“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
This quote by Jim Ryun is perhaps what is required to promote sustainable lifestyle. All of us may have this grandiose notion of creating a greener planet. But we seldom do so either due to lack of planning, social norms or simply due to cumulative habits. Though social norms may be difficult to address, habits can be changed for the better. Bad habits can be replaced with new ones that leans more towards environment-friendliness. Here is a quick peek into some of them.
Bike to work
This is a habit you can easily form. You burn calories, feel fitter and leave no carbon footprint getting to work. Apparently, just a 30-minute low intensity cycling can burn 120 calories for a person weighing 60kg. Combine cycling with a work buddy and see the difference it brings to health plus your mood levels. With proper brakes, helmet and a mask if you are living in a city, you are good to go.
Keep indoor plants
Green is good for the eyes, so say many posters floating over the net,and it is true. Getting up and viewing a bit of greenery always relaxes the eyes. Keep some in your home not just for relaxation, but also to purify the room. Keeping indoor plants can reduce pollutants in the room. Aloe vera, ivy, cacti, areca palm are some great plants to remove indoor toxins such as carbon monoxide, chemicals from household cleaners etc. These are low maintenance too and come in stylish colourful pots to brighten your mood.
Segregate dry waste and recycle
Paper, bottles, plastics can be easily segregated and sent to recycling units or turned over to your local kabaadiwala. According to a 2015 Mid-Day report on India’s trash problem, the countries generating the highest amount of waste were China and US, followed by India. The report further states that though 1,33,760 tonnes of garbage was generated in the country, only 68% of this is collected, out of which only 28% is treated.
Waste is valuable. So set a remainder, do this daily task of segregating and you will have the happy feeling of reducing the burden of the transport dump vehicle (fuel and space both), contributing less to landfills and supporting the livelihood of your local kabaadiwalas.
Compost wet waste
Don’t be thwarted by the smell or the fear of maggots. Composting is black gold for your plants. When handled properly, composting gives a deep sense of satisfaction as you see leftover food, vegetable peels, egg shells turning into rich earthy soil. Using straw, sawdust and dry leaves, you can easily turn the organic matter into earthy soil within 60 days or so.
One friend I know used to take dabbas or containers to whole sale shops to bring groceries like wheat, rice, pulses etc.
She avoids plastics like the plague. If you cannot do this, at least take a cloth carry bag with you or keep a cloth bag in your vehicle so that you will always have a non-plastic alternative.
Another great way to avoid packaged plastics is to prepare snacks at home; good for health and great for the planet when you start avoiding these unhealthy fried snacks.
No standby mode please
You can save money, a minimum of ` 400-500 annually if you unplug that computer, set top box, DVD Player as reported by an Economic Times article that appeared in March 2015, about five ways to keep power bills low. It also mentions that appliances in standby mode contribute to 2% of electrical consumption. So unhook the appliances before hitting the bed. Most mobiles keep charging throughout the night. Is this required? Do they require eight hours of charging? Most batteries perform well with frequent top-ups rather than leaving them to charge overnight completely.
Avoid sanitary pads
Plastics, bleach, chemicals in the pads can cause problems of reproductive organs. Tampons too can cause infections. Besides this, pads are not bio-degradable, nor are they recyclable. They end up in landfills or clog sewers if flushed in the toilets. A better alternative is to go for reusable pads, cloth pads or menstrual cups. Uger, Eco Femmemanu facture some amazing cloth pads that are comfortable and effective.
Recycle grey water, fix dripping faucets and taps, take shorter showers, save rain water, and install a water meter; these things are some of the major water saving measures. If you don’t want to invest much, at least save rain water by attaching your downspouts with rain barrels, and use grey water for gardens or flushing the toilets. This way, at least 50% of the water that we use daily in kitchens and the bathrooms can get reused.
It is these little steps that add up to become significant. In the words of Vincent Van Gogh, the great Dutch painter, “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”