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 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.

Minimal Green wedding

A perfect weight loss solution for big fat Indian weddings.

With modern gender roles in play, the traditional generation’s role also needs to be altered. In a parallel universe – gone are the days when parents used to save a big chunk of their hard-earned money for their child’s ‘wedding fund’. Apparently it is high time for the “NO longer kids” soon getting hitched, to realize the value of money and bear the financial burden of their big day. This transformation shall surely put a check on the blind and wasteful expenditure.
Weddings in general cost a fortune and generate around 3 tonnes of waste from leftover food items, water, plastic utensils used, discarded decorative items etc. and contribute to air, water, noise and light pollution (just for 400-1000 guests). These tonnes can be prevented by having a green and minimal wedding. A green wedding is wherein the couple plans the special day in an eco-friendly and sustainable manner considering the ecological impact on the planet and global community, at large. Minimalist wedding is adopting the ‘less is more’ approach and a simple yet joy sparking trend for the D day.
Here’s how to do it:
Wedding trousseau
Having high quality sustainable attires that can be worn again are better than the heavy glittery pieces which will rest at the elusive end of the wardrobe. Such an investment just for a bunch of pictures to share on the ‘gram with people who don’t genuinely care is not wise, after all. Another way can be borrowing traditional family piece and styling it up your way. Same goes for jewellery, one can accessorise their outfits with ancestral heirlooms or simply rent. Voila! bills, heritage and vogue well reclaimed.
Catering and décor
Food is one of the main reasons many people dressup to dig into their favourite delicacies. Buffet and wastage goes hand in hand, a la carte system or a buffet of limited items should preferred. Organic and locally sourced produce should be a chosen over and above expensive gourmet from 7 stars. Local NGO can help in the distribution of the leftover food and that too for free in most mega cities. Food should be served in glass/ceramic/steel utensils and use of plastic disposables can be effectively replaced by using banana leaves, bamboo/steel cutlery. Plastic water bottles can be substituted by glass bottles (can act as takeaway souvenir too), steel tumblers or kullads. Decoration should comprise of articles which can be easily reused like flowers, plants in beautiful planters. DIYs can be easily created, arranged or ordered.
Invitation and gifts
Digital invitations came and disrupted the traditional card and sweets tradition. They fit more practically as the heavy cost of the boxes and distribution was time consuming as well. Wedding specific website can also be created giving the guests a tech savvy interaction. The exchange of gifts can be made eco friendly by giving organic skincare products, saplings, locally sourced desserts/ edibles in glass/tin collectible containers. Google provides endless options for every pocket.
Venue and guest list
An outdoor venue with built in décor like a vineyard, a garden or a farmhouse. One may like to go simply for a temple, gurudwara or church wedding according to the belief system of the couple. Ceremonies should be kept on a single venue as it will save the guests from heavy commute and environment from pollution. A trend of confirmation to invitation about 2-3 months prior to the wedding can be very effective in reducing unnecessary expenditure and keeping the ceremony as intimate as possible. The covid-19 restrictions have limited the guests upto a count of fifty. This filtration should be there with or without the virus as its your special day and you have every right to be surrounded by only the people who don’t jinx your happiness. An intimate affair will add to the esteem of the guests too and help in building lasting relationships based on mutual love and understanding.
Although, this might take some time to become a status quo and one might end up losing “relatives” and “friends” but a private wedding will help you save money, the planet and have a compound positive impact on the society in form of an action against dowry and debt by solely choosing sanctity of the institution of marriage than unwanted exhibition of wealth.