Green Bean

A musing and an update

grocery cart with item
Photo by Oleg Magni on

“So how’s your Zero Waste thing going?” a friend asked me over breakfast the other day.

My shakshuka started to churn in my stomach. How was my Zero Waste thing going anyway? Also, how did she discover my blog?

I needed to buy myself time to shape an acceptably committed answer so I countered her question with the latter.

“Well, it’s no secret. It’s on your WhatsApp status.”

I had nothing to report to her in response to her original question. No wait! I did. I actually did.

“I bought myself some of those beeswax wraps and they just arrived yesterday. They’re supposed to be really good and sustainable alternatives to cling wrap.”

“That’s nice…” I don’t think it answered her question. I wouldn’t be convinced either. Because it just sounds like buying more stuff in order to stop using stuff you don’t really use that much to begin with.

And it’s true, to an extent. I rarely use cling wrap. Once in three months at best, when I end up baking a cake or a pie and want to wrap the pan for transport. I also have little use foil. I ran out a few months ago and just didn’t see the need to buy any more.

I guess what I should have told her is that I’ve been pretty good at eliminating foil and plastic wrap from my life. But I got distracted from this at the thought of all the waste I was creating by ordering new things online that I justified for the Zero Waste cause. But I couldn’t admit it because I did realise that it’s counterproductive given how each item comes packaged tightly in things like bubble wrap, plastic labels, brown tape and cardboard. Things I just chucked into the dry waste bin feeling relatively good about myself because they were actually ‘dry’ as opposed to covered in sticky yogurt or slick oil.

I also cannot boast about taking my own lunch to work in a steel or glass lunchbox because I’m honestly too lazy to actually fill them up with leftovers from yesterday on my way out.

What all of this really makes me realise is that it’s sort of easy to go Zero (or low) waste when you’re actually living your laziest life possible. That to be a person who is mindful of spending right, eating well and living conscientiously while also championing the zero waste cause is really really hard.

It’s like working out a muscle you have never used quite suddenly because you know it’s the right thing to do. Except you sort of fall back a little because the first day has left your muscles sore and your ego bruised.

Anyway, that’s all I have for now. I’ll be back soon with something more significant. Wish me luck!





Green Bean

On giving up toilet paper for the Zero Waste Movement

trash near door
Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas on

“What are you going to use if you get rid of toilet paper,” my sister asked me on our family’s WhatsApp group. I had just announced that the Jayapal home in Bangalore was going Zero Waste for eternity.

“Well…” It was a fair question. It shouldn’t have been awkward given that we weren’t always privileged to have toilet rolls in every bathroom. In the 90s, we honestly just washed and walked. No toilet paper. No hand (bum?) towels. No family rolls. In fact, it’s something we do even today in restrooms in public parks and during road trips.

However, it still felt awkward to admit to my sister that I would just be washing and walking even if she had experienced this herself just two decades ago.

So me being, well, me, I decided to use this incident to announce to the world (or at least my three dedicated readers, bless you all) that, “I’m Afsha Khan Jayapal. and I hereby shun toilet paper.”

Yes. I’m joining the Zero Waste movement starting first with my home and myself. It’s been on my mind for a few months. I’ve been harping on about this to people at work too. They seem to be very supportive and proud. Either that or they’re just humouring me to curb my newfound superiority complex and penchant to turn everything into a conversation about misshapen sea turtles and toxic landfills.

But I have to admit it hasn’t been easy. In fact, it has been so difficult that I’ve been almost tempted to lock myself up in the house and pretend that everything in the world is okay, because I am okay.

Two days ago, I was at a fancy supermarket with my son and was surrounded on three sides by sweet, smiling ladies giving out free samples. I usually don’t take free samples because I feel obligated to purchase everything I try. I usually just walk off saying, “Not today, thank you!”

But with a 3-year-old in my shopping cart, things don’t usually work out as per plan. And the sweet ladies, they’re actually quite calculating, know this.

“Here Munna! Try some chocolate bars.”

“No, no! Try these bread sticks with almond butter and chocolate (only Rs 500 for 100 gram tub, ma’am).”


So, yeah. We ended up buying the smoothie, which (oh gosh!) came in a plastic bottle. And a free Styrofoam cup on the side because my kid really loved the idea of drinking smoothie as shots (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree).

If this wasn’t against my new religion  lifestyle choice way of life, almost all the contents of said bottle (and shot glass) spilled all over his car seat at the first ditch (thank you, BBMP) leaving me with the guilt of having to find a roadside stall for tissues and… oh yes, a screaming toddler too.

