In a world like ours where more is never enough and less is frowned upon, the only way we can achieve a balance between ourselves, and the environment is by adopting the lifestyle of zero wastage. Zero waste isn’t about recycling more, it’s about recycling less. We all can lead more fulfilling lives with a more thoughtful and minimalistic approach and by slashing down our waste output. By being mindful of what ends up in our dustbins and learning how we can segregate our waste, we can all achieve that.
So, watch this workshop on ‘Zero Waste Living’ with our speaker, Vaidehi Adithya Nair, a digital artist, permaculture student, and aspiring Ayurvedic chef. She turned to a sustainable lifestyle when her advertising career opened her eyes to the truth about consumerism. She has a very active Instagram page ‘vangogreen’ where you can learn more about sustainable living, Ayurveda, and sattva. IG:
Vaidehi and her say on zero waste lifestyle:
“Hello, everyone. Welcome to another workshop by TAOS. Today, we have with us, Miss. Vaidehi Aditya Nair. Today’s topic is zero-waste living. So, we are very excited to hear more from you. Let’s get started.”
“Well, I have started just recently. I have previously spent a decade in the marketing and advertising industry. I was pretty much forced into it during lockdown since there weren’t many options to get rid of the garbage. That naturally meant we had to cut down on waste production. I currently have left city life, and I am living on a farm surrounded by rice fields, mango trees, etc. Living in a village, I have to find out ways to manage the waste. I have found ways, which are rather effortless, and which I’ll be sharing with you all today. Starting with what waste really is, whenever we think of garbage, what we can visualize is something smelly, stinking trash. So, can we segregate the things that we consume, and if yes, how can we keep them segregated? Such things that come under our consumption include paper, plastic, glass, aluminum foils, etc., that we are carrying in terms of packaging. So, we should keep these wastes in different bins to segregate them and then dispose of them differently. Paper is something; if you store and clean it, it won’t be a waste. We are kind of used to reusing things coming to our households. Even milk packets can be recycled if we are being conscious enough. Metals such as e-waste are also a problem, and we need to check if we can actually store it for the time being and then sell it to someone who’ll be able to recycle it or at least put it in some utilizable use. At one point, we had glass bottles with metal caps that could have been made it new materials, and also, there are artists who make so many art forms using these things. A new product called tetra pack is gaining ground now, which is actually very complex to recycle and hence we should try to avoid them as far as we can. When we see landfills, we all stop to think if we can anyhow stop contributing to them. Living a zero-waste lifestyle is something that will allow you to lead a more conscious, healthy, and better lifestyle.
Now, we will look stepwise at this journey of zero waste. The first thing I talked about was segregation. Buy things that are long-lasting, not something that comes in plastic or something that will be hard to dispose of. You should have four bins for paper, plastic, glass, and metal waste. The kitchen waste or wet waste that we throw into the bins are really the ones that create a mess. Keep the wet waste separate to prevent a mess. At the end of the day, I put this wet waste into compost. If you’re living in a flat or apartment, you can still have a compost-making setup. I have made the compost pit in the ground, but we can simply take a bucket also. Just put in some dry waste like coconut husks, dry leaves, etc., and with a few efforts, your compost will be ready. You can check out videos on youtube, or check some workshops and learn the process of composting. It will be very good practice for every household and indeed reduce the amount of waste as well.
So, next, when you have segregated the waste, the next thing that we need to do is recycle. Recycling paper is very easy: you can send it to recyclers, organizations who are recycling paper waste, after creating a paper mesh. Then for plastic, you can store it somewhere and send it to recyclers who will treat it properly and then melt it to make new plastics. It is way better than the plastics loitering here and there, going into landfills, etc. Wet waste can be made into compost easily. For electronic devices, you can sell off your unusable products to people and organizations who will refurbish them and sell them to people who are underprivileged and who can make better use of them. I have used plastic containers in making planters, which can be a good way to recycle them. We can use coconut shells for sapling holders too. I have even used Pringles containers to grow plants. Hence, your garbage is actually a reusable item at your own home.
The last thing we can do is reduce. We need to ask, ‘Do we need all of the items? What can I do with the packaging when I am done using it?’ We need to figure out ways to reduce, reuse and recycle in order to live a healthy, zero-waste lifestyle. It isn’t something for which we need to give in a lot of extra efforts.
Looking at where this garbage is coming from, much of it comes from us, individuals only. So, we need to figure out ways to make sure we are reducing as much waste we are producing as we can, or at least recycle them as far as we can,” said Vaidehi.
“What can we do with old clothes and shoes?”
“You can pass them on to other people who can make better use of it. If it is not wearable, you can cut them and make them into other usable things. If they are at rags level, you can give them away to organizations who make use of it and make it into bags or something. For soes, if its decomposable material, you can bury it somewhere where it will decompose. You have to keep experimenting to come up with new ideas actually.”
“How do you contact the recyclers?”
“You can get in touch with organizations like Project Mumbai, and in fact you can check online for recyclers in your vicinity. Other than that, we have rag-pickers in every locality.”
“Does tetra pack come under plastic category?”
“It is a pretty complex structure composing both plastics and papers. It is quite dirty to separate the paper from the plastic, hence I try to keep from buying them in the first place.”
“If someone is having a lot of plastic or tin containers, what can they do, after a point where there is no more space to grow more plants in them?”
“Simply donate them, to people who can make use of it.”
“Any last tips?” asked Ishika.
“The last thought that I would be sharing is that, by choosing to manage waste properly, we are not doing anybody a favour. We are actually doing it for our own selves. So, do good things, make good choices, and lead a better life.”
“That was a great session. Thank you for joining us today.”