10 green alternatives to retail therapy

Retail therapy is shopping in order to feel cheerful and improve one’s mood.
A Greenpeace survey showed that around 50% of shoppers reported the buzz wears off within a day! Followed by a hangover of guilt and shame. It does not lead to long term happiness. Its is neither good for the planet nor us.
Quoting a sad reality — ‘Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes working jobs we hate, so we can buy crap we don’t NEED.’
So here I am enlisting 10 alternate activities which will be lighter on the pocket but weighty enough to lighten your mood-

  1. Coloring or painting — there are various options under this one that can go for professional art therapy or simply playing with paints. In the end, every art will be modern enough for your refrigerator. There are coloring books available online as well as offline for all ages. Mandala making is also quite popular these days.
  2. Gardening– a backyard, some fancy tools, expensive seeds, and loads of time are not the things you need for gardening. Growing herbs from seeds found in your kitchen, reusing cans, tires, etc as planters on the terrace, making manure at home using kitchen waste all these small activities are a part of gardening. The joy when the flowers bloom, fruits ripen is inexplicable.
  3. Cooking or baking- there are ample of simple recipes online. Your own cooked meals might not be too delicious but you will finish it all and there will be a sense of gratitude. When you prepare something and ask someone to taste it those few seconds of wait are quite sweet in themselves. Don’t forget to clean the worktops after your master chef lite experience.
  4. Playing with your furry friend– these little monsters crave human attention and in return fill our world with so much affection. Animal-assisted therapy sessions are also available in metro cities or go to friend’s who is a pet parent.
  5. Listening to music or playing an instrument — listening to peaceful music or even your favorite podcast or radio show can help you relax. There are several categories online according to your taste and preference.
  6. Go for a walk or pedal — indulging in some physical activity distracts the brain and also puts the body to some work. Fresh air is what your body needs not a new pair from the latest limited edition fall collection.
  7. Art and craft– exploring the crafty side is always fun one may end up with an absolute disaster but the process of creating is all fun. Start small, like with scissors then someday go ahead with a saw. Clear the mess and use a hot gun and permanent adhesive carefully.
  8. Family games- these can be card games, board games, charades. Statutory warning- every family has one over-enthusiastic player, a cheater, and one cry baby.
  9. Gratitude mapping — feeling low is very normal can be due to a specific reason or some ambiguous force we have to understand that it’s all about the thoughts we are having. Writing about the things or people or experiences one is grateful for helps induce the positivity and joy one needs.
  10. Organizing and cleaning– the environment we live in affect our thinking capabilities so it’s important to keep them clean. Organizing first and then working will help to generate happy hormones.

These are all self-tried and tested activities. Follow the activity which is a bit different from the mundane tasks. Reading, writing and watching programs the list goes on some things work for some people some don’t. Keep exploring and enjoying.

DIY (ensuring aatmanirbhar and green behaviour since ages)

Easy on the planet, wallet, and efforts.

  1. DIY multi-purpose cleaners
    store-bought cleaners contain chemicals that are noxious for us and the planet as well. DIYing them needs no chemistry degree, all you require is –
    ½ cup white vinegar + ½ glass water+ few drops of essential oil mix it all in a spray bottle = your own natural cleaner.
    Another easy kitchen cleaner and deodorizer can be made for extra sparkly stainless steel by mixing 4 tablespoons baking soda and some warm water in a paste-like consistency.
  2. DIY skincare and haircare
    Aloe vera can be used both for hair and face masks. We don’t precisely know what preservatives the ones available in market natural aloe gel has. Save yourself the tiresome research and make it at home.
    Before extracting gel from the leaf keep it in water overnight to get rid of yellow aloe latex. Grind it properly to form a gel-like consistency. Now for storing it simply put it in an ice cube tray and freeze it.
    If you wish to store it for 2/3 months then consider adding a vitamin C or Vitamin E tablet.
    For ½ cup of aloe 1 500mg of a tablet is enough.
    We are already poured by benefits of aloe let me disembogue it
    Moisturizes, adds shine and sheen, curbs hair fall, and boosts hair growth.
DIY skincare
Do a favor to your body switch to organic skincare. Consume good feel good.

