads of tips to incorporate in my household too – just wishing for a neighbour with a cow 😉
I would love to hear about your eco practices for the household – do share your tips with me folks!!