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29 Feb 2024, Edition - 3152, Thursday

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Living chemical-free begins at home

Umaima Shafiq


Do you see rivers, lakes and other water bodies overflowing with froth during the monsoon, or inundated, and just accept that effluents are polluting it? If you do, then it’s time to draw inspiration from someone like Sangeetha Subash, a Coimbatore resident, who has taken personal responsibility for such pollution.

Here’s why. “It is not only industrial effluents frothing in those water bodies, the chemical cleaning agents we use at home and flush through drainage are also a part. We think it is not pollution but actually we are responsible,” Sangeetha said.

“So I have completely stopped using commercial cleaners like soap powder, dish wash, toilet cleaners, toothpastes and body cleaning agents. Instead I make them with natural ingredients available at home. So whatever comes from our house goes to soak pits and this recharges ground water, because it is chemical free.”

She has experimented with various recipes used by elders and is now perfecting it for modern usage. “I have spoken to different organisations and ladies clubs, schools and colleges and have urged them to adopt this method,” Sangeetha said.

Her campaign is paying off. Two schools have been convinced with her idea and have taken to the chemical-free lifestyle. Now they are self-sustained, and since one of the schools is located in a farm, the waste water it generates is being used to irrigate the plants.

“Children happily wash their plates and hands with herbal dish wash powders. It is also cost-effective to wash their toilets with bio enzymes and send out the water guilt free,” says Sangeetha.

So what are ingredients used for making cleaning powder?

“The main ingredient is bio enzymes, which I make with citrus peels of lemon or orange as it gives a good fragrance. However it can be made from almost any kitchen waste. We soak peels with jaggery powder or brown sugar and water in a ratio of three parts peel, one part sugar, 10 parts of water. Store it in plastic container for 2-2.5 months until it is ready to use. Every day the container has to be opened to ferment the mixture which has a lot of good bacteria like microbes that actually eat up dirt and grime in toilets. Also when you clean your drain it doesn’t get clogged besides being a good fertilizer for plants.”

Besides this, Sangeetha uses soap nut, coal ash, shikakai powder, gram flour and dosa batter as cleaning agents. “Sour buttermilk is a very good toilet cleaning agent. Of course it took a few years to convince my family but since we shifted to our new house at D B Road in Coimbatore, we have been living totally chemical free,” she said.

Is she selling her products? “I was quite adamant about not commercialising it, but people at my workshops who are willing to be chemical free want a ready mix product. So I am planning to make and sell products with few simple ingredients,” says Sangeetha.

Although she has not ventured into chemical free cosmetics, she plans to take it up very soon.

It is just the beginning, and Sangeetha is confident that little steps such as these can help conserve the environment and could even reduce industrial frothing of water bodies.

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