It is no surprise that the Indian lifestyle practices have some inherent practices which are more sustainable and eco-friendly than other countries. Given the long history and knowledge-rich cultural heritage which matured through centuries and centuries of evolution, the Indian lifestyle has a unique blend of traditional ancient practices and contemporary habits picked through our own sensibility of today’s world.
The diversity in population, geography, religion, and philosophical thought enriches the way Indians live their life. A sensibility towards nature is ingrained in our religious thought and philosophical appeal as well. Our own willingness to carry and respect the ancient ways permeate our way of life. Of all, it is our inclusiveness for nature and the people around us that dictate most of our sustainable practices.
Top 7 Sustainable Indian practices to learn from
1. A way of life – India has a vast diversity and an illustrious past. Due to this, it is a melting pot of various thoughts and faiths. But the Indian lifestyle practices have a philosophy of life that intertwines nature and considers sustainability paramount. For instance, the yogic principles of aparigraha, are a virtue of being non-attached to materialistic possession. Nature is worshipped and revered. We have been taught to respect mother nature since our childhood.
The religious faith and thought of the Indian subcontinent, especially Hindu, is intertwined with nature. There are references to workshop different elements of the earth in the scriptures. There are multiple gods and goddesses of nature. This sensibility and perspective of nature and the need to be Sustainable is imbibed in a way that cuts across all three pillars of Sustainability, i.e, Social, Economic, and Environmental Sustainability.
2. Disposable Ingenuity – Who doesn’t love eating? India is home to some of the most delicious dishes with so many different native cuisines. Indian street food is a delicacy of its own kind. But to tackle the utensils situation, you will find plenty of street vendors using plates made out of leaves of different trees and plants. This is one of the highlights of Indian Street food,i.e, mouth-watering dishes served on an eco-friendly plate.
This recently garnered a lot of attention as some foreign companies also tried to imitate and standardize production through machinery. But the beauty of Indian practice is that it supports the local economy as well. Thus, it takes into account not just environmental sustainability but social as well as economic sustainability. Not just on the streets, there are certain occasions, certain dishes, and restaurants, which exclusively serve you food on banana leaves.
3. Choose the Sun – Washing machines are a recent invention in the grand scheme of things. In India, for a long time, people prefer to dry their clothes out in the sun. This is an age-old practice that continues to be practised even in the age of machinations. Even when washing machines are easily available and quite affordable as well, people still prefer to air dry their clothes under the sun.
It has plenty of benefits. One of the biggest is energy saving. The carbon footprint will be less as a result of this especially given the whole of India practices it. It won’t add to greenhouse gas emissions. And on top of this, drying clothes under the sunlight will kill bacteria and fungus. Thus, it is also a healthier choice overall.
4. A habit and a unique trait – One unique trait of Indians is the habit of “jugaad”. Many call it a hack, others call it frugal living and frugal innovation as well. All of this boils down to one simple mantra, we make things work even when they don’t seem to work. We don’t discard things and buy a new one just because it is not working.
We depend on our ingenuity to solve regular everyday problems and use things that are already available to us. Thus, we tend to repurpose a lot of things around the house before finally discarding them. This is why you might have noticed that Indian mothers are hoarders. They hold onto seemingly unnecessary things only to find their use later. This apparently not obvious habit saves a lot of carbon footprint. This is perhaps one of the reasons why Indians have some of the lowest average carbon footprints.
5. Food choices – India has the largest vegetarian population in the world. The food choices are majorly plant-based. Even those who eat meat don’t consume it daily or three meals a day. It is sparingly included in the overall diet of an Indian. A plant-based diet can drastically cut down greenhouse gas emissions and benefit nature.
Apart from this, the Indian way of eating with our hands eliminates the need for cutlery which further lowers our carbon footprint. Using tree leaves, upscaling leftovers, preserving food using traditional methods, and so on are just the tip of sustainable practices that Indians employ in the kitchen.
6. Mind the surrounding – The Indian Architecture and sensibility of the local weather conditions have created structures that are eco-friendly. Using building materials native to the area, and adopting energy-efficient processes and designs appropriate to the local weather results in a house that actively uses weather conditions to save energy and be as sustainable as possible. And this is still practised in the majority of rural areas of the country.
Vastu shastra is something that is practised throughout India. It gives basic directions for the airflow, energy flow patterns, etc. There are specific directions/places dictated for specific purposes in a house. It results in a more energy-efficient well-organized layout.
7. Earthen pots – Just as the west has coffee, India has tea. But you will find Khullar instead of plastic cups. They are a type of earthen cup. They support the local economy and businesses as well as remain highly eco-friendly. They are 100% biodegradable.
Apart from this, throughout India, during summers, Earthen pots are used to store water and cool it. This saves a lot of energy as well. It saves energy and lowers carbon footprint as well. Many Indian households use earthen clay utensils to cook as well.
8. Carrying the heritage – Indian lifestyle is a unique blend of past heritage, knowledge, and culture iced with present-day learning and evolutions of old practices. Indians beautifully carry the old traditional ways whenever possible which are sustainable and eco-friendly.
There is a sense of pride and adoration for the old traditional way of doing things. The current generation tries to keep it alive as much as possible. Thus sensibility for the past and the awareness to improve other aspects through present learning puts the Indian lifestyle in a unique place where it can boast of an amalgamation of history and aware learning.