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
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!
Well I don’t need any occasion to have ice cream. It's a snack that I have all year round! (tasty and sometimes even healthy lol). Most ice creams that we get in the market have high sugar content and many don’t even use milk but vegetable fat, making it very unhealthy.
I remember, when I was a kid my grandmother always used to make lemonade and freeze it in the ice cream mould and our lemonade popsicle was ready with a never-ending supply. One more perk of homemade ice creams is that we don’t have to stick to the standard flavour combinations available in the market but we can create new flavours which suit our palate. How about you try creating your popsicle ruling the world of your taste
6. Gift wraps
When I think of gift wraps, the first word that comes to mind is waste. The moment you give a person the gift, the wrapping paper goes straight into the dustbin. Instead of buying gift wrapping papers, try to get creative with what all can be used instead of them. Look for alternatives like reusing leftover newspapers or fabrics scraps. You can even use old pillowcases as gift wraps and add a cute cloth ribbon to make it even more attractive.
7. Bar soaps
I have seen a few of my friends making their soap bars at home and I never understood why but this lockdown when I had some time on my hands I decided to try making my soap bars. I used vegetable oil, lye, essential oils and water to make my very own soap following every step very carefully. Few good things about homemade soap bars are that they are biodegradable, you get all the ingredients at home ( except Iye) and you can give any shape & fragrance which belongs to you and only you!
It is typical of most Indian households to have some form of glass containers like jam jars, old glass bottles etc. With a little bit of creativity, you can use the bottles or jars to spruce up your living room or maybe even your kitchen. There are many things you can do with these glass bottles and one could be covering half the bottle with jute ribbon then adding a plant to it.
The manufacturing of a lot of the items that we use every day requires a tremendous amount of dependence on fossil fuels which releases the greenhouse gases that are responsible for the warming of our planet. And so, destabilizing this reliance through our consumption patterns by reusing and recycling can in turn reduce our dependence on energy. Besides, consuming your own products will reduce the amount of toxins or microplastics that enter your body. By further curtailing the reliance on mass-produced products, you are essentially entering a cycle of consumption patterns that reduces the amount of microplastics that is created as a consequence of your buying habits. While some of these ideas are not revolutionary, the purpose of this guide is to remind the reader that almost all of the items that are thrown away on a daily basis can either be recycled/upcycled/reused. All you need is the conviction, the unwavering vitality and creativity of the typical Indian mother.
If you liked this article, then hit the like button below and share it to all your friends and family so that you can let them know about how to bring about the much-needed change to save our world in our own way.