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Things you can make instead of buying

Updated: Jul 31, 2021

Even though DIY-ing things is not really my jam, over the last lockdown, I have learnt to become more self-sufficient and have felt empowered by the very act of making things on my own. Initially, I found myself asking why I should even consider making things when they can be easily bought at the store. While apprehensions like these may pop up among other things, let’s not sideline how using our own products can turn out to be very rewarding and fulfilling. And let’s not forget the benefits, both to the environment and to our own bodies when using products that hardly have any chemical processing and does not pose any additional pressure onto the Earth’s resources.

In my opinion, the OGs of recycling and reusing are Indian mothers. Their unrestrained and rampant need to not waste anything at all is the essence of sustainable living. I’m sure you have felt the disappointment of opening a cookie jar to find that it was just a container for your mother’s sewing equipment. Or that distinct embarrassing memory of how your mom wrapped your second grade notebooks with glossy newspapers rather than the conventional brown paper. In all honesty, most of us don’t share the conviction that our Indian mothers have and undeniably so, I feel that our generation has been ignorant of their craftiness.

Now, since we are home-ridden (again!), let us try to resuscitate this age-old craftsmanship that echoes through all middle-class Indian families by doing some of the things I did myself last year. This blog lists down some of these simple things that even a novice (like myself) can make rather than buying to become self-sufficient crafty environmentalists much like our mothers.


1. DIY Notebooks

As a student, this is one of my personal favourites. At the end of every academic session I would find myself with many notebooks with a few

Here is a notebook I made using unused pages in different notebooks I used to use.
My version of DIY notebook.Not fancy but functional

unused pages in them. Keeping a notebook just for 4-5 pages does not make sense as it would end up taking a lot of space without serving any utilitarian

purpose. So what I do is tear out all of the unused pages from the

notebooks and staple them together. And ta da!! … a completely new notebook that I could use for the next session. While it sounds very simple, it has helped me a lot as a university student.

Personally, I make mini notebooks that are small enough to fit my trouser pockets to jot down any ideas that I may have when I’m out or to make a quick sketch when inspiration hits.

2. Skincare Products

Does your skin regime also have face packs? Well, mine has but it has been a struggle to find that one face pack that suits my skin type. I took this lockdown to make and try several face packs made from all-natural ingredients which are all available at the comfort of my home. Gram flour & Curd, Coriander & Turmeric, Lemon & Honey are all some great ingredients for face packs that I have used and loved. I believe the secret behind our grandparents’ supple and healthy skin is precisely this.

Most of the store-bought skincare products are made up of non-biodegradable chemicals. These chemicals usually make their way to the ocean and harm aquatic life. Now, as mindful consumers we can try to minimize this damage by switching to home-made remedies, some of which I use myself. Try using a beetroot scrub. It's simple to make and involves mixing 1 tbsp of beetroot juice to 2 tbsp of sugar. Add ½ tbsp olive oil to get a smoother finishing to the scrub. On another note, although sheet masks are the fad and fancy in tinseltown, it is actually not all that good for your skin and adversely affects the environment. Instead use tomato juice.

You can easily find hundreds of such homemade skincare recipes that you can use instead of wasting your money on expensive skin care products that have a harmful effect on the planet.

3. Home cleaner

This was something that I was very skeptical about. The skepticism was rooted in my disbelief in actually making something like this. Well ... the internet proved me wrong and I am glad I was wrong. I came across this

cleaner solution which could be used to clean glass windows, and even stains on tiles and walls. All you have to do is take a spray bottle, mix vinegar and water equally, put lemon peels and use any choice of fragrance oil (this last component is completely optional). Mix them, shake them and they are ready to be used in a week.

Our kitchen has always been a victim of food stains, oil spills and bacteria. So, we need a cleaner which fights this and we have found something that serves this purpose. Introducing 4 spoons of baking soda and a cup of warm water in a spray bottle and you are ready.

Making these cleaners isn’t as hard as one might think nor will it be heavy on our pockets, and so try it out and let us know how it turned out.

4. Dusting Rags and Rugs

Who said that dirt can be only cleaned using a brand-new mop or those beautiful dusting rags that we get from the store, which are undeniably packed in those beautiful yet simplistic colorful plastic bags. Needless to say, these products are often transient in nature and are also bad for the environment. Instead, like my mother, you can use your old tees, old towels, old pillow covers and whatnot to make dusting rags and it works out just great! Use it to clean your sofas, windows, floors, doors. Basically everything! Now, this is something that you can do to genuinely save your money, have a clean house and sustainably reuse old clothes too (the perfect combo!). Another useful item that you can make with your old clothes are rugs. All you have to do is simply knot these fabrics together to make rugs for rooms or bathrooms.

If you have any ideas of your own to repurpose old clothes then let us know by penning them down in the comments section below. If you don’t, then fear not because we have covered a few of our own ideas in this article about how to sustainably get rid of old clothes and save the earth.

5. Ice Creams/popsicle sticks

Ice cream is the manifestation of the sweetness of summer, the best heartbreak comfort food and the perfect dessert!