Posts from the “zero waste” Category

Tales about a compost bin

Posted on July 1, 2018

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The start 

I am scared.

Putting out a compost bin near this location is the equivalent of putting out this sign on your front door : ” free food if you can break in” to all the animals who live along side us. Rats and possums were the first to invade. Raccoons and skunks joined the party. I like animals but preferably far far away from my patio ! “Screw zero waste. Most people in the world don’t do anything ! Why should I inconvenience myself? I want to quit” I confessed. But my support system didn’t let me.

  1. “Are you changing your plans because of rats?”, Fernando asked. (He is my landlord.) When you put it like that, of-course not ! “Aren’t YOU afraid Fernando? “, I asked. “I served in the Vietnam for 2 years. We slept in crowded dirty bunkers. They were everywhere. They would crawl over us in the night and you have to lay still to not get bitten. You don’t have the option of being afraid. It’s not a choice. You have to keep going”. He said these words not as a commander giving a pep talk, but as a father asking his daughter to not be afraid : with utmost humility and kindness in his voice. Can I respect this man anymore ? #saluteTheVeterans
  2. “I am no longer afraid. I want to kill those animals. Let’s get some poison”. Harsha spoke his mind. “We don’t live in an apartment in the city. We choose to live here because we wanted the experience of being close to nature. It’s their habitat. You don’t need to kill every animal that comes close to your precious compost bin. You also know that Cinco might find the animal you poison and eat it.” It’s annoying when everyone you live with, is wiser than you. My compost bin made me aware of being a part of my local eco system. I put a lid on the bin. I stopped putting cooked food scraps. After a while, the animals stopped trying.
  3. Rotting is a beautiful process. If done right, the compost doesn’t smell bad. Aging gracefully is a totally accomplishable goal for my vegetable peels.
  4. If I waste anything from my fridge, it stares me in the face until it decomposes. The mistakes can’t be forgotten. I have a whole cauliflower in there for the last month. I have a compostable cup in there for the last 6 months. It doesn’t go away. It made me more vigilant about food waste in my kitchen.
  5. If we don’t cook / eat out junk food, my additions to the bin would solely be coffee grounds and tea leaves. Not ideal for me, not ideal for the soil.
  6. The way food composts is dependent on the composition of the contents. If I throw in a few lemon peels, the acidity goes up. If I don’t turn my compost pile to aerate it, it starts becoming gooey. If it’s too moist, I can see it collapsing into a sludge. Extrapolating the process of rotting to larger picture : landfills are very problematic. It takes months and the right conditions for a potato to decompose in my pile. Imagine all that stuff laying in a landfill ! All of it is rotting aerobically out there and releasing methane into the surroundings. Once it decomposes, the trace minerals are buried too deep in the landfill to be of any use.
  7. For urban dwellers, the city should help us out. It’s a burden if you live in a small apartment.
  8. I can’t bear to put egg shells/vegetable peels in the landfill waste. I experience a special sort of heart ache. The kind that is equivalent to crumpling a 1$ bill and tossing it out of the moving car. I can’t do it. I won’t do it.
  9. I learnt that soil microbes are carbon processors.  They have been linked to drought tolerance, growth rate and other aspects of plant performance. It’s intriguing that they can act as a buffer against climate change. Compost returned to native soil keeps it healthy and properly functioning.
  10. To rot a vegetable, takes time. To make soil viable for growing a plant, takes effort. To keep a plant alive, takes effort. It’s hard to create life. It’s easy to kill a tree to make handsome furniture or pretty bowls or paper towels or that pretty viscose dress that I don’t need.
  11. I have been trying to grow a plant from scratch, like a farmer does. Make the soil, plant the seeds, grow the saplings, transplant them and keep it alive. It is not an easy job. Do we respect our farmers enough ?
  12. Refuse, Reuse, Return, Refill, Reduce, Recycle, Rot – are the 7 R’s of zero waste. After trying to grow a few plants, I think ‘Rot’ deserves a better spot than at the end of the train. Without soil, we don’t get to eat.
  13. The entire process is a joy. My first ‘I made soil’ moment felt invincible. I felt like a god. I don’t do many good things with my life but this act makes my heart sing.

