Minimalism Update

I went through the audio book “The life changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo and did some purging. In this book she advocates a tidying method which is basically to look at each & every item you have and ask yourself if this item sparks joy. If and only if it does you keep it, else give it up.

Of  course the book is quite detailed than that. I’d highly recommend it to anybody struggling with too much stuff and it’s management. I was able to let go of so much stuff! I chose to donate it all to Goonj (A Delhi based NGO).

purging

Also got rid of most of the plastic containers I was using in kitchen. I just have some expensive tupperware left which I don’t yet have the heart to part with. Of course, won’t ever buy any more plastic containers!

Ms Kondo actually recommends doing all the tidying up at one go. I don’t have that kind of time with me right now, so I am doing one thing at a time. Here’s how my closet looks after the first round of purging:

closet

Looks much lighter than before and I’m so happy for it! Still, there are a lot more clothes than I’ll ideally want to have. Will get there eventually, I guess.

 

I finally made the switch!

I had been on the fence with menstrual cups for a few months and felt like a failure every time the time of the month arrived. But at last, I’ve been able to make the switch. And I’m so proud. 🙂

menstrual-cup

There’s a growing mountain of menstrual waste, which is toxic for our environment. It was something I was contributing to every month in a major way and I hated that. It dint help that none of the people I know use reusable cloth pads or menstrual cups (except this one amazing girl who I asked all kinds of weird questions). Typical responses to menstrual cups range from eeuw…so icky! to Who’d wash em? Who’d touch that thing?!

I too had the inhibition for far too long. But I’m glad to have finally overcome it. I am so in love with it now! Apart from the great, great high of not contributing to the harm disposable plastic pads & tampons cause to the environment, here are a few other reasons I love using this product:

  • Have to deal with emplty-clean-reuse cycle only twice a day. So for 12 hours straight I can forget I’m on my periods. And by forget I mean absolutely forget. Because it leaves no sign!
  • No leakages.I got used to the cup in about 2 days and now I don’t have to deal with leakages at all.
  • Can enter the pool and not worry about a thing.
  • No smell! That’s such a great advantage.
  • Contrary to what I earlier imagined, this is much more hygienic & cleaner to use than pads. Also, no rashes!
  • No icky dryness/wetness feeling all day.
  • Quickest solution, once you get the hang of it. No need to carry replacement around, figure out disposing methods while traveling, etc.

I only wish I had the good sense of using it sooner! Go ahead and try it out, you will not regret it!

Baby steps towards minimalism

I’ve been reading a lot about minimalism lately and it is inspiring. Traditionally, I was the kind of person who used to have loads and loads of clothes and still dint know what to wear on a given day. I enjoyed shopping for clothes and random useless stuff. I still do it, but much less. Mostly because now I live in my own house where I’m responsible for managing all of my stuff <I miss you Mom>. But lately, I’ve started noticing that I don’t enjoy having a lot of stuff. I do enjoy shopping for new clothes, but I end up repeating the same few things often, the comfy stuff I’ve had since forever. So what’s the point?

With gardening, exercising, doing experiments with healthy vegan food, and determining not to produce trash, minimalism is almost the natural next step. Here’s the video that got me started. And the baby steps I took:

  1. First round of wardrobe purging. I was eliminate some 15 odd clothing items from my wardrobe which are either ruined, don’t fit or just not my style any more. It is seriously disturbing I have all this stuff while some people don’t have enough to wear on a daily basis. I donated these to Goonj. I’m slowly going to get rid of most of the clothes I have and keep very few, good ones with me.
  2. I collected all the random purchases I made while traveling or just from the mall which I haven’t used and have no need of, for giving away as gifts.
  3. Decluttered my kitchen. I never bought any kitchenware but somehow my kitchen is full from all the wedding gifts. This exercise was a real eye opener, I’m using all these cheap plastics while storing all the nice glassware for I don’t know when (apocalypse?). Have packed up every thing plastic (except some tupperware) for give away. Happy to report I now have space to sit on my kitchen shelves while cooking :D.

That’s it for one weekend. To help me continue I have the following things in mind:

  • A designated box too keep all the discarded clothes, so I can fill it up as I go and don’t have to aggressively go through my wardrobe.
  • Don’t shop. I have shopped like crazy in Oct last year before my wedding, most stuff I only wore twice or thrice. I have shopped here & there since then (1 denim, 1 top from thrift shop, 1 formal kurti for my convocation, a pair of shoes, etc.). I have much more than I need and now I am going to impose a full shopping ban (clothes + footwear + bags) till 1st Jan 2017.
  • Won’t open up all the gifts and start using them, no matter who gifted it to me. If I don’t use it then there’s really no point of keeping it.
  • Start regular donation drives in my neighborhood to turn the decluttering into an event! Had one successful drive last weekend! 🙂donation_drive

I’m determined to follow through because the feeling I get every time I step inside that clean kitchen is so light & amazing. I want to feel that way forever, everywhere!

 

All about vitamin D

Recently I found out one my friend’s mother is suffering from vitamin D deficiency which is causing her a lot of bone & joints pain. She’s going through regular physiotherapy, but that can help only up to a point. This got me thinking that being a working professional in a 9 to 5 job, living in Bangalore, where clouds never let the sun come out.. I must be at a high risk of developing vitamin D deficiency myself. Well, turns out it’s not that difficult to get the needed dosage. Little bit of morning sun & after noon sun (15-20mins walk outside) on weekdays and 2-3 hours of full blown noon sun on weekends. Can’t help the rains & the clouds, but can try to make this a habit. Anyway, here are some vitamin D facts that should be enough information for anyone concerned.

