2020 was the year when practicing minimalism stopped being a choice. Amid countrywide lockdowns and acute shortages of resources, people began questioning their choices and habits. Now more than ever, we need to take a serious look at our actions and bring a radical change in our habits and lifestyles so as to reverse the damage we have inflicted on Mother Earth for so many years. We have curated a list of simple practices and habits that will help you lead a more sustainable, mindful and meaningful life while also improving your relationship with nature.
#1 Consume mindfully
One of the simplest and fuss-free ways to lead a more sustainable life is by changing your eating habits. Here are some sustainable eating and consumption practices that you can incorporate in your daily life –
- Switch to a vegetarian or plant-based diet – Science is clear that the meat and animal products industry is the largest source of greenhouse gases that account for 18% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. While Ayurveda recommends consuming dairy, the present-day commercialization of the meat and dairy industry warrants adopting conscious practices like ethically sourcing dairy products from your trusted vendors. If you consume meat, try cutting down on its consumption to once or twice a week and be mindful of where you’re sourcing it from.
- Buy local and seasonal – Supermarkets may have always been your go-to for the impression of hygiene they assure. We’re sorry to break your bubble but most supermarket vegetables and fruits are almost never fresh! Buying local produce from farmers’ markets ensures fresh consumption while supporting the farming community. According to Ayurveda, eating seasonal food helps you stay in tune with the changing weather and is also digested easily.
- Avoid processed food – You’re looking for a mid-day snack and that packet of “baked” chips certainly looks tempting, but you and I both know that packaged and processed foods do more harm than good. Apart from the added preservatives that mess with our internal health, buying processed food also leads to more trash in the bin. This is why we recommend making similar alternatives at home (hint: peanut butter!). This will save money, time, energy and of course, the environment!
Also see: Amrutam Recycle Project
- Grow your veggies – This may seem like an overwhelming step for those who are only beginning to start with the sustainability basics, but it is much far simpler than one can imagine! Start with growing herbs and plants that need the least amount of care like basil, rosemary, mint, and thyme. Once you are able to wrap your head around the basics of gardening, growing your own veggies will be a cakewalk!
#2 Minimise waste
A zero-waste lifestyle may seem a little intimidating for many, but incorporating these simple and consistent things in your routine can significantly reduce your waste generation, eventually helping you move to a low or minimal waste lifestyle.
- Segregate the waste – Distinguishing our waste into two different buckets as biodegradable and non-biodegradable saves a lot of energy and helps us dispose of it in a safe manner.
- Compost biodegradable waste – Vegetable peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea leaves – that sounds like a LOT of waste! But here’s the good news: most things that arrive from your kitchen can be composted! There are many DIYs that you can easily find on the internet that will help you understand how you can make compost from these things which will serve as an excellent food for the herbs in your garden!
- Get innovative – For the waste that is not biodegradable like plastics, here’s your chance to unleash your creative genius! From home décor to pen-stands to a cute DIY to gift your friends, the internet is filled with innovative ideas on how to create the best out of waste!
- Be independent – And by this, we mean carrying your own mug, metal straw, non-plastic water bottle, and a pair of spoon and fork if and when you step out of the house! In doing so, not only are you ensuring your personal hygiene (especially in COVID times) but are also actively avoiding using plastic or wooden cutlery.
- Avoid plastic – Be it that packet of baked chips or the toothbrush that greets you first thing in the morning, plastic is going to only harm the environment and unfortunately, the cost is very big to pay. Try avoiding single-use plastic as much as possible, and moving to more eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives. Here’s a hint: a wooden toothbrush for your regular ones and jute or cloth bags for plastic bags!
#3 Shop responsibly
We all love to shop and adorn ourselves with trendy clothes, stunning accessories and comfortable shoes. But the pandemic has forced us to take a long and serious look at our impulse buys. Here’s a tip: Before you venture out to shop or find yourself browsing through the latest discounts and flash sales, ask yourself –
- Do I really need it?
- Will I use or wear it often?
- Can I find its alternatives in my wardrobe?
- Was anyone harmed or exploited in its manufacturing?
- Can I do without it?
Also see: List of Brands for Conscious Consumption
Once you start asking yourself the above questions, you will experience a shift within yourself. You will automatically become more mindful and develop a sense of responsibility towards the planet. Here’s a list of a few other things you can do to be kinder to the environment –
- Shop in bulk – Yes, you read that right! Frequently shopping or ordering stuff online leads to more energy consumption. So, it makes sense to make a list of all the things you need beforehand (this applies to consumables as well), don’t you think?