The middle 

I am a plant mother.

 

 

touniversewithlove

 

OOTD : Wrap blouse : Steven Alan. Pants : J.Brand. Ballet flats : Jil Sander.

Keep it going 

I want to learn

 

I started my compost in a hurry to become I was possessed by the idea of going zero waste. I dis-regarded all the instructions. I use the wrong kind of bin – a plastic bucket that my landlord had sitting around in the backyard. I don’t add twigs or dried leaves like I should. I forget to turn my pile all the time. Sometimes, it gets moldy. Sometimes, its dry. But it all seems to add up to soil in the end. Now that I am no longer intimidated by the process, I want to do a better job at it.

Required Reading : This encyclopedia on composting.

Zero Waste : 100 little steps

Posted on March 23, 2018

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Am I doing zero waste right ?

This is a question that has been on my mind a lot. More so since I started blogging about it. I don’t know enough about sustainability and the optimized solutions. These simplistic low impact solutions to complex problems that I tout on the blog makes me uneasy. I haven’t asked “What is zero waste” until recently. Fitting a solution without properly defining a problem is just bad science. So what is zero waste ? Is it about sending nothing to our landfills ? ( One can dump waste into the oceans and the atmosphere too ! ) Is it about avoiding plastic ? Is it about switching to bamboo and glass appliances ? Should I adopt the essentialist version of minimalism ? I looked up.

A little history 

“The term zero waste was first used publicly in the name of a company, Zero Waste Systems Inc. (ZWS), which was founded by PhD chemist Paul Palmer in the mid-1970s in Oakland, California. The mission of ZWS was to find new homes for most of the chemicals being excessed by the nascent electronics industry. They soon expanded their services in many other directions.”

The Circular Economy 

“The Circular Mindset is a way to rethink our daily consumer and lifestyle habits to help us reduce our trash and plastic footprint. It’s also a mindset that encourages us to add value back into the things we use, the communities we live in, the food we eat, those who create the materials we consume and the resources used to make them. A circular economy seeks to rebuild capital, whether this is financial, manufactured, human, social or natural. This ensures enhanced flows of goods and services.

Transitioning to a circular economy does not only amount to adjustments aimed at reducing the negative impacts of the linear economy. Rather, it represents a systemic shift that builds long-term resilience, generates business and economic opportunities, and provides environmental and societal benefits.

The model distinguishes between technical and biological cycles. Consumption happens only in biological cycles, where food and biologically-based materials (such as cotton or wood) are designed to feed back into the system through processes like composting and anaerobic digestion. These cycles regenerate living systems, such as soil, which provide renewable resources for the economy. Technical cycles recover and restore products, components, and materials through strategies like reuse, repair, remanufacture or (in the last resort) recycling.”

Is it a consumer movement ?

There is only so much I as a consumer can do other than becoming vigilant about what I bring home. From what I understand, it’s a symbiosis between the manufacturers and consumers. Designing good products and making them accessible is important. Us making a good choice is equally important.

Problem Solving :

The right solution. We fixate on this a lot. Most of the criticism this blog gets is about how my solution is low impact and I should be doing something else.

I don’t know if there is the ONE miraculous solution to tackle this problem considering the complexity of our global economy.

Simplistic solutions like “buy second hand and it’s all good”, “buy less and it will all get fixed” or “buy sustainably made and continue consuming” are almost simpleton solutions. We need long term solutions which try to minimize the short term losses. During the World War 2, “loose the battle but win the war” was adopted after the Allies cracked the German code. They used mathematics to come up with the stratergy. We need AI and data driven solutions now more than ever. We need responsible citizens who will do their part.

And Me : 

Do I sit out this battle and wait for a good solution to miraculously drop ? I don’t think so. Zero waste is not as intimidating as I thought it would be, once I stopped caring about my ego and flaunting my empty trash can. You make a few switches and you can bring down the volume of waste. You stay vigilant, refuse things you don’t need, buy well designed products and manage the budget … it keeps going. The rest, I don’t sweat it. It’s a game of optimization given the time, money, resources and resolve. As a consumer, I made a list of 100 little steps that I think help. I do about half of them and am proud to be a part of this movement. I don’t need everyone around me to do what I do, but it makes me very happy when you do.

