When I was 14-years-old I became friends with this amazing human who wanted to be an environmentalist. Before that I used to be aware and conscious about my consumption, but after that I started putting thought in my actions. Since, I have been trying to decrease my footprint, and trying to perfect myself over the years– knowing that perfection is highly impossible.

I picked up trash from the gardens in school, helped build the kitchen-garden behind the student-mess, planted trees now and then, volunteered and collected donations for NGOs. Now it’s easy to say we were all forced to do the aforementioned, but it’s worth mentioning that I felt joy doing them. By the time I graduated from high school, I had been prepping for my dream college for 1.5 years and after a small break between my boards and NID, I was in Ahmedabad. A student who was confined to just one campus, and one neighbourhood all her life was free to make her own choices. And just like everyone does, I made many great and further more dumb choices during my undergrad years. I still clutched on to the so-called-environment friendly human, and thought it won’t fade away. But soon, to cope with my anxiety and bulimia I started smoking. I didn’t have a reason to start smoking and often people thought I wanted to be a cool kid– although it was so much more. The environment also enabled it, all of us stressed sipping tea and smoking sutta on the Chai Gate was how you perceived seniors. And where I had tried becoming vegetarian so many times, for the environment, I often failed to even take a step– and now I was smoking, eating all kinds of food, wasted paper and so much of it. A part of me was still the tree-planting, recycling, and clean-up drive person. I tried to do pro-bono work for NGOs, didn’t talk much about it but it made me feel like I am still in touch with myself. And in the process of graduating, working for tech companies, and earning livelihood I lost sight of that person more and more.

2 years back, when I moved to Los Angeles I did not realise that my Masters I was more in touch with myself but I did not expect this move to change me, for the rest of my life– the way it did. Things happened, I learnt, I changed.

Cut to now, December 2019, I’m completing a decade since I started that college that put me in a bubble. I had been smoking on-an-off for a good part of the decade, raised a vegetarian turned an omnivore, and struggled through years of depression and anxiety– which only increased my smoking and hogging. Here’s the thing, college is the worst place to go through depression, anxiety, bulimia, or insomnia. You don’t talk about it, because everyone’s going through the same things and no one wants to relive the reality. And in all this time I was convinced I’m never going to change. I believed I’m weak and broken, and smoking and erratic food habits are my crutch. I never thought I could change, but then Amazon happened.

Well, my masters is another story to tell for another time but during the same time, almost a year back, I had started working on my portfolio and website. I wanted to move to Seattle, after falling in love with the place earlier in the summer of 2018. During my job hunt, everyone kept prompting that I need to checkout Amazon’s job openings. Apparently, Amazon had been looking for designers and design researchers and definitely pays a lot… while not paying taxes at all. Over the past few years all of us have read multiple articles on how Amazon treats its employees, cuts corners, creates a hostile environment for small businesses, and the list goes on. Oh wait, all that waste that you receive in the form of packaging also. Anyway, every time someone would say ‘Oh, Amazon is looking’ and I’d give them a hesitant lecture on how my values don’t align with theirs. Here’s a good time to remember the built-up I just provided you, that you thought was unnecessary. Anyway, it had taken me a couple of years to learn that we must have values and principles, and that it’s very important to align yourself to your employers goals and beliefs, if you want true happiness. That education came from good and bad experience, and I became more aware of them during my masters. Constantly questioning and speculating may make one a pessimist, but it also holds the power to make them more aware of themselves, their surroundings, and decisions they make.

So, Amazon. I knew I wasn’t applying to the company–though it’s debatable if I would’ve gotten it or not–but that made me question that if I’m so opposed to the idea of working for them why am I still buying from them. That’s when it all began, I unsubscribed from my Prime membership, made a last trip to whole foods, sadly had to cut-off twitch also– which also meant I couldn’t apply to jobs at Twitch even though I found them amazing at one point. Then came the straws, I wondered if I’m doing my best and had to say bye to boba tea for sometime. Few days later, I looked at a menu and hesitated to order meat which led to more research on what I should eat and what I shouldn’t. Now I’m moving between pescetarianism and vegetarianism. And well if I was doing all this, I better quit smoking. I did think I won’t be able to live through my anxiety and depression without smoking and I joked that meat was my gateway drug, if I ate meat I’ll start smoking. I was trying to do my best and carrying bags for groceries, always carried my water-bottle, carried a container for coffee. But I wasn’t doing my best, and realised I had to go all the way. Just quit everything, andtake a leap of faith, to make sure I’m doing my bit for the environment.

Almost 6 months since this ordeal began and I’m happier, not just because I’m eating better, not smoking, using public transport, and staying away from plastic straws. I feel happier and better because I’m changing myself for a cause I believe in. Thanks to Amazon I realised I need to reunite with myself, and I’ve been doing the following(in no particular order) to decrease my footprint:

01. Always get your bag to the store.

02. Shop local and seasonal. Sometimes Trader Joes.

03. Bring your own reusable coffee mug.

04. Always have a water bottle.

05. Use metal straws.

06. Shorter showers.

07. Walk.

08. Use Metro, or any other mode of shared/public transit.

09. Save and reuse paper– recycle if not reuse.

10. Eat veggies.

11. Feed others in need.

12. Buy second hand clothing because fashion is the second largest pollutant in the world.

13. I have my own herb plants.

14. I have been making my own jam. Yayie!

15. Again, haven’t smoked for months.

16. Buying only from cruelty-free brands

17. Donated 12" of hair. This is especially for those of you who love their hair– it felt amazing.

18. Buying clothes, only when I have clothes to give away for recycling or reuse.

19. Reusing metal, glass, and plastic containers.

20. Dine in more, order less and less.

I’m pretty sure there are few things missing, and definitely lots more I can do but I’m sharing my experience for others with anxiety, depression, insomnia, bulimia, or frankly anything else. It is hard to get up from the bed sometimes, it is hard to talk to people, it is easier to cancel plans than to show up when you hate yourself. But it’s not just exercising and eating healthy (and what-not) that helps us cope better with depression– having faith does, recognising there is something bigger than us does, building our own set of principles does. Our crutches can be removed, but we don’t have to follow a cookie-cut methodology as cures, instead finding what we believe in matters.

Thanks to Amazon, I changed what I consume and how I consume. I also realised what I see myself doing, and now I am a public servant. My job gives me emotional satisfaction, a platform, and lets me create a bridge between City and Angelenos. If only I never asked myself why I don’t want to work at Amazon, I wouldn’t have led the path to where I am. Happy.

And everything said, here are a few links for you to start with:

  1. How to live sustainably, a curated list of how we can be doing better by Curbed
  2. Good on You, a website and brand directory to see how your favorite brands are doing
  3. Peta cruelty free search engine to check if your fave cosmetics brand tests on animals or not.

Bonus: All about love by Bell Hooks

Disclaimer: I do not disrespect anyone working for Amazon, taking long showers, or not taking a container for coffee. Your life, your rules.

Reads rare books. Critiques menu cards. Finds old road signs beautiful. Loves caffeine.