Coffee is a morning ritual in my household we brew two cups, my husband finishes his by the time I surface. I pour out the rest from the coffee machine and heat it up for 20 seconds in the microwave. By the time I finish it, it’s already cold. 2 months ago he woke me up, “The coffee filters are over, now what do we do? Order some from Amazon please.” I’m no good in the mornings.
I’d been meaning to go out and buy some muslin which could be used in place of the unbleached paper ones I had been ordering online. I obviously hadn’t; so I told him off “Just don’t use a filter” Poor fellow went ahead and did just that. And guess what? We’ve never used a filter again.
Going Low-Waste (Or Zero-waste for some) is about making small incremental changes
How is your caffeine Habit it hurting the Environment? (And what you can do about it)
Nespresso Pods (and others just like it): Nespresso pods basically produce a perfect shot of coffee every time. The mechanical engineer and ex-barista part of me is impressed. It’s pretty hard to get something right time after time. The pods also come in a bunch of fun flavours. It’s no wonder that Nespresso Pods are pretty popular. They are also TERRIBLE for the environment. Firstly the coffee pods are single use – and made of laminated aluminium. So they aren’t easy to recycle – your local kabadi wala won’t take them and so they go to the landfill. Although recycling programs for the pods are available in 36 countries, since Nespresso isn’t officially present in India we have no official program here. They also aren’t the easiest to recycle since each pod is made up of multiple materials. This also poses the additional issue that the pods are completely imported and so have a high carbon footprint.
The To-Go Cup
When I went to America for the first time, I was 19. I had watched enough movies to know that the standard thing to do was to walk into a Starbucks and order something cool sounding. It was the coldest winter New York had witnessed in a 111 years or something crazy like that and I got windburn on my face walking down broadway. I walked in and ordered something, probably a cappuccino. It came in a Paper cup and a sleeve with something resembling my name on it. I emptied a paper sachet sachet of sugar into the cup and stirred it with a little plastic stick which I proceeded to throw away right after. I then put on a plastic lid and walked back out into the cold having sipping away at my American right of passage. 5 minutes later I realised I’d lost my only glove.
With the Maharashtra plastic ban, a step in the right direction, plastic lids and straws are banned. However paper cups are not. Just to be clear, these cups can neither be composted or recycled since they have a thin plastic lamination. Plastic stir sticks are replaced with wooden ones and sugar still comes in small sachets. That’s still a lot of waste. It’s best to carry a reusable to-go cup or you know, sit down and have a cup at the coffee shop.
What do I prefer? I like my cup at home
For a simple single cup I love a french press. And if I have guests I have a filter coffee machine (try and not use disposable filters here – if the one that came with the machine isn’t enough then a simple muslin cloth will do the job just as well). And if you like you espresso, there are some super machines in the market (at the fraction of the cost of a Nespresso machine) – some of the higher end ones will have a built in coffee bean grinder as well. It’s best to buy locally grown coffee in bulk (Phillips is such a fixture in this sense) We’re also we’re lucky to have some amazing new companies in India doing just that while championing sustainability (Black Baza Coffee – looking at you, though I’m not sure if they have bulk available anywhere).
Besides my morning cuppa Joe – I do like a nice green tea in the evening or a black tea with some honey and ginger on a rainy day. The best way to brew the perfect cup, at least according to me, is without a tea bag. Firstly, most tea bags are a waste of paper and I don’t know about you, but I feel like they leave some papery fibers in my cup. Not exactly tasty. Plus, a whole bunch of the higher end teas available now come in this woven plastic pouch instead of paper. My hatred for single use plastic having been previously established, I don’t really need to say more. There’s also a whole bunch of unnecessary packaging – the little paper pouch the tea bag comes in, the cardboard box they are neatly arranged in, and finally, the thin plastic wrap used to seal it all in.
Me? I prefer loose leaf tea – any day. Easy to buy in bulk (Again at Phillips or a Nature’s Basket) I like to carry my own jars to be filled. I also have this cool stainless steel tea apparatus that works super well, or there are some really pretty teapots out there. Alternatively you could raid your mom’s china cabinet
– I’m sure there will be a teapot or 2 in there.
Who doesn’t love a good bath? I know I do, and with the monsoon here in full force, having a hot shower now tops my list of fun activities. (Cold showers are better for the environment though) I used to have a shower cluttered with plastic bottles full of product, and used to be known to indulge in a nice soak in a bathtub. Now – I make sure to turn the shower off while I soap up.
I’m not 100% there yet, but I’ve made changes that have made bath time lower impact, funny though, that many of these changes didn’t happen out of a need to go zero waste, but because what was already on my shelf wasn’t working for me.
A couple of years ago, I started to get hives on my back and stomach, any minor irritant, as silly as a slightly scratchy label would set it off. Around the same time, I found that my hair was thinning and my scalp had become itchy. I saw a dermatologist and she told me it was stress and gave me a mild antihistamine. I took this for months, and it barely helped.
I must have run out of shampoo and resorted to using something from my stash of freebies (yes, totally guilty of having been a former master thief of free toiletries) and everything felt better. Two washes in and my hair was still dry, but wasn’t falling off at a horrifying rate. This was totally working for me. I walked into Forest Essentials and month after month bought their shampoos and soaps. Hair and skin still dry, but the hives and hairfall were under control, without the antihistamine or calamine lotion.
Now their stuff isn’t exactly cheap, plus, it isn’t plastic free. So last year when I decided to change up my life, I started looking for alternatives. Something more affordable and preferably not in plastic. Here is what I’ve ended up with:
I use a shampoo by Omved it’s about the same price as forest essentials, but I prefer it for 2 reasons. One, my hair is super soft now and my scalp doesn’t feel dry at all. Plus, no excessive hair fall. It comes in an Aluminium bottle, which is 100% recyclable. After a whole lot of looking, I found these lovely soaps from Auroville (a place I need to visit) that come wrapped in fabric and wax paper. The Shea butter ones are super moisturizing and make my skin feel awesome. I don’t even use a separate face wash any more.
Last week I posted about how much microbeads suck. When my last natural face scrub ran out, I decided not to buy a new one. A couple of months ago, I had bought a Loofah (fun fact: it’s actually a gourd – from the same family as the Zuchini) which I use to scrub everything from my face to my tippy toes.
Finally, I finish off with a little bit of body oil. I still have a bottle from Forest Essentials, it’s practically a year old and i’ve barely made a dent in it.
Earlier, I probably would have used a shampoo, a conditioner, face wash, body wash, face scrub, body scrub and a moisturiser. That’s 7 products which would have come in plastic containers I’ve replaced with just 4 which are also Sulfate and Petrochemical free, and I’ve never felt better.