Our trash tells a story. A story about what we collectively value. We need to put meaning and value back into resources, materials, people, community and planet.

– Andrea Sanders.

1.Fly less.

Trash is not only the solid waste we send to the landfill. It’s what we release into the air and water. Take some solace in the fact that average hipster who flaunts mason jars but jet sets around the world produces lot more waste than an average householder who stays put. The emissions into the atmosphere are a problem too.

Frying economy is more eco friendly than business class / first class.

2. Do not go on a cruise.

It’s one of the most polluting ways to get from point A to point B.

3. Family Planning

I apologize for this and I couldn’t find a way to skirt around this. I don’t mean to associate children with waste but family planning definitely helps in this fight. Have one less child, it has been suggested. Oregon study puts the emissions at ~9,441 tons per child. Even if I recycle properly and do a few eco friendly measures, I would reduce ~17 tons over a lifetime. Everything else we do in terms of lifestyle choices is negligible in comparison. But it has also been found that the birth rate has decreased in developed nations while it has increased in developing nations. Overall average lifespan of humans has increased. There may be a time where retired aging population will outpace the working population. I, obviously don’t know the solution. But I want my tax money to fund any research in this direction.

Women having access to birth control and family planning is cited as the 7th most effective way to combat climate change by Drawdown.

Have one less, applies to pets too. Consider adopting a rescue animal instead of shopping for a bred animal. #adoptDontShop

4. Live in a smaller home

Less wood used, less land needed == less deforestation.

Less material == less resources mined for earth.

Less sft == less in heating/cooling costs.

Less cleaning to do == less products to be used.

5. Use public transport when you can.

Own one less/no car per household. Buy a smaller car.

6. Bike to work for one day of the week.

If its not a realistic prospect, do not buy a bike and hoard it.

7. Find ways to entertain yourself that doesn’t need new stuff.

It could be listening to music, watching a movie, going for a walk, playing with a dog, cleaning, reading, walking around the city taking photos, cooking, playing a board game, solving puzzles, ….

8. With books, borrow from the library instead of buying.

Buy ebooks and read on your existing devices. Keep digital records.

9. Find joy in nature.

These are the folk who are likely to support efforts to conserve it. All consumer goods comes from the nature at it’s expense. Maybe one day, we will love it for more then it’s looks and beauty. We will love it enough to downsize our lives to conserve it. Maybe it will inspire us to live in a more sacred relationship with the natural world.

10. Go meat-less for few days of the week.

( Slowly get it down to eating meat only on special ocassions and weekends. )

If meat must be had, eat chicken instead of red meats like lamb, beef and pork.

Zero Waste Laundry

Posted on March 16, 2018

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A drying rack :

Mine is from Ikea. ( It is made of steel with a polyethylene coating which is hard to recycle. )

Made with bamboo options : 1, 2 & 3.

This was the first switch I made way before I heard of the term ‘zero waste’. I learnt that using a conventional dryer wears out the clothes faster. If you own clothes with stretch, heat breaks down the elastane over time. I was tired of the buttons falling off, collars becoming frail and seams coming apart. Not having them tumble in a dryer helps. The garments from Zara last a while if they can be mended and taken care of.

Sustainability experts say that half of the carbon footprint of a garment is from the consumer’s side. I took a resolve to wear my clothes till I no longer fit in them or till they go thread bare. The rack helps keep them in shape.

I wash my clothes as little as possible. I wear them multiple times before wash. Having the rack to dry the clothes inside out between washes keeps them fresh. I spot wash the arm pits, hang them dry and wear them again. This rack has helped.

zero waste laundry

Fabric freshener 

I originally bought this from Laundress to keep my sweaters fresh between washes. It currently holds a DIY version of the same.

Washing :

A front loading washing machine is supposedly more efficient than a top loading one.

