It's Eco'logical'

It's Eco'logical'

How a small and sustainable lockdown-induced activity made a garden feel alive again

Remember, when a year ago, we were all taking safety precautions and staying indoors in a locked down India? The viral trends on social media took over our hobbies and daily life inspiration. They kept us engaged in our homes when staying put was the only choice. Henceforth, came the concept of finding refuge in things we already have rather than going out to look for something new. And when people started looking for activities in their pastime, ideas emerged and creativity flourished.

Waste management and upcycling became a major go-to activity despite being in existence all these years. However, the process to this sustainable conclusion wasn’t easy. It began with ‘throwing away’ or ‘discarding’ the useless items at home to create more space for things. And 
with that decision and some patience, new life and purpose was given to the items which were otherwise discarded or claimed to be of no use. How? Through upcycling. Here’s an anecdote:

The dustbin and the surrounding area in my garden had got accumulated with mini plastic bottles, some half-filled, some empty and some just forgotten after being unsealed, after a house event right before the lockdown. My grandmother suggested me to dump them in the daily disposal van. But I decided against doing so thanks to Annie Leonard, who had once said, “There is no such thing as away. When you throw something away, it must go somewhere.” Another courtesy to my everyday journal-reading habit and collecting information on how the world is crawling towards a catastrophic end due to various, unhealthy human habits, one of the largest ones being ‘plastic consumption.’

Looking at the carton of bottles, I wondered how these may have reduced the hassle of making water easily accessible and handy at social gatherings but it certainly increased the amount of waste produced. And while plastic may be a necessary evil, we “don’t” need plastic waste. As a 
responsible citizen, adopting sustainable habits at that hour, especially after a pandemic at hand, was of utmost importance. The bottles had to be put to a better use rather than just being disposed at a landfill, untreated and forgotten for ages. But how? Where to possibly find solutions in a lockdown?

The DIY videos taking up my phone storage and thoughts came to my rescue. And I decided to upcycle. While upcycling is a good way to repurpose waste without increasing your carbon footprint, it is also a great way to hold on to things you don’t want to part with but have no room to keep. Just that, here, I wanted to get rid of the bottles immediately.

I looked around the garden, which was being deprived of its daily care and grooming that summer and realised, why not use those bottles for its beautification? That’s when I gathered around 40 bottles, cut them into half and dug them upside down in a row at the borders. The transparent bottles reached out to all the corners of the garden, reflecting a darker shade of emerald when the sun shone bright. I painted the rest half of the bottles – the top – and tied them together through a string of white lights. The latter did turn out to be a smart organising solution and gave a statement decorative accent to the overall green space.

This experiment with some otherwise waste bottles didn’t just turn out to be successful but also made me curious to explore more ‘deemed to be’ waste material, which could be upcycled to create something useful. The key takeaway? I learnt to recognise if what we claim as useless could be made useful again. Now, my garden is full of colourful but broken cutlery, which I used to plant new saplings, old ottomans used upside down as vases and plastic bottles as light stands.

So, let’s give upcycling a chance because 'Thoda Bohot Hai!'

- Chahak Mittal