About Me

Someone who fell in love with the natural world early on and has been smitten ever since. A blade of grass, a mighty mountain, a tiny raindrop, a roaring waterfall, all fill me with awe and wonder. Nature feels home, filled with warmth and love. It pains my heart to see this home being ravaged. This blog is an effort to find tweaks in modern living to preserve the sanctity of this home. I sincerely hope that you join me in this green karmic journey.

Thursday 29 August 2013

BYOC - Bring It On!

I am striving to be a practitioner of BYOC - the acronym I have coined for 'Bring your own container'. I don't like takeaway food- mainly because it creates a lot of trash. Depending on the food that you order, takeaways come packaged in an assortment of plastic containers, cardboard packaging and carry bags.

The joy of eating without having cooked is marred by this trash-trail. Agreed that packaging can be recycled but as we know, recycling is fraught with its own issues. The R to strive for is 'REDUCE'. 

Apart from the green angle, getting food packed in plastics also has health implications. You don't know what all leach into food when hot food is put into plastic containers. So I like to carry my own containers. Be it for samosa-chutney, idli-sambar, doggy bag or sweets. What it needs, is a little forward planning. Now I have equipped both my cars with a host of things - an Anya kit, a cosmetics- medical kit, an under-the-weather kit, a shopping kit and recently a takeaway or eating out kit (spoons, forks and a couple of containers). What is missing from the last kit is a steel straw! Yes, you heard it right. I read about a lady who goes about carrying a steel straw and I am mightily impressed! She sure has taken BYOC to another level.

Given that packaging is getting costlier, vendors are passing on this cost to consumers. At many eating joints, you have to shell out a packaging charge. That is good news as it encourages people to BYOC. A few years back, when I carried my container to a sweet shop and asked for a discount in terms of saving them packaging cost, the guy was slightly taken aback. The manager was sent for and I gave my logic to him. He graciously accepted, more to humor me than for anything else. I asked him to make it a policy to give a discount to customers who BYOCed. He didn't feel the time had come for that idea. He would be gladly charging extra for his packaging now, I am sure. 

Another idea for restaurants is to pack food in steel containers against a deposit. You return the container, you get your deposit back. The containers can be monogrammed for ease of use of both parties. This would ensure guilt-free takeaways for those who haven't carried their containers. I am planning to float this idea to a nearby eatery. I will surely update if it is implemented. 

Sunday 18 August 2013

Of Return Gifts and Goody Bags

For Anya's first birthday party, which was on a fairy theme, I went berserk buying return gifts /party favors. I tried to buy age-gender-theme-appropriate trinkets which were budget-friendly too. And so I ended up buying fairy wings, crowns, jewelry,  stickers, badges, balls, photo frames, pencil boxes, card games, bubbles and whatnot. In addition, I bought birthday caps, face masks and party poppers. As pinĂ£ta fillers, I got pencils, erasers, small toys, hairpins and candies.

Goody bags mostly come filled with stuff we don't really need
At the end of my shopping spree, looking at the mountain of stuff, I felt guilty about the whole affair. Was I giving meaningful gifts or was I just trashing the planet? While keeping so many other criteria in mind, the green quotient had taken a beating. I silently vowed to be more eco-conscious from the next birthday onwards.

Anya is nearing her third birthday now. I have been to many more birthday parties since she turned one and have emerged wiser, I must say. Frankly speaking, return gifts are not the greatest idea, either for the environment or for kids. Kids these days have got enough and more. It would really not matter to them if they got one more lunch box, pencil box or a little toy. They, however, love to open gifts. They play with new toys for a while and then these get dumped in a pile of unused toys.

Now that return gifts have become de rigeur, one can't avoid them. I have read of moms who are courageous enough to refuse return gifts. Maybe when Anya grows a little older, we can talk about it and decide on a course of action. As of now, she just wants whatever her friends have. I am also not brave enough to stop giving return gifts. The most prudent course of action now is to switch to environment-friendly meaningful gifts which are also fun.

A few things that come to my mind are:
Books - Books can always be found to suit different ages and themes. Activity books would keep kids engrossed for a while.

Plants - Kids can decorate a pot as a part of activity at the party and then carry a plant in it. Taking care of a plant, watering it daily, would bring kids closer to nature.

Homemade crafts - If you are a crafty mom, you can make kid-appropriate handicrafts like photo frames, finger puppets, kid's nameplates etc. A dear friend of mine is one such creative mom and she made nameplates for all the little guests.

A home-crafted name-plate received as a return gift which I absolutely treasure
Handicrafts - Channapatna toys, toys made of clay etc. would be a refreshing and eco-friendly gift idea.

Birthday Activity - Kids can decorate cookies or an ice cream stick picture frame. That would not only provide an activity during the party, kids can take something handmade home. For a chef themed party, a friend let kids write their names on their aprons. For a bookworm themed birthday party, they can decorate a bookmark and for a Harry Potter themed birthday, the natural choice is a wand :)

Can green and fun go together? I am looking for more ideas. If you have any suggestions, do let me know.