I have cleaning rags, exercise clothes, towels, pillow cases, handkerchiefs and every day clothes. I use grated soap for the delicates load and soap nuts for everything else. ( Using cloth rags reduced by landfill trash but added to an extra load to wash. I rinse and throw them in the washing machine till I a ready to run it. )

I get my soap nuts from my mother’s farm in India. Amazon sells them. They can be reused. I replace them with fresh ones every 2 weeks. The used ones go into the compost bin. Castile soap and olive oil soap work well too.

I do laundry as soon as I can fill up a load. ( I don’t want the fibers rotting faster with the help of sweat and body oils. ) We are lucky to live in a place which has the washer in the house.

I usually have one silk shirt / one sweater to wash per week. I wash it in the sink using olive oil soap. Fill the sink, melt some soap in, swish the garment in the soapy water, rinse, lay flat and dry. One garment to hand wash per week is manageable. I do not want to use petro-chemicals at the dry cleaners to wash my clothes. ( I had a person I know say “you guys won’t give up air travel or cars or dry cleaning but you want to take away my job in the fossil fuel industry? ” Dry Cleaning is the easiest to give up. So I took it off the table. )

I have the Laundress detergent that I reserve for my house guests. It is a wonderful product and I have loved it for years.

I had a guest “what-about” me on the plastic rim on my thrifted grater to prove that I am not zero waste. It truly deflated me. I don’t want to argue. I don’t have the energy to. I think I will keep zero waste a secret from now. Folks who cant handle criticism should not preach. One last post awaits and I will conclude it on the blog too.


Laundry is “meh” and “argh” to talk about it …. but anything that makes my clothes last longer while being greener is something I will try. My method is one of the many zero waste solutions out there.

Curious : Is there anyone out there who likes doing laundry ? 

A Tea story

Posted on March 9, 2018

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Once upon a time, I wanted to be a tea scientist. I had two dozen teas, a thermometer, access to an electron microscope, a search engine at my finger tips and a lot of enthusiasm. I used to hang out in a tea shops in the Chinatown of San Francisco that carry tea that costs 1000$ a pound and ask them questions for research. In turn, they look at me with suspicion and follow me around in store to make sure I wasn’t trying to run away with a canister. I would pester my colleagues to get me some every time they travelled out of the country. I would ask favors from my Asian friends. “Can I come with you when you go buy your weekly groceries?”  They knew what it meant : a translation job of the labels in the tea isle. It became a mild obsessed. As with any of my hobbies, life had other plans. I could hardly keep up with one research job. I was running out of cabinet space and grocery budget. Too many things to learn, 24hrs a day. I had to declutter this obsession. Where did that leave me ? Where am I now ?

gourmand is someone who is excessively fond of eating and drinking, and has therefore allowed himself to become enslaved by pleasure.

Nope.

gourmet is someone who has developed such discriminating tastes that he can no longer tolerate anything less than “the best.”

Nope.

A connoisseur, it is simply a person who “knows.” And believes that knowing about something can dramatically increase the pleasure we derive from it.

That is me.

I now have a ” normal ” tea collection with a gourmand’s appetite for it. Adding a zero-waste constraint on top, this is what I am left with :

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Florals

Tea is my comfort food. And scent is one of my strongest sensory input. I associate lavender with long nights chained to my desk waiting for the results. This tea keeps me company. It is relaxing and de-stressing. Nights are calmer. Work gets done. Life goes on.

Its caffeine free and pairs well with my other teas. It helps with my midnight cravings. It helps with making me feel less full after a big meal. Its nice to sip on something comforting after a dinner party that is not alcohol. I always serve it when I have people over. Its my trick to get them to stay longer and have deeper conversations …. tea can have that effect on people. Sitting outdoors, sipping on hot tea, smelling the flowers and talking into the night with my dear humans – what a joy !

 

White tea

There are things I can never buy for myself but would love to give as gifts to my loved ones : Candles. First hand clothing. And white tea. I got this to give as a present. When he realized how much I value it, a friend of mine returned his present. I accepted. This is my fav tea in the whole wide world.

