Re-usability of products – go green – part1

We have moved to new office! the furnishing, the space and location seems to have exceeded my expectations. I love it. A new neighborhood to explore, although, not so new for me. I am excited. I am not sure how long this excitement lasts though.

I got the first cup from the office cafeteria, usually, I waste 2-3 paper cups everyday, and at least, a few plastic spoons. I decided to go green as much as I can. It is a conscious decision. And my goal eventually is to live plastic free life. I managed to be clutter free at my new work space.

The only things you see are: few knick knacks from my dear colleagues, a re-usable cup,  water bottle, book and a pen. Oh, and the sanitizing gel.

Whenever, I go for grocery shopping, I end up accumulating lots of plastic bags. Next step in my to-do list is to – buy re-usable cloth bags to store vegetables when purchasing. Does any of you have suggestions?

My goals are to live: clutter free minimalist lifestyle, zero waste eventually, and simple and joyful life. I am way too far away from the goal but I am determined.

For a record, during my India trip. I have not purchased any souvenirs. That was the most difficult time to stop my urges to go over board in purchasing anything. Part of the credit goes to my dear partner who reminded me of clutter free living , every time I was tempted to buy anything.

Zero waste & Organic living

When I was browsing through my facebook feed, it suggested me to read this article on Zero Waste and how Lauren Singer, an environmental major, has produced no waste from past two years here in NYC. You can read the article here.

This took me back to my childhood days in India. What these people or this generation here in west call it as organic, is something was part of our life growing up. I do not remember having any plastic bags around, that we find it abundantly in the stores here & currently everywhere in my home town. I see that now a days, some are promoting, chemical free detergents, or dish washing scrub, tooth paste or brush, even buying vegetables in bulk, the soap or anything for that matter. You name it, where it is called organic – we have (atleast, I have) lived organic way of life in 80’s and 90’s. Only in 2000, that we have started messing up.

And yes, we have produced zero waste. i.e all the trash was so organic that we had a designated location in our region, where we everyone would dump it there. That garbage, turned into fertile soil, was purchased by farm land owners to aid their crop. You see, it was not a difficult task. The only thing we had to separate was glass and metal particles if any existed.  Both the Glass as well as Metal was recycled.

Some of the things that were part of our life, growing up, were bio-degradable, organic and was easily available.

1. Tooth brush : neem plant stems used as brush, it is anti bacterial and considered healthy. (Wiki)

2. Body soap: we used the gram flour to scrub our skins.

3. Hair washing : Kunkudu kai ,a kind of  soapy nut, we use to wash our hair. Found this in google – want to know more, read here.

4. Scrub to wash dishes : we have used coconut tree jute to make our own scrubs, ropes etc, which was freely and abundantly available in india, is very expensive and termed as organic here. One such link – here.

5. Use and throw green leaf plates : we have used green plaintain/ banana leaves as our plate, or clipping few leaves together and forming a plate shape. My grand mother used to make plenty of such plates, infact, the amount she made was sufficient to feed more than 1000 guests at my aunt’s wedding. Click here. Banana leaf plate.

6. Purchasing vegetables: we have had one plastic netted container to carry vegetables, that lasted for ever. On the other hand, my grandma had this container, entirely made of twigs of palm based plant,  used it religiously to sell, as well as acquire vegetables for the family. Yes we come from farming back ground.

7. We have grown our own rice, own vegetables and there was less to buy from outside. The rice or lentil bags were stored in jute containers. Staying in the warm weather, the insects are unavoidable, so we use to add neem leaves and castor oil to save the effort of cleaning.

8. We prepared our own chilly powder, turmeric powder, split lentils, tamarind, and you name it, we have had it. Thanks to the increasing population resulting in de-forestration, we have water problem and we gave up farming.

9. Broom stick was organic, from cocunut leaves stems and another with soft bristles is from a kind of grass. These used to last for about an year. Oh, how I miss all of them. I dislike using these plastic bristled mops and yet I purchase them.

All of them are totally bio-degradable, as you can see. There are plenty of such examples, and we have had “zero waste” life growing up. I feel sad to look at my current state of affairs. Just the idea of being organic, means expensive for me, here in this country. What used to be free and simple back then, is quite expensive now-a-days. With all mass production and rise in consumer demand of such cheap & unhealthy goods.