  • Sunlight is the major source. Depending on skin tone, area of skin exposed  & the intensity of sun, anywhere between 5-30mins in the sun maybe be needed.
  • Sunscreens can limit the absorption by up to 98%.
  • Getting the sun through glass windows doesn’t add any vitamin D as UV rays are blocked by most glasses.
  • If you live in an area where sun is scarce or if your schedule doesn’t permit going out in the sun regularly, then supplement. UV lamps can also be used for artificial intake of vitamin D.
  • We can never have excess of vitamin D by being in the sun for too long, as our body naturally saturates the process.
  • Some mushrooms & fishes are also natural sources of vitamin D, though this vitamin is not stable in traditional cooking temperatures and up to 50% vitamin D can be lost due to cooking.
  • Vitamin D is required to maintain calcium & phosphate levels which is needed for maintaining bone health.
  • You don’t need to tan or to burn your skin in order to get the vitamin D you need. Exposing your skin for a short time will make all the vitamin D your body can produce in one day.
  • You make the most vitamin D when you expose a large area of your skin, such as your back, rather than a small area such as your face or arms.
  • If you’re dark skinned, you need more sun exposure to make vitamin D than if you’re fair skinned.

Vitamin D is really cheap, you just need to be out in the sun for a short while on a daily basis. No one should have to suffer from it’s deficiency. Take care!

Source: Wikipedia, vitamindcouncil.org

Some lifestyle tips

Recently I answered this question on quora: What are some lifestyle tips that both saves money or time and benefit the environment?

My answer: I’m in the process of developing a daily routine which is exactly in line with what you asked: environment friendly & saves money. Here are some things that I’m trying:

  • Cycle to work, and to most other places. This has an added advantage of taking care of your health, so less medical bills later on in life. I suggest you invest in a good cycle which you’d wanna ride.
  • Don’t buy a car. Most of the times, public transport or personal cabs fulfill the need. Read: Saving Money: How do you explain a car free lifestyle to skeptical friends?
  • Grow your own food. As much as possible. Some plants are really easy to grow, depending upon the climatic conditions you’re in. Also, its a nice, cheap, eco-friendly hobby. In fact, herbs and certain other plants can also be grown. I now use aloevera gel fresh from plants as hair conditioner and face cream. Works like magic and saves a lot of money!
  • Compost your organic waste. Great way of reducing the waste that goes out to landfills, and super resource for your plants.
  • De-clutter. Give away the stuff you don’t really use. It’ll help someone, reduce consumption. You can also make some cash if you chose to sell it rather than donating.
  • Buy only the stuff which you need. Before buying always think if your use case is temporary, try to lend it instead of spending money. Also, carrying your own water helps reduce the ever increasing disposable water bottle waste. Can also carry your own utensils, and avoid using disposables. A spoon/fork is real easy to carry!
  • Share stuff. Offer to share things with people so that others don’t have to buy avoidable things.
  • Learn how to cook. Saves money, is definitely healthier, reduces food wastage etc.
  • Be vegan. It’s the most environmental friendly lifestyle choice an individual can make.

I’m sure there are many more things one can try! You have to become a conscious consumer and evaluate your situation. 🙂

Y U No Compost?

Seriously, tell me why?!

I use daily dump‘s khamba to convert my kitchen scraps in to rich organic manure. It’s easy, natural and kind of addictive! Saves food waste from going into landfills & gets me free organic compost. Win-win! I live in a flat & do my composting in one of the balconies. Here, check this out:

Daily dump's khamba
Daily dump’s khamba
Ongoing composting, mix kitchen waste with dried leaves or cocopeat
Ongoing composting, mix kitchen waste with dried leaves or coco peat.
Almost done back compost!
Almost done back compost! Keep stirring the mix every now & then..
Rich black compost, ready to be fed to plants.
Final product: rich compost, ready to be fed to plants!

I’m so addicted that I’ve bought a second khamba to compost my neighbour’s kitchen scraps now! You don’t have to use the same method though, there are plenty of ways you can compost. And don’t worry about the stink, coz there is none!

What you already know

I attended a talk by Dr. Achutyen recently, called ‘How to be your own doc’.

He spoke about how the animals closest to human beings, like apes have a primary diet of raw fruits and how we humans have deviated from it to an extent that a lot of us don’t consume anything raw at all. He spoke about looking up the ingredients of stuff we eat, how almost everything has both sugar & salt in it. How sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine. How the heart disease is spreading at an alarming rate, and how in 90% of the cases, the problem is avoidable and/or reversible.

Although the talk was short & ended without a proper conclusion or closure (though i feel it was intended that way), I did soak up some relevant points and here they are for reference:

  • As much as possible, eat raw. Eat food in the form closest to it’s occurrence in nature. So, for example:  Salads > Boiled veggies > Fried veggies > Packaged stuff made out of some veggies. I googled this up, and found that some studies suggest 85% of our diet should be raw!
  • Use you body. Apes, our closest relatives, are active beings. Always up to something. So are young children. We on the other hand sit all day. Of course it’s bad for us!
  • Connect with nature. Holidays in the mountain or lying on a beach feels so refreshing. Take time out to feel that way everyday. Walk in the park, around a lake, go trekking etc.

Most of this stuff is in sync with what we already know, we just don’t implement it in our lifestyle. His point being, we can reduce/reverse our diseases if we just followed this intuitive way of living.