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richasmukherjee.com

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September 2018

Ban the naysayers before the plastic!

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It is common human tendency to resist change. Whether you’re actioning it or witnessing it.  The most disconcerting part is the fear of the unknown, the unforeseen consequences of your actions or someones else’s, whether you have the tenacity or will to change things around. For what creature of habit likes to be inconvenienced right? I am no stranger to this predicament. But  important lessons of life are often hidden in the most innocuous places and uncontrollable circumstances.
The range of reactions to the plastic ban went from ‘yes this must be done’ to ‘isn’t there something else we can do which is easier’ to ‘this is all nonsensical and a way to harass ordinary citizens’. Whatever the public outrage/ empathy, I for one did not need to be convinced. I had always felt that plastic had its uses but callous mass production and inadequate disposal systems were helping it choke the earth. I was just too lazy to do anything about it and here was my chance. To be forced to do something I really wanted to do in the first place! Isn’t that wonderful?
What I didn’t expect though was the amount of resistance/ cynicism I would witness from people around me. Every attempt I made was met with a grunt, the most common objection being around statistical significance. ‘ What will a 3 member household accomplish by stopping to use plastic? ‘ Isn’t that a ridiculous mindset though? A small start is a start none the less. How will any movement or action achieve the desired numbers or action if this deterrent mindset is always in effect.
The comments bothered me for a while but then I shook my head like a regal stallion shakes off flies and insects and soldiered on! Trying, in every small way to make a change in my kitchen, the way we ate, packed things, ate out etc. Once you put your mind to it, there are a number of ways in which the plastic takeover can be controlled. Here are some of the things I’ve tried to do.
  • We have started carrying takeaway boxes and cloth bags where we anticipate that food will be packed or purchases will be made. Yes, paper is available but remember that we don’t want to put an extra burden on trees either and wipe them out in the haste to eliminate plastic. (This isn’t always easy and leads to some ‘looks’ as well but you just have to shrug it off!)
PLASTIC-BAN-GRAPHIC
  • I’m trying to transition all utensils and wares in the kitchen to steel or glass. A return to conventional kitchens!
  • All packaged goods use a lot of plastic. Till they can figure out a solution, I try and order larger units or then packs which have more recyclable packaging. Requires more planning but its better than seeing plastic skeletons all over the dustbin.
  • We have stopped purchasing any mineral water bottles. Whether it’s travel to work, school, entertainment, holidays, each of us has their own steel bottles. You have no idea how much plastic you will eliminate this way.
  • Unbeknownst to a lot of people, there are micro plastic fibres that blast out of and stick to all kinds of synthetic material when they are being washed. Now I know we can’t eliminate all such fabrics from our wardrobes, but it’s made me a more conscious buyer every time I’m at a store.
  • My daughter misses her straws terribly so I found her steel straws! The point is, research a little bit and you will find so many solutions out there.
My proudest moment came recently when I heard my 4.5 year old daughter calmly approach and explain to two adults (who were holding plastic bags) about how we must not use plastic. There’s a long way to go but I’m glad I’ve started small.

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Conquering worry is the most life changing gift

Happy celebrating winning success woman sunset
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been what I like to call a ‘muller’. This does not mean that I am unhappy, or that I don’t have a normal functioning brain, capable of clear decision making. It just comes with an immense inbuilt bandwidth, to think excessively about an action, its consequence, its origin, which leads to another unrelated thought, bringing with it some anxiety and before you know it, you’re at the bottom of this confused vortex where you’ve done a run through of issues from problems at work, to your daughters health to your holiday expenses, to possibly the future of the economy of Ghana. What is meant to be a mechanism that should help plan and deal with life better becomes a deterrent to just that. It’s like having an unnecessary unproductive cobweb in your mind that you’re constantly wanting to get rid off.
Let me help you with an identification process here, to help you understand whether you fall into the same trap. I just read somewhere that thinking too much means that you are more intelligent, that you have the capacity to absorb and process more. I tend to think a bit differently here. The minds of great thinkers, philosophers, and all the most important people in history who have made an impact, must have been a complex and masterful web of thoughts and decisions but I doubt they could have done any of that without clarity of thought and peace of mind. No revolution, no dreams, no great acts can come from a pre occupied mind that is ‘stewing in its own pot’ so to speak!
Where and why have I attained this mental nirvana you ask me? To be honest, I still struggle with it on bad days and as I analytically tell my husband, I’m still in a batter state, far from being baked in the mould I desire! But in the last year, so much has happened around me, to me,  that I was forced to make a decision to stay sane. If I wanted to have a peaceful mind, not have it become a permanent residence of the chattering monkey, I would have to make some changes. The environmental factors would not change and were not in my control, but my mind and body should be.
Here is a very small snapshot of what I believe you must remind yourself once everyday to banish that worry.
– By worrying, neither does the problem change, nor its resolution. You are the one that suffers mentally.
– If you keep worrying, you will open your body to countless diseases in the future. This is a promise. Leading research has proven over the years that elevated levels of worry and stress are directly co-related with several common to life threatening diseases. They were right when they said you can worry yourself sick. You really can.
– When you are worrying, ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen? Once the worst of the consequences is clearly in-front of you, you’ll feel less dread and think more clearly.
– When you’re overanalysing and not being able to reach a decision, take to pen and paper (should be easy for you guys since you belong to this tribe:-) eh?) List out pros and cons. Sounds childlike in its simplicity but sometimes it really helps putting things in perspective.
– Take out one hour everyday to do something easy, where your mulling and your mind can relax. I turn to physical exercise very often. Sometimes I’ve gone into a workout with drooping shoulders and come out with a fantastic solution to something I’ve been obsessing over.
I’m just touching the tip of the iceberg here but I do hope it helps someone in some way. It is such a liberating feeling to unshackle your mind from fear, dread and over analysis. Try it and you will breathe like you have a new pair of lungs!
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