How I Improved My Life in 2022

I realized there was still room to live with more intention.

woman standing on beach with umbrella in Mumbai

Reshma Chourasia / EyeEm / Getty Images

By the turn of last year, I thought I was living mindfully and rather sustainably. I had been composting fruit and vegetable scraps, mending my own clothes, feeding scrawny crows and sparrows, and even growing food on my tiny urban balcony, albeit in token quantities.

But as life was easing back into a semblance of normalcy, certain aspects made me uncomfortable. For instance, the amount of plastic being thrown away. Plus, after living a primarily sedentary life during the peak of the pandemic, I was also feeling unfit and unmotivated. There was scope for improvement and I was up for the task.

Falling in Love With Walking

The biggest change this year for me has been to embrace walking wholeheartedly. Having spent so much time cooped up indoors and eating, I wanted to embrace a gentle form of exercise where I could enjoy the outdoors, instead of stretching or jumping around in four walls. I discovered walking and, for the past few months, have enjoyed the little greenery an urban jungle has to offer.

For beginners, the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) recommends walking briskly for 10 minutes per day, and eventually increasing that to 30 minutes. More experienced walkers should aim for 45 minutes of brisk walking, up to five times per week. It says, "If you find that you can't walk that fast, increase the distance that you walk instead."

Walking not only connected me to the beautiful creatures that live among us, but helped me to reflect upon life and develop a stronger sense of self—a quiet meditative activity. I am waking up earlier, eating healthier, and, in a bout of enthusiasm, have signed up for a mini marathon, a staggering six kilometers. For a night owl like me, I feel like a different person, rushing out the door at 7 a.m. for a lovely walk by the Arabian Sea. It is a grounding and nourishing experience.

Mumbai beach view

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Tackling Plastic Waste

It was only after I started composting that I realized how much organic waste even a small household could generate. In fact, it is reported that U.S. households waste approximately one-third of food they buy, amounting to $240 billion per year. While I got my composting into place, I needed to find a solution for the plastic waste. According to studies, in 2019 the total plastic waste generation in the United States hit 73 million metric tons, a staggering 221 kilograms (487 pounds) of plastic waste per inhabitant. (That's five times the global average.)

At home, waste came from edibles, deliveries, takeaways, and more. Luckily, Mumbai offers a door-to-door dry waste recycling service, 5Rcycle, that visits every two weeks and collects it. We clean and save every scrap for recycling now, be it used medicine blisters, milk cartons, packets (washed and dried), plastic packaging, polystyrene, bubble wrap, and even electronic waste.

Switching to Refillables

refilling a container with rolled oats

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Refillables are a great solution to single-use plastics and to reduce my waste footprint. Earlier this year I switched to ordering household staples from a company called Refillable India that supplies refills for organic kitchen cleaners, toilet cleaner, detergents and washes, and even washing machine powder. What I’d love to is switch to refillable makeup and skincare and haircare products, hopefully with more local brands making the switch.

Dialing the Digits of 'Masterji'

kalamkari fabric

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While I’ve always been getting clothes made by the family tailor, or masterji, this had stopped during the pandemic. This year, as the traveling exhibitions which support artisans came back to the city, I bought reams of fabric—rain-fed cotton, naturally dyed cotton batik, soft mul mul, khadi, and block-printed cotton silk—which he stitched into fashionable two-piece sets, dresses, and kaftans. I also repurposed an old block-printed kalamkari saree into a jumpsuit, my favorite outfit for the year.

Establishing a Morning Routine

Waking up early comes with its own set of benefits, namely a morning routine, where I follow the Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling with a decoction of sesame oil and herbs before I brush, followed by my walk, gentle yoga, and an oil massage before I shower. I dedicate the morning hours to grounding rituals before the city awakens, keeping my evenings free to meet friends, read, or connect with family across the world, and slowly prepare my body to rest as dusk approaches.

View Article Sources
  1. Yu, Yang and Edward C. Jaenicke. "Estimating Food Waste as Household Production Inefficiency." American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 23 Jan. 2020. doi:10.1002/ajae.12036

  2. "Plastic Waste Generation Per Capita in the U.S. 2019-2060." Statista.