“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
– Anne Marie Bonneau, a zero-waste chef
The sustainable way of life
‘Sustainability’ isn’t just a fancy buzzword anymore. It’s slowly becoming a ‘way of life’ for many across the globe. A lot of brands are now increasingly gearing up to transform into ‘zero waste’ entities by becoming part of a circular economy. What more? A search for ‘#sustainability’ on the popular social media platform of Instagram reveals more than 1.8 million public posts. This is a clear message that consumers and brands care – they care about how their lifestyles and businesses affect the environment.
Changing the mindset
If we have to put it in simpler words, environmental sustainability is basically living in a way that won’t kill or damage our planet. And everybody wants that, right? So naturally, the next step is to align our intentions with our actions ? Sustainability is something we are all responsible for and something we all benefit from. Not only in the long run, by ensuring that we have a healthy, thriving planet, but also by saving ourselves from falling into the spendthrift trap!
1. Be mindful –
More than anything, it’s about how we ‘think’ about sustainability. We all have a habit of consuming without thinking. Being mindful of our consumption pattern can help us to identify areas that we can do without or maybe create lesser impact on the environment.
2. Small wins count –
Living sustainably doesn’t mean buying only organic products even if it’s outside your budget. There are several ways to embrace ethical living by doing what suits your lifestyle.
3. Start small –
Switched over to electronic bills? Yay! more power to you. Taking a walk to the nearest market instead of car or auto? You go, girl! Switched off the lights / fans when not in the room, for the entire week? Yes (fist bump) that’s what we are talking about! Enjoy the momentum and add to the list gradually. Just make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself.
4. The roots –
More often than not, our previous generations were already living the sustainable life, most without even knowing it! When you go back to traditional ways, you realize the steel boxes (tiffin dabbas) and earthen cook ware, irons and cutlery were early steps to ethical living.
5. Minimalism –
Always remember, less is more. Less toys, pre-loved birthday props, rental dresses for parties, rental jewelry. The list is endless!
6. Think right –
Run with the alternatives for some time till it becomes a habit. Move to next. You will be pleasantly surprised at the ideas that you can come up with and who knows, you may turn into an Influencer for others too!
7. Go local –
When you buy local, you might help a small farmer who doesn’t thrive on using heavy pesticides to scale up his produce or a small artisan who makes things using unique creativity and local resources. It’s the first big step and once you’ve crossed this, you’re halfway there!
8. Slow fashion –
Believe me, it’s worth the try. Converting my own dresses into bags or cool tops has been a truly gratifying experience. Sustainable living is more about making conscious choices rather that getting it right every time.
9. Green cosmetics –
In response to the growing sentiment for green cosmetics, people are switching over to herbal products. A strong word of caution is to check the marketing claims —in a what is known as ‘greenwashing’, some companies publicise their products as being 100% sustainable but there’s those easily hidden gaps you need to watch out for. Get the brands to verify their products before you make the purchase.
10. Home rules –
While India is the fifth largest e-waste pr oducer in the world, unfortunately, 90% of this waste — whether old computers, lamps, cellular phones, televisions or batteries are dismantled at unorganised centres. To try and do your bit, perhaps you could start a collection drive at your apartment complex or workplace to encourage more people to handle e-waste responsibly.
Last, but not the least…
Also remember that no one is perfect, so don’t beat yourselves up for accidentally using a plastic bag or a single-use cup. It happens to the best of us. And at the end of the day, the intention to do better next time is what really matters!