The 18th March Project – Post 7

July is Plastic Free Month.

Is it even possible to live without plastic? The keys I’m tapping on, the gallon tank my drinking water comes in, the cover of my lunch tiffin, the card I use to pay for (almost) all these things – these are all plastic.

I look around my house, and it’s filled with things I can’t reuse, many of which I’m not even sure can be recycled.

Plastic has been a boon to humanity – it’s made hygiene easier to achieve, or at least sold us all on the belief in hygiene and sterilisation. It’s made everything available in a package that is convenient to carry around. It’s disposable, and we don’t need to worry too much about cleaning it.

Or so we believe.

The thing about advertising is, if done right, it can make you believe anything.

And we’ve been made to believe that nothing can replace plastic, that we have no alternatives.

Hold on, you say to me, you want us to go back to a time before Plastic, when we couldn’t sample Triscuits from the US or a flavor of Kitkat that is sold only in Singapore? Let me just take a look in your fridge and see how many different sauces and spreads you have that are definitely not local produce, and maybe don’t even come in glass jars.

And I would have to fold in upon myself in shame. Of course, I’m as bad a consumer of plastic and the non-renewable as most people. I reuse when I can, and I segregate my plastic waste (and cardboard and glass, from time to time) from my landfill-bound rubbish. But I don’t make as many conscious decisions as I’d like to, or as I believe a steward of the Earth should.

There are people in the UAE, where it is very easy to live a consumerist lifestyle, who are actually making Zero Waste and Permaculture work.

How are they doing that?!

This month, I’m going to buy less, and buy better.

The highest spend for me, after rent, is groceries. So what can I do to reduce the amount of plastic I bring home? First of all, I should buy only what I need. No point in adding food waste to the cocktail that makes up my carbon emissions. Second, reuse packaging if it can’t be done without: got cheese in a container that could be used again? Why not use it again?

Third, look for places that are willing to put items in containers that belong to me and don’t look like the generic clear plastic cuboid. I feel ashamed/shy to ask the staff if they can/will put the 100 grams of olives or mozzarella in my little Tupperware or metal tiffin. I don’t think most grocery stores in the UAE have reached that level of consciousness yet.

Well, one must begin somewhere. And at some time. So why not here and now?

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Day 69 100words100days Having an eco-friendly wedding in India

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So you’ve decided to get married.

How lovely. Congratulations to both of you and your family.

How many people are on your guest list? 300? This is not Sparta, my dear. This is a wedding. You need to invite at least 500 of your closest family and friends to make it a proper occasion.

But you also need to preserve the Earth for the babies that will inevitably come into being following your grand union celebration.

A few simple things you can do:

1. Don’t use thermocol-anythings. That means no confetti. No centrepiece. No non-biodegradable decoration. (Try something repurposed, like a cardboard form, perhaps?)

2. Reusable cutlery and crockery is best. If you can’t find a caterer who has the required numbers of hard stuff, use leaf plates. Banana or pressed leaves? That’s up to you.

3. Can your guests use public transport to travel to and from the venue (of the religious ceremony and or the partay)? Can you organise a bus or bullock cart to ferry them around?

4. Firecrackers are pretty and help draw attention to the goings-on, but they also cause air pollution and noise pollution. Say no to gonnalls

5. E-vites are not tacky, no matter what some old-fashioned folk think. A facebook invite is fine if it isn’t a tres formal do. Even if it is- it’s your wedding, do what you want!

6. Let people know what you want, or re-gift items that you aren’t interested in. Make sure you send out thank you emails before the re-gifting.

7. Enjoy local in-season cuisine at your bachelorette or sangeet or (insert pre-wedding ritual). It’ll taste better.

8. For heavens’ sake, don’t do takeaways. They don’t serve an earthly purpose except, perhaps, the collection and generation of dust.

9. Choose an appropriate time of the day and year to get married. If you hate the heat, the summer months are out of the question. If you can’t bear the cold, don’t go to the north of the country, or the Ghats (and other hill ranges) during winter.

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Day 70: Write a mystery in which the words ‘silver’, ‘pen’ and ‘green’ all play a prominent role