Another easy one is a scrub – mix 4 spoons of brown sugar+ 2 spoon coconut oil+ 2 spoon honey+ few drops of lemon. Simply by making scrubs and masks at home which hardly takes a min one can save approximately 2500 rupees and tons of plastic waste.

  1. DIY gifting
    Handmade gifts are always a thoughtful and creative way to express affection. A handwritten card never loses its grace. What about a personalized message on handmade paper. Making paper at home is not just a crafty DIY but a therapeutic way to spend time.
    Tear waste paper into bits, soak it in water for about 2/3 hours or overnight if using thick paper. Then make a mushy paste using a grinder. Take some water in a big vessel or bucket and a sieve. Put the sieve in a water-filled vessel and make sure it’s easy to move sieve. Now add 2 spoons of the mushy paper mix in the sieve while it is in water. Give it a nice stir then slowly remove the sieve from the water vessel ensuring a layer of paper gets formed. Keep the sieve on a towel and gently soak the water from paper using a sponge or old tee. After 5 mins flip the sieve on a flat surface give it a quick and gentle tap and let the paper dry in the sun or overnight.
Hand made paper
Homemade paper.

Will be sharing more DIYs any specific you are looking for feel free to tell. This habit of creating my own stuff made me more close to the tips shared by grandma and stimulated gratitude for the little things which may go unattended in this high paced life.

Difference between recycling, upcycling and precycling?

Recycling implies to reuse components of a product that – after being liquefied, crunched, or reduced to raw material.

Upcycling originates a new product by creatively reusing, all or in part, an object as it is; the resulting product can be either functionally similar to or very different from the old one.

Precycling is the practice of seeking to reduce consumer waste by buying unpackaged, reusable, or recyclable products, using one’s own bags, etc.
“precycling aims to get people to think about packaging and products before making their purchases”

Mr G keeps a box for old newspaper to be given to the recycler every month. (recycling)
Mrs G creates glass platters from discarded bottles of alcohol using glass cutters. (upcycling)
Mr and Mrs G while going for grocery shopping take their own bags, jars and bottles for loose grains and oils. (precycling)

How precycling can be practiced?

• Limiting purchases to things that you need-
Not being easy targets to discount baits.

• Postponing the purchases that are not needed urgently-
Delaying or simply taking time saves from unnecessary clutter

• Buying in bulk to avoid extra packaging-
As big containers are easy to recycle.

• Selecting products that will last-
Durability to be kept in mind.

• Sharing items rather than buying individually-
Occasionally used goods can be pooled .

5 simple ways for an empty dustbin.

Gone are the days when there used to be signs of ‘no littering’, ‘throw the garbage in the bin’.
Evolving further on the concept of waste management there was a realization that simply putting waste in trash cans is not the ultimate solution. Many people are living by the slippery statement – ‘out of sight, out of mind.’
Many don’t realize that the waste they believe they have thrown away but there is no AWAY.
Before the segregation of waste, a simple step can be followed i.e. reduction of waste at source. Going zero waste is rather tyrannical for many but reducing waste is also beneficial to a great extent.
Some simple steps which I found practical are-

  1. Shop consciously– whenever shopping online or offline simply keep a conscious check on the waste, your purchase is going to contribute. shop locally produced as imported goods have a higher carbon footprint. Stay on alert from greenwashing.*
  2. Choose alternatives– if a frequently bought item ends up in the trash that cannot be recycled or reused then find an alternative. For example instead of a toothpaste tube, tooth powder or toothpaste pills in reusable bottles can be chosen. This can be followed for all the products in the bathroom.
  3. Buy in bulk but keep a check on impulsive buying -necessities can be bought in bulk. Many stores offer a loose sale of grains and other household items. Take your own pouches/bags/jars and get them refilled. Remember- Big containers are easy to recycle than small sachets.
  4. Arrange shelves frequently
    Be it the kitchen or refrigerator keep a track on the eatables that need to be consumed first or on an early basis.
  5. Declutter and donate
    Once in a month go through your closet, drawers or storeroom, and declutter. Keep a donation box and clear the stuff frequently. Reach out the needy on your own or seek help from an NGO. In this way, the things you don’t need any longer will find a new home and not rot in any landfill.
    Hopefully, these little steps will be helpful.

