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  • Writer's pictureChandana Banerjee

10 Ways the Lockdown Has Helped Me Simplify

Hello gorgeous green girls!

Hope you’re holding up well during the #lockdown in this #covid affected world. Being within the four walls and the parameters of my garden, spending time with my family, cooking, baking, reading and slowing down has got me thinking. Thinking about our lifestyles in a post-Covid world. About what lessons I want to carry with me as I straddle a modern lifestyle with the standard pressures to fit in, speed up and buy more, and a lifestyle that borrows heavily from a slower, simpler era.

Here are some sustainable habits that I’ve honed during the lockdown and hope to take forward with me, as we step back into our chaotic routines.

1. Use every bit of leftovers and create something delicious with them. Old rotis are turned into Kathi rolls, bits of yesterday’s curry is stuffed into omelettes, overripe bananas end up in melt-in-the-mouth banana bread, wilted coriander and mint leaves are whizzed into a tangy chutney to slather over bread and chapatis, leftover rice is cooked up into tasty fried rice dishes. We used to consume our leftovers even before the lockdown happened, but this current situation has pushed us to be more creative with what we have.

2. Eat out less frequently. Since we’re posted to a very remote military base with just a couple of grimy cafes and restaurants around, eating out has not been on our to-do list for the past year or more. But staying at home 24x7, has nudged us to flex our culinary muscles more and use whatever’s in the pantry to whip up healthier versions of restaurant-worthy foods. We’re making ice-creams, pies, soups of all kinds, noodle and pasta dishes.

3. Dump fewer things in the garbage bin. I have been composting my kitchen waste for the past six years, but with the slow down in the garbage disposal system, we’ve ramped up how we view what we throw in the bin. All the plastic from food packaging goes into a bag that my mother will take back to Pune to be recycled into polyfuel (wish we had more plastic recycling options throughout the country). The extra veggie and fruit waste, like piles of pea shells, thick rinds of summer fruit, that doesn’t fit into my home composter, is thrown into a pit dug up in the corner of my garden. (If you don’t have a garden, you can keep a separate old bucket with dry leaves in it, to throw the excess kitchen waste into).

4. Reuse what’s at home. We’ve been doing a lot of kid’s art and craft at home during this lockdown. Though we’ve ploughed through all our art supplies, we’re now reusing other things. Card sheets that come with t-shirt packaging is being turned into bookmarks and craft items; toothpaste and snack cartons as well as the plastic lids of soft drink bottles have got a new lease of life as aeroplanes, cars and robots; one-sided print outs are used for drawing and collaging. We’re reusing the blank side of already-used notepads and writing down our lists on them, and cutting up old t-shirts and towels to make kitchen rags and foot mats.

5. Stock up at the beginning of the month and make it stretch. Prior to the lockdown, I’d stock up my pantry twice or thrice a month, and replenish fresh produce a couple of times a week. But now I really enjoy referring to a master list and stocking up the dry goods and body care essentials for a whole month. It not only saves time and mind space, but also money.

6. Make it and bake it. We’ve been heading down this path of self-sustainability for the past few years now. But the #covidlockdown helped us stretch those self-sufficiency skills even farther. From bread to soaps, deodorants to pizza bases, ice-cream to face scrubs, we’ve been whipping up scrumptious skincare and ‘tummy care’ products in our kitchen. I’m all set to try making homemade shampoo and dishwasher detergent. And the best part? Everything made at home is chemical-free and safe for our bodies and the earth.

7. Find entertainment within the home. I was never a big fan of mall-hopping, or even parties or the many social commitments that clutter up my days; but this #lockdown has given me the permission to go all out and be the homebody that I always was. I’m enjoying watching movies and series on Netflix & documentaries and educational videos on Youtube, reading tonnes of books on Kindle, trying out my limited knitting skills, teaching myself new things through art and writing e-courses, whipping up delicious meals and treats in the kitchen, thinking and just being. And of course, through it all, spending time with my family.

8. Use our cars and vehicles less. If we continue keeping our purchases and lives streamlined, we won’t need to hop into our vehicles and zoom off to the market or mall so often. By just being mindful of how often we use our cars and planning our trips and asking ourselves if we really need to take out that car or can we walk or cycle to our destination, can help cut down the pollution.

9. Shop less. Again, I’m not a shopping enthusiast. Even then, we bought stuff from on Amazon every other week. But with the shipping ban all over, I realised that we can make a list and buy once a month instead of spreading it out across the weeks. For those of you, who enjoy buying trinkets, shoes and clothes at malls, have you wondered if you’ve really been able to live without all the new stuff? The negative impact that the fashion and clothing industry has on the environment is Huge. Just scaling back on our shopping and making the most of what we already have (clothes, shoes, bags etc.) can help this planet and our homes breathe.

10. Celebrate simply. With the #lockdown on, most people are celebrating their birthdays and anniversaries simply. If we can borrow some of this simplicity from our lockdown days and keep our celebrations simpler than what it used to be, then that will be fabulous. It’s time to think if we need tonnes of balloons, confetti, excess food (which leads to food wastage), and a new wardrobe to celebrate our milestones? Or, can we keep our celebrations #ecofriendly?

How has the #covidlockdown impacted your lifestyle in a positive way?

What kind of #sustainablesteps would you like to take, moving forward in a #covidfree world?

Leave a comment below to let me know.

Stay well, go green,

Chandana :)

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