Can I open my balcony whenever I want without the thought of polluted air entering in? Can I take a free walk or a run without an iota of doubt near my apartment on the roads? Does not the sun feel more and more scorching with each passing year? Why am I seeing the news of fires in jungles in different parts of the world throughout the year? Why are flash floods being reported so often? Why are winters coming late and becoming shorter as I age? Why are dust storms becoming so frequent and so ravaging?
Questions like these might seem imprudent and irrelevant to our lives. As an example, for me once I wake up, collect my groceries that have been delivered at my door packed in a clean plastic packet containing my vegetables again wrapped in plastic, I am feeling super productive to have saved time and energy running for groceries. As I close the door, I make sure to pick up the fresh milk in a charming plastic packet, which will soon give me a warm cup of tea to freshen me up. And as I throw away these into my dustbin, hardly do I glance that I am tossing it in wet waste, which will make this un-recyclable.
This is just a partial depiction of an average urban living, commemorating hundreds of more such actions which have resulted in a big gap between nature and ourselves. On the contrary, surprisingly, the stigma around green living or less waste or even zero waste living appears to have been understood as scores of sacrifices that need to be made. There is a sense of anxiety and overwhelmingness that comes to individuals when they start thinking about a zero-waste lifestyle.
Indeed, being close to nature, having our actions in harmony with mother earth thrives both humans and nature. And this methodology has always had been in us instinctively, yet due to a sharp rise in consumerism or rather materialism, we have somehow been successful in shelving this synchronous methodology.
The smart marketing of such products, leading us into a belief trap that our lives are impossible without these products or keeping us unaware of the implications of such products on the environment has led to rampant usage of these in our daily lives without us being opinionated or giving any second thoughts.
But before it’s absolutely too late, we can still turn the situation around. And that too, without any deemed huge sacrifices or reduced fun in our lives. These are very basic changes that can curb the production of single-use un-recyclable plastics, enhance a circular economy and boost sustainable living. I am going to share a few sustainable lifestyle tips that I follow in my daily life. They are minor changes but can help in diverting the current environmental catastrophe:-
- Bring Your Own Re-Usable Water Bottle
Single-use plastic bottles have become a threat. In a country like India, where the waste collection and recycling industry is absolutely informal, we hardly fathom the fact that once we use and throw these bottles, they have very little chance of getting recycled. Especially, when we travel to beautiful tourist places, these have become a nightmare impacting the environment very badly. Inculcating a habit of carrying your own water is bliss. Not only it can help in eradicating the burden of plastic pollution being created by these plastic bottles, but it also provides the safest drinking water from your home. Considering that the plastic bottles are refilled as new and duplicate brands in the picture. I term this as BYOW(Bring Your Own Water) and the most amazing part is this habit becoming so inherent that now I BYOW to the gym, when I go for a stroll or a walk, when I step out for shopping, or when I go for a hang-out. It saves us from the hassle to “find water” when outside. So the next time when you step out like you remember carrying your phone, carry water.
2. Bring Your Own Re-Usable Shopping/Grocery Bag
Stepping out? Just remember to carry your own grocery or shopping bag or maybe always keep one or two in your car or handbag just like the other not-to-forget stuff we carry when we step out. This is a major problem with Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities where single-use plastic bags are vividly being used by vegetable vendors or ration shops. Also, wherever possible say no to plastic bags if you can carry stuff in your own hands. Even when going to malls or branded outlets, try re-using the sturdy shopping bags you got last time you did your purchase. Not only, this will be economical for your pocket since we pay a price for the shopping bag each time but also help in boosting a reusability habit and mindset crucial for a circular economy.
3. Switch to reusable food wraps
It has not been a long time since carrying food around in aluminum foils has become fancy that is actually useful. Do we really need to wrap our chapatis in it when we know we after-all reheat them in the microwave in the office? The fact is these foils are not bio-degradable and the ones that reach re-cycling centers will not get processed if contaminated, which usually are since the Indian Cuisine is not made to carry food like achars, chapatis in aluminum foils. I would suggest avoiding using them altogether. And if the need arises, then use biodegradable options like beeswax wraps. The best option would be to opt for re-usable food wraps like muslin cloth, cotton cloth, or bamboo food wraps which can be reused after washing.
4. Switch to a menstrual cup
I really cannot paint a picture of the environmental catastrophe the regular periods pads are. This happens to be the cleverest product marketing is done in centuries, that has programmed us to think of period pads as the only option available for women without even giving a second thought. Pads are not bio-degradable, they contain dioxin a super harmful chemical that we wear at a place that is highly intimate. A single pad used by a woman will remain on this planet for the next 100 or more years. The existence of menstrual cups and their benefits have been hijacked by these pad manufacturing companies to keep us, women, in the dark for decades. Menstrual cups are reusable, a single cup can last for 5 years or more, with no added chemicals, no potential health hazards, and hassle-free. Once you get a hang of using them, it’s a life transforming experience. Moreover, because of re-usablility, it is super-economical for your pocket.
5. Segregate Wet & Dry Waste and Throw waste in the correct bins
The whole ecosystem of waste recycling depends on this concept. If we hand out our waste segregated into wet, dry, and hazardous waste, we increase the chances of waste being recycled efficiently. The wet waste can be turned into compost and the dry waste can be recycled and re-introduced into the economy. Also, while you are at a public place, consicously throw the waste into the correct bins. The green bins are for bio-degradable waste like left over food or soiled tissues. The blue bins are for no-biodegradable waste like paper cups, plates etc.
You can start with these simple steps and set off on your zero waste lifestyle journey. Always remember zero waste lifestyle is not a destination, it’s a journey. As long as, we are conscious of our actions, we are aware as consumers and keep a little corner in our life for nature, it serves the whole purpose.