Waste Less. Live More....Enough Said!
Updated: Nov 9, 2022
Sustainable living, my journey started when all my family members began encountering some type of disease, all of which were a result of a poor lifestyle. It got me thinking, how are we contributing to the ill health of our families and our planet? In this fast-paced generation, where everything must be "instant" and convenience takes precedence over anything else, I took a pause to reflect on my choices and if I could be doing things differently.
LESSONS FROM SCHOOL CHILDREN THAT WE AS URBAN ADULTS SHOULD TAKE!
Five years ago, I was working with the Adivasi children from the Aarey city forest, “Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP)” in Mumbai. As volunteers, we had the opportunity to take these urban adivasi children for a cross-cultural program at Secmol, a school about 20Km from Leh, run by Sonam Wangchuk (the man behind ice stupas). What we experienced there changed my outlook on life and our lifestyle! Not only did the experience enrich the students' lives, but it also gave me so many (lessons) to take back home.
A few things that struck me and stayed with me from this excursion:
The interiors and architectural design of the school were such, that it was appropriate to nature, throughout the year, even without electricity. Yes, bio-phyllic design is a thing and can help transform societies and communities where they are adapted!
They grew most of their food on their own farms and cooked using solar cookers.
They had eight different categories for segregating their dry waste, and they also composted everything! Yes, that means they excreted in pit toilets, which turned waste into compost, which was then used to fertilise their crops!
As it is said, when good becomes clear, the bad becomes clearer, and that’s exactly what happened to me. After seeing these students of Secmol, I could see what a bad influence we had on the students of SGNP. I will never forget the sight of our collective "plastic waste" that we had brought with us on the trip and had to dump off at Ladakh airport as Secmol didn’t allow such waste inside. It was sad, shocking and eye-opening at the same time!
KNOWING AND GOING ZERO WASTE
Everyone talked about the 3 R’s; REDUCE, REUSE & RECYCLE, forgetting about another one: REFUSE.
I started my journey by refusing to use single-use plastic immediately. And this minimalistic lifestyle brought me to the concept of zero waste. A low-waste or no-waste lifestyle can look different for different people based on their current levels of consumption and waste accumulation. To me, it basically meant, not sending any garbage to the dump site. In other words, taking responsibility for your own shit. I started to understand the difference between Linear economy (putting the garbage inside the dustbin) and Circular economy (making sure that whatever resources we consume from the earth return to their original state).
It’s been almost four years of living a low-waste lifestyle and working towards a zero-waste lifestyle. One of the most important parts of my journey is to read, constantly ask relevant questions about my lifestyle, and be creative and experimentative with the solutions. Let me share a few of my favourites with you guys:
MY OWN MAGIC BAG
I was meeting a friend at a mall for lunch, and that was the first time I tried out my “magic bag” experiment. The bag contained a water bottle, a plate, a tiffin box, a small box, a cup, a metal straw, two spoons, and two small handkerchiefs. Walking up to the food counter with my steel mug took courage, but I had made up my mind, and even though the staff serving me found me weird and my idea confusing, he adhered to what I asked and served me my juice in my steel glass. It has been more than a year since that day, and I have successfully avoided thousands of disposable items. What a simple, neat way to refuse to generate waste without missing the joys of life with friends and family.