I have started focusing on many aspects of my life, with an eye on sustainability. Here is an account of how I have gone about it and you can see if this can help in your journey too !
A few years back…
A typical lifestyle of a city-dweller
5-6 day work week
Weekends spent grocery shopping, mall hopping
Growing my own food, in my own organic farm
Making my own 100% natural cleaning supplies, like floor cleaners and kitchen cleaners
Making many consumable products like Bread, Jam, Sauces at home
Making my own personal care products
In a world where, in the name of development and advancement we are running farther and farther away from nature, poisoning our own food and destroying the ecosystem we live in, there is a serious need to change our way of life. I am hoping we can slow down just a bit and get back to our roots...
When did farming become the most deplored occupation and can we change that perspective and help create a better outlook about it for our next generation?
Can we even think of such a thing as producing our own food? In all these years of depending on the grocery store, is it do-able? These are some of the many questions I am trying to find answers to, through my journey.
- Processed Food is cheaper than fresh food!
- Plastic is cheap, but the problems it is causing is costing our lives.
- Fresh food for consumption is treated with poisonous chemicals.
- Home care products are loaded with toxic chemicals, with claims to kill 99.9% germs.
- Personal care products have unthinkable carcinogens!
- Every consumable item is adulterated.
The list is endless…
We can’t ignore the consequences of such a lifestyle anymore; we can’t keep leading our life as we did before and expect things to get miraculously better. Nothing will change unless we do something about it! These and many other thoughts plaguing me, were the reason that lead to where I am today.
For me, it all began with a simple decision to buy organic produce for my family. Yes, as simple as that! At that moment, I didn’t realise that this seemingly small insignificant step was about to affect so many aspects of my life. Over-time I started wondering how trust-worthy my so called “organic produce” were and how credible were these sources.
That’s how the passion to grow my own food was born; just out of the desire to provide my family with clean, nutritious, toxin-free food. The disturbing ugly side of the food industry and how we seem to have no choice but to buy whatever is sold to us fuelled my passion even more.
This one thought that “if I choose to grow my own food, I will have full control of what I sow, what I reap, what I cook and what I feed my family” – kept recurring. With growing my own food there won’t be any room for doubt.
Today, my small half acre farm on the outskirts of Chennai is where I grow my organic vegetables, fruits, pulses and herbs. I am living a farm to table lifestyle for most part of the year with close to 75 different varieties of produce that I am able to grow. It’s a gratifying experience to be able to create a space that keeps my family as self-sufficient as possible given the limitations of city life. But I aspire to reach a point where almost everything we need would be home-grown or home-made.
Quite an audacious dream, isn’t it?
Of course we are a work-in-progress. And building a self-sustainable urban model for living is something that I am working on. Towards an attempt to achieve that our small farmhouse is SOLAR powered. Rainwater harvesting is built in and a bio-gas plant (not implemented) is something I would want to look into in the near future.
Read about my complete FARMING JOURNEY HERE
All of this didn’t happen one fine day. It was a gradual process which slowly progressed from awareness to having the courage and conviction to take action.
The first step was of course, just being conscious of what we were putting INTO our body. With my organic vegetable garden in place, that was taken care of. It then propelled me into thinking about other aspects of my life; like what were we putting ON our body? What are the products I am bringing into my house, soaps, lotions, hand wash, all loaded with incomprehensible chemicals? Then my attention went to all the toxic chemicals I was purchasing to keep my home “clean”. Was I really cleaning or adding more toxicity into my home? All these are not only extremely harmful for us as individuals but it's costing our environment very dearly.
Have you ever read the ingredients on your soap? Even the ones that claim to be herbal (well, the term herbal, organic, natural etc is very loosely used nowadays , just to fool the gullible buyers)
And, that’s when I started wondering about all the choices I was making as a consumer.
- Am I supposed to just buy whatever the supermarkets have lined up for me?
- Am I a puppet that the advertisers can lure me into buying what they want to sell?
- What alternatives or options do I really have?
- Can I think of breaking the super-market mould and look for better alternatives?
- Do I really have the time and energy to do that in this fast-paced lifestyle?
- Finally, Am I ready to turn a blind eye to all this knowingly?
That’s exactly how things started changing for me. I tried finding alternatives to healthy and chemical-free options but they were few and far between. It was tedious to find them and even more of a hassle to source them.
So, I decided to make my own. Yes, I started making my own soaps and then body butters. Once I reached the self-sufficiency, it was only a matter of time before I started wondering about all the other ways chemicals found their way into my home in the name of cleaning solutions. It was time to get rid of them next. And then started my quest and my experimentations of making my own cleaning solutions. Lots of trials, failures, experimentations later, I have completely eliminated the store-bought cleaners and thus the journey continues.
Looking for alternative options to live a chemical free life has lead me to where I am today.
Feeding my family chemical free, totally organic, native, seasonal and nutritious produce is just unbelievably gratifying. I believe in native indigenous crops being the most nutritious and best suited for our bodies. I don’t support hybrid varieties and I am totally against GMO’s. It's high time we stand up to protect our native seeds from the invasion of hybrids. Well that’s a whole new topic for another day.
And that my friends, is my story.
If I could do it, you can too. The reason I say this with such conviction is because, I SEE Myself in YOU… Right there, sitting and wondering if any of this is even possible living in a city…
Because I WAS YOU just a few years ago.
I am someone who grew up in a city without a clue about growing food. I lived a completely consumerist life too before the awareness hit me and I decided to take small baby steps towards finding ways and means to break that cycle.
I understand how all this might look a bit overwhelming…
But here’s the thing; Do what you can, when you can and from wherever you can. Every little effort counts. Don’t ever think a small change in your lifestyle doesn’t make an impact; IT DOES. I really want you to believe that.
In the words of Anne-Marie Bonneau, “ We don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
If you think you need a strong motivation to start this journey, here it is! Your Health! A better place to live! What better motivation do we need? And please don’t even get me started on how we are doing this for our planet. No. Because, how pretentious is that! Earth doesn’t need us to take care of it…We Need Earth. For our survival. Paraphrasing Vandana Shiva’s words, “Earth doesn’t need us; it lived in hotter times and colder times; it lived with dinosaurs and without dinosaurs and it can very well live without humans too.” It's we who we need her and not the other way around.
So, let’s not kid ourselves, that by adopting eco-conscious living we are doing a favour for Earth. No. It is not a great selfless act we are doing. In fact we need to do with a selfish motive. To save ourselves, our children and the generations to come.
Wherever we are currently in our journey, all we need to do is just start. That’s all. Start somewhere, however small the beginnings.