Not much for picketing and protesting? Well, you don't have to hold up a sign or march a rally to stand up for what you believe in. Get informed about the products you buy, their ingredients, packaging, embodied energy, environmental and social impact. Consumer choices do influence what companies produce and what retailers sell, so let your voice be heard in every purchase. It's about how you spend your hard earned money!
Reach out for:
Also finally - if you don’t need something - don’t BUY.
Your purchase power can create change!
Click each shelf to know more...
Use a metal dabba when you can and don't throw away your plastic containers. Rinse, store and always send them for recycling. Like plastic teacups, eating hot food from disposable plastic containers is harmful. A metal dabba is a much better option!
Eliminate the waste with steel! Besides, bottles take at least 7 days to reach the shelf and are made from PET (a synthesized polymer which has low value but is generated in high volume throughout our cities). Bottled water is also very wasteful in terms of energy used to produce it. Check out this insightful video about the story of bottled water.
Buying in large quantities saves money and reduces packaging waste. When you have this option, choose bulk. Also, sachet's are made from metallized polyester which cannot be recycled and ends up clogging drains.
These small metallized polyester sachets pile up, clog drains and turn up everywhere. They cannot be recycled. Insist that your local restaurant use a bottle, or use miniature boxes to carry it - if you are a ketchup addict! Glass bottles can be easily reused and recycled.
Clean your clothes without the harsh chemicals that harm your skin and contaminate ground water. Soap nuts (Ritha seeds) are chemical free, can be reused and then tossed into your composter. They can be used in many ways including skincare and hair conditioning with many amazing benefits.
Do you really need vegetables in a wrapper? The wrapper may make sense for the store, but you can buy from your local vendor (without wrappers) or better still, grow some yourself or buy from an organic store. Low quality plastic and styrofoam are unnecessary - they cannot be recycled and end up in a landfill or drain.
Why buy chips that were packed last month? Buy hot, fresh, yummy chips made today from your local store and always save the pack for recycling. If the quality of the oil bothers you, ask the chip maker if he will fry them in your oil. Also, most shop bought chips come in metallized polyester film packaging which cannot be recycled and has to go to a landfill.
Squeeze it yourself for great taste and no waste! Even the local juice center is better than packaged juice. Also, juice packs come in fused packaging which is hard to recycle in India unlike any juice center's paper cups.
It may be convenient but you're paying for nasty packaging and preservatives. Teach your local baker recipes and make sure you get him orders. Biscuit packets are made from metallized polyester film which cannot be recycled.
Why throw the whole thing away when you can just change the part? Mixed material razors take a lot of energy to produce and are difficult to separate and recycle. Choose a razor with a changeable blade to reduce your waste.
Do you drink a hot steaming cup of plastic with some chai on the side or enjoy your morning tea in a stainless steel glass? If you must choose disposable, use paper which can be recycled. Drinking hot tea from plastic cups leaches chemicals into your tea. The plastic is also very difficult to recycle into quality products.
We all know that cloth is better, but if you must choose plastic, choose transparent plastic packs. Store and reach them to a recycler. Try to use as little plastic as you can - small plastic packs add up to a huge pile of low quality waste that is difficult to recycle.
Here are a few stories that help imagine fresh ways of engaging with your local community. You may have more ideas like these that foster creatively and sustainability. Write in and draw for us!
"I'm tired of preservative filled biscuits in non recyclable packages. I wish I could get fresh healthy biscuits for my family without the packaging waste. I also wish my baker would make healthy biscuits."
"I found a healthy recipe online and tried to make them myself. They didn't turn out well, so I took the recipe to my local baker to see if he could bake them."
"My baker said he wouldn't make them because there would be no customers to buy the biscuits. I offered to advertise to friends and family to get him orders."
"I went around to everyone in my neighbourhood, advertising the new biscuits and explaining the benefits of eating fresh, healthy biscuits instead of packaged ones. I got many orders!"
"Now we all are enjoying fresh, healthy biscuits without any package waste and are supporting our local community at the same time."
I love ketchup, but I'm tired of all the waste from non recyclable, metallized polyester sachets
I ask my favorite restaurant to stop using them and insist they use glass bottles instead. I even gave them a recipe with less sugar and salt.
