You know those weird five-minute videos you see on Insta with hacks about how to get extra hair conditioner from a bottle or how to make your toothpaste last longer? I’ve stopped ignoring them.
Of course, the importance of living a waste-free, economic, healthy life was something environmentalists have been begging us to do since the first hole burned through the ozone layer, but this lockdown season (yes I’m calling it a season!), I have found myself making a much more sincere effort towards conscious consumption.
I find that I can resist the craving for that triple cheese Black Eyed Peas potato peels alakazam pizza and choose to make better use of the three carrots withering away at the bottom of my fridge instead. Fortunately, I live with my family, so even if I were to tell my parents “Let’s just order something”, they would most likely put more thoran on my plate and smile at me like Fahad Faasil from Amen.
This may make you conclude that my choices come from a place of family imposed nivarthi illaima, but it has also got to do with my visit to the supermarket post lockdown. All the medium-sized packets of dal, green gram and rice flour were gone as soon as the shutters were lifted. After running around through empty aisles for half an hour, I found one sad packet of maida slouching in the last rack. Suddenly, wanting to make a cake for Easter made me feel like a privileged bougie aunty.
Speaking of Easter, I remember seeing this one paavam uncle on the news in Kerala, talking about having to stand in a long queue to buy chicken. “We could have managed without it, but how could I say no to my wife and kids? Easter okke alle?…” When you see an achayan being apologetic about buying meat is when you know that the world is changing.
Even my friends in Bangalore have found that their lifestyles are changing. Many of them are now making kanji instead of ordering from Swiggy because saving money has become more important than ever for those who are stuck in apartments away from their families. One of them managed to buy two weeks’ worth of groceries with the amount she would have otherwise spent on one week’s worth of takeout. So many of my friends who said “I’m broke” to me more often than they said hi, now have Savings. Savings with a capital S.
Another fact that has taken up a small space in all of our minds is that people may have to take salary cuts or even lose jobs at the end of this lockdown. This applies not only to our parents but also to those of us who are working part-time to be able to handle some of our own expenses.
When there’s nothing else to do, it’s so easy to sit on your phone and scroll through all the websites promising crazy lockdown sales (seasons are determined by the sales, not the weather) and add a million things to your cart. However, after having given up on so many temptations for a month or so, you inevitably think “Do I really need this?” and in a matter of seconds, you also think “Am I turning into my dad?”. Some of us even donate or volunteer to help provide food to migrant workers and stray animals.
The lockdown is definitely making us more environmentally friendly; lesser meat was purchased this Easter, not many people burst crackers for Vishu, some of us have started growing vegetables at home. We have started living in a slower, more conscious way. Many of us are re-evaluating our priorities, and hopefully, this is for the long term.
Hopefully, we carry these changes forward even after the lockdown is over.
We don’t know how much longer the memes about less air pollution will be valid, or whether history textbooks will mark this as a period when a deadly virus forced us to live better. For now, just know that you can roll your conditioner bottle over your toothpaste tube to push everything to the top, and then cut open the bottle to get what you can’t squeeze that last shampoo liquid out of the nozzle.