How to shop in an environment friendly way

If you are finding it too hard to adopt eco-friendly changes, chances are that you are biting off more than you can chew! All you have to do is adopt one change at a time. We have already discussed about simple changes in our last blog. Hope you have started to incorporate those little changes in your routine! In this blog, we shall discuss about another environment friendly, simple lifestyle change involving shopping.

You wait until your limited weekly stocks of your groceries and other supplies are finished. Then, you go shopping! You shop till you drop and stock up on supplies enough to last through another week. A small addition gets added to your final bill every time you shop- the plastic carry bags- because you opt for them! Once you are done with stacking all the supplies in their shelves and containers, you would toss the plastic packing and the carry bags into trash bins. And every single trash bin of this kind contributes to the growing piles of recalcitrant landfills, causing your share of damage to the environment.

Your contribution to healthier environment is few simple shopping changes away.

Plan before you shop: Do you really need to go shopping? Or you are addicted to retail therapy?! Make a list of all that you had been planning to buy. Give your list a second look. How many items you listed down are essential? Do you really need that extra pair of jeans or that new bright scarf? Planning before you shop not only saves time but also gives you a chance to take a better look at our needs. Things you don’t really need are likely to be trashed.  If there are items you can do without, omitting them from your shopping list saves money as well.

Bulk shopping: Instead of stocking up on supplies that would only last for a short time, but thinks you can stock for longer. Buying in bulk quantities not only saves time and money (& fuel!), but also save the environment as items in bulk come in compact packing. Go for products that come in environment friendly packaging.

Prepared Vs Fresh: Can’t you set 15 minutes of your day aside to was and cut your own veggies? Of course you can! Why then should you buy prepared or preserved vegetables? A visit to the green grocer will ensure you consume fresh veggies. This helps support local farmers and grocers and also cuts down the extra packaging that comes with prepared foods.

Shopping bags: Stop asking for plastic carry bags! Ask for paper bags or carry your own cloth/reusable bags instead!

Trust us, the Earth will thank you for every single change you make, no matter how small it was!

Cosmetics and the Environment- An ugly connection

”Chemical” or natural- your choice of skin care products not only influences your skin, but also the environment. The awareness efforts of the consumer agencies have mainly remained focus on health risks from skin products and make-up. As a result, most of us are only concerned about the harmful impacts certain chemicals in our daily skin care products can have on us. The disastrous impact these products can have on the environment is not widely discussed.

Skin care and make up products can harm the environment in many ways. From being lethal to aquatic life, entering the water cycle to damaging the ecosystem balance. The threat these products pose, is mainly through packaging and contents. Bottles, tubes, tubs and other packaging containers made of recalcitrant, non-reusable materials, when trashed, tend to accumulate over the time and add to the ever growing piles of landfills. Chemical ingredients on the other hand, when discarded or drained, tend to accumulate in soil or water bodies instead of breaking down. Some of the most damaging chemicals are: P-phenylenediamine (in hair color and lipsticks), BHA and BHT (preservative and antioxidant in moisturizers), Dioxane (toiletries), Dibutyl phthalate (nail polish), Triclocan (toiletries), Diethanolamine (almost every cosmetic product in the market), Oxybenzone (chemical sunscreen), silicones (anti-aging, cosmetics) and products containing exfoliating microbeads.

The awareness against ”chemical” based products has set ”natural” products trending across markets. But the question that one needs to ask is- how natural are these natural products and where do they come from? Adding one natural ingredient to scores of chemicals is a marketing trick and not an organic revolution! How big is the company manufacturing these natural products? Does it boast of a ‘rare’ herb or other plant variety in it’s ingredients? Was the rare ingredient procured without causing damage to its ecosystem and to the survival of it’s species? The chances that a ‘natural’ company might instead cause damage to the environment than protect it are directly proportional to its size. Smaller natural product companies on the other hand (Especially the ones based on the passing of traditional knowledge through generations) manufacture and sell products without causing a significant damage.

Think before you buy!

Saving The Environment- One Small Step At a Time

 

I woke up to the alarm, as usual this morning. My phone had been charging overnight. It was overcharged. Will unplug the charger, later. Another 10 minutes of sleep won’t derail my schedule. So I decide to give those minutes to myself. The circulation of the cool air conditioning set up by the slow speed fan was too comforting to get out of the bed.

It was 30 minutes now. I decide to wake up, finally- the visualization of my late entry at the office (and its possible consequences) was enough for me to rush to the washroom. I put the geyser on and start to brush my teeth. The water freely flows through the faucet all through my brushing process. Next, I step in to the shower and its warmth is just too comforting to use it for a mere wash. I spend extra five minutes warming myself up. I walk back into the room and feel like I am about to start shivering. Oh wait! I had forgotten to switch the AC and the fan off! I do now. The lights- I need them to dress up and I had paid for every single one of them- so it makes more sense to switch them all on. This trouser, has worn out enough to make it trash worthy. So, I select another dress. But wait, my hair isn’t dry yet and I must use the hair dryer to get it dry as soon as possible. 15 minutes later, I am all dressed up for the office. I walk into the kitchen, make myself some tea and put the breakfast in the microwave to warm it up. I then walk into the drawing room, open the door, collect the newspaper and put it on the coffee table. TV is the perfect accompaniment to a steaming hot cup of tea, I think. So, I switch the TV on. The microwave had been beeping all this while. I ignore its beeps. I finally decide to have my breakfast minutes later and set it to warm again. I leave home for office- it is walking distance away with many public transport options available. But I have a bike, so why should I not use it?

Reached office. We had a meeting with a climate counsellor that day. She was trying to explain to us that the climate change threat was real. But she wasn’t really talking anything we didn’t already know (and ignore?). Her ideas on how each one of us could contribute to the environment in our personal capacity was quite interesting. But I had been thinking, isn’t the science behind creating a cleaner environment far too complicated? I mean how can an individual help the Earth cope with climate change? Still, I decide to enrol, to begin with. My life continued as it was until their course material arrived and I actually read it.

A month later.

I had segregated the wet and dry waste and kept it out of the house for municipal collection in the night. Woke up to the alarm this morning. My phone wasn’t charging overnight. The AC was turned off when the temperature of the room was just right to sleep. The fan wasn’t needed either. I walk into the washroom, turn the geyser on and brush my teeth- with the faucet not flowing freely this time. I quickly take a shower- just enough of it for a clean wash. I walk back into my room- It is sufficiently sunlit- I don’t really have to switch extra lights on. My hair- why would I blow dry it when I have enough time to let it dry on its own? Saves it from damage and also saves energy. Donating old clothes is not only philanthropic, but also helps save the environment- did you know that? Go find it out! I am ready for my office and still have enough time to read the newspaper and have breakfast. I unplug the microwave after my food warms up (in one attempt!). The drawing room lights were switched off in the night itself. Drew the curtains off to have enough light. Oh wait! Did I forget to switch the geyser off? Must run to do that. Read the newspaper while having breakfast. It was time to leave for the office. But before I left, a daily check must be performed- Are all the unused appliances plugged off? Yes, they are. The LPG regulator- turned down. Lights, fans- they are all switched off. Time to leave, my friends must have arrived at the bus stop. It is fun to take a public transport to the office and tell people about my new environment friendly lifestyle. It has inspired many. I follow the same energy saving tips at the office.

Now that’s one small step by a woman/man right? If each one of us decided to adapt these small changes, it would be a million steps- and that surely won’t be small then! Think! Believe it or not- With these small steps of mine, I am actually helping build a cleaner, sustainable future for planet Earth (and at the same time, saving 20-30% on my electricity, water and fuel bills!). Are you?