Black November or the results of my unshopping month

My unshopping month was relatively successful, facilitated by the fact that I was sick and in bed for much of the month. Before I left the city, I must confess that I did purchase a couple of kurtas to go with some gifted dupattas and had blouses made for gifted saris, but other than that I only bought food and household goods.

My trip back to Rishi Valley meant that I needed to buy some goods to keep me going for the next few months–especially cleaning items and snacks and such. Below are a few fabulous finds. One is from Common Oxen, a local Bangalore favourite of mine. They now have an additional washing powder for clothes that adds baking soda and borax to the mix for those who want something a bit stronger than just plain soapnuts. I also bought another cleaning product from Wild Ideas for polishing brass, silver, and other household items. They don’t seem to have a website, but here is a bit of information about them from a sweet note they put–and sign by hand–on each package (which is made of paper!):

Know Your Producer:

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.

Manju & Anjali

It is made from soapnuts, shikakai, citrus, tamarind, bitter albizia, and wood ash. These added ingredients (some of which are in Wild Ideas’ dishwashing powder) are items that some friends of mine already started adding to the Kaigal products (especially the ash). So this makes a terrific option for those folks.

I also saw a new product for those who want to put their mixed waste in  a plastic bag, but don’t want plastic winding up in the stomach of cows scavenging for food along the roadside. A Mumbai-based company called Lucro is making something called EcoPro (see flyer image above) that promises it is leak proof and biodegradable!

I bought–but am not thrilled with–the Natraj vegan dry fruit laddus. They taste fabulous, don’t get me wrong! But the packaging is awful: each one is individually packaged in plastic and then placed in a plastic container. Isn’t there a way to be both healthy in producing your product as well as in how you package it?

My biggest failure for the month, however, falls under the e-waste category. For the third time in three years I’ve had to get a new modem. I’m not sure if it is all the electricity outages or that D-Link (the main brand that seems to be for sale in Madanapalle) is very poorly made. I tried using the help line and following their instructions to repair it (and their help line was indeed quite helpful), but my efforts failed. And there is no reasonably local place to fix it out here in rural Andhra Pradesh. There has got to be a better way to make and use for longer periods of time so there is not so much waste of resources. I’m also interested in learning about upcycling ideas for modems, though I haven’t found any yet (Google switches modem into denim when I search).

Now that so many Americans, and others around the world who have caught onto the Black November shopping craze (which in India begins with Diwali shopping enticements and seems to continue through Christmas), here are a couple of ideas of how to spend your time and money in ways that don’t include shopping:

27 Ways to Spend November 27

Simplify the Holidays and Gift Outside the Box

SoKind Gift Registry

 

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