I also wrote to the ketchup company suggesting they find a better alternative for convenient use.
Now I carry a miniature tiffin of ketchup whenever i go to a restaurant to ensure I don't have to use non recyclable sachets
I'm happy I spoke up against waste and that I'm working to push back on this "sachet" mess."
I hate buying packaged, cut vegetables, but I'm really busy and I have no time to wash and cut my vegetables before cooking.
I would much rather buy vegetables from my local vendor and save plastic, but I don't have the time to cut them.
I explained the problem to my neighbourhood vegetable vendor and he offered to cut my vegetables for me for an additional twenty rupees
Now I get fresh pre-cut vegetables in ten minutes and I bring a reusable container to take them home in, avoiding waste
Thanks to my local vendor I don't have to worry about spending time cutting vegetables or unnecessary waste!
Once you start to segregate & collect the organic waste separately, there is nothing soggy left to go in the bins. So, the bin does not need a plastic lining anymore and newspaper is more than sufficient. Learn to make a simple newspaper cone and you will find that you only need to throw this out once in a few days, Every home throwing one less plastic bag daily really adds up. Your home alone saves 365 plastic bags from landfill every year.
It hurts us to see offices with bins under every desk, all lined with plastic and thrown everyday! Surely we could all switch to newspaper? It only take a few minutes to make a week’s supply of cones.
Collection of organic waste from apartments is sometimes a challenge as residents don't seem to want to leave waste just outside their door. Why not have a neatly designed space for this - a cubby hole or a hook in front of every door for placing or hanging the metal dabba with organic waste for housekeeping staff to collect. This way, staff don’t have to ring every bell and wait - it makes their job less time consuming.
Mainly, this would give a certain importance to waste management by making it a visible part of daily life with a designed space for it. We strongly believe that these ‘small things’ go a long way in changing perceptions towards waste.
As cities grow, it is difficult to get officials to try something new. Often legacy systems prevail and only one or two models are replicated. We think it is important to pilot many alternatives before we really understand what will work.
In that spirit, we think getting the Pourakarmikas to collaborate with homeowners or communities might be a good idea to explore. They can earn some more money by managing the composters of homeowners who may not have the time. She could add segregated wet waste from each home, add the dry component and stir everyday. This way, more composting at source can happen and more dry waste can be recovered and composting can happen at source.
We think this is a win - win -win situation - for the city (less waste), the Pourakarmikar (more money and less hauling), the homeowner (no need to look after composting) and the trees!
We know that manual scavenging is still common practice in India and our recycling sector is still primarily informal and decentralized. This means most dry waste from our homes is separated further by hand and the informal sector is able to recover 20 - 25% of the city’s dry waste for recycling. These are the real green warriors that we need to partner with - not simply replace them by technology. When given to the municipal truck, dry waste usually ends up in a landfill.
So, what if every home had space for an enclosed cubby hole / cage outside that could hold cleaned dry waste. Recyclers could come door to door and take the useful material. It’s ironic that we are not willing to even segregate but when we do we expect a monetary return! A bit short sighted, no?
"In states where plastic is banned, the major supermarkets keep paper bags for customers to weigh their vegetables and fruits in. Otherwise it's that plastic roll - which is unnecessary and polluting.
Even paper bags are not necessary, just jute tie bags that are reusable will work - they simply need to be handed over at the billing counter once the vegetables are billed."
We know that healthy cities need more trees, but what do we do when they shed their leaves? Burn, dump, landfill and see it as a nuisance, mostly. Leaves hold a lot of the nutrients that a plant absorbs from the soil - when left to nature, they form a protective layer on the surface which prevents soil erosion among many other benefits. A ‘leaf safe zone’ in a city would mean an area where leaves are safe from the hazards we put them though!
If citizens and government come together to maintain leaf composters on every street, we can put the nutrition back into the soil and stop the air pollution too from all the burning. Interested?
When we see that everything is connected, we look for solutions that are holistic, inclusive & sustainable. Keeping in mind the Indian context, the challenges and existing system in place, we think these 7 points should be our national mandate.