- Be mindful – Mindful shopping involves buying only what you NEED and avoiding things that can be repaired or exchanged. Learn simple skills like sewing that will help you stitch or upcycle older clothes. Another best practice would be refusing a paper receipt for your payment and asking for an email or SMS instead or making digital payments instead of paying in cash.
- Donate – Clothes, shoes, or accessories you no longer need do not have to stay in your wardrobe forever. By donating or giving away stuff, you are not only ensuring that these things are used resourcefully but are also decluttering your own space – both mental as well as physical!
#4 Gather community support
Anything that is done in a group is bound to reap more and better results, which is why seeking support and help from your community is an extremely crucial step towards leading a sustainable lifestyle. Here’s what you can do with the help of your peers –
- Invest in parks and gardens – As simple as that sounds, creating and tending to green spaces involves a great degree of planning and hard work. But merely opening parks or gardens is not enough. Along with your neighbors, come to an amicable agreement on cleaning the neighborhood regularly and keeping the space green and hygienic.
- Share spaces – Don’t get us wrong: we don’t recommend not following the social distancing norms! But if two or more people in your house are working from home and require a chair-and-desk set up, try setting it up in a way where the least number of appliances (fan, cooler, or air conditioner) are put to use.
Also see: Build with Amrutam
- Observe an Eco-Sabbath – An Eco-Sabbath means a dedicated time period where you give yourself and the planet a break. It involves not using any resources or engaging in any activity that leads to energy consumption. Decide on a time with your neighbors or society members and spend at least an hour observing an Eco-Sabbath. Every hour in a week cuts your carbon emissions by 0.6 percent annually. If you commit to four hours a week, that’s 2.4 percent, and for a whole day, each week’s impact will be 14.4 percent a year!
#5 Implement simple lifestyle changes
Having to be careful with all our choices can be a bit demoralizing especially when we continue to see the apparent damage and imbalances in our eco-system. However, in the larger scheme of things, these proactive choices are what’s going to save the planet and humankind. Some simple habits you can cultivate to lead a sustainable life are –
- Follow Ayurvedic Dinacharya – Ayurveda strongly advocates attuning our routines with nature. This means rising with the sun during Brahmamuhurta and carrying out all your chores and activities in daylight as much as possible. Life on earth is possible because of the mighty sun, and the best part? It is absolutely free! Sleep on time and make the most of the sunlight. This way, your body will not only fall in sun with nature, but you will also require minimum artificial light to undertake your daily tasks, thus saving energy and electricity.
Go natural – This means using personal care and hygiene products that have natural ingredients. And there are numerous reasons why you should apply only what you can eat. Firstly, Ayurvedic and organic products work best with our bodies; our skin and internal health are not designed to take on so many toxins and chemicals that are present in these products.
Secondly, such products are terrible for the environment – the rinsed water infused with these chemicals reaches our drainage systems, and subsequently in our oceans and soil. This causes a severe imbalance in the water bodies and also adversely affects water plants and animals.
Thirdly, moving to Ayurvedic and organic personal care will help support the farmers who grow the ingredients that go into these products. In more ways than one, you are helping people sustain livelihoods and consequently, break the cycle of poverty! Going natural is not a wise choice at this point, it is the ONLY choice we have.
- Make detergent, soaps and cleaners at home – A fantastic way to reduce cost, minimize waste and save the environment. There are plenty of ways on the internet to make your own detergents and cleaners at home! A bonus of this habit would be that the water you use to wash and clean, can be used to water your plants since it is devoid of artificial chemicals.
- Become tech-friendly – Home appliances like refrigerators, ovens, washing machines, and air conditioners consume alarming amounts of electricity and energy. So, when not in use, remember to switch off the appliances and pull off plugs. You can also start storing water in matkas and mud pots instead of relying on refrigerated water. This is immensely beneficial for your internal health as artificially-cooled water disturbs your agni (digestive fire), while matka-cooled water helps with calming the mind and quenching your thirst – both at the same time! This way you are also cutting down on cluttering your refrigerator and keeping plastic bottles at bay.
- Reuse, reduce, and recycle – Although all the above tips and hacks are an extension of the three Rs of sustainability, make sure you are mindful of every resource you use or engage with in a way that leads to maximum usage with minimum waste generation.
We hope reading this article gave you some motivation to start practicing sustainability without it feeling like a scary thing! Practice mindfulness, take care of the envir