 

Roasted Buckwheat tea

This is my afternoon slump help. I start to get hungry at 3-4pm and this tea prevents me from going to the nearest coffee shop to buy a sugary snack. The starch in the grain is a good filler. It has the earthiness of roasted grain and smells divine.

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Layer, Layer, Layer

Tea is meant to be enjoyed layered. You use the leaves multiple times till they fade into the background. I work with leaves, not tea bags because it gives me control of the favor. Individual one time use packaging is something I no longer welcome into my home. I fill my tea pot once an hour. It has the following advantages : 1) makes you get up and move from the desk 2) makes you drink more H2O. 3) fresh tea. 4) Used leaves –> compost once done.

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A routine 

Early morning before yoga : matcha ( another post for another day. )

Morning : Start with white tea leaves.

Mid morning : Add some florals to the existing leaves.

Late afternoon: Add barley to the existing leaves.

Evening – night : Start fresh with lavender. Lay off the caffeine.

Add ginger, lemon and grated turmeric as needed.

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DIY Toner

At the end of the day, pour some water into the teapot with all the leftover leaves. Stick it in the fridge. Next morning, pour the concoction into a spray bottle and use it as a face refresher at your desk. (Discard leftovers every day.) I don’t know if I can officially call it a toner but it is quite refreshing.

My friend Peng.

Peng is a brilliant mathematician. He is a devout Buddhist who takes a month off every summer to go live in a monastery. The way he lived his life was very mindful. At work, he used to set an alarm that would go off every 50 minutes. The next 10 minutes of the hour would be spent walking around, stretching, greeting people, filling up his tea pot, replying to emails, texting back, …. Once the next 50 minute duration would begin, he cut out every distraction and would slip into his intense concentration mind frame. He won’t answer if you knock on his door. He was very productive and managed stress well. Perhaps this is one way to find that work life balance ? Perhaps this is how he prevented burn out after the long hours he worked ? He owned this very beautiful red tea pot that would sit on his desk. It once belonged to his great-grand-father and was well over a 100 years old. His ancestors were rich aristocrats who was driven out of their land during a feudal war. When they had to flee in the middle of the night during an attack, this was one of the possessions his great-grand-mother choose to take along.  Talking about an heirloom pieces, this is the jewel he inherited. He uses it every single day, once ever 50 minutes.

( I purchased mine as soon as I heard this story. Some of my favorites if you are in the market : 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. I would love to be that old lady with a tea pot collection. But I believe in the one tea pot per lifetime philosophy. I wish I bought the one I liked instead of the cheapest one I could find. )

A Case for a traditional tea pot

It is really well designed. It will last you a century if you take care of it. It’s made of cast iron and not breakable like the ceramic/clay/plastic/glass pots. It keeps its warmth till I finish my pot of tea. Its designed to add leaves in layers. Its gorgeous to look at. When its cold, you can warm your hands by holding your pot. At the end of its life, I can bury it in my backyard without it poisoning the soil. It’s heirloom material. One tea pot per person for a lifetime – the way things should be designed and loved. I have mine.

Wish List

This Parisian brand : Mariage Freres makes a very popular blend called Marco Polo. I need to get my hands on some to taste. My friend got back this Earl Grey lavender blend from London which blew my tea snobbish head off my body. I think blends are in general over priced. I look up the base notes and attempt to make my own. Lastly, I always want this white tea from China. Its the best I have ever tasted. Since going zero-waste, I found a few local loose tea shops that have great imports. San Francisco’s China Town is the place to go to get lost in exploration. Red Blossom Tea Company and Vital Tea Leaf deserve honorary mentions. My local Sprouts and Whole Foods always have a few varieties in bulk. My 3 teas were “super-curated” from the local bulk bins I have access to. It has been an straight forward and simple love story when it comes to tea.

copper kettle

 

A CUP OF TEA

And then I know

what the time for a cup of tea means.

I waited in the crowded and noisy station building

for the one who was late for the appointment

to appea on the bitterly cold winter day.