I am part of those consumers where living simple and organic seems tad bit expensive for me. May be not, I never paid attention. I am conscious of my current state of producing waste. Had lived the organic life, is different from what the current stance is. These are the things, I could control, and yet I take an easy route of jumping into band wagon.

May be such articles, will make people like me and who are interested in environment friendly living – would want us to start caring more about our surroundings and what we can offer to our future generations. There is a lot of suffering from this waste. India is one such area, where trash get’s dumped. People living in those areas are facing the dire consequences.

Now the question is, as a human being, what is my contribution, a collective contribution towards our mother earth? How are we going to do justice in our way and for the bigger picture?

What about you all? how was your life growing up?

Give man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime

There are plenty of charities who reach out to people in need and support them. But, very few actually provide the opportunity to have a full filling lives. Being a human, it is the feeling of being worthy counts more than anything. Don’t you think so? So how many times have we felt or made other’s feel about how much useful they are in our lives. This is about an young lady who, as a part of her college project tried creating a jacket that will transform into sleeping bag for the homeless people. While doing her rounds of prototyping, she was yelled at by a homeless person and what she did in response to that was incredible.

It is inspiring, and we need more people like her. If not we need more people to support people like her.

On this note, I am very happy to come back to my blogging world. I promise to myself that I will be a regular blogger.

Source: Here is where I got the information in the first place – Click here to know more

Conversation between two strangers & Chinese people in general

As I mentioned earlier, I commute in a train. This morning, I have struggled hard to solve my crossword puzzle. It is indeed a difficult one *sob*sob*. So, I ended up over-hearing a conversation between a chinese young lady (let’s call her X) and an american middle aged gentleman( let’s call him Y) who were standing right where I got a seat. The chinese girl seems upbeat, energetic and full of life. These two were conversing and it seems like they just met in the train few minutes ago or they had some prior appointment to meet for business like discussion. Conversations like these are very common and people talk to each other all the time in the train. If it’s interesting for me, I will pay attention. So one of it is this.

What attracted me in this conversation is the girl’s education and what she does for living. She works on a mobile development (she was showing off her windows and android phones to Y). Her background..she hardly spoke english until she finished her under graduate degree in china. She picked up, fared well in united states when she came here to pursue graduate degree in educational technology. She worked on face recognition using matlab in a university lab research center. Her works were interesting and she aims to get phd some day. And she is a very good skater. How do I know all these, the Y has been impressively extracting all this information in a span of 20 minutes. He did speak about what he does for living and that was interesting as well.

I have had come across many brilliant, talented and hard working chinese people. I have complained so much around that I cannot understand their english when they speak. What I failed to learn is that, they have hardly been exposed to english until undergrad and it is certainly difficult to learn and communicate well in english. Their english sentences seems very funny as they try to translate mandarin/cantonese (their language depending on which part of china they live) to english in their head and speak it out. I enjoy chatting with them to learn their culture, about their life in their country, relationships and so on.. Guess what, some of them are really interesting.

Diversity is a beautiful thing. I am so glad to be in NYC to meet different nationals. After spending a decade on American land and 4 years in NYC definitely taught me to appreciate cultural diversity and to be more empathetic towards people around me.

Have you have any friends/ meet people from different back grounds? How do you feel about them?

My new found obsession – Crossword Puzzles & More

Crossword Puzzle ????

Crossword Puzzle ????

As you very well know, if one needs to work in newyork city, there is some commute time involved until unless you live a block or two away from your work place. I have about 25 -30 minutes commute in the train one-way every day. It is very hard to stay calm while you are underground and the turbulence s that occur make me feel as if there is a problem and I may be stuck for an extra 30 minutes. Sometimes, I get very restless and eager to get out of the train.

So, to utilize the time, I either play games on mobile, read books or if at all I come across some nice co-passenger ..I would chat.. (well, this is a rare one, most of them do not like to be disturbed or I am so tired to start a conversation for such short period). In the recent past, I have been grabbing a free news’ paper called AM New York and try to solve the crossword and sudoko. Crossword is bit difficult for me, sometimes I do well and other times I can not get more than 10 words right. I get this puzzle to work and everyone during our lunch time chips in their knowledge.. and in case of getting stuck and going no further, then we cheat by googling for the solution online.

Yes, I have a crossword puzzle app on phone, but I enjoy doing it on paper more than on the phone.

I am addicted, I do not want to do work from home just for this sometimes. The paper is available for grabs from monday-to-friday and you can see the solutions next day. It is addictive and improves your vocabulary and sometimes general knowledge about certain things.

