Unshopping

There is a new app and a new challenge for zero-waste enthusiasts: the Yerdle Unshopping Challenge. They are asking people not only to stop consuming for 30 days, but also to stop hoarding items you already own (through their app, of course) to those who may want their no longer needed items:

This is a terrific initiative, but one that is a bit too much of a challenge to me as this is my only month in the city and a time for me to get items on my list of things I cannot get and/or need back at school. My list is small, but necessary: a screwdriver, a cheese cloth, a tea strainer, and a glass bowl.

And, of course, I need to buy food. Below is a photograph of some food items I bought at the local organic food shop near my house.

IMG_20151020_155259

The items not pictured here are fruits and vegetables. These are items that have packaging, which is something I’m concerned about when I buy things. I purchased a few home cleaning items by Common Oxen, my favourite brand of organic home cleaning items. I also bought a package of hair soap (made from a combination of neem, methi, amla, bhrami, bhringraj, khus khus, and hibiscus) from Ancient Living, amazing natural peanut butter from Navadarshanam, and a new brand called Wild Ideas which makes dish washing powder from shikakai (mixed with some wood ash, soap berries, citrus, albizia, and tamarind). This new brand has no url to link to, but it’s made in Chittoor near Rishi Valley and has a lovely note on the package that says:

This product is hand-made by a community of disadvantaged rural women. By purchasing this product, you are supporting their livelihood. 100% of the profits from your purchase of this product goes back to the women who made it.

And then it is signed by two women in ink. It is actually a better product than the Kaigal one that I had been using because of the added items (especially the ash).

Although I love the peanut butter hand made in Tamil Nadu, I don’t appreciate the packaging and I need to write to them about this. It’s a reusable glass bottle–which I do love–but it is wrapped in plastic, which is absolutely unnecessary.

But in general I’m trying to abide by the homework assignment I gave my 4th standard students: I’m trying to think really hard before I spend money so that I don’t buy anything that has too much packaging and thus will create unnecessary waste. Or something that will not decompose or be useful for a long period of time.

For those who are interested in shifting from buying to sharing, you may want to try out Yerdle (although it isn’t available in India). There are great projects you can try in India:

  1. Rentsher (where you can rent items from your neighbours rather than buying stuff that you don’t need)
  2.  Recycling Guru (where you can have people come collect stuff you no longer need so it can be used by those who will find value in it)
  3. iFixit (where you can learn how to fix things yourself rather than just buy something once it is broken!
  4. Kabadiwalla (join and schedule a pickup for your waste to be reused and/or recycled!)

Or, just upycle unwanted items! There are so many ideas across the Internet to help you get started.

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