How to bring in some low waste changes in your house #SustainableLockdown
By: Mridula Joshi
Sustainability during lockdown might seem like a long shot when basic survival is on everyone’s mind. But it can also present itself as a great opportunity to slow down and focus on every little consumer habit we have.
We don’t have the excuse of hustling or commuting lifestyle anymore and we are all living a similar schedule in these times.
So, how can we bring in some LOW WASTE changes in our house with this time to reflect?
1.STICK TO ESSENTIALS & AVOID JUNK FOOD PACKAGING:
Now in any other regular post, I would say something like “look for the nearest kirana store that sells items in bulk and stick to bulk options only”. But like me, chances are you are depending on only one or two stores in your area for food. So a lot of basic necessities are available in Packaging only. Cut these packets neatly and clean them.
Do not throw them away. Stack them up during the lockdown so you can donate to an organization like Aarohana Eco-social who upcycle plastic waste into products for sale.
2. Try not to use this helpless situation as an excuse to stock up on junk food packaging. Yes essentials are needed, but you can still help yourself when it comes to chips/candies and biscuits. Try to avoid these non-essentials. Homemade snacks are your best option during this time. And you might even be able to improve your diet thanks to this motivation!
3. LEARN HOW TO COMPOST:
Your dustbin may be piling up and getting stinky everyday because you are mixing your wet waste with your dry waste. Now is the time to manage your wet waste by composting. This major switch was a long time coming and now you have all the time in the world to figure out the ever daunting process of composting, even in your apartment.
A compost is basically a regulated pile of organic waste that decomposes
without leaving behind any smell. It’s like throwing an apple core in a forest and letting nature rot away the organic matter to healthy dirt. But instead creating those forest like conditions in a container at home since we can’t throw it out in the nature.
But in this lockdown, it may not be easy for you to place an order for a compost khamba / unit. For a makeshift compost unit try to DIY it.
To create this: Take any bucket (paint bucket works great since it has a lid), Heat any metal and poke many holes on the sides of the bucket. Layer the bucket inside with dry leaves (picked from the ground of the nearest tree in your neighbourhood) And start throwing in your kitchen scraps. The dry leaves act as your dry matter that regulates the wetness and
thus prevents stench. Coffee grounds from coffee machine, Dry leaves, Onions garlic peels are some examples of dry waste you can use.
Just make sure you cover it with a newspaper and have a lid to close your compost to prevent it from attracting excess pests (some fleas and insects are okay as its necessary for the decomposing process). Ensure this set up is inyour balcony or window sill.
4. START AN ECO BRICK:
If you happen to have plastic bottles at home, start an Eco brick. Eco bricks are compactly stuffed plastic bottles full of plastic waste that cannot be recycled. Eco- bricks are the last resort plastic waste management solution that doesn’t have any perfect solution yet.
Titbits, Polyester fibre waste, Multilayer packaging pieces, Random broken pieces of plastic, etc can be stuffed down this bottle compactly when there ISN’T a RECYCLABLE solution for it.
An Eco brick is ready if it’s so compact that even sitting on it won’t make a dent. You can try looking up organizations to donate these Eco bricks too. Meanwhile, try to make sure you don’t fill them up too quickly either. Note that Eco bricks are not an excuse to bring home more plastic waste. They are only to be a last resort and a helpful way to track your mistakes.
Apart from this, there are a few bonus SUSTAINABLE tips for you this lockdown which are also a good tip even otherwise to make it through this time.
RATION YOUR WATER USE: Summer is upon us and that also means our annual water crisis is here. Look at areas in your daily schedule which consume a lot of water. Instead of letting the tap flow, ration your water by using a mug or a bucket of water to finish your tasks.
For example, finish your morning routine of brushing your teeth and washing your face in one mug of water. Or try washing your dishes in one bucket of water, by soaking and transferring the vessels in one go. Wash all your veggies in one container of water and reuse this to water your house plants or flush tank. See how resourceful you can get with ideas to save
LEARN FOOD PRESERVATION TECHNIQUES: Preventing food waste not just to reduce your carbon footprint, but now it makes sense to be resourceful with every small bit of food you can manage to find. Learn how to make fermented foods like Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Pickling
veggies in brine.
Learning recipes that can last in your fridge for a long time can come as a
boon when you live in times where ration can be scarce. This will also help you reduce the number of grocery trips you make to bring food home.
SWITCH OFF THOSE LIGHTS BEHIND YOU: Yes. Simple yet easy to forget when we are at home. We switch off the lights when we head out, but now that we are home 24*7, it increases the chances of us leaving the lights on everywhere in the house.
You do not need Earth hour to make you conscious about this habit. Just remember that parents who always screamed after you to switch off the lights, fan and appliances when you leave the room. Your electricity bill will thank you for it and you save some passive energy consumption.
DON’T BUY WHAT YOU DON’T NEED: If you don’t need it, don’t click that “add to cart” button. Lockdown already means no new occasions for you to dress for, or buy new things for. Which means your shopaholic tendencies may have reduced during this time.
How about we maintain that streak and try to stick to basic necessities? Your consumption habits lead to a demand in the market. Increasing production means more use of earth’s resources which is directly linked to pollution.
Re-using what we have, sticking to borrowing, thrifting or finding second hand is the best way to go around our need for brand new. Repair clothes, shoes and items that need repairing. Dust up and de-clutter items you don’t need anymore so you can be sure of your needs. Watch shows on MINIMALISM in Netflix and get inspired to downsize your belongings!
HOMECOOKED IS BETTER THAN TAKE OUT: Most people are avoiding take out food to avoid coming in contact with more humans. But here is one more reason I can add on to that pile; Take out brings home more packaging waste!
So, while you are taking the opportunity to cook at home and get used to it, try to extend this habit beyond lockdown as well and practice avoiding ordering in. Dining in at the restaurant may be luxury we can afford after
the pandemic passes.
But till then, if you are addicted to ordering take out food, try to reduce the frequency as much as you can. And only save it for occasional cravings to treat yourself.
GROW SOME FOOD: Grow anything that can be helpful in the kitchen to you. You can regrow Coriander, Mint, Methi, potatoes or even Palak if these veggies were available to you with the roots still intact. Sow the seeds of the veggies you bring home like tomatoes, capsicum or chillies. Having basic herbs on your window sill is a great feeling.
You may not be able to farm your own food self-sufficiently, but you do increase your resources by a bit.
You can also use the compost and build a gardening skill which may be very helpful in the post-pandemic world where self-sufficiency will be encouraged more and more.
TRY MORE PLANT-BASED RECIPES: Switch things up in the kitchen and try out recipes that are completely meat-free or dairy-free. Lockdowns have sparked an interest in cooking for many people and this could be the direction for you to explore! Plant-based future also means a lower carbon footprint and its never too late to start working on yours. We eat 3
times a day, so compared to any lifestyle change, this could make a huge impact in your carbon footprint. Rumour has it, it’s almost as good as going Car Free.
As it turns out, Sustainability and survival skills are not that far from each other. Using limited resources is a skill that’s useful during emergencies. So changing your habits to live more sustainably isn’t a favor to anyone but yourself.
And knowing you can live sustainably will also help you get through emergencies much better, rather than longing for the normal days when we were indulgent.
Let’s face it, our old definition of a normal lifestyle never really worked for the planet. So it’s a great time to get started and redefine it!
Mridula is an environmentalist documenting her journey of sustainable lifestyle changes and offers resources for others who wish to do the same. She is attempting a zero-waste, plant-based and low carbon lifestyle in response to the climate emergency we are facing today.Know More