So yes, being mindful about what to buy and remembering to carry an array of cloth napkins has been a huge challenge that has made me question how I am going to survive as a Zero Waster in the big bad world. Also, how I will miss toilet paper!

But everything comes with challenges, doesn’t it? I haven’t been inspired to write a about anything whatsoever since my last post in… when was it exactly? 2017? 2018? So maybe pulling through these challenged one by one and writing about them will keep me going. Who knows? I may inspire you to shun toilet paper too. Seriously! It isn’t so hard. Just wash. Wait. Wiggle, maybe? And walk.

It’s time to talk about toilet paper, people. Below is a link shared by a friend which shows you the devastating impact of using toilet paper, especially the cushy, soft, 3-ply sort. Yes, this particular article is set in the West. But let’s not pretend that you aren’t going for the imported sort of rolls over the ‘desi’ ones (are there even desi toilet rolls? Please, I don’t want to know). 

“…major brands’ refusal to switch to sustainable materials in toilet paper is having a devastating impact on forests and climate.”


I, Oxymoron

I’m sorry I haven’t written here in a while. I’ve been really busy these last few months writing pretty much nothing and in general, procrastinating my 30s away. But despite my general, overall unproductively, I can’t say it’s been all that bad being me either. I don’t know how or why, but even through the crippling anxiety I experience at 9.30am every morning and loathing and self doubt rolling around at 4pm, I’ve been fairly content as a person.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’ve always believed that adversity is the best companion to creativity. I’m at my worst when my world is validated, which, I’m not sure I’m sorry to say, I kind of am right now. Does that sound too arrogant? Because I don’t mean to be. I’m still crippled and self loathing, remember? I’m am walking, typing, oxymoron. Truly. I am.

Anyway, I just thought I’d write a quick note here to say, hello! I’m still alive even though my blog has been asleep. This is also where I promise to post more often and maybe even hint at some exciting things stowed away in my very rusty from disuse pipeline. But I won’t. I’m just not in the mood to formalise in writing these hazy commitments I cannot keep.

But I suppose I could share a few things that are keeping me inspired these last few months:

    1. I compost now. Regularly. And my plants aren’t dying anymore. Probably because I water them every two days or so.
    2. I am trying to move towards zero waste at home and life, in general. This is proving to be very hard but just attempting this feat, albeit unsuccessfully, makes me realise how much unnecessary waste we contribute to the world on a daily basis.
    3. I keep failing at baking my own bread at home. But I do make a kickass focaccia!
    4. I actually do have something very cool on the not-so-rusty end of the pipeline. More about this soon. Promise!
    5. I sprained my ankle and injured my back which led me to quit the gym for the last two months. But I haven’t gained weight even if I do tend to huff at the end of a 2km walk. This is something to celebrate in itself, isn’t it? Barring the huffing, of course.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back soon with more posts and hopefully better words, sentences and paragraphs. This, I definitely promise.



Mum In Progress, Published Work

The world is a scary place | Article for The Swaddle


I got my first taste of independence when I was around 4 years old and my mother let me walk to my grandmother’s house, around 5 minutes away, all by myself. I remember feeling elated. Almost grown up, like my mother! Over the years I would do a lot of things by myself, even though my friends weren’t allowed to. I would ride my bike on the Main Road, where the big cars and busses were. I would go grocery shopping alone, to the actual market with a different vendor for every item, not a single store with aisles and metal carts.

But with those solo explorations also came some rather unpleasant experiences which, had my mother known about them, would have had me locked in the highest room in the tallest tower. Needless to say, my mom only found out about some of these experiences when I wrote about them in a piece for The Swaddle.

In this piece, I reflected on my own experiences as a child, growing up in a scary world and, as a consequence, turning into a new parent already laying the foundation to wrap her child in bubblewrap. But luckily, a bit of good sense and wisdom from Mum, who does know best at least some of the times, prevailed, and I’m working on some of my control issues. Here’s a link to the whole story in The Swaddle.

The World in a Scary Place, And I’m an Overprotective Parent

Books, Mum In Progress

A discovery of Munich with the Wimmelbuch

It’s never too early to introduce your child to Oktoberfest, I say! 

Well, I did say a book a week in the new year, didn’t I? Children’s books count too. Even if they’re wordless and filled with beautifully illustrated panoramas. The München wimmelbuch by Annegret Reimann is a book I just can’t help but get lost in. Every time I open it’s cardboard pages, I spot a new character and trace their story across the city’s iconic sights.

I wrote a quick post about it on Caterpillar Cafe, my literary blog. Hope you enjoy it!