My best friend almost became an eco-terrorist, and by association, some of her enthusiasm for saving the planet rubbed off on me.
After finally getting over the hump of “what difference can a single person make,” I decided to give this eco-friendly thing a shot, and have started to make conscious changes in my daily routine.
While I still generate some waste, think that composting is low-priority in the pecking order of eco-friendly behavior, and forget to carry bags on occasion (gasp!) or even forget to tell the server to skip the straw with my iced tea, I am a lot more mindful of my actions.
I am enjoying trying out various things that help the planet but also feed my artistic cravings.
Here are eight mini-changes I discovered that can have a huge impact:
1. Carrying reusable bags.
After constantly forgetting to carry reusable bags back to the car or out shopping, I’ve finally got a system in place where I hang them on the main door handle and hence cannot avoid them when I leave the house. I realized I had quite the collection of totes, block printed bags, and book bags from my travels that could be put to good use. I have a pretty good sense of fashion, and these have added a natural hipness to my accessorization.
2. Using my own utensils and cutlery (carried in the cool bags mentioned above).
I live in India, and street food is something we live for. I now carry my own utensils and don’t eat street food served in disposables (even paper, because why generate trash at all), unless I have my own utensils at hand. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, reducing my junk food consumption considerably, delicious as it might be!
3. Not ordering in.
I’ve stopped ordering in, because despite repeated attempts at requesting, restaurants and delivery places still send cutlery, paper towels, and sachets of condiments. Also, you can’t really deliver miso soup in a paper or a leaf bow. This has helped to significantly lower my takeout bills. Plus, I cook and eat much healthier.
I also order less at restaurants and use steel boxes to take away the leftovers. I was initially uncomfortable doing this in the chic upmarket joints, but the maître d’s shock was so worth it (till they got used to my weirdness).
4. Stepping out for coffee.
The corollary to not ordering in is also not using to-go cups in coffee shops. Coffee flasks are a solution, but it’s not the same. Instead, I now go to the coffee shop and sit down to have a coffee, without having to run out with it and have it on the go.
I am learning to slow down. As an entrepreneur, crazy-busy has been my mantra for long, but I am working toward being less speedy and more mindful. Now, my friend and I go to a café to just sit and talk, and of course, get a coffee.
5. Rarely purchasing packaged snacks.
Have we ever come across eco-friendly packaging for potato chips? Or cookies? Not buying packaged snacks and ready-to-eat foods help in keeping more trash from getting into the landfills and helps me stay fit by avoiding unnecessary calorie intake.
6. Walking to the shops.
Decreased takeout means getting my own groceries. I walk to the shops that are closer to home, decreasing my carbon footprint and allowing me to take a brief walk without feeling guilty about taking time out from my ever-full entrepreneur’s schedule.
7. Taking the metro.
We don’t have great public transport, but the metro system is something my city is proud of. I have started taking the metro more often. This lets me read more–even if 1o pages, on a ride–and look cool in public. Then there is the satisfaction of being able to catch up on my reading.
8. Giving away clothes I don’t use.
As Indians, we do have a mindset of not throwing away things. I periodically sift through my closet to look for clothes to give away–not just to charity, but to friends who could reuse or repurpose them. I do this more frequently now, leaving me space in my cupboards, and the potential to keep my wardrobe contemporary!
Even better, I have started reusing old clothes in newer ways. This last act nurtures my vanity. You can never curate that genuine awesome hippie look with new clothes. Using old clothes in odd yet “together” ensembles creates that carefree hippie look, and I am more than pleased with it.
The bonus is, all these changes are great for the soul, the planet, my health, and help me make a style statement!