(all underlined text is a link to a related resource, try em.) I am about as green as India. At least my part of India anyway, which is really more like brown. I started out with the love for fresh garden fruits and veggies, and added composting. I also started to use canvas bags when I was at the grocery store instead of using that profuse amount of plastic bags. But it took quite awhile to remember to take them, so I moved their “home” to the trunk (back when I had one). I found it took quite awhile to remember to bring them in the store. To ease my mind of my use of massive amounts of plastic bags I started “recycling” them for trash bags or poopy diaper bags. I also started using fruit and vegetable wash to rid of pesticides harmful bacteria.
But as you can tell these things are more for my family’s benefit than the planet. They naturally have a better impact. Making natural products cuts back on the amount of harmful plastics and products being made and being dumped in to the water system. Not supporting these companies is a way to help in their neg. environmental impact. But these types of things require a high quantity of people doing it to make a significant impact.
When I was pregnant with Vange I finally acted on my desire to do cloth diapers. For the environmental/skin/ and wallet benefits. But this was about the extent of my green-ness. Little did I know that I only knew a little. I just recently discovered what a carbon foot print was! And to be honest a lot of my motivation initially was the benefits to me, I had little hope that I could make much change in the universal picture.
It’s seems ironic that now I am learning the most about being environmentally conscious that I live here. It seems like the one place in the world that NEEDS everyone to be on board. And with the number of people living in India combined with corruption of governmental funds, poor sewer conditions and waste management countrywide, one person’s choices can seem like a dismal impact. It takes a lot more creativity and determination to make a significant impact. And when I compare how “green-minded” people are here, compared to America, it’s also ironic. In America we have less people and more recources to waste to support our “American dream”. There are MANY more people who recycle and do what they can to be resourceful here. A lot of it is their financial need to use and recycle everything they have in any way they can. Plastic bags are slowly being outlawed in stores and markets. Many places you cannot go to without having to bring your cloth bags or purchasing some there. We were recently at a hotel that had a TV showing a “green-a-thon” for India and people were sending in contributions from all over. This event was widely televised throughout Delhi.
As part of a orientaion to “living in India” a colleague of ours took me through a course on “living well in India” that included ridding your life of toxins. There are so many toxins that you cannot avoid by living here.
When you step out of your house you are breathing in dust, auto fumes (most of which would never pass SMOG in the US), or waste fumes. You are surrounded by contaminated water and dirt with such a high level of fecal bacteria in it whenever you are out. And of course the water in your home has this water as well.
Almost all of the soap products and cleaning products available here have LOADS of fragrance, chemicals, and other unknown ingredients in them. India unfortunately does not have the FDA or any type of accountability in disclosing what exactly is in the products, so when you go in search to see what you’re bringing into your home you hit a dead-end fast. This also goes with medicine and vaccinations.
My maid was buying the cheapest dish soap you can get. Boy did it work well on grease! And when I used it on my marble counter to get some crusty food off, I left the soap on the counter overnight (distracted by some child rearing activity) I found the counter the next morning with a big white spot where the soap had once been. It had bleached the counter. Who knows what was in that soap! And we were eating with things washed in it!!!
Although my carbon foot print has decreased by default of living here (only eating meat 2 times a week because its harder to get, not using a heater cause central heating does not exist, only running the AC in one room cause that’s all we can afford, and not driving anywhere in a car cause we don’t have one of those either) I still have many more things to incorporate into our lifestyle, including reducing the amount of toxins we are exposed to. Some we breathe, some we consume, and others we put on our skin. These are the next 10 things on my list to do:
1) having an air purifier per room (once we accomplish getting the house air tight and can purchase and ship them here)
2) adding houseplants that add healthy components to the air and eliminate harmful ones,1 for every 10×10 space in our house (clean ¾ chemicals: english ivy, peace lily, red-edged dracaena (marginata), Dracaena Warnecki, Gerber Daisy, Pot Mums, Janet craig Drac. Corn plan Drac. Kimberly queen, chinese evergreens, dwarf date palm)
3) Installing an RO filter in our kitchen sink (currently we have RO big plastic bottles delivered, but they are stored in a number 3 plastic which is one of the most harmful types to leach chemicals into your water, often times our bottles are clearly reused over and over and have crazy amounts of scratches wich is where the leaching begins) NOTE: if you plan on installing one of these buy a water tester and test your tap b4 AND after your RO is properly installed. Sometimes installation can be faulty causing your filter to make little to no impact on your water. Besides its good to know what chemicals, bacteria and other toxins are common your area’s water.
4) using bowls of white vinegar around the house as room deodorizer instead of chemically loaded store-bought plugs-ins.
5) doing an olive oil face wash (the link to the right under “green”) instead of expensive and harmful soap and lotions.
6) making and using my own body scrub (obviously creating a salt scrubs would be more healthy than a sugar one and so on…think healthy when choosing, this list makes me want to create a scrub “library” to choose from at home)
7) using all natural cleaning products that are home-made
- baking soda
- washing soda
- go here to discover natural homemade recipes
8) replacing modern medicines with herbal and natural substances ( if anyone has a recommendation on a book for healing herbs and their uses, kick it down)
9) planting as many veggies as I can fit on my two balcony’s and also composting (on a small-scale)
10) return to cloth wipes (i had to sell the diapers cause V had a permanent diaper rash, and unfortunately i ditched the wipes too, but i plan on making some more by recycling some old clothes and material and using them with her and new baby, I wish I could convince J to have cloth TP for the whole household, but he said he will compromise and find us recycled paper TP)
1) am not reusing plastics to store/cook/ or eat on in the kitchen, instead using stainless steel and glass which doesn’t leach any chemicals and is more resistant to bacteria growth.
2) Only using purified water to cook with. (cooking water does get rid of bacteria but not toxins and viruses, i.e. rice, beans, soups, which can hold all the nasty stuff in the water in it etc.)
4) following the Dirty dozen and clean fifteen rule as much as I can when choosing fruits and veggies. Unfortunately buying organic isn’t an option here, but for many of you, buy organic on the dirty 12 list to make your money go the farthest in your health.
5) incorporating as many as the SUPERFOODS into our diet as possible.
6) watering down juice, reducing caffeine, HFCS, and sugar, and having more healthy snacks in our diet.
I’ll be honest there are things I just cannot or will not change that make a negative impact. Like the amount of time I spend flying in airplanes, using disposable diapers again, cooking on a gas stove, and keeping our AC on in our bedroom even when we are not home.
That is all I can think of for now. There are so many things you can do that it can become overwhelming. I appreciated my colleagues advice to pick a few things (preferably the ones having the biggest negative impact on you and environment) to focus on at one time and then later incorporate others. You are better off than you started and you always have something new and fun to look forward to.