10 Ways To Tread a Little Lighter on the Earth
My yoga teacher inspired us yesterday to dedicate our practice to the Earth in honour of Earth Day. To make one simple change in our life so that we may tread a little lighter on this groaning planet. So I thought I’d share a list of 10 things that we have done in our home to try and be better stewards of the Earth:
Take your own bags for grocery shopping. This is so easy and yet I hardly ever see people carrying their own shopping bags. The thin plastic bags our street vendors use are the worst kind. They have very little reusability and tend to get stuck in storm drains, and end up in the ocean. I don’t want to judge, but there is just NO excuse for not doing this because it is SO unquestionably easy to do.
Take your own dabbas! I still get a good chuckle out of our local shopkeepers on this one but most of them are now used to it. Fish. Meat. Rice. Dry Fruits. Coconut Water. And occassionaly dahi. So far, those are the things that I now take my own dabbas for. So no plastic packaging for any of those. Hoping to find a place I can get my dals and lentils directly refilled into my dabbas too.
Don’t take-out. We are not perfect in this area but the fact that take-out food often comes in one-use packaging has really pushed me to be more organised about cooking all of our meals. I will also make sure there is enough food to pack a lunch for Robert in his glass dabba that he takes to work. If you must, remind your favourite restaurant not to send any of the additional condiments (pickle, salad, sauce, lemon slices, etc) that come in little plastic bags or tiny dabbas that you can’t really reuse. Reuse the foil wrapping, and plastic dabbas or make sure that they are cleaned, dried and go directly to your radhiwala, not in the garbage bin.
Cook! From scratch. Yes, it takes more time and organisation and a little bit of skill that really just comes from practice but your body will thank you for cutting out all that sugar and salt heavy packaged foods and your dry waste bin will be emptier too.
Separate your waste. We know this is kind of redundant because as of now, we don’t have the option of home-composting and it all gets mixed up anyways but the waste does get separated because we have a huge informal recycling industry. Unfortunately, the way it gets separated is that our garbage collectors literally stand in all of our muck to separate the reusables from the kitchen and/or other waste that we throw into one plastic bag. Put yourself in the non-existent shoes and protective gear of that man or woman for one moment and separate.your.waste. Collect your kitchen scraps/waste in a large bowl through the day and wrap in a newspaper at the end of the day. Have a separate bin for dry waste which doesn’t need to have a plastic bag lining.
Make your own toothpaste! Mix organic, cold-pressed coconut oil (we like Conscious Food for their packaging), baking soda, and clove oil and ta-da, squeaky clean teeth without any iffy chemicals and those pesky plastic tubes that can’t be reused for much. Our dentist totally approves of our homemade concoction by the way. Oh, and while you’re at it, make your own deodorant too!
Buy organic. As much as possible. But steer clear of the fancy outlets like Nature’s Basket that individually plastic wraps their produce. Find a local organic market (we LOVE our Farmers’ Market). Organic farming is so much more energy efficient than conventional farming and so much better for our farmers too. Yes, it is a little more expensive that your regular market but perhaps channel the money budgeted for a new unnecessary gadget into spending a few extra rupees for a healthier you and a healthier planet? It’s so worth it.No organic where you live? Buy local. Not oranges from California or Lemongrass from Thailand. It takes ridiculous amounts of energy and chemicals for this produce to get to you seemingly fresh. Bad for your health and bad for the planet. Better yet, if you have the space, grow your own vegetables!
Switch to natural or homemade soaps and cleaning products. So far, we’ve managed to switch to cleaner detergent and soaps (no plastic packaging!) from Rustic Art and simple vinegar + baking soda +essential oils for cleaning kitchen counters/floors. We mindlessly dump so many toxins into our water everyday. It’s worth thinking about the ingredients and chemicals that go into making commercial cleaning products. CommonOxen has a great resource list of common dirty chemicals to look out for and why on their website.
Ladies, switch to the cup to deal with Aunt Flo’s monthly visits. Apart from being plastic-heavy, disposable sanitary napkins and tampons, are factory produced, bleached and have all sorts of chemicals that you really don’t want coming near your lady-parts. There are many many benefits to the menstrual cup. Here’s a good start!
Never, ever drink bottled water. I am so anal about this, I would rather go thirsty than buy a bottle of water. But it’s all recycled by our super productive recycling industry, right? Actually, mostly these bottles get downcycled and it’s still plastic that is going to end up in a landfill where it will stay for hundreds of years. Apart from that, apparently it takes 1.39 litres of water to produce one liter of bottled water. And the big companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi that produce this water are infamous for sucking the ground dry for their operations in already vulnerable areas around the world. Consider that your purchase of bottled ‘mineral’ water (and in fact all the other sugar-laden drinks produced by companies like CocaCola) sometimes forces villagers in places like Mehdigunj to have to walk a mile longer to access any water at all as their wells run ever drier. So remember to fill up your own reusable bottle before you leave home and stay away from mineral water like it’s the plague… because it kind of is like the plague.