*Greenwashing –

Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound.

For example, companies involved in greenwashing behavior might make claims that their products are from recycled materials or have energy-saving benefits. Although some of the environmental claims might be partly true, companies engaged in greenwashing typically exaggerate their claims or the benefits in an attempt to mislead consumers. (Source- http://www.investopedia.com)

Birthday – better way

Few things that come to our mind when we think of a birthday party are cake, balloons, food etc.
Do you wish something used in celebration ends up littering our surroundings and even killing some animals and birds?
Balloons which are seen as décor and aesthetic colorful pieces of plastic/foil/rubber/latex filled with helium /oxygen/air are dangerous for the environment.
What goes up must come down.

What disasters are they causing ?
They are single-use – some may have a life of some weeks but it makes no difference it all ends in trash.
Mistaken as food by various animals- plastic breaks up into smaller pieces and ends up in the food chain.
Helium gas which is a limited resource and can be put into important medical purposes is being wasted in balloons.

Waste from balloon ribbons.

Eco-conscious alternatives to balloons
B for balloons B for bubbles – they create a similar effect but no litter.
Pinwheels – these colorful rotating disks bring a smile to faces and are more durable.
Candles – for nighttime celebration candles work perfectly and aromatic candles are giving dual benefits.
Plants and flowers– the best bouquets are those which can be DIYed after the flowers whither. Example fresh petals of roses for rose water, dried ones for potpourri. Plants are the new babies. What’s better than gifting oxygen, greenery, and natural air purifier.
Paper confetti and paper frills– 5 mins on Pinterest can help you get the green creative tag.
Reusing – remember the best out of waste projects? There are many ideas online for this type of décor.

Pinwheels, fairy lights and reusable decor.

According to science, balloons are considered as a sign of closure. Which many people look for in their life. Closure at the cost of the environment is a deficit deal.

Sustainable fashion

your wardrobe deserves it and the planet NEEDS it.

A shocking and true fact to gain your attention –
‘Greenhouse emission by fashion industry is more than the combined emissions of international flight and maritime shipping.’
In short its bad, Very bad! yes! the visit to malls for shopping or popularly known as retail therapy is an ENVIRONMENT THREATENING ACT.
Simple and effective solution is switching to sustainable fashion. Everyone can do it, its easy, stylish and eco-friendly.
Ethical tips for sustainable fashion –
• Staying away from fast fashion stores- spotting a fast fashion brand is very easy. It is a brand that updates the collection very frequently from ramp to stores in weeks, engages in mass production using synthetic materials and in sweatshops having inhuman working conditions. Time to say goodbye to forever 21, H&M, Zara etc.
• Less but durable- following the less is more mantra helps as people tend to invest in quality items that will be long term.
• Shop locally produced- it will have lower carbon footprint and strengthen the domestic economy.
• Cloth swaps- organizing cloth swaps with friends and relatives is a fun, engaging and pocket friendly idea.
• Sell clothes- selling the clothes which you hardly wore and are in good condition is a thumbs up.
• Buy second hand -it helps one stay stylish, saves money and puts a check on the unethical overproduction.
• Transparent ethical brands -there are several brands providing complete transparency about the material and manufacturing. They are in true sense worthy of your hard-earned money.
• Taking good care of clothes – when washing, storing is done by properly following the instructions, the clothes last longer so you won’t require to shop often.
• Low impact dyes (require less water and have high absorption rate) natural dyes from plants -dyeing with chemicals is extremely dangerous for environment.
• Rotate your cupboard not forgetting about the clothes you possess- organizing the wardrobe makes us realize that we do have clothes enough for every occasion. Techniques like capsule wardrobe helps.
• Choose eco-friendly fabric -organic cotton (certified and biodegradable) say no to toxic synthetic materials such as polyester.
• Say no to faux fur – many a times real fur of animals hunted illegally is used in the name of faux fur.
• Don’t be poached by greenwashing – research on your own ,many brands mislead by the words like ‘sustainable collection’.