I carefully heled a full cup of hot tea,

carefully added to it sugar and milk,

stirring gently,

sipping gently.

You carefully opened the slim collection

of Issa’s haiku that you had in your luggage :

‘A world of dew; yet

within the dewdrops — quarrels …’

This crowded station was a dewdrop within

a dewdrop, dropped

in the tea deeper with every sip.

A cup of tea,

at first hot, turned warm, and then cold.

Things on my mind

ranged from poetry to dreams to reality.

In ancient times —

in the world of Chinese serial novels or

tales of chivalry —

it would be the time for a cup of tea,

in which a swordsman drew his sword wiping out the besieging rascals,

and a hero was enraptured and enchanted before the bed of a fair lady.

But modern time has changed its speed.

Within about the time for half a cup of tea,

you drank up a cup of golden fragrant tea.

A cup of tea

going from far to near and then into nothingness.

The one for whom you had waited long finally appeared

and asked if you would like one more cup of tea.

Chen Li.

( Tea brings out the romantic in me. I always have a kettle boiling water on the stove when I am home. I have ideas on how it should be paired, a sincere admiration for the leaves, find immense comfort in the subtle fragrance of the tea, …. My work starts with me getting to my desk with a pot of tea in the morning. It’s a ritual and a way of life. There is a philosophical side to it too that I don’t think I have the depth to go into, at this point in time. A few good books that have re-read : The Book of TeaThe One Taste of Truth: Zen and the Art of Drinking TeaWabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers.

)


Question:

Do you speak tea ?

Hair Care Routine : Zero Waste Edition

Posted on February 23, 2018

What is zero waste ?

Definitions vary, but in general, zero waste doesn’t really mean “zero.” It goes beyond what we send to landfill, including recycling, energy, water, and food waste. Typically, zero waste is an industrial term for a consumer movement encouraging manufacturers to eliminate single use items and non-biodegradable materials. The aim is to push towards a circular economy and increase demand for package-free products or reclaimable packaging. People blog and post about it to heighten awareness about unsustainable consumption and affect change.

– Ariana, Paris To Go.

zeroWaste hair routine

Shampoo bar : Moisturizing Formula Bar Shampoo by J.R. Liggett

Wet the bar. Work up some lather on the palm of your hands. Transfer the lather to the scalp and massage. Wash it out.

There was no learning curve/transition period with switching to a bar shampoo. My hair was doing alright from day one.

I am keeping track of number of washes I get from one bar. Will report back with a cost analysis.

This has been an easy switch. I was using klorane shampoo which was a good natural shampoo.

I tried no-poo method and failed each time. I couldn’t wait out the transition period. I intend to try it again in the future.

Finding a bar shampoo has been a relief. I put off trying zero waste for a long time because I was scared of giving up a shampoo. I even wrote the comment : “I can never be zero waste because I need my shampoo” on Ariana’s blog. It’s been a relief. One by one, the list is getting checked.

Hair oil : Dry Remedy by Aveda

Using an oil of some sort creates a barrier between the hair and environmental elements. It’s moisturizing. It’s nourishing. It tames the frizz. It adds some shine. I have been using this oil for 3 years now. A bottle lasts me for about 8 months. For the length of my hair, I use 3 drops and concentrate on the ends. It’s light weight and works for my fine hair. Anything heavier than this takes out all of it’s natural texture and makes it flat.

hair accessories

Scissors : Utopia Care.

Hair pin : Sylvain Le Hen.

Bun screws : Goody.

Hair cut :

I chose a hair style that requires no skill to upkeep. I trim my hair on my own.

( I try to save where I can so that I can afford the sustainable choices I make. )

Hair style :

I like the messy unkept look. Combing my hair makes it straight. So I don’t. Day 1 hair has curls and volume. Day 2 is straight hair with some bounce. Day 3 is oily hair which looks flat and limp. I try to not interfere and let it be.

Frequency of washes :

I can go 3-4 days without washing if I don’t do intense workouts. If I go for a run/bike/hike/camp/play a sport, I wash it more often. I wash my pillow case every week.

