The effects of climate change have made it impossible for brands and consumers alike to deny that consumption patterns have to change. What we buy and what is produced needs to fit into sustainable frameworks that will lessen the damage to the planet’s ecosystems.
With that being said, we all can start right from our homes. Little changes over time in our day-to-day lives and habits will make it easier for us to reflexively make eco-friendly choices. Here’s how you can make a difference to the environment every single day…
Slowly Start Incorporating Alternatives To Plastic
Plastic is notoriously hard to avoid but more and more products are entering the market primarily to replace their plastic counterparts.
Made of cotton and infused with beeswax, rosin (a form of resin), coconut/jojoba/tea tree oil, beeswax paper is a great alternative to saran wraps in the kitchen. Beeswax is antibacterial, which keeps food fresh and also reduces odour transfer. So while you’re reducing plastic use, you’re also reducing food wastage.
Though the wraps vary in size, they can easily be moulded by the heat of your hands. But their prime attraction is that the same wrap can last for a year. After each use, the beeswax wrap needs to be washed and air-dried. Even towards the end, you can get a few more uses out of it by blow-drying it and allowing the wax to ‘melt’. When the wrap is finally worn out, it can get composted.
Shop With Your Own Bags
While storing every shopping bag is a common practice in Indian homes, you must also start taking your own bag to the store. Large cloth and jute bags are easier to carry rather than multiple plastic bags, and they’re also easier to store. Having only a few durable shopping bags at home will also reduce clutter. Several small Indian brands and NGOs sell bags for this very purpose. Paalaguttapalle, a small business run by Dalit women in Andhra Pradesh, offers a variety of types of bags with different prints.
Bamboo toothbrushes, though they may have a few plastic elements like their bristles, are biodegradable. Brands like The Gaea Store also sell other bamboo products like cotton swabs, bamboo towels, and tubes to carry your toothbrush in while travelling. Beco India sells bamboo toilet rolls which are better for the environment, and your plumbing.
Compostable Garbage Bags
Garbage bags take a long time to decompose and it isn’t always clear how long biodegradable bags will take to degrade. Compostable bags, under the right conditions, will decompose in a certain time period. Look for sturdy ones and use them for food waste.
Make Your Personal Care Less Wasteful
While there are several options for clean beauty and cruelty-free products, there is one step that requires attention—your make-up removal. In case you didn’t know, using cotton balls and make-up wipes isn’t sustainable. Instead, opt for a double cleansing system where you first use an oil cleanser and then a water-based cleanser.
Several vegan and cruelty-free brands are focusing on making their packaging eco-friendly as well. Swap out plastic bottles for shampoo and conditioner bars, and go for organic soap bars over gels.
Metal Safety Razors
Disposable plastic razors lead to a lot of waste and you have to keep replenishing your stock. Metal safety razors, on the other hand, are designed to last. They also don’t irritate the skin. And while, yes, one safety razor is more expensive than a plastic one, it lasts much longer.
The internet has been abuzz with conversations about what is the best menstrual product, in terms of efficiency, comfort, and sustainability. Menstrual cups are a strong contender with many making the switch from sanitary pads to cups. The reason? Cups can be worn for upto 12 hours straight and need to be replaced only once a year.
Develop And Nurture Your Green Thumb
Herbs are intrinsic to cuisines across the world, especially Indian cuisine. They also have medicinal properties and look beautiful in your home. With minimal effort and care, you can have constant and easy access to your favourite herbs like basil, curry leaves, mint, fennel, cilantro etc.
Plants can liven up any living space and add a bit of calm to our fast-paced city lives. The Areca Palm, with its purifying properties, is a popular choice, as is the Snake plant, for it needs only a little sunlight and water to flourish. The Aloe Vera plant is smaller and can also be used for skin care.
Upcycle Your Wardrobe
Get your imagination going and repurpose old outfits and pieces. We’ve been ‘upcycling’ for ages—an old saree are made into a salwar-kameez or a lehenga—the same can be done for clothes that have been lying around in the closet, either unworn or totally worn out. A T-shirt can be turned into a pillow cover, tote bag or wallet and an old night-gown into a co-ord set. Sweaters into gloves or socks, while old sweatshirts can all be used to make a nice comfy blanket.
If you’re not into DIY, find brands that upcycle fabrics. Rasleela, in Gujarat, hires women artisans and creates pieces using leftovers from stores or factories. Online store Kiikii tries to incorporate the same concept of incorporating waste fabrics into fast fashion.
Invest In Slow Fashion
Fast fashion has dominated the production of clothing for decades, but the move towards a slower pace of manufacturing is noticeably being made. Slow fashion marries quality with ethical concerns—specifically when it comes to reducing the carbon footprint. A complete switch isn’t possible for all budgets but slowly making a transition will help you discover more personal finds and explore unconventional brands, like Ka-Sha and Doodlage. Slow fashion doesn’t always mean minimalist or ‘boring’. If that isn’t your vibe brands like The House of Wandering Silk and La Fuori are celebrated for their aesthetic craftsmanship.
While environmental activists are concerned about making climate change too individualistic, for it shifts attention away from big corporations and governments, we must accept that consumption must also change. For that to happen, we have to start somewhere, and our homes are the best places for new beginnings. And it may take years and a lot of patience, but sustainability makes everyday living more meaningful.