In this guide, we've tried to approach aspects of well-being from a slightly different angle. We've addressed parts of our lifestyle that are generally overlooked or taken for granted. For instance, what we put on our skin and what we wear are still not things that we care much about. Read through to find out more.
We spend endless time poring over facts of every thing we eat - is it organic? does it have preservatives? does it contain trans-fats? But, ever wondered goes into your daily shampoo and soap? Cosmetics have become a hotspot for controversy. We expose ourselves to over 129 chemicals on a daily basis* purely by using skincare products. The harsh truth is some of these are known or probable carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
With increasing concern, there has been a rise in demand for safer cosmetics. European Union and some other countries have started making efforts to regulate the cosmetic market. India, on the other hand, is quite oblivious. Lack of regulation, makes it easy to add just about anything into your daily skincare. Our suggestion - to err on the side of caution.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Read the Ingredient List on absolutely every thing packaged you buy. Avoid products that don't mention their ingredients. 2. Beyond the Label: Don't get lured to products that are labelled 'natural'. There is no such thing as 100% natural. Chemicals are required to give beauty products the touch and feel they have. Greenwashing has become a common marketing tactic used to fool people. Instead of blindly buying products posing as natural, go for ones that disclose their chemicals. Make sure they are safe. 3. Chemicals to Avoid: Every product has a different set of chemicals that are deemed unsafe by many organisations. Environment Working Group is committed to preparing databases of such chemicals. Here's a handy infographic that you can refer to while buying.4. Reduce Usage of Cosmetics: The simplest solution to all health related problems - reduce usage of anything that is packaged. 5. Say No to Anti-Perspirants: Chemicals in anti-perspirants have been found in several cases of breast cancer. The cosmetic collections at Spree are carefully researched and curated - we evaluate each ingredient in every brand and check it for toxicity levels using well-researched databases.
Plastic & Non-Stick. Both were nothing short of miracles in Indian kitchens. Thanks to them, we could get rid of shattering glass and eat near-oil-free food. But, what we did not know is that plastics, canned food & non-stick pans are mixed or lined with materials like BPA and phthalates that release toxins when exposed to heat. These chemicals seem to have some relation with fertility issues and cancers.
There's no why reason why we shouldn't make some small changes in our everyday lives. It’s fairly easy to go back to conventional wisdom. For instance, glass is one of the most unreactive materials and probably the safest. Replace your grain, pulses and tea containers with glass mason jars. Clay and ceramic make for the most beautiful bowls and plates while being completely safe.
1. Replace Plastic bottles, boxes, plates, cutlery with stainless steel, tin, glass, ceramic, clay, copper, cast iron or stoneware. Or even bamboo. 2. BPA-Free Plastic: If you must use plastic or canned food, ensure that it says BPA- Free on the label. 3. Toxin Free Utensils: When it comes to pans and skillets, find the ones that are PTFE & PFOA free. 4. Low-Heat Teflon: Absolutely do not expose teflon to high heat or wash with abrasive material. Use stainless steel/cast iron/anodized alumnimium for high heat cooking like frying. 5. Paper Cups: Use paper cups instead of the flimsy plastic ones. Infact, it's a much better idea to carry a stainless steel or glass bottle or tumbler than use disposable cups. Lastly, get rid of plastic straws. They are quite superflous to begin with.
Clothing & Apparel
"Fast Fashion" is a trend expertly set by clothing giants like H&M, Forever 21 coaxing us to spend more and buy more often. Ever noticed how clothing labels always say 'Made in Bangladesh or Cambodia or Vietnam'? There's a story behind that. Watch this video by the famous John Oliver who explains what really happens behind the scenes. Clothes are manufactured in sweatshops in third world countries like Bangladesh. These factories with near inhumane working conditions and unfair wages are forced to churn out clothing at an unimaginable speed (because of the crazy demand) and rock bottom costs (because compromises on margins are never made). Corners are cut in construction quality of these factories - which have caused some horrendous accidents compromising the lives of thousands of factory workers (Read Rana Plaza Incident).Yes, we want to be fashionable - but at what cost? Here are some baby steps towards a cleaner and more conscious closet.
WHAT YOU CAN DO1. Buy Less Often: If you buy clothes once every month, try and push that to once every 2 months instead. Slow down your consumption of clothing as much as you can. 2. Halve your shopping expenses: If you spend Rs 3000 every time you visit a fashion store, spend Rs 1500 instead. Spend the other Rs 1500 travelling/ enroll in a dance class/ contribute to an innovative Kickstarter project. If nothing else, save up! 3. Minimal Wardrobe: Wear only what you really LOVE. Try a new styling technique called Capsule Wardrobe which is all about having a minimal closet by weeding out clothes that you don't really like. 4. Alternatives: Sustainable clothing is becoming more and more accessible. When you buy fashion, look for tags like Fair Trade & Sustainable clothing, Slow fashion. Buy from local and artisanal brands. 5. Reuse, Recycle and Upcycle clothing as much as you can. Indian have learned the art of up-cycling themselves. Let's relearn that! Here are some fun DIY ideas about what you can do with your old clothes
Garbage disappears from our homes daily and we forget about it. This garbage piles up in dumpyards releasing toxic fumes, sometimes catches fire and shrouds entire cities with unbreathable air (remember Deonar dumping ground fire in 2016?) Plastic is that it is that one material which has threatened nature as we know it. Oceans are lined up with plastic waste. Essentially, it's choking up the planet. And this problem is not going away - it takes 400 years for plastic to begin degrading. With a little bit of mindfulness, we can make small changes that can contribute a lot.
WHAT YOU CAN DO1. Segregate Waste: All societies are mandated by their municipalities to segregate waste at source, so that plastic can be recycled. Urge your society to do that same. 2. Biodegradable garbage bags: Mumbai generates 7,500 metric tons of waste everyday, of which nearly 9% is plastic waste. That amounts to 675,000 Kgs of plastic daily. Imagine making a serious dent in that number by just replacing your plastic bags with biodegradable bags.3. Compost Organic Waste at home and use it to grow an urban garden. It's much easier than it sounds. With this you can have a self sustaining garden at home giving out fresh organic veggies and herbs. Isn't that the dream!4. Eco-friendly Disposable Plates are not expensive. They even look much better than those styrofoam plates and, of course, they do not pollute. Next time you throw a party, try using these instead.5. Cloth Grocery Bags: Shift to cloth and fabric shopping bags instead of using plastic ones. We have some unusual designs for you that you can check out.
Read, Intrigue, Question, Repeat. There is way too much information out there. What should you believe what should you ignore? By default, never take forwarded content as gospel truth. Most of them are hoaxes and agendas. Believe only if it is linked to a credible source. And keep questioning!
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