Bad hair days :

We go camping often and it has taught me to not sweat these little things. A hat hides it well. When in the civilization, I often put it up in a bun or braid it. My scalp shows the signs when it’s expecting a wash. I tell it “one more day dear” and make it wait a little.

Shower cap : Klorane

Fully recyclable and washable. Helps keep the frizz at bay. I sometimes wear the cap when I cook to prevent food odors from settling into my hair. I refuse to go out smelling of curry and it saves me from washing my hair after a cooking session. It looks silly but it really works !

Towel : 100% cotton, Made in India.

Flipping the damp hair upside down and putting it in a turban gives me some volume. I don’t use any heat styling tools. ( Once upon a time, I used to flat iron it. It fried my hair and ruined it. It took me years to grow it out. I have since embraced what comes naturally to me and quite like it. )

Notes :

I have a conventional shampoo and conditioner for my house guests. I do offer my products to try out if they are up for it. The shampoo bar seems to trigger what-about-ism but the the hair oil has been a huge hit.

My husband does a water only method that works great for him. He sometimes uses a shampoo after he plays outdoor sports to get the dirt out the hair.

I have a medical grade dandruff shampoo stored in my bathroom cabinet. I use it as a treatment if I ever need to. I don’t sweat about it in the name of zero waste.

I had massive hair loss in the last few years when I was in grad school. Stress, erratic sleep routine and bad eating habits were the culprits. I have been eating well in the last two years. I now live with Harsha and Cinco who are two very humorous beings – helps with stress. Life has improved since and my hair problems slowly abated. ( Not looking for medical advice. )

I don’t think I have the perfect hair to model for a shampoo bar. Mine is normal. This is what comes to me naturally and I am content.


What else does one need to keep their hair healthy ? I think I have it good without foregoing anything. This routine is sufficiently nourishing given my hair and body type. Some folks can get away with less and some folks need more tropical nourishment. (Apparently, elasticity and porousness of the strands matter. Classifications like fine and thick hair don’t often translate across the board. Scalp health matters. Genetics play a role. I do not have knowledge in these matters to give out generic advice. ) My solution is one of the many zero waste solutions out there.

Zero Waste Dental Routine

Posted on February 17, 2018

What is zero waste ?

Definitions vary, but in general, zero waste doesn’t really mean “zero.” It goes beyond what we send to landfill, including recycling, energy, water, and food waste. Typically, zero waste is an industrial term for a consumer movement encouraging manufacturers to eliminate single use items and non-biodegradable materials. The aim is to push towards a circular economy and increase demand for package-free products or reclaimable packaging. People blog and post about it to heighten awareness about unsustainable consumption and affect change.

– Ariana, Paris To Go.

zero waste dental routine

Bamboo Toothbrush :

Imagine winning a zero-waste badge just for switching to a different kind of brush ! They look much prettier in the bathroom. Imagine how cheap these brushes can get when the factories in China that make bamboo chopsticks get into the business … Let’s increase the demand for them and the markets will start to price them better. ( Costco sells them if you live in America. )

Tooth Powder :

This is an Indian apothecary find. This powder is called triphala. It’s an Ayurvedic remedy that was suggested by my elderly relatives who lives in my ancestral village. They have been using it for decades. A few of them are in their 90s and have lot of their teeth intact. So why not ! I tried the baking soda DIY tooth paste and disliked it. This powder tastes tangy and is good for health if ingested. ( In India, you can find it packaged in cardboard boxes or in bulk near farming communities. I apologize for showing a non-scalable solution. )

( My husband doesn’t care for any of this. He uses toothpaste and a plastic toothbrush. My house guests are glad that there is toothpaste in the house. )

Please do not take my advice on the tooth paste. This is something that I am doing for now as a experiment on myself. It may be quack science that I am promoting. Try at your own risk. 

