Monday, June 6, 2016

How to kick start sustainable lifestyle?

How to kick start sustainable lifestyle specially in UAE; this is the most common question I have been asked since past 7 years of my sustainable blogging. Because once you are convinced or your school going child learning about going green convinced you that "Every Bit Counts", you kind of start thinking where should I start?

First step of Sustainable Living

You need to adopt a thinking where you would be constantly thinking of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Though it sounds difficult at the start, it's not very hard. Rather like any new habit, you need to practice it for a while and it goes in your subconscious. We just need to introduce 'conscious living' in our subconscious!

First time I wrote about Reduce Reuse Recycle back in 2009, when I started this blog. These 3 Rs are basics of sustainable lifestyle in efforts of reducing burden on our natural resources. Over the years while talking to people professionally or in an Eco Talk or otherwise, I have noticed there are few misconceptions related to this topic. So I am revisiting the same topic with few clarifications and elaborations. Through these 3 Rs, we can reduce our waste and can ultimate adopt a zero waste lifestyle.


First we need to reduce the consumer mentality, we need audit our wants versus needs! Like me, you can actually take paper and pen and list it. Believe me at this very first step, you can even save money by realizing you don't need many things and you can live a more organized life by following minimalist life.

Next step is, before buying anything new, we need to think do I have anything which can be re-purposed or reused for the same function? But if answer is no to this question, can I buy something secondhand instead of buying new? And if not do I have sustainable or Eco-friendly alternatives of the product I want? Lastly can I buy item without packaging? And do I have my reusable shopping bag with me, so that I can say no to even the bag they are offering with new product.
Now a days we can find sustainable alternatives in everything food, fashion, household items, toiletries, electronics (refer to Energy efficiency Standards). Check blog's Reviews section to find sustainable and Eco-friendly alternatives available in UAE.


I think most important change we need in mindset here not to get shy using old things we have. Say no to disposable items and always invest in reusable items. We can always swap and share things through secondhand flea markets else giving away your unwanted items to charities who are in need is always best solution. One man's junk is other man's treasure!

Before throwing anything away we need to think what can be it's other uses, we can always reuse household items by up cycling or re purposing.

Difference between Up-cycling and Re-purposing

Let's see now what is the difference between up-cycling and re-purposing. Up-cycling means repairing or renovating an item for same function. Re-purposing means reusing the items by renovating it for different function. Here are a basic examples from my household,

This shoe box I decorated and made a memory box out of it is up cycling. I store all important memorable items of my son from his birth in this memory box. The function of the box is storing, which remain same in both applications.

These disposable wooden cutlery I got when ordered food from outside. I painted them and displayed in dinning area is example of re purposing. Because the cutlery is not used for same function in this case.


Now if the item is broken or there is no further use left out of it then we need to recycle it. This should become default case, instead of throwing it to landfill. If we have chosen Eco-friendly alternatives of the products then at this step we can be assured that the products is easily either recycled and used as raw material in manufacturing or can be degradable in nature without leaving any toxicity. For organic waste, we can always make compost and create garden from garbage.

But there are few basic techniques or recycling, which we need to learn and bring it to regular practice. Firstly segregate the waste into different recyclables. We need to empty the containers and quick clean it before recycling. For hazardous materials like batteries, lamps, chemical containers always follow disposal instruction written on labels. If you are storing these items before disposing, then store in right way, unreachable by kids to avoid any accidents. For example, for storing batteries always keep them tied with positive ends at one side to avoid any leakage.
Store batteries correctly
Most important thing, people complain in UAE that recycling here is a big hassle. I don't agree with it. There are recycling stations available in almost every community and shopping malls provided by government or recycling companies. Since years we are following recycling techniques and storing segregated waste at home. We always keep bags full of recyclables in car boot and when we are out and about we just spare few minutes to drop those bags at recycling stations we come across that specific day.
Dropping segregated recyclables at Recycling Station
So this is how you can change your thinking to start living sustainable and Eco -friendly. And mind well, you can save so much money in this lifestyle and can live healthier by denying all sort of toxicity in your life. More of that will be coming soon on the blog.


Baby Globetrotters said...

All such simple and do-able suggestions Amruta thanks for sharing - every little step counts

Amruta Kshemkalyani- Tavkar said...

Yes Baby Globetrotters, every little action counts and most important step is 'to start'!