DIY & Imperfect Zero-Waster

How did a small-town girl like me turn into a zero-waster? What support system did she lean on during this journey? Read on to find out.

I won’t label myself as a zero waster but I am making strides in reducing the waste I create every single day. Most of us pay no attention to how much waste we create throughout our lives. This thoughtlessness impacts our environment, our health and our lives too. Our environment gets polluted by the waste we produce – most of it single use – such as plastic bags, packed food & beverages, take away containers and straws. Media glamorizes the use of single use products whether it be the coffee cup and our markets are also flooded by cheap & low-quality products that don’t withstand the test of time unlike its sturdy counterparts. These cheaper products are also often far more colorful & trendier making it that much harder to resist buying them.

Earlier I used to carry a steel tiffin box, glass bottles, steel cups with steel straws but somewhere down the line these things looked less pretty or acceptable compared to the shiny new products that were popular among the in-crowd. I’m embarrassed to say it, but I was totally influenced by them and started buying what they were using – pretty, colorful plastic containers & jars. It took me a while to accept that these products are not only good for the environment but also bad for my health (plastic leaches chemicals into water after certain uses!). But the shift was not immediate because I was afraid of being judged by my peers. Plus there was no support system, even virtually for anyone who wanted to do Indianized & useful DIYs and zero-waste in India at the time.

I slowly started making the shift back to sturdier materials like steel for food, bamboo straws etc. Now I even carry my own reusable bags made from old saris & dupattas when shopping for vegetables, fruit and other groceries. I always carry a set of steel utensils (a steel fork, spoon & insulated steel cup) with me when I go out just in case, I need to grab a bite to eat so that I reduce using single use plastic. Of course, sometimes I get stared at, but most people are appreciative of my effort and even come up to me and compliment me on it.

Here are a few examples of a few helpful DIYS I’ve enjoyed doing:

· Cut up old cloth towels, store them in a box & use them as wipes and when they’re too old or stained use them to clean up after yourself or as floor mats.

· Paint old wooden spatulas & objects to give a bright look to a dull corner in the home.

· Use decopage or paint to upgrade old boxes, frames etc.

· Create one-of-a-kind creations from old dupattas, saris and bedsheets like shelf covers, cushion covers etc.

· Upgrade old plastic water & soft-drink bottles into flower vases, and other décor by filling them with beads or colored sand.

I recently won a giveaway on Instagram organized by @mnmlgrlblog where she gave away a bunch of zero-waste travel soap cubes. The soap cubes were naturally scented with organic ingredients and had such pretty colors & texture on the skin! It made me realize that even small changes can make a difference. Our choices can make a difference! It might seem funny, but winning the zero-waste soap giveaway encouraged me even more to make zero-waste a bigger part of my life. I also liked how she explained that we don’t have to be perfect at zero-waste immediately. I remember once she put up a post that said – “Imperfect zero waste is better than not trying” and I was so struck by it. I stopped pressuring myself to be perfect at zero-waste or for my DIYs to look picture-perfect….instead I focused on progress based on her advice.

Now whenever I’m asked the advantages of DIY, I tell them the following:

· DIYs are a great way to extend the life of an object and keep them out of landfill a little while longer.

· You can transform so many ‘out of commission’ plastic products into useful or pretty display objects for around the house.

· The fact that these objects aren’t mass produced and not everyone will have them makes them even more appealing.

· You will be saving a lot of money by creating something out of what seems like waste.

· You can customize your own skin and hair care products with natural ingredients which you have around you.

· The added advantage is that you can avoid harmful or unnecessary chemicals such as fillers, colors, perfumes and glitter.

· More importantly I love that DIY reduces the amount of stuff I bring into my home while utilizing what I already have.

Thanks for hearing my story and do let me know how you practice minimalism in your daily lives.-Pallabi (West Bengal, India)

This article is edited by mnmlgrl. publishes a new article every Friday.

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