With very basic changes, three Mumbai citizens have created a zero-wastage lifestyle.
As the last week’s high tide washed ashore nine metric tonnes of trash along the Marine Drive, almost nine times the garbage collected from the iconic promenade every day, it brought back the focus on the amount of junk the city generates.
All the waste we produce, whether it is an empty pack of chips or sanitary napkins, either ends up in the landfill or chokes life out of the ocean. But a few good Samaritans of the city are making an effort to live a zero-waste lifestyle to help reduce the waste being produced at an individual level.
For Mahim based Talent Advisor, Mehndi Shivdasani, the idea of this lifestyle came to her when she was studying about maintaining sustainability while running a business. "When I was in Sydney doing my masters in Social Entrepreneurship, it got me thinking about a lot of my habits that were not environment friendly. I started to think more about it and the measures that I can take to reduce trash. I found people who were into composting and were very conscious about what they use, throw out and how they use a product," says Mehndi about the initial phase of her journey. Talking baby steps, Mehndi stopped buying packaged juices and also started using a bamboo toothbrush. She also replaced the number of bottles of shampoos and conditioners with homemade versions. According to the 26-year-old, even small changes like using a fountain pen is much better than using plastic single-use pens or refills. Looking to find more people from the city to discuss the problems and achievement of this lifestyle, she organised a few meetups in Bandra. "The meetup helped many of us discover interesting things, such as the possibility of recycling tetrapacks," she adds.
From using home remedies for washing hair to creating their own compost, these people are making conscious efforts to reduce waste production. Marie Jaiswal, a freelancer based in Chembur has adopted the reduced-waste lifestyle for the last one year. "I stopped using cosmetics and now I clean my face with oil. I use home remedies and have also switched to natural alternatives for shampoo," says Marie who has not only made a natural shampoo out of reetha but also made her own toothpaste out of arrowroot powder and deodorant from apple cider vinegar. But years of using chemicals and commercially made products do make the switch to natural products challenging. "I've seen people switching to only water for washing their hair, but it didn't work for me. So now I use eggs or reetha to wash my hair," adds Marie. Natural and package-less alternatives are difficult to find, especially in case of store-brought items. "It's a big step in zero waste. If you don't make it at home, sourcing it from outside without packaging is a little difficult." She makes everything from cookies, bread to almond milk and cakes at home for her 7-year-old son.
Reduce, recycle and reuse is the myntra for patrons living a zero waste lifestyle. Mugdha Joshi, a lactation consultant based in Bandra has set up two compost bins and has also removed dustbins from her house. "We segregate the dry waste and a BMC truck comes twice a week to collect it for recycling," says Mugdha as she drags out three big bags of dry wastes including plastic and footwears which she plans to give up for recycling. To spread the message, she organised an eco friendly party for her son's second birthday. "We didn't use any plastic decoration and made buntings from fabric and rented plants to decorate the place. Since the party was organised on a terrace, we put up a small tent and a sand pit to entertain the kids," she recalls. Her two-year-old son is also being instilled the values of a zero waste lifestyle as he takes a steel water bottle with a steel straw to his playschool. "I involve him while composting and also show him what goes in it. I also teach him not to use plastic much. It's not like he understands the reasons behind what we are doing but he's being brought up in this environment," Mugdha adds.
At the end of the day, zero waste lifestyle is a journey and everyone is following a path best suited for him or her. While Mehndi is still looking for package free oils, Mugdha is trying to convince her family and ends up with some or the other plastic waste. Zero waste lifestyle is probably not an easy way to live your life, but in the day and age where most of our problem is based on overusing resources, it's probably the most ideal lifestyle.