It can seem that caring for the planet is an uphill task. More so when every day there is news on how the planet is at high risk and how complex and interconnected problems are. It can be immobilising in the face of this immensity to imagine that affecting change is possible at an individual level. It might have led to your asking yourself the question—What can I do? So we’ve put together a list of choices you can make that can indicate to the planet how much you care. Because every action counts, and there are many practical steps you can take, starting right now.
- Say goodbye to single-use plastic: Every bag of plastic eventually adds up, making its way to the ocean or to a landfill. You can change that story!
So take a good look at all the single-use plastic and throwaway materials in your life. This could include plastic bags, water bottles, tetra packs of juice/milk, aluminium foil containers that are used to bring home food from when you eat out.
- keep a reusable bag in your backpack/handbag/car instead of taking plastic bags (or even paper bags)
- buy a water bottle made of steel or BPA-free plastic and take it with you for water
- carry a tiffin dabba (or two) the next time you go to a restaurant so leftovers can be packed and brought home in it instead of disposable materials
- Make your home chemical free: Cleaning products are made up of a tonne of chemicals. Making chemical-free choices for your home directly affects what is being pumped into water systems that make their way to the river and ocean.
Start by doing an inventory of all the cleaning products in your home—from the dishwashing bar/liquid, washing machine powder and floor and bathroom cleaning agents, to what you put in your hair and on your face..
- opt for natural cleaning agents like baking powder and white vinegar. They are friendly options for the environment and cost a fraction of chemical-laden products
- choose cleaning products from places like Common Oxen that deliver anywhere in India and only use natural ingredients
- make your own products using these recipes shared by Shruti Sunderraman (https://www.arre.co.in/beauty/ditch-the-plastic-how-to-make-your-own-shampoo-and-soap-at-home/)
- Buy groceries, vegetables and fruit from a local vendor: Ditch the swish supermarkets for your local vendor. It’s a simple and sustainable way to buy groceries and food that doesn’t add plastic waste to the already over-burdened planet. Over packaging (such as individually plastic-wrapped vegetables) is one of the many choices you can say No to.
- carry your storage dabbas that you use for rice, pulses and atta to your local vendor and fill it up straight from the storage container to your dabba
- if you can’t do this, opt for clear plastic packaging rather than printed plastic as it contains more chemicals. Save those bags and use them for refills.
- opt for organic/local/seasonal fruit and vegetables which also support local economies
- Compost, compost, compost: In India, the composition of waste in most households is still wet waste (food, fruit, vegetable waste) which is great because it makes it so much easier to compost at home. It’s a process that it fully and wholly in your control and it means taking the pressure off increasingly high landfills that cause immense harm to the people that work on dumping grounds, and on the natural ecosystem. State rules mandate segregation of waste – it’s a duty as a citizen to be responsible for the waste you create.
- segregating your waste i.e. separating your dry (plastic, paper) and wet (food, consumables) waste by having 2 dustbins with one for each
- compost at home using any of the options offered by places like Daily Dump
- take your electronic waste like batteries and cables/wires to collection centres in your city so that they are safely disposed
- Think about your relationship to the earth: We’re all creatures of the planet so think about how you want to keep your safe.
It might be:
- choosing to buy fewer clothes and shoes in a year because polyesters and nylons are non-biodegradable
- holding on to your cellphone longer and extend its life as long as possible
- caring for an tending to plants so spaces become green and an invitation to different kinds of life forms
- ditching the car for public transportation or to walk
- participating in community clean up initiatives
- going out with your friends/partner/children to parks and public spaces like shore walks or botanical gardens to rediscover the wonders on offer