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June 30, 2020 4 min read

With the current state of affairs brought on by the pandemic, I am sure many people, myself included are revisiting the way we perceive the world. With the worldwide lockdowns we got a small glimpse of how quickly the planet will heal if we make conscious choices.

Growing up in India in the 70’s, the idea of ‘recycle, reuse, reduce’ was ingrained into my life. From the old hand-me-down t-shirts that eventually became floor mops to the big jute bags from which we bought our rice and dals, conscious living was the norm. I can’t remember any container or vessel or bag that was made with plastic. My earliest memory of anything made with plastic was an ice lolly we called ‘pepsi-cola’, (which had nothing to do with either company) that came in a slim casing and could be purchased for the princely sum of 15 paisa.

Over the years, I have continued to ‘recycle, reuse, reduce’, constantly looking for solutions that minimise waste and move towards a more natural way of life. Proyog was also born out of this desire to seek healthier and more meaningful choices. Today, I'll share a few simple sustainability hacks that I follow in my everyday life.

1. Making my waste work for me.

All our food waste can be put to good use by creating compost. It's great for the plants and you ensure that the waste is being put to good use instead of ending up unsegregated, in a trash pile somewhere. It’s easy to do even in an apartment. All you really need is a small balcony space. Check out Bangalore-based, Daily Dump to learn more about why it's important to segregate waste and what we can do with the compost we make.

Compost to grow flowers

Did you know, composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually, or your washing machine produces in three months?

Getting the most out of my veggies.

We normally end up throwing away the stems of frequently used vegetables like coriander, spinach, spring onions and fenugreek? Next time, don't! They make great additions in salads and sandwiches and add heaps of flavour to stocks, soups and stir-fries. If you still need another reason to utilise the whole vegetable, they are absolutely packed with nutrition. Chef Anand Kumar says “The outer skins of fruits and vegetables are filled with flavour and vitamins." Here is a great article to start you off. You'll soon be using all your veggies, root to stem!

Eat vegetables root to stem

Over a five-year period methane gas from decomposing vegetables generates 100 times more heat into the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Giving my clothes a new avatar.

I don’t have a huge wardrobe, but I love every piece I have bought. So when a garment gets stained, instead of discarding it, I try and give it a second life. My favourite way to do this is by a process called eco-printing where I use leaves and tree barks to create the most organic designs. Alternately, I just throw them into a dye vat. The results are stunning and sometimes, dare I say, much more fashionable than the original. DIY Natural explains how we can get our old clothes to become brand new again and breathe second life into them. 

Eco printed silk top

Most clothing ends up in landfills or incinerators, where it breaks down, emits greenhouse gases, and releases chemicals into the ground and atmosphere. 

Grow my own food.

At home, I grow some basic herbs and other useful plants that can fit into a small pot on a kitchen balcony. Aloe is a great place to start since it needs very little care and is also extremely useful around the house. The flesh of aloe immediately soothes rashes, burns and cuts and can be used daily as a natural moisturiser. Head on over to Dr. Ekta Chaudhary's Youtube Channel for all the information you could ever need about starting a mini garden at home. I find her informative and also absolutely delightful.

Aloe vera plant

Organically growing your own food is sustainable and nourishes your soil by using safe and natural fertilizers and products.

Going back to Grandma’s hacks.

As a kid, every scrape and bruise was smeared with turmeric. It was a magical yellow powder. Whether it’s the aloe from my garden or this onion oil that’s great for aches and pains (and surprisingly smells really great too), natural remedies are my go to. I also like using age-old Indian ingredients like this Harmony Aromatherapy multani mitti with cucumber that I picked up from a farmers market. Using this you can easily whip up a whole range of natural beauty and wellness products right from your kitchen. I'm definitely a fan.

Natural remedies for skin and health

Worldwide, people are returning to the tradition of herbal medicine. A recent survey conducted in the United Kingdom revealed that in the last decade, over 70 per cent of the respondents sought natural remedies for their illnesses. 

I would love to hear in the comments what steps you take to make your life greener. 

Malika Baruah is the co-founder and CEO of Proyog. Follow her on Linkedin

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