There are huge discounts going on many brands,don’t get fooled. Those price tags are deceptive and hiding the true cost and ugly side of fast fashion.

Its never too late to start, another cliché quote. Realizing that I have enough clothes to wear my baby step towards sustainability is not buying even a single piece of clothing for atleast an year.

5 Low maintenance plants for everyone.

Babies, puppies and plants (in no particular order) falls under the list of top 5 most lovable stuff. Word adoption is also frequently used with them. This blog is on plants, just used babies and pups for increasing the cute quotient.
5 low maintenance green friends everyone should have-

Money plant (devil’s ivy)
This commonly available indoor as well as outdoor plant works as a natural air purifier. Not sure of it attracting wealth but positive green vibes and oxygen is assured.

Aloe vera
This succulent is natural skincare solution with so many health benefits. if you enjoy skincare related DIYs then various gels and extracts can be made. The gel contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Tulsi (holy basil)
It is a medicinal herb that can cure multiple health issues based on scientific research. Basil is an excellent herb used in various cuisines. It is sensitive to cold, with best grown in hot, dry conditions. With immunity back in business the health drinks/tea (kadha) is also in spotlight. Tusli is one of the key ingredients in them.

Lemon grass
This medicinal grass is commonly cultivated for culinary and aromatic(similar to lemon) uses. It has recently taken over the tea for many north Indian families(delhi). Internet provided me with the following benefits of lemon grass tea- boosts metabolism, heals cold and flu, regulates BP and headache.

Mint and coriander
These green leaves are used in every kitchen and adds the hint of freshness to food. It also acts as an anti- food poisoning agent. They grow in almost six/seven weeks if grown properly.

All these plants are easy to nurture, pocket friendly and no expertise and fancy tools are required.

Flavours to savour

Rasam at Avva’s cafe, bir biling

Trigger warning – mouthwatering content ahead !
Day 130 of eating strictly home cooked food since lockdown. Call it fear ,call it healthy lifestyle ;this shift has been taken in a highly optimistic way by the brain and the bowels.
Motto of my life was “food is love,love is food”. I guess the food worshiper evolved to admire homemade food from yellow lentils to lasagne and even the pious Pani Puri is now made at the house.
But one thing that remained constant is the craving for a particular flavor , I had a long time back while traveling.

On top of the list is –
It is a himachli steamed bread filled with potato and dried fruits ,served with a spicy chutney. Very similar to the Tibetan momos which are available now in every corner of the city. I had siddu for the first time in Manali almost 10 years ago. We were wandering at the mall road and down a narrow Lane in a small eatery mom/dad heard about this unique dish. So we just went and tried our first hot ,spicy and soft delight, Siddu .
After that trip, I tried finding it on my next visit to other hill stations but couldn’t. Trying it in kitchen requires skill and will power which I will gather soon hopefully.

Next on the menu is A South Indian dish in a south indian cafe in North India.
It was a welcome drink Rasma served with channa in mini steel water pot. I found Avva cafe on Google. It had amazing ratings. And it was just a minute away from the landing spot of the paragliders. The place had very authentic and minimal vibe . Run by south indians, everything was delicious but the taste of rasam still ignites Joy chemicals in my brain. Perfect amount of flavours sour ,lil tinge of spice and apt spices. A small pack of joy. I finished mine and my brother’s too. Fortunately ,he had no interest in trying it.

