Colorism in India

Colorism in India

Reformulating Institutional Conceptions and Rhetoric

The subject of colorism in India is vast, and its prevalence, both within different regions of the country and in society on the whole is extensive. Color inequality has ensued from historical views of privilege as well as contemporary discrimination, with light-skin and fairness having held (and still holding) symbolic meanings and associations with feminine beauty, class privilege, spiritual purity and cultural superiority, and dark-skin with primitiveness, inferiority, and unattractiveness.

As a consequence of beliefs about skin color determining one’s status and value, and individuals with darker skin tones having experienced persistent disadvantages (with regard to education, income, opportunity, health, and marriageability), many people have taken recourse to “whiten” their skin over the centuries. The formulation of skin-lightening practices draw ascendancy from notions of skin color as being a form of capital, such that fair-skin is garnered as economic capital, social capital, and even symbolic capital. Colorism and the stratification affiliated with it have been further complicated by the influence of ideas about light-skin, success and better life outcomes, and the aesthetic model transplanted by the skin-lightening and cosmetic industry. Fairness and light-skin have since been commodities that are acquired for a price and traded for access to goods and services, such as social forums, romantic partners, education, and employment. 

The acquisition of capital and status through such practices elucidate the acuity with which colorism continues to affect people and the rhetoric of whiteness that the multibillion-dollar skin lightening industry capitalises on in exchange for monstrous profits. Colorism and racial prejudice, as well as shaming and ‘individual preferences’ for light-skin have long been displayed in Indian advertisements – ranging through hair removal creams, intimate washes, facial creams and cleansers, matrimonial features, ‘white’ electric lights and bulbs endorsed by esteemed personalities, and indoctrination at the grade school level with images of fair(er) people to explain ‘beauty’ and of dark(er) ones ‘unattractiveness’.



The fallacy of color is evident in lands like India – which have great regional heterogeneity and whose people are culturally diverse – impacting almost all the public. The fact that ‘color’ remains relevant for advertising agencies to influence sales – whether in their branding, in the chemicals utilized, in their story-telling, or in them all – has only reinforced misconceptions and distortions of, what should have been, an authentic self-concept amongst consumers (and non-consumers). Impacting young girls and adults alike regardless of how “educated”, “successful” and “accomplished” they may (have) be(come), skin tone biases have also been imposed on men over the years with the introduction of similar lightening and fairness products in India – with light-skin signifying “attractiveness” and dark-skin “manliness” and “muscle”. 

The systems from which colorism originates in India are those that explicate some of its fundamental religious, cultural, and social features – namely, the concepts of caste, class, (arranged) marriage, and status. The divisionary models that found their genesis in fear (of unworthiness and (social) ostracisation), erroneous scriptural and mythical interpretations, patriarchal structures, dowry systems, classism, division of labor, colonialism, gender roles, cultural conditioning, and shame, have played principal functions in systematising colorism across regions and communities. The practice of applying homemade ‘uptans’ (beauty packs) – with turmeric, milk malai (cream), egg, besan (gram flour) and other natural ingredients – to retain fairness or lighten skin has moreover solidified these perceptions in place. Such arbitrary conceptions that (have) give(n) base to, and are entangled in stratification, are correspondingly iterated in like advertisements that obscure the dynamism of one’s being – whether in the form of colorism, sexism, objectification, ageism, ableism or other analogous prejudices.



The hierarchical ordering of human differences through these contrived categorizations of color have propelled activists in the nation-state over the past several decades to cogently protest against and dismantle the inequitable system. The Black Lives Matter movement in the West has of late catalysed the issue in the Indian context, with Hindustan Unilever having renamed its prominent fairness brand ‘Fair and Lovely’, Johnson and Johnson deciding to cease sales of all fairness products in India, and Matrimonial website ‘’ removing its skin color filter owing to public outcry. These changes, while could have been (seen as) a sign of progress(ion) in one sense, now raise the question about what it means for brands to revise their messaging and story-telling, and what dogmas they represent.

With ‘Fair and Lovely’ historically and thus far showcasing women as achieving success and happiness only when turned fairer, it has become crucial to explore whether such rebranding is an admittance at the end of large corporations that skin lightening products were and are a falsity, and that dark-skin is not something to be repaired or corrected, and if so, why they are not discontinued altogether; and how rebranding would absolve the colorism that underlies it. Strategic changes in messaging being (and having been) adopted by the now, ‘Glow and Lovely’ and by other beauty brands with substitute terminologies such as ‘brightening’ and ‘radiance’, may alter the rhetoric but retain the same overtones and meanings, providing marginal changes in the schema.



At the same time, disputes arise as to why brands require such an outcry from the public to amend their practices – and why even then these amendments are merely cosmetic; why at this stage, multinational corporations and brands not only ‘be’ better, but also take responsibility for how the ideology embodying their advertising and products furthers and perpetuates problematic beauty ideals, fostering insecurity, emotional turmoil, and in some cases mental trauma. More so, why profit generation not be based on unfeigned values in place of deceptive and misleading premises, and sensitivity consultants involving activists not share space with their advisory boards to direct reform? 

Though the problem of colorism and the exploitative business model that has flourished on its basis is so compounded that an adequate understanding of it will require the synthesis of a number of concepts and disquisitions in diverse fields, historical conditions do unveil how densely tied colorism is – and continues to be – with our traditional practices and ideologies. The neoteric developments and calls for social change that have been prompted into our conventions by activists and citizens, and through social media, have been proving influential in collapsing (and reformulating) systems that inhