Holistic Living with Anya Gupta

What have you been up to lately?

I’m 24 and identify myself as a conscious lifestyle ambassador/advocate.

I currently work as a part time digital marketer at a family run business called RedAlkemi. Having majored in advertising and being familiar with the family business, I found a sweet spot where I could lead. I currently lead the digital team at RedAlkemi.

I live a simple life with my family on a farm called Aura, a little ahead of Chandigarh. At the farm, we have our own pottery studio, veggie garden, fruit orchard and more. We’re outnumbered by my dogs, chickens and owls. I'm a keen organic farmer and aspire to become self-sufficient in the future.

I also run a small venture called Aura Life - an initiative to bring concepts of low waste living, mindful consumption and sustainability to my city. The idea is to do events, workshops, open days and other programs that open up our practices to the public, exposing them to a conscious lifestyle.

You have been following a sustainable lifestyle for a while now. What was the first change you made?

The first change I made was quitting fast fashion. I used to be an avid fast fashion shopper. It was easy to get sucked into shopping and it was terrifying to miss out on trends. Trendy clothes were available and affordable. There was no reason not to give in!

After losing my father last year, I consciously took out time to think about the things I was doing, as a result of what kind of life I would leave behind. I thought about the clothes I wore, the food I ate, the thoughts I thought and the content I created and consumed.

It was clear that things had to change. My father always valued the brain more than materials. He touched a thousand lives and made a difference. I too wanted to. His passing made these values stronger in my mind and life.

I switched to supporting small, innovative businesses. Their fabrics are natural, and processes are transparent. I stumbled upon a lot of them through Instagram and the network I built for myself gradually.

What is your suggestion for people who want to live sustainably, but not everyone in their family can follow it?

Start your journey and start small. I believe that switching to sustainability is best done department wise. Analyse where you produce most trash and start there. For example, I started with my bathroom.

Once you believe in those changes and find products you like, share your experience with your family! Feel free to give them inexpensive goodies like shampoo bars or bamboo toothbrushes - for the sake of them to try it out. Sooner or later, they should resonate with your sentiment.

Have you changed as a person since you decided to live consciously?

Absolutely! I think before making purchases, I take into account the disposal of things I buy. Spending money, to me, means to vote for and support something. I am picky with what I spend my money on. I seek long term value in things. Even associations with brands and people.

I am conscious about recommendations I make to my audience. I also choose quality over quantity. Considering I used to shop every week, I think I've changed for the better. :)

What is the hardest part about being sustainable?

Not giving in! Convenience, price and availability of unsustainable products is very apparent around us. While making a lifestyle change, it’s difficult to avoid plastic, to remember to carry a reusable bag, to not buy that cheap dress.

Once you live a relatively sustainable life, it’s also difficult to convey concepts and sentiments to people around you, especially those who work for you. I have a tough time explaining to my farm staff why plastic is a problem. But slowly, I see us all being on the same page.

Tell us about sustainable living for pets.

All my pets are outdoor pets! So, my experience with having pets is very different from those who live in urban spaces. We don’t have to walk them, clean up after them or leash them.

As a family, we let our pets be. They coexist with other farm animals, snakes, chickens, other birds and squirrels. Soon, we plan to get a cow and are aware that it shouldn't be a problem with our dogs.

In terms of accessories for our pets, we can make better choices and take into account materials that those accessories are made of. There are small businesses that make eco-friendly pet products. It’s a good idea to support them!

If on a budget, how can one afford a conscious lifestyle?

DIYs! I think it's definitely the way to go. Making your own home cleaners, face scrubs and toothpaste is not difficult at all. They are also much more cost effective than products you'd find in the market!

Other areas. Unfortunately, the word sustainable is followed by the word fashion - and sustainable fashion is currently not accessible to everybody in terms of price. But you can be sustainable in a lot of other aspects of life. Address your kitchen, workspace and other accessories you use, and address those changes.

Compost. Everybody produces wet organic waste, because everybody eats. Turning this ‘waste’ into ‘gold’ can be done through composting. Composting is a wonderful way to reduce the amount of trash you ‘throw out’ and to give back to Earth.

Quality over quantity. You can never go wrong with this. If you've identified something you love and would like to own, think of purchasing it as an investment. If it's well made, it will last. This is imperative for basic clothing, bags, shoes and accessories.

A favorite product that you cannot live without.

I try not to get too attached to products! But I love the Conscious Chemist Face Cleanser. It's powered by Hemp Seed Oil by BOHECO, another organization I look up to. I enjoy the Aloe Moisturizer from a homegrown brand called The Magic Potion. For something that I apply on my skin every day, I think it’s well made and affordable. I have also spoken to owners of all these brands, to stay connected and understand the brand better.

Do you have any slow living book recommendations?

Personally, I haven't read any, although I have heard great things about one called "Simply Living Well" by Julia Watkins.

For other resources, take to Google! If you're on the path of sustainability, you'll need eco-alternatives for everyday things! Ask Google about where to find "Eco alternative for products in India", and you'll be surprised at the amount of valid results!

For daily updates, I recommend finding conscious lifestyle leaders and ambassadors that you resonate with! Follow their real time journey on their social media pages!

What would your advice be to people who love to shop?

Choose quality over quantity and do so while supporting small businesses.

Set a magic number for your wardrobe and accessories that you can own at any given point of time.

Pay attention to packaging. A lot of times, it's not what's in the box, but the box itself. Support eco-friendly, compostable or reusable packaging.

Identify Need VS Want. Identify things that you can do without and tell yourself you don't need them. Do you really need another pair of heels? Does that face serum do you any good?