What-about-ism(s) I heard this week :

” what about the factory in which the toothbrush got made ? Did the factory use plastic at all? ”    ( good question )

“what about the plastic inside your laptop? you are not zero waste”  ( Not zero waste. Am low waste. )

“what about the leather shoes you wear ? You have lots of shoes. ”   ( Guilty as charged. But everything else I do cant be clouded by the shoes I own ! )

“what about the plastic cap on that glass bottle ? ”    ( now, now, you are just picking on me. )

” What about all the plastic parts inside your car ? ”  ( errr … you are right. )

” What about the plastic brakes on your bike? ”    ( blank sad face )

” Please don’t do this to your children. These are the kinds of children who grow up with no immunity and fall sick all the time. They build resistance by exposure to plastic. ” ( I wanted to punch him in the face )

“If you want to make a change, do what the likes of Bill Gates is doing. Donate a lot of money. That makes a difference. Who cares if you save one plastic tooth brush from being made? ”    ( Absolutely. Its a life goal. )

” I know a single mom on minimum wage. She can’t do it. What about her? ”   ( She is not the problem. I am. )

” I cant do any of this. Being nice to fellow humans is what matters the most. I am a good person. ”   ( Plastic pollution hits the underprivileged humans the most. )


 

The word got out that there is a woman trying to avoid plastic. It’s making folk around her go defensive. The thing is : it’s alright that I get criticized. Please propose better solutions that you have acted upon. I want this problem tackled from all possible angles. But understand that I am struggling too – not just to do these swaps but to come in terms with my failures.

Also, where can I sign a petition to change the term ‘zero waste’ to ‘low waste’ ?

Zero Waste Period : Menstrual Cup

Posted on February 9, 2018

What is zero waste ?

Definitions vary, but in general, zero waste doesn’t really mean “zero.” It goes beyond what we send to landfill, including recycling, energy, water, and food waste. Typically, zero waste is an industrial term for a consumer movement encouraging manufacturers to eliminate single use items and non-biodegradable materials. The aim is to push towards a circular economy and increase demand for package-free products or reclaimable packaging. People blog and post about it to heighten awareness about unsustainable consumption and affect change.

– Ariana, Paris To Go.

Its been two years since I made the switch. There is no going back.

I impulse bought it. When it arrived, I was terrified to try it. I threw in the back of my bathroom cabinet and vowed to rectify my impulse buying habit.

A resolve to go Zero Waste made me pick it up again.

This is one of the best things ever made for women, on matters related to menstruating. I have said these words multiple times. I started off with using a cloth rag at age 14. It was very uncomfortable. Then came those bulky pads you buy in stores. They were uncomfortable but a big step up. Then came the thin pads. The words ‘this is the best thing ever made for women’ were first uttered. Moving to America introduced me to a lot of choice on products. Tampons were one of em. I called all my Indian girl friends and told them : ‘this is the best thing ever made for women’. But a menstrual cup is better.

Pros :

Cost effective. Buy once and use for a long long time. I always took the expenditure incurred from buying tampons/pads as a given cost – cost of being born female. Not anymore. I am a fan of great design and sustainable solutions. This is one. No more buying pads/tampons on repeat.

Comfortable. I can forget that I have a foreign body inside me.

I can quantize my menstrual flow. I knew I have a terrible day-one that drains me. It helps to know that I am not imagining it. I have to empty my cup multiple times on day 1 of my period. It works for women with a heavy flow.

You get to learn a little about your own anatomy.

Was told that its a revolutionary product for women in some under-developed countries. Girls in certain regions of the world skip school when they have their period because of social stigma/lack of access to bathrooms in schools. Now, its a quiet personal affair and nobody needs to know.

India needs this product. I talk about it to ALL the women I know. I talk about it to all the doctors I know. I want to spread the awareness.

I have gone swimming, camping, running, … wearing it. I do yoga wearing it.

If you go backcountry hiking/camping, you can not dispose your tampons in the wild. You have to carry it out in a plastic bag. But you can dig a hole, empty your cup and cover it up. It’s allowed.

You no longer send these products to the landfills every month. Tampons and pads have chemicals that may be harmless to us, but might be harmful to other organisms once they reach the soil. They take a while to decompose. Cotton used in pads/tampons has a carbon footprint, an appetite for pesticides and depletes the soil. Silicone used for the cup is not exactly a green product but ranks way better.