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When it comes to the environment, many of us millennials are wise enough to take responsibility for our actions. We often look for safer, sustainable alternatives to our everyday use-and-throw routine. On World Earth Day today, we meet one such millennial who takes us through her eco-friendly arts and crafts.

Diti Kotecha, a self-taught graphic designer, crocheter, yoga teacher, animal lover and a vegan, has literally put her love for the environment before everything else! She is the founder of Théla, a brand that uses discarded plastic bags to make some eye-catching handmade products, so as to prevent the plastic from entering the ecological cycle.

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In an interview with Indibeat, she talks about her brand and explains how one can live in true harmony with Mother Earth.

IB: What was the idea behind starting Théla?

DK: I am a graphic designer by profession and an instinctive environmentalist by habit. As a freelance designer with flexible hours, over the time I moved towards working less on the computer and creating more time for travelling and for hands-on activities like farming, crocheting and practicing yoga. My love for design, making things with my hands and living consciously and as sustainably as possible, eventually inspired me to start Théla.

IB: What kinds of products do you make, and in what way are they safer for the planet?

DK: My focus is to make products of a varying size and price range that are fun as well as functional. The main material is plastic bags that have the qualities of being very sturdy and completely waterproof – ideal for specific utilitarian purposes.

The products currently range from small quick purchases that are ideal for gifting such as key chains, refrigerator magnets and wind chimes to bigger home décor products like toiletries, baskets, bathroom and garden mats, and coasters.

They are good for the planet because they prevent plastic waste– which is one of the most toxic and harmful disposable materials–from being dumped in our oceans and landfills. Depending on the type of plastic, it takes an average of about 500 years to decompose.
It causes harm to our oceans and wildlife when discarded irresponsibly. For example: Plastic waste discarded in the oceans harms and kills a lot of ocean life as it is mistaken for food. Street cattle consume discarded plastic food bags that are injurious to their health.

IB: What is your idea of sustainable living? What are some of the ways you suggest people practice it in their everyday life?

DK: Sustainable living is all about being mindful of the positive and negative impact of one’s actions on the environment, having the sensitivity and inclination to change and the creativity to make these changes in everyday life. Adopting a sustainable lifestyle is a personal journey; it varies from person to person depending on one’s needs and habits. The thought of changing one’s life long habits can be daunting and this in itself discourages a lot of us from doing so.

My basic suggestion would be to start with only a few changes or even one change at a time. Adopt just one simple change for everyday living or something that is more challenging just once or twice a week – even this can create a big impact. Decide where you want to draw the line; don’t be too hard on yourself and enjoy the journey!

IB: In what ways, other than the brand, have you adopted a sustainable journey?

DK: My main focus is on living minimally with minimal waste and being mindful of all the things I use and throw away. Subsequently, I think of ways for their sustainable disposal or waste-free alternatives. I compost all my raw food waste and most of my dry paper waste at home. I line my bin with newspaper instead of plastic bags and wash the bin frequently.

I use cloth towels and napkins and not paper at home and when eating out. I carry my own cutlery [fork, spoon, chopsticks], water bottle and cloth bag whenever out to avoid using disposable plastic cutlery and bags. When eating or drinking out, I ask for my beverages to be served without a plastic straw.

I feed my cat with fresh fish or meat instead of cat food to avoid getting the plastic packaging the food comes in. I use soap and shampoo bars that come without packaging instead of plastic bottles or wrappers. And the same goes with cleaning detergent. Instead of toilet paper that comes in plastic wrapping, I purchase tissue boxes – the box is usually made of recycled paper that I can later compost. I use a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one. I use the menstrual cup instead of disposable sanitary napkins or tampons.

In addition to that, I live responsibly, knowing the positive or negative impact of my actions on the environment. Here the question I ask is: Where do the things I purchase and consume come from, who makes them and how are they made? I follow a vegan diet and lifestyleI do not purchase from mass produced brands and prefer buying handmade or second-hand. I find all these practices not only better for the environment but also better for one’s health and well-being.

IB: How far, do you think, India has come in reducing its environmental footprint? What more can be done to protect the planet?

DK: At an individual level, unlike in more developed countries, consumerism has hit India not too long ago. As early as the 90’s, I remember that we were never exposed to disposable items like toilet paper or kitchen rolls; there was much less packaged food and consumer goods options and very few fast food or take away restaurants that use excessive packaging. And so I think it is a lot easier for us to go back to our roots and make a change.

On a larger scale, I feel that sustainable technologies and more ethical standards need to be adopted for infrastructural, agricultural and economic development in India.

IndiBeat readers can avail a 30% discount on Thèla products: click hereUse the coupon code INDIBEAT1 (Valid till 22nd May, 2017)

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