A Beginner's Guide To Living A Realistically Sustainable Lifestyle

Dhruvi Modi , 12 Jul 2019

In a world where sustainability is a need of the hour, a lot of us wish to pursue it. Nevertheless, shifting to a sustainable lifestyle tends to be confusing at first. You might have various questions on where to start, what to eat, what to buy and more. So, I spoke to Arpita Kalanuria, a veteran when it comes to leading a life where she’s environmentally conscious. With 10+ years of sustainable living behind her, she gives us a breakdown of how to start and more…

1. What is leading a sustainable lifestyle all about?

I really believe in living with the lowest possible impact on the planet, and that extends to the way I eat, dress, travel etc. That is sustainable living for me, to live in harmony with the planet. One time use plastic is an established problem, and our oceans are floating plastic waste islands. We haven’t even begun assessing the microplastic problem yet. Did you know even the fish from the deepest trenches in the ocean have been found with plastics in their systems? Air pollution is on the rise, thanks to microfibres from artificial fabric based clothes, and the manufacturing of them.

2. What made you shift to this lifestyle?

It’s been almost a decade now since I started practicing a more conscious way of living. I do this by eating local organic foods, less packaged food, and now I’m leaning towards raw, vegan foods as well. So, the journey has been quite amazing, and it all started with food. Slowly, it has trickled down to other aspects of my lifestyle too. I wear sustainable fabrics, I buy fewer things in general, and I shop brands that are conscious of the environment. Even when I’m on the go, I carry my steel flasks, and fruits and nuts packed in steel boxes from home, so that I don’t end up buying packaged food.

3. How do you practice a sustainable lifestyle in all walks of life—from around the house, fashion and more?

At Home:

All the home care products that I use are chemical free. I love RusticArt‘s laundry detergent (available on Qtrove.com), and I highly recommed Herbal Strategi‘s handwash. In fact, all their home cleaning products are outstanding (available on their website).

Herbal Strategi (Source: www.herbalstrategi.com)
Herbal Strategi (Source: www.herbalstrategi.com)

Moreover, here are some easy techniques you can use to be more sustainable at home:

  • Conserve energy by switching off appliances such as computers, fans, lights when not in use.
  • Dry your clothes on a line instead of using a dryer.
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are better than your regular incandescent bulbs.
  • Use reusable razors, not plastic, disposable ones.
  • Save water by checking for leaks in your sinks, and switch to bucket showers.

In The Kitchen/Food:

This information is specific to those living in Mumbai. Stores such as The Farmer, as well as Praakritik, do a great job with their fruits and vegetable delivery, which is easy to order on WhatsApp as well as their website.
Here’s the number for Akash, who deliver s organic fruits, vegetables directly to your home: +91 9833907750.
Food from Praakritik can be ordered by dialing: +91 9152400067.
I order my organic grains and oils from a very dedicated farmer in Maharashtra, Tushar, who delivers home every week. Here’s his contact: +91 9011703242.
Indian Farmer (Source: www.shutterstock.com)
Indian Farmer (Source: www.shutterstock.com)

Beauty, Skincare & Make-up:

This is my favourite section to talk about and that’s because I’ve simplified my skincare routine so much that it is so easy and natural. Cold-pressed coconut oil is my go-to moisturiser, I use it on damp skin, post showering, and then pat dry lightly. I love MamaEarth’s Talc Free Organic Dusting Powder (I found it on Amazon), and Treewear’s Natural Deodorant, you can buy here. For my hair, I can swear by cold pressed argan oil. I massage a few drops into my damp hair and leave it to air dry, but the magic works best overnight—my hair is frizz-free, smooth and settled.

Cold Pressed Coconut Oil (Source: www.shutterstock.com)
Cold Pressed Coconut Oil (Source: www.shutterstock.com)

For all our beauty lovers, who wish to purchases cruelty-free and sustainable brands, here’s a list:

  • The Body Shop
  • Just Herbs
  • Kama Ayurveda
  • Biotique Botanicals
  • Khadi

You can find more suggestions here.

Fashion:

Check the labels on items of clothing if you want to avoid artificial fabrics. Cotton, hemp, bamboo clothing are the best. But this is a difficult segment to make changes in because there aren’t too many options available.

Sustainable Clothing (Source: www.shutterstock.com)
Sustainable Clothing (Source: www.shutterstock.com)

Some sustainable fashion brands in India are:

  • Brass Tacks
  • No Nasties
  • Korra
  • Brown Boy
  • Cotton World

You can find an exhaustive list here.

Travelling:

I always carry my steel flask on holiday. Don’t open the plastic water bottle in hotel rooms, instead get housekeeping to clean my steel bottle and refill it! Have a steel straw and a steel cutlery kit handy with you at all times. I avoid wet wipes (Yes, they’re plastic too!).

Steel Bottles (Source: www.shutterstock.com)
Steel Bottles (Source: www.shutterstock.com)

Here are some travel tips for you guys:

  • You can also find better means of commuting such as public transport, riding your cycle and carpooling.
  • Avoid the plane, take a train if traveling in India.
  • Support the local businesses wherever you travel.

At work:

Print less! Save paper, please. And the next step for me is to invest in a good ink pen, instead of buying dozens of plastic pens.

5. How hard is it to live a sustainable lifestyle?

I don’t find leading a sustainable lifestyle difficult honestly. I’m so passionate about avoiding plastics so that part is easy. But yes, to manage a life without creating waste, you have to simplify it and plan ahead. I do this by being aware of how I use things and how I dispose of waste, and then I think of innovative ways to reduce waste.
Sustainable Packaging (Source: www.shutterstock.com)
Sustainable Packaging (Source: www.shutterstock.com)
I have a passion for sustainable packaging, and that’s how I designed my first product, AmplePac, for which I have just filed a patent. It is a metal-based reusable packaging for FMCG companies. I hope to run a pilot in Mumbai soon and create an example of a waste-free packaging system for supermarkets and larger FMCG brands.

6. What recommendations and tips would you give a beginner who is making the shift to a sustainable lifestyle?

Some tips a beginner should abide by are:
1. Carry your own steel flask of water when you leave the house. Invest in a good steel straw & cutlery kit that you can carry as well.
2. Carry glass bottles and steel boxes for water and food. Bring nuts and fruits or a healthy snack from home instead of buying packaged junk foods.
3. Switch to natural & chemical free home and personal care products.
4. Read labels on food to check for hidden sugars, wheat flour (maida), and palm oil.
5. Try to eat organic as much as possible, use cold pressed oils for cooking (sesame/coconut/groundnut/mustard).
Are you convinced yet? Take a step towards saving our planet today by adopting a sustainable lifestyle, because as they say, every drop in the ocean counts!
Don’t forget to follow @missmalinilifestyle to never miss a beat!

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