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?