Mission requirements: Ability to unlearn
Let’s accept it, we are addicted to convenience. The availability of anything and everything under the sun is available freely and with innumerable options on the market shelves. Transitioning to living sustainably requires for one to take a step back and assess what are those things and services that can be done or created on our own. Here are a few reasons why the growing community of people trying to live an alternative lifestyle think this way:
- Less waste: Anything we buy comes in bundles and layers of packaging. This packaging is single use, made of plastic in almost all cases and ends up in the landfill. The rest is a story visible to all of us.
- Less resources: Whatever is created through the human systems is bound to consume energy and resources. The resources are consumed not just at the production stage, but also packaging, transportation, storage, and waste management of these commodities.
- Saves money: Doing and creating things yourself mean you create only as much you require and avoid unnecessary costs incurred or earmarked in a product to cover for operational and marketing costs.
- Brings value: As humans, anything we create with our two hands has more value to us and we are more likely to stick to the practice and promote it as well. Besides, there is more flexibility in how we approach our DIYs for quality and quantity.
- Less impact: Everything we create, buy or consume has an ecological footprint. The most commonly discussed is the carbon footprint however there are two other – land and water. DIY helps us keep our individual ecological footprint low.
- More good health: People who choose to do things on their own instead of relying on off-the-shelf purchases have shared improved eating and lifestyle habits as self-reliance led to keeping preservative or harmful chemicals laden food and other products at bay.
So, if you are convinced, let’s look at a few areas that you could DIY!
FOOD: Making your own food and snacks, the old era way. Relying on home service rather than a food delivery service, takeaways or pre-prepared packaged food.
PERSONAL CARE: DIY personal care recipes can really help keep not just packaging waste out of landfills but also lead to a healthier you in the long run. Most store-bought personal care products have ingredients which have been proven to be toxic, allergens or carcinogenic. Besides, once they are washed off, they end up polluting water ways and causing serious damage to the other life forms. More about ingredients in a separate post . Here’s a link to a DIY toothpaste recipe I use.
SEWING: Mending old clothes or upcycling them for other uses is an excellent way of managing our waste from textile. There are plenty of DIY ideas online! Start looking up now
HOME CARE: Why not extend our love of creating less ecological waste to the water ways as well? On an average, Indian homes dispose off 30 litres of home cleaners in a year. That is only one of the cleaning products we use at home—not just creating toxic waste for rivers and water bodies, where the chemicals end up from the drainage systems, but also landfills once we dispose off the used packaging. The impact is not just on ecology but also our health as most of the cleaning products include toxins which are harmful to humans and pets!
The list of things we could do ourselves really depends on what each one of us categorises as essential to our lifestyle. The simplest way is to make a list of all the activities you take up from morning to night and check which ones can be replaced with gentler, DIY solutions – toothpaste, soap, shampoo, lip balm, air fresheners, mosquito repellents, probiotics, dairy products… etc.
DIY is not new to us. Most of us, at least in India have grown up our mothers doing everything on their own… For instance, my mum would soak amla-reetha-shikakai in warm water overnight in an iron container to wash my hair with the residue the next morning. My hair turned out just fine, in fact the texture is still beautiful, thanks to the care my mother took maybe in my earlier ears. All of us have these stories… By the way, I am writing this during the Covid-19 lockdown. How about spending some time with your mother or any woman/man from the earlier generation and picking their brains for DIY recipes and skills? I am going to do just the same and learn sewing .
Happy unlearning and relearning!