Living Sustainable in India with Anya Gupta
Tell me about yourself and your farm.
My name is Anya Gupta. I'm 24. Part time digital marketer at RedAlkemi and full time conscious lifestyle advocate.
About 8 years ago, my parents made a progressive decision to move away from the city life and live on a farm on the outskirts of the city. We decided to call this little home of ours 'Aura'. Aura was designed and built in 2009, by Atul and Anuja (my parents).Built with pure love and soul, every part of Aura holds a story to tell.
Back then, the spaces around our farm were not too developed. The simple lack of access made us manage things on our own. Besides, we've always been a creative or 'jugaadu' family. A famous mantra in our family is "Why buy when you can make''. In general, the move made us relatively low-waste.
Living on a farm meant more time outdoors, a deeper connection with and respect for nature. I was exposed to new insects, birds and fresher air - something not available to city dwellers. I always wanted to save the Earth, but those feelings got stronger with every year that went by living the farm life. Cut to now, a lot goes on in here. We run a pottery studio called Aura Pottery (www.aurapottery.com), we grow our own organic vegetables in our organic kitchen garden called AuraOKG (www.instagram.com/auraokg). We also shifted our digital marketing firm office here (www.instagram.com/redalkemi) and our newest venture Aura Life (www.auralife.in) aims to bring concepts of low-waste living and sustainability to the people of my city, Chandigarh.
What/who inspires you to live a sustainable lifestyle?
Most of my inspiration comes from within the family.
My love for nature comes from my father. He taught me to be curious about our surroundings. I further built on that quality by doing research, asking questions and analysing our impact as humans on the planet. He was passionate about growing vegetables and so started an Organic Kitchen Garden within Aura - our home; which I have now taken over.
My mother has a strong sense of creative direction and is constantly innovating. Her side of family has always indulged in DIYs, home remedies and using existing resources to find solutions. I am also inspired by two of my aunts. One owns and runs a homemade beauty brand, while the other is a passionate permaculturist.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I'm an early riser. I wake up at 6.30AM, open my blinds, and make my bed so I can't get back in. Get some chai, read a few pages of my book.
I visit my veggie garden of 150 veggie beds, check if anything is ready to harvest. Take a walk around the farm and orchard with my four dogs. We have 2 chickens, sometimes they accompany me too!
I then freshen up, shower and head down for a big breakfast. I start with a glass of home brewed Kombucha, and follow up with some Aura Tea, also made at home. A typical breakfast is tomatoes and cucumber on toast - topped with fresh organic eggs that our hen lays.
Work for me is right across the house I reside in. We recently built our office for our digital marketing firm, RedAlkemi, within the property. I work on a bunch of different projects throughout the day. One of them is 'Aura Life' - a venture to bring concepts of sustainability and low-waste living to my city Chandigarh.
I live with my sister and mum - and we run RedAlkemi as a family business. We break for lunch together and it is often followed by a short walk. I love eating something sweet after my meals - right now it's fresh mulberries and loquat right off the tree.
Work ends at about 7PM. I walk right back home, spend time with family over music and a drink or two. We're an early dinner family and like to end the day with an episode of our favourite show!
I love that you run other businesses from your farm, tell me about them and why you chose them.
Well, they are family run businesses. Aura Pottery was conceived by my mom Anuja. She was first introduced to pottery in 2015, and she was inspired enough to pursue her dream of a clay studio which would someday be buzzing with people who love to learn and practice pottery. With the family’s support, was able to bring the vision of Aura Pottery to life in just three years.
Atul, my dad, wanted to move away so we could indulge in growing our own veggies. Although we always practiced occasional kitchen gardening, Atul brought AuraOKG to life in January 2019 as a service to deliver organic vegetables to families in our city. Things were looking bright! Unfortunately, we lost him to a devastating and sudden cardiac arrest in February 2019. Focus was shifted off of AuraOKG. But now, I am proud and honoured to have taken it on and restart it, ever since the beginning of 2020.
Aura Life is our newest venture that came to life post mid 2019. It is our opportunity to open up this beautiful space to the public. Having lived a life away from the city for almost a decade, we developed a new way of living - one that pays special attention to mindful consumption, protecting the environment and giving back to the society.
Through happenings at Aura Life, we wish to build a community of people who share our values. From DIY workshops to conscious events that showcase home grown brands, Aura is here to bring concepts of sustainability, low waste and mindful living to Chandigarh.
What 3 things would you advise someone who is interested in living a more sustainable life?
- Be more curious - about things you consume and buy. Ask important questions like where did it come from? What is it made of? Who made it? Why is it affordable or expensive?
- Use existing resources - indulge in DIYs, use what you already have, focus on buying things you need rather than things you want.
- Take ownership - of the waste or trash you are personally responsible for. Shampoo bottles, toothbrushes, food plastic bags, straws - everything you consume directly or indirectly. And understand that it is up to you to trace this trash and make sure it doesn't reach a landfill or the ocean.
What are your favourite brands (not necessarily fashion, any type) and why do you like them?
I like home grown, small Indian businesses that do a great job at building and sustaining a community while being transparent and honest about their processes. It's difficult to choose because there are so many doing such a great job!
Here are 3 of my favourites at the moment
- Conscious Chemist India - A skincare brand that has limited but effective products. I like them because they have worked for me! They use eco-friendly packaging, have excellent communication through marketing.
- Aura Pottery - Of course, I love our own home grown brand. But the love that goes into making each piece is evident. I love their branding, the colours that they use.
- Renge India - A brand that I share a lot of values with. They are sustainable in a very different sense! They are innovative with their use of resources, give back to the animals of the world and make stunning designs!
What do you see in your future?
I see myself surrounded by people I love and helping them grow and reach their goals. I see myself doing things that have a positive impact on my surroundings, the planet, the people whose lives I touch. I see myself becoming kinder and more like my parents. I hope to inspire more and more people in my country to live a more conscious and mindful life. I also hope to be a zero waster!