Chitra and Vishwanath have been married for 25 years and can’t remember a time when they were not ecologically conscious. “We come from families where driving around in cars is not a given," says Chitra, an architect who designs eco-friendly homes. Husband Vishwanath S., known as the rain man in Bangalore, spread the word on rainwater harvesting and runs Rainwaterclub.org, informing people about its process and benefits.

The family lives in a house built with bricks made from soil excavated from the plot itself. In addition to a rainwater harvesting system, the terrace has a grey-water treatment system—water that comes out of the washing machine, bathroom or kitchen sink is made to pass through a sand bed which contains plants such as bamboo and reeds. This water can be used for plants. The Vishwanaths point out that leading a sustainable life need not be about getting all that infrastructure in place, but more about changing lifestyles. Here is their guide to getting started:

Ø Always carry a shopping bag with you.

Ø Cycle or take public transport to your office. Cycle or walk within a 4km radius of your house to run errands.

Ø Buy vegetables from the vendor who comes to your street instead of driving to a supermarket across town to get organic fruits and vegetables.

ØGrow fruits, vegetables and herbs in your garden. The Vishwanaths even grow grains. Gardens attract butterflies and birds. Your home will become your getaway.

Ø Set up a solar water heater.

Ø Set up a rainwater harvesting system. Wash some of your clothes by hand instead of running many washing machine cycles every weekend.

Ø Don’t waste food. Give the food away to someone if you find yourself overstocked.

Ø Compost your kitchen waste and use it in your garden. Reduce the amount of garbage that goes out of your house.

Ø Carry your own bottle of water.

Ø Your home doesn’t have to be cleaned with detergent every day. Just water will do to get rid of the dust.

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