All you dear readers, who commute longer for work – what do you do during your commute ?

Financial Independence

I have been working for 8 years now and make decent amount enough for saving and yet, I feel I like I live on pay check to pay check basis. So where does all my earnings go? I am too afraid to take a stock at where my pay goes. Where do I spend most? why am I not able to save at least half-my-check towards investments. Just last year I opened a 401k to maximize my savings, that is at least the good thing.

I had wished, if only I started 401k right after I started working I would have saved quite an amount..It bothers me now as I enter my 30’s for being so ignorant and not very responsible for my savings. I spent money for other’s benefits for all wrong reasons and what a mistake I did. Spending money on others meant to display how much I love them and feel responsible for them.. NOT TRUE. I spent recklessly on impulses and at the end of the day – if I question my self – is it all worth it? I cannot ever tell. May be or may not be.

I have determined 3 days ago that I will not buy anything for at least a month. And then I go help shopping with a friend and I end up spending. Then other day I had to give a farewell to my colleague – oh well, I thought this was unavoidable so it is an acceptable spending. Then I was not in a mood to cook, so I spend money on dinner. I will try one week at a time to begin with and let all my close friends, family and colleagues know about it so they would not ask me to attend events where I had to spend money. But in the process I will miss lot of fun but I really want to see what it feels like.

Ever since this minimalism came into picture, I started looking at my finances and ways to save more and spend less, do something more meaningful than just do what other’s think of me doing something is right. This week has been bit roller coaster and very disturbing to look back at my life from a neutral perspective. It is still an ongoing process.

Ever since I started consuming less, These blogs really stand out where I am regular reader

1. Becoming Minimalist ( I have even purchased an kindle version of this author’s book and I like it.. it very short and sweet.. yes and I must say for the content provided.. i think it is over priced)

2. Miss Minimalist

The reason for this post is because of this link I came across – Money Mustache (from becoming minimalist blog)- A guy who did the similar job as mine but retired by 30 and does what he likes to do and still makes money. The more I read about him, the more I feel like being ignorant about my own needs and necessities and goals. But I also understand that every one’s path is different.

Question for you all – how do you deal with your finances?

Dilemma – On clothes

Being an Indian native (not the native indian), I have different sets of Indian clothes and the unfortunate truth is that, when ever I visit India or if some one from my family visits, I will make sure I get many Indian dresses.

At the rate, I got the stuff..I sent back only some of it. Result is that I have more dresses than I possibly get a chance to wear them here in United States.  It breaks my heart to give away any of these dresses that I brought. I really really love them but I do not wear them as much as I want. Yesterday, while re-organizing my closet, I was sure of some dresses (Indian and Western) that I am not going to wear them. I landed them in three bins – 1. Charity, 2. Trash  3. To India. (Total of 20+ pieces and my closet is slightly lighter.. feels great!)

The problem is, I am not sure if I will be visiting India anytime soon nor I expect any of my family or friends visiting India and take my clothes away. One of the reasons, I try to send my clothes to India is…I will be sure these clothes will help many families and they love it. Yes, they could be our neighbors, financially challenged family members or our maid’s children back home. The dresses are worn only twice or thrice by me and they obviously are in great condition and they do not mind at all.  If I give away these to good will, I am afraid they might toss most of it for no relevance but I am certain when it comes to India. Every piece of the cloth will serve some purpose.

And other clutter I have is – My family who rarely visits me, hope that they might visit often and leave their stuff here as if they will be a regular visitor. The hard fact has been that they never visited in last one year and the clothes lie here. May be a lesson learned to not let them leave any of their belongings. It has been difficult to maintain with lot of my own clutter around.  Or probably it all started as I began considering being a minimalist. Ohh the perspective.. it changes!

The journey towards minimalism has begun (Hopefully..?), I would want to sell/give away/recycle/trash anything that I think will not fit in our Tiny home. It hit me hard when the amount of my precious time goes into maintaining the stuff that I hardly need. But as I said in my earlier posts.. It is indeed very hard to part with things even though they are of no use to us.

I digress.. Now if parting with things was that difficult.  it hurts me every time some one leaves the work place. Even though they are not my friends or the mostly friendly people I deal with.. But with time, I get used to the reality. And I hope my new journey towards minimalism becomes part of my life style soon.

And it is easy if we take one step at a time, than trying to do all at once. It certainly helped me and hope it does in case if you are up for simple living.