Actually, make that 1 in 6 billion. That is what each of us is, a teeny drop in an ocean of humanity. If, like me, you are a card-carrying pessimist, then that number will make you feel terribly small and insignificant, and helpless about doing anything for this wounded world we live in. But when I get melancholy about this, a little voice in my head says, "ek chidiya, anek chidiya"...the words of a Hindi children's animation that I simply loved as a kid (nostalgic folks can see it here on YouTube). To be fair, that adorable little animation talks about national unity, but the spirit is the same: if enough people put their mind to something, big changes can happen.
Blog Action Day
October 15th is Blog Action Day, when thousands of bloggers come together and post their thoughts on the subject of our environment. The environment can mean a lot of things- the air we breathe, our food and drink, the flora and fauna we share our world with. A healthy environment also means justice, fairness and an equitable sharing of resources. It means that people should stop exploiting each other and share a little. Or be made to.
I have realized that in our complicated world, an ordinary person like me has at least two trump cards in her hand: knowledge and money. Knowledge because I have the privilege of knowing how to read and write, and access to media of all kinds, including the behemoth internet. Money because every person (wealthy or not) who earns and lives in this material world is making a choice every time they spend a rupee, a dollar, whatever unit of currency. Instead of feeling helpless, I can try and learn about the world and its workings, and then use my power as a consumer to make choices about how I spend my money (or not) and how I live my life.
In the recent past, I have learnt...
...about the unfair trade practices that keep farmers in poor countries under economic slavery. I have started to vote for fairness by buying fair trade products whenever I can find them (coffee and cocoa are two that are starting to becoming widely available in the US).
...about the disgusting employment practices of companies like Walmart, who build their empires on the lives on those minimum-wage workers who toil for them. They won't get a cent from me if I can help it. I might find a dirt-cheap toaster at Walmart but someone else is paying the price for it.
...about supporting companies who manage to do a good job. Once companies realize that people want fair employee and trade practices, eco-friendly ingredients and packaging, and will buy products and services only when these conditions are met, then change will come fast.
...about the fact that "biodegradable" isn't! Products touted as "biodegradable" are tested under optimum conditions of degradation. Our trash ends up in a landfill where even a banana peel isn't likely to decompose! "Reduce" is the way to go, avoiding paper plates and the like altogether.
...about becoming less of a consumer altogether, and finding that life is much simpler and happier that way. My mother does a good imitation of me wringing my hands and saying, "I *hate* STUFF. Who needs all this stuff? Stop buying me more stuff, Aai, and stop buying all this stuff yourself". It amuses her no end when I start my hate-stuff rant, but hating "stuff" (random things cluttering up my home) makes me a happier person :D
...about the cruel nature of breeding pure-bred dogs to satisfy pet fanciers. If you want a pet, don't BUY it, adopt it from the streets or from the local animal shelter. You will have a pet who is one-of-a-kind look and personality, unlike the inbred near-clones with kennel club certificates. I'm proud to say that all my friends have rescued pets, and it is the cutest menagerie you ever saw.
I hope to keep reading and learning and increasing my awareness of how I could change my ways to more fair and eco-friendly ones. Meanwhile, action starts at home, and one of the top places in the home where potential waste can be minimized is the kitchen. Madhuli tagged me for the What's in your Fridge? meme. My experience is that an overfilled, messy fridge is the best way to waste large amounts of food, because (a) you never find anything you need and end up ordering take-out (b) you forget what you already have and buy more of everything (c) you never get to the food, and it sits there and is thrown out after a few weeks. For the last year or two, my fridge has strict "zones" and zero waste.
From the top...
Top shelf: Beverages on the sides (milk/ fruit juice on the left, coffee and beer on the right), cooked (ready-to-eat) food in the middle where I can see it and use it for the nest meal or two, or for lunch-boxes.
Middle shelf: Eggs, cheese, tofu on the left, right side is reserved for "carbs"- bread, tortillas, today there is some dosa batter as well.
Below that is a small compartment for Dale's canned food, then the shelf below has fruits, dry fruits and occasional sweet treats. We are not big fruit eaters, but when I cut up the fruit and save it in boxes, making it convenient to eat, it disappears fast.
Bottom-most shelf is for codiments/preserves that don't fit in the door, and for containers with some coconut milk/ canned tomatoes, half-used veggies...any ingredient that is left over from a recipe and needs to be used up in 2-3 days. The lowest crisper trays (not in the picture) are stuffed with vegetables, which get used all through the week and then in some fridge-cleaning recipe on Thursday or Friday night.
All the food we possibly eat can fit into one or the other zones, and then I know exactly where everything is, which means it is not left to perish in loneliness, plus I don't keep the fridge door open hunting down stuff. Rigid as this system sounds, it actually works :D What are your fridge-organization tips? Write this meme and tell us!
Subscribe to Smiles
On the subject of sharing what we have to make the world a better place, I wanted to spread the word about a very worthy cause. The Feed A Hungry Child campaign has taken on the mission of feeding hungry children, one at a time. This is the vision of a fellow blogger VKN of My Dhaba. Please chip in by clicking below and donate whatever amount you wish. Share a meal with a child...you will be rewarded with smiles!
Update: As if smiles were not enough, there are now some very cool prizes to sweeten the deal! Visit Mahanandi to buy one raffle ticket for every 25$ donation. The prizes in the raffle include cookbooks, photography books, spice extracts, children's saris and restaurant dinners!