A lot has changed and a lot will change as the world learns to fight and live with this virus. While all the Covid warriors are doing their best for us, those of us fortunate enough to be asked to stay confined must ensure we do so and do well. I,for one, have absolutely no complaints whatsoever for being in the house for the last 4 months. It has helped me sort out a lot of “clutter” which I have been waiting to get rid of since ages !!
While I would like to believe having a “de-cluttered” surrounding is quintessential for a healthy and pleasant mind and body; to my folks I am a prime example of severe O.C.D. And it has been these 4 months where we have exchanged quite a lot “thoughts” on the same. With the lockdown in place, none of us had an option to run away from each other neither could we ask the other one to “get lost”. So we whined and cribbed but persisted with our views.
I had quite a few “action items” on my To-Do list and started picking them one by one.
- Quite a few large pieces of plywood were lying around for quite a few years – in the hope that some day they would be “aptly” put to use. These were basically leftovers from all the furniture work done in the past. As is the general experience, all clutter continues to occupy space until and unless acted upon by some external force. This external force was exerted when I realized we were falling short of some open shelves. I had the design in mind based on the available material but getting the right person to “execute” my idea seemed like a challenge. Our experience with carpenters in the recent past wasn’t memorable and finding a new one who would readily work on “leftovers” didn’t seem like a possibility. So I decided to ask our electrician who had done some minor furniture repairs in the past. He agreed readily and over a weekend, this was done :
I must admit neither our electrician-turned-carpenter nor me expected this would turn out this good. Of course there is still a lot of scope for aesthetic enhancements but considering the fact this was my first real piece of recycling and reusing, I must say I was pleasantly surprised. This has been put to use right away but I can’t share the image, it’s quite messy actually (no, it’s not my OCD talking) !!
- While this was taking shape, I got a few more ideas. Since the lockdown started and I began “working from home” for the first time in 13 years, I realized I needed a computer table. But then a table would demand a chair as well and I didn’t want “clutter” in my room. So I decided to scan the leftovers and found something worthwhile. This laminated top was meant to be a study /computer table but it couldn’t be used as planned and had been lying dismantled for close to 10 years now !! The carpenter agreed to the idea and thus this too came into being.
While finalizing the design, our “naive” focus was to keep the top high enough to allow me to put my legs beneath it. When I actually started using this, I realized it turned out a bit too high. While it was easy to put my legs beneath it, the height cramped my shoulders pretty soon. I fed this back to the “carpenter” who agreed to come again and “chop” the legs short. Again, as naive as we could be, we chopped off a bit too much and now there wasn’t enough space to put my legs beneath it. Finally after some bit of improvisation, we managed to get the height, right. Most of this blog was completed on this top and I can say for sure that we did get it right finally !!!
- Every year, the mango season brings with it at least a couple of these wooden baskets and every year we had been discarding them away without a thought.
This basket was lying around for a couple of months and in spite of repeated attempts, I couldn’t get rid of it. While the open shelf and small table were taking
shape, I noticed a big “plastic” basket being used to store onions. I realized I could swap it with this “nature friendly” basket.
The wooden planks that once formed its top were nailed on the lower sides to ensure the onions didn’t spill out. Though slightly heavier than the plastic one, this one looks interestingly new. The best part – this came in free – unlike the plastic basket !!
- We have been segregating solid plastic waste for quite a few years now but I realized that wasn’t enough. We still didn’t know what to do with the plastic bags and for the lack of better options, they ended up in the domestic dry waste that was picked up by the municipal corporation. That was until I came across an NGO that
collects these plastic bags and “re-engineers” them to extract fuel which is used for industrial furnaces. For a life-time membership of just Rs.200/-, the NGO picks these bags and other plastic waste from my doorstep every month. What is seen below is the plastic waste accumulated during the 3 locked-down months when there were no pickups.
Looking at this pile of dangerous, non-bio-degradable plastic waste generated in just one house of 4 adults put into perspective the huge amounts of plastic
waste generated globally.
I realized its about time I make at least my folks diligent and consistent in segregating the dry waste generated from the house. Now, we have separate bags for plastic, glass, metal and corrugated boxes. Interestingly, all of these waste items fetch money when handed over to the right person; if not, they end up in huge landfills filling up the surroundings of my city. Another interesting bit has been the amount of waste we now hand over to the corporation – it has reduced significantly from two bags daily to 2 bags every 4 days.
- Finally, it came down to one of the most important natural resource – WATER !! This RO water filter dispenses a lot of water as waste every time it is filled up. Having experienced some very embarrassing moments due to water shortage until last year, I was more than convinced letting this water go down the drain would be
nothing short of arrogance. I made it a practice to ensure the rejected water was collected and used for cleaning and washing purposes.
Eventually the folks have also got into the habit of doing the same. The quantity of water that gets collected is simply startling since this particular RO rejects almost the same amount of water that it stores post filtration.
These may not be the smartest or biggest hacks ever yet a simple “before” and “after” comparison is enough to put things into perspective:
- I’ve managed to free up quite a bit of space and at the same time, create something useful. Discarding these would have only added to the already exploding stockpiles of garbage and the subsequent land pollution.
- Based on all the travel I have done so far, I’ve realized I am someone who prefers open, de-cluttered spaces – one of the main reasons why I am always drawn to the sea-shores. And that’s precisely why I try and keep my everyday surroundings as clutter-free as possible. Somehow it has a direct effect on my thoughts and overall mental well-being.
- I have learnt a few more lessons in minimalism by focusing on the effective use of all the available resources.
- I have been able to spend consistent quality time with myself which was just not possible in the “normal world” – a de-cluttering exercise which was much needed.
These are definitely unprecedented times with a lot of uncertainty around the near and distant future. The pandemic has caused mass disruption in every aspect of life and anything that disturbs the status-quo is unwelcome. However, I consider my extremely privileged and fortunate for everything I have been able to do in these months. I
definitely have more than enough reasons for being optimistic about the times to come…. !!!