Sonika Bhasin is a sustainability enthusiast who inspires multitudes by endorsing the idea of low waste and sustainable living through her life.
Is there any particular value/memory from childhood that helps you keep up with the current lifestyle of mindful low-waste ?
It wasn’t like this until a few years ago. I’ve always hated waste, and wasting things (especially food), in general. But until my son was born, I hadn’t really thought about the waste we generate or how that was harming the planet. The tuning point in my life was the purchase of a cloth diaper!
It introduced me to a community of conscious parents and I realized our wasteful lifestyle was bad for the environment and what’s bad for the environment, is ultimately bad for us. And of course, bad for our son’s future.
What does sustainability means to you?
I can sum it up in two words – Being mindful. Everything starts from there. Being mindful about our actions and how they impact everything else around us. Once you are mindful, you will yourself start looking for solutions and alternatives. You’ll want to make a positive rather than a negative impact. You’ll not find excuses, you will keep trying till something that isn’t working, starts working. And it’s not just about consumption and waste, but also how you treat everyone, how you communicate, how compassionate you are towards everyone and everything around you.
Abir, is our little low-waste enthusiast. How do you make it look so simple?
What is one prevalent myth around low waste living?
There are many! But I think overall people think it's very difficult and time consuming. The lifestyle is not difficult, neither does it take any extra time on a daily basis. It’s a shift in mindset. That's difficult and takes a lot of time. And so, it's best not to jump onto everything at once. Start small, start with easy things. E.g reduce the amount you shop for non-essentials, reduce usage of too many disposable products. Try switching from commercial to sustainable products for your personal care. Try replacing your household cleaners. Segregate your waste. None of these will disrupt your daily life.
It is rather unrealistic for one to be 100% sustainable. What is a complete non-negotiator, absolutely must in your life?
Absolutely! I think unless you live in a forest, grow your own food and don’t consume any electricity, you can’t be 100% sustainable. So, we follow a few guidelines, to make this easy for us:
Reduce our waste at source by
Reduce consumption and not buy mindlessly
Reduce our consumption of disposable products (single use plastic, cotton balls, diapers, sanitary pads, kitchen wipes and even paper napkins etc). Instead, use reusable options for all these
When we buy, we try to buy as much packaging free as possible and buy sustainable products from Indian brands, as much as possible
How do you choose the right brands? What are those specific areas that one must keep in mind before purchasing from a brand?
I take some time before buying anything from a new brand. I usually look them up on social media and their website. I look at ingredients or composition of a product and how it's packaged. If I like something, and have any doubts, I usually message them and ask. Most small brands reply. If they don’t reply, I don’t buy! As a rule, I don’t buy anything from a large commercial brand, unless that category of product isn’t available is a sustainable option (there are very few such categories!)
I also rely on recommendations from the community and share my recommendations on my Instagram account. Another way to choose a sustainable brand is to buy from marketplaces that sell only sustainable products, so your work is already done by them!
One quote that you live by? Or your message for others in your own words.
My message to everyone is:
We’ve been hearing a lot about how the planet needs us. But I think it’s the other way round, the planet doesn’t need us, we need the planet! It will probably flourish without us. So let's just think about whatever we can do to make it better and not worse.
Every small step, every small change counts. Because I believe that once you make one step, you won’t stop at it!