Have you ever tried to go medicine free? Did you try to completely stop your dependency on plastics at home? If you think it is only for a bunch of people who can easily do it and not you, you’re mistaken. The best part is, we all can be a part of an eco-friendly movement, and here’s one lady who can show us how.
The Lifestyle Portal caught up with Rhituparna Mitra, the founder of Our Earth & Us: Striking the Right Balance – a Facebook Support Group for greener and healthier living. We invited her in our First Entrepreneur Meetup in Mumbai on 11th August 2018 to share her vision about sustainable living and the way it is linked to our soul, our cell and the environment we live in.
37-year-old Rhituparna is a Navi Mumbai resident, a B.E. (Electronics & Telecommunications) and PG Diploma in Public Relations and Corporate Communications.
In the past 13 years, Rhituparna moved from software engineering to public relations to corporate communications to a content role at a maternity and childcare startup. She was then urged by her instincts to dedicate her time and efforts to a sustainable and a holistic living. On this journey, she is seeking help from experts, evangelists and consumers and sharing their experiences through her online support group.
How did it all begin?
“There’s something inside me that always stirred up and made me uncomfortable when I saw plastic bags being dumped, or items being mindlessly bought and thrown, people rushing to the hospital for every small issue, the news about pesticides in agricultural produce, people leading stressed out lives and so on,” recalls Rhituparna.
This prompted her to start looking for solutions in an attempt to make the necessary changes in her lifestyle wherever she could. While Rhituparna could take a few concrete steps in the area of health and wellness, gardening, deploying alternatives for plastic, she realised that she needed help in changing many other aspects of her life.
She adds, “When I reached out to people, I saw that many people are doing some good work in different fields such as farming, health, making organic products but they are all operating in silos. Consumers like me needed help in making the right changes and the good word needed to spread. After much thought, the group came alive on 1st January, 2018, after I visited a village in Sagar Island, West Bengal in December and observed simplicity and sustainability at its best.” In fact, this is also where she witnessed how a scientist, Dr Amales Misra, is growing 108 varieties of rice and testing climate resistance to yield stable varieties and training the village girls to do so.
How an urban gardener turned into an eco-warrior
Rhituparna fondly recalls, “I grew up in a relatively small city where we had a huge space for gardening, walked by clean roads and connected with people soulfully. Back then, I hardly valued it. Later in life, when I moved to metropolitan cities for higher studies and work, I just couldn’t take the automobile smoke, the dirt on the streets, lack of greenery, the push and shove by a burgeoning population. Somehow, I had begun to accept it, until I had to undertake certain medical procedures. Post that, my system (soul, body and mind) simply started refuting anything chemical, unnatural or stressful.”
She was fortunate to have found excellent food and body guidance at The Health Awareness Center, Mumbai in 2015 and that quite, was the turning point of her life. She was already an urban gardener by then and begun to join the dots in different life forms.
Thereon, Rhituparna and her family, haven’t taken any medicines for fever, cold, cough, loose motions or even needed to get our blood checked for blood pressure, cholesterol and alike. They have learnt to eat right (what human beings are programmed for), rest adequately and place faith in our body whenever we see the balance tipping off.
She adds, “As my first child was young (since she was around 2.5 years old back then), I took her to several nature trails, camps, safaris and treks and found that very liberating. Again, there was a strong connection at all three levels – soul, cell and the environment. This year, I have laid my hands on making bio-enzymes at home (to eventually substitute all household cleaners and toiletries), composting to achieve zero wet waste, consciously stopped acquiring goods unless critical, learning to make food interesting without animal-based foods, refined foods, packaged foods, oil, wheat and milk and other such initiatives.” She admits that it is a long journey and there are miles to go before one sleeps.
Various initiatives discussed in the forum
This group is aimed at bringing all quarters of sustainable living together – health and wellness, farming, gardening, zero waste living, natural/ organic alternatives for household needs, nature-inspired travel, art, books, education about our health and environment, healing of the mind through yoga, meditation, chakra balancing and more…
Rhituparna’s group covers a spectrum of topics and purposefully so. For example, she posts about her medicine free journey and food lessons based on her experience. Then there are nature inspired events being regularly covered in the group. Questions on alternatives to chemical products such as cosmetics, mosquito repellent, a switch to a bamboo-based toothbrush are common too. And many things in between – such as books to read about health, gardening, art forms that inspire us, things that heal our soul and initiatives taken by the government in this space. An interesting series by an expert was about our various chakras and what can we do to achieve a balance between them.
What makes her forum unique?
I think, the group is unique in the way that it encompasses all aspects of sustainable living. Most other groups are based on zero waste lifestyle, health or gardening alone. “In fact, we are very clear that we want to support people in making the change. There’s a need for balance. A ban on plastic bags doesn’t mean we start buying new cloth or paper bags! It just means we stop acquiring any more plastic bags and use what we have judiciously. Natural resources are not just a prerogative of the rich. It belongs to everyone who needs food and oxygen.”
Examples from her forum
Rhituparna explains, “We have around 35-40 pots in our balcony where we grow all kinds of greens – ones that absorb toxic gases, ones that flower, a few vegetable plants and so on. We have set a rule in the house that whosoever goes to any kind of shop will carry a bag. It is not ok to just take a paper bag too as even that consumes natural resources. Our elder daughter, now 5, picks up plastic packets randomly from the road and starts looking around for a dry waste bin. We have also been composting all our wet waste from the kitchen for over a year now.”
She further adds, “We are decluttering our house to see what we really need and what really sparks joy. For things we don’t value anymore, we are finding ways to give them to those who need it. We avoid buying unless we really need something badly. We have stopped going to supermarkets for over 2 years now unless there’s something we would get only there. We literally buy nothing for the kitchen which comes out of a packet. Not even packaged salt and sugar. We try to buy from wholesale grocers as much as possible.”
5 simple steps to a more sustainable living
Rhituparna shares a few examples of change at a personal/ domestic level that each one of us can bring about:
- Increase raw foods in your diet – fruits and vegetables. (Raw fruits for breakfast and evening snack. Raw vegetables along with lunch and dinner)
- Plant at least 5 plants in your balcony as a thumb rule
- Recycling old bedsheets or clothes to make cloth carry/ storage bags
- Helping the economy, nature and our health by ditching Aluminium or non-stick cooking vessels and move to iron or earthen pots.
- Use bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic ones
Rhituparna signs off by saying, “It is my heartfelt wish to make this group a source of inspiration globally for whosoever appreciates the need to live a more fulfilled, healthier and sustainable life. I would like it to become the group where people can fearlessly ask for help on alternatives, propose solutions, make bold changes and share authentic experiences. It should create a movement for change, one that makes everyone to join in. I want everyone to understand that the environment is not just a subject for nature conservationists/ environmentalists but it is something that deeply affects each of us every day. The group is meant to be a warm, kind, supportive space where we say ‘We can do it. The world is ours to save, after all.’”
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