Homes and gardens

Going going green: Tips to lead a sustainable life from people who walk the talk

Green matters It’s all in our hands

Green matters It’s all in our hands   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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Even small steps have a big impact, say those who are walking the eco talk

“Be more of a participant or doer than a consumer. We all like to consume more and do less. Instead, engaging deeply with our surroundings will add value to our lives, ” says Sreedevi Lakshmikutty of Bio Basics, a social enterprise that provides organic solutions.

Sreedevi Lakshmikutty

Sreedevi Lakshmikutty   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

For her, anything that is organic, protects the environment, helps the farmer and protects health is sustainable. “Buy less and pay more. Go for things with real value, pay a price that will provide a fair living for the people who make it and use them for long,” she urges.

Shanthini Balu

Shanthini Balu   | Photo Credit: M Periasamy

Farmer and landscaping consultant Shanthni Balu believes helping farmers is a big step towards going green. “Buy local produce. If it is seasonal, it tastes better and, besides helping the people who grow your food, it is also healthier and cuts down on your carbon footprint when fruits and vegetables have not travelled hundreds of miles to your kitchen.” Another tip is to minimise packaging by buying in bulk. “Buying larger quantities will save fuel costs, as you don’t have to keep going back for more. Buy vegetables and provisions from your neighbourhood grocer; it means less packing materials and therefore less rubbish in the landfill.”

Gowri Madhu of Seeragam Native Store

Gowri Madhu of Seeragam Native Store   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Gowri Madhu, who runs Seeragam Native Store, says she tries not to generate much waste and reuses most of what she has. She will even go to the extent of postponing her shopping if she does not have a cloth bag. She also carries water with her and will not use single-use plastic bottles. “Use home-made and chemical-free cleaners. I make bioenzymes myself and do not buy commercial cleaning products. It’s easier than you think,” she promises. Gowri has also stopped using store-bought soaps, shampoos and cosmetics. “I use home-made herbal bath powders, shikakai, kajal and lip balm.”

NA Sujatha

NA Sujatha   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

NA Sujatha, Marketing Manager at Brookefields Mall, has done the same. “I have stopped using scrubs with microplastics. I have replaced plastic scrubs with coconut fibre to exfoliate, and soaps and shampoos with besan. I fill a bucket when I bathe instead of showering to save water. I know that I am responsible for anything that leaves my home as waste. If I wash my vessels or my bathroom with chemical-laden cleaners, the water going out pollutes the ground. So I now use bio-enzymes and non-chemical cleaners.” Sujatha lives without a fridge and it is not at all hard, she says. But her switch did not happen overnight. Interacting with people such as Sangeetha Subhash influenced her to go green.

Sangeetha Subash

Sangeetha Subash   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A furniture designer and environmentalist who holds workshops and awareness drives on non-toxic, home-made cleaners, Sangeetha says she is keeping a strict control over her clothes shopping sprees! “Every time I am tempted, I ask myself, ‘do I really need this?’ I upcycle old clothes by dyeing them naturally. I am not so compulsive now when I buy clothes.” Even thinking about scaling down is half the battle won. “Resist the temptation a couple of times and it gets easier. I now find out the story behind the cloth I buy and if it impacts the environment negatively in any way. I look for traditional weaves or handlooms that have a direct connect with a community of craftspeople. They put their heart and soul into making them. We ought to recognise that.”

Gowri is also moving towards naturally grown, handspun and naturally dyed clothes. “I hand wash my clothes and iron only those that need it.” She also makes good use of her mother’s old cotton saris and other unused clothes to make menstrual pads. “I have stopped using tissue paper. I carry a handkerchief or, in the worst case, use my dupatta or sari pallu,” she smiles

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 11:55:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/homes-and-gardens/tips-to-lead-a-sustainable-life-from-people-who-walk-the-talk/article30469655.ece

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