It’s the quarantine month of 2020 and we’ll probably remember this time forever! We’ve had to let go of all our plans to be out in schools, colleges, street protests or meet you guys at farmers’ markets for the health and safety of each other! While we are maintaining distance physically, we need our zero waste community to stay stronger than ever! For this, we found a way to get to know each other a little better, through our interview series, Zero Waste Talks!

We are thrilled to have interviewed a beloved #zerowaste, #vegan and #bodypositive youtuber, Nayana Premnath!

Nayana is an architect by qualification and is currently based in Bangalore! Read up to know more about her topsy-turvy journey from beauty & fashion to zero waste and veganism in less than two years!

What inspired you to begin your zero waste journey

I was always one of those girls who would never litter and bring my waste home in my bag! I became aware of “zero waste” only in 2018. I read about it online and slowly started to imbibe some of the practices in my life.

By this time I had already started my youtube channel about beauty and fashion, but deep down I realised that it wasn’t a genuine area of interest of mine.  So I took time off to explore a topic I would rather create content on and zero waste and sustainability was closer to my values. When I posted my first few videos on sustainability, I was really nervous on how my already formed social media community would respond to the change! To my surprise, they absolutely loved it and encouraged me to keep going.

You are also a recently turned vegan, tell us a little about that?

I was a ‘typical malyali girl’, loved my non vegetarian diet! However, I decided to try going vegetarian for a month! It was a complete shock to my family and they never thought I’d be able to do it, but I succeeded! So this year, I took it a step further to go diary free as well and I’m lovin’it!

How is the lockdown affecting your zero waste journey?

One thing that made me really really sad was buying stuff with plastic packaging. The brands that I usually buy package free from are not operating under the lockdown. I understand it is for the health and safety of everyone, and I had to make my peace with it.

How do you feel about the sustainability movement in India right now?

People are making changes on individual level, which is great. Many small businesses have come up, that make it easier to live zero waste but real change will not happen till big corporates are shaken up. Big brands and corporates are relying more on marketing gimmicks rather than making real changes to be more sustainable. We need brands to stop doing that and make changes faster.

We also need the big brands to provide more sustainable products at affordable prices. Due to the low demand right now, small business are not able reduce pricing, which makes zerowaste products  inaccessible to many.

What is the biggest challenge you face living a zero waste life?

My challenge is similar to what many others face! The support of the family! Sometimes it makes me anxious when I’m trying my best to cut down on my waste but I’m unable to get my family to do the same. In a situations like this the Instagram community gives me a lot of support  and confidence to keep going. Interacting with other zerowasters, that I have connected through Instagram, makes me feel like I’m not alone in this. There are many others who are on the same journey and often face the same road blocks as me.

What is your advice to anyone starting their zero waste journey?

Firstly, traditional Indian lifestyle has always been sustainable. Western notions and products have made us to believe that Indian practices are boring and old school. Because of this, many of us did not even learn our traditional practices such as making our own spices or stitching at home! We need to go back to our old ways to some extent.

Secondly, I feel you can not force anyone to avoid plastic or waste less. I’ve learnt that the hard way, all you can do is set an example and people around you will start following in small ways.

Have you ever felt ecoanxiety? If yes, how do you deal with it?

If you can’t control it, just let it go. It will just create a lot of stress, if you don’t.

Instagram profiles that inspire you

Kamana Gautam @mycocktail_life and Immy Lucas @sustainably_vegan

You can follow Nayana and her adventures on her Instagram and Youtube channel! Please tell us how you liked this format in the comments section below!