One week of zero waste living
Hi, I am Vandana, a new member of the Indo Naturals team. I have previously worked with design and empowerment in India, and now I live in Oslo. When I came to know about the vision behind Indo Naturals, I instantly felt connected to the ethical cause, knowing how important empowerment of marginalized groups in rural India is.
As a design student, I was fortunate enough to be acquainted with and work with these groups. And I've been drawn to continue working with this ever since. India is blessed with natural resources, traditional craft techniques and skilled artisans. Therefore, increasing poverty in rural areas seems unnecessary. The way Indo Naturals facilitates the use of these resources to help reduce poverty and at the same time develop products free from plastic is something I find fascinating. I must admit I’m not a zero-waste person from before, however I think it’s amazing to be a part of a company that strives to make it easier to reduce plastic waste in everyday life, and I want to do my best to find ways of reducing plastic in my life. I therefore wanted to try my best to live zero-waste for a week, and see what I could learn from the experience:
First, when I decided to go a week with zero waste routines, it seemed like a piece of cake. Little did I know that the struggle is real. It became a rocky road as the week progressed.
I started off by finding zero plastic alternatives in the home. First few days went smoothly, I started using the Indo Naturals soap bars both for personal use and for dishwashing. It was an easy and pleasant switch. However, more challenging tasks laid ahead. I have a 2 year old at home so switching out the diapers was a great way to reduce waste. Going from single-use diapers to cloth diapers I felt a sense of content and pride. It was challenging in the start, especially the washing part, but I found a good routine that after some time felt completely natural and in a way, also more hygienic.
Moving on to the kitchen I started using boxes and aluminium foil for food left-overs, and wrapping in general. The aluminium foil I reused as much as possible and eventually I wrapped it into a ball and threw it for metal recycling. I also stopped with online shopping and avoided home deliveries as this often comes wrapped in a lot of plastic. It was actually a great way of saving some money too. There are definitely many more zero-waste tricks and options for the home that I’ll be exploring later.
Going grocery shopping was a challenging one. I was already used to buying loose fruits and vegetables from the local shops instead of the supermarkets. This allows me to bring my own reusable bags and this way avoid all the unnecessary fruit and vegetable packing. Heading over to the conventional grocery shop I realised that basically everything had plastic on it. I had to compromise, so for anything that did not come without plastic wrapping, I chose the alternatives with the least plastic, with recycled plastic, or with plastic packaging I could reuse, like greek yoghurt boxes. Some of the plastic wrapping I later stored so I can reuse it as for example shower caps or dog poop bags ;)
At the counter I proudly took up my eco-friendly jute bags that I have been using for a while, and I politely said “no thank you” to the plastic bags.
Finding ways to avoid plastic from take-away, outside lunch and snacks was another important step for me. I boxed my lunches, using boxes I already had, and some of the boxes from the grocery packaging food. When getting take-away I avoided going to places that pack in plastic and I found out that some restaurants will allow you to bring your own box for the takeaway. I got myself a nice bamboo cutlery set, a great eco friendly option which is lightweight and easy to carry. I found that small changes like using reusable coffee cups and water bottles can alone make a big difference. I hope that more cafes will allow for filling one's own cups and bottles in the times to come.
End of week reflections
I only realised how much waste I reduced once it was time to take the garbage out. During the week I only took the garbage out a couple of times, and the bags were a lot lighter and smaller than before. Getting into this new routine gave me a entirely new perspective over things which I may not have focused so much on before, not until I actually led a week with zero waste. As the week ended, my routine did not. Although difficult in the beginning, the new routine eventually turned out to be hassle free with less waste and no hoarding. The feeling of minimalism was very satisfying in itself. I’ll definitely continue finding more ways to reduce waste in my everyday life.
I must admit, I did by no means eliminate all my waste. I did however find ways to repurpose some of the waste I could not avoid. Check out the below infographic for 7 interesting tips to repurpose waste from everyday life.
Vandana Rawat, marketing team at Indo Naturals
Vandana is a designer from India currently based in Norway with previous experience working with several rural and marginalized groups before. Vandana is passionate about using design as a tool to help rural groups reach their potential, and this way enable them to develop their skills and see healthy economic growth.