Keeping the blog short the last item is like a staple in every home. But I fell in love with Maggie I had at a tea stall in bhagsunath (Mcleodganj). It had a bright yellow color neither too soupy nor dry. One might have heard the term of bloom rice where each grain is happy and not sticky. I felt like each strand of Maggie was happy and was not sticking to each other. Luckily I had the chance to visit the same tea stall after some years and to my surprise the taste was exactly the same.

I hope you enjoyed reading my foodgasm experiences. I got the idea of writing this blog from an anime ‘flavours of youth’ in the first part the protagonist tells about his love for noodles soup and how his childhood revolved around it. It’s full of little things one savours for the rest of their life.

Siddu/sidu (himachali steamed bread)

Hot and healthy wheels

The health benefit count of a bicycle can easily cross 20+ and reduces an individual’s carbon footprint significantly.
Somedays alone, somedays accompanied but ideal of all, tall trees coupled with vivid colors of the sky. Minutes and kilometers passed jovially when I was on my bicycle. On the happy days used to pedal slow and enjoy the cool breeze imagining hypothetical situations. On the low ones used to go some extra kms on flash mode like pedaling away from problems as it would solve everything. Somehow magically it worked for a year but then the next summer the excuses overpowered this hobby. I still mention it as my hobby and after a year of procrastinating and avoiding any sort of regular workout the long lockdown gave me the opportunity to reconnect with something I used to call my constant.
It started as an alternate to expensive gym and tennis membership. Being an underweight according to the BMI a regular workout for me is as important as to anyone else. It is giving me break from the parasite mobile phone and just capturing the views from eyes and storing it in the brain.
This soul which now wishes to commute to work and college on bike, going back 5 years it was embarrassed to cycle to tuition. As all the friends were driving their active and bikes. All I had was my purple friend. Yes, a lavender colored bike with a basket in front but no frills from the handlebar.
Rightnow my bond with cycling continues to be smooth unless we are on a break!

Sustainable habits for life

Sustainability means more than being eco-friendly, it means you are in it for the long haul. It could be your business, relations or lifestyle.
The Japanese concept of ikigai meaning ‘a reason for being’ emphasizes on a person’s mission i.e. what the world needs. if you brew all the notions together and distill its contents, you practice sustainability. Environment gets talked about but not respected enough. Being the denizens of planet earth it becomes our soulful duty to use the resources sagely.
A kid learns by watching their family hence it is important to be worth observing. So here is a list of habits one can easily adopt-

  1. Ditch the single use items
    Be it the disposable plastic cutlery, straws or utensils
    Plastic water bottles, plastic bags, unnecessary packing
    The menstrual products, the sheet masks, the wet tissues all are disastrous.
    Instead do carry or keep a reusable cup/bottle, basic cutlery, a carry bag. A reusable sanitary napkin or a menstrual cup is eco friendly, saves a lot and goes a long way.
  2. Don’t waste food
    Plan your meals well so that everything from your plate goes to your stomach and not the bin. Simply because around the world 821 million people do not have enough of food they need to live an active and healthy life. 1 in every 9 people goes to sleep hungry every night.
  3. Research for organic and toxin free alternatives
    A simple and in depth research of the ingredients used in a product will give you more confidence and loyalty towards your favorites.it is so much better than being trapped in the marketing rattraps of organic/natural label.
  4. Shopping rationally
    Learn to distinguish between needs and wants. (definition of demands begins by explaining these two concepts). More use of cash to pay for shopping than credit card. Impulsive buying is your enemy. Don’t buy because its on sale, 70% off sounds so lucrative but its not worth it. Remember ‘less is more’.
  5. DIYs are your best friends
    Some DIYs take you to a nostalgic childhood trip and some to the kitchen. These are the natural dupes for the high end chemically rich skincare. Now I don’t get embarrassed when my mom says to me I can make this at home because homemade is the new cool.

Everyone is on survival mode in this pandemic but it is giving us time to introspect ourselves and our habits. So let it be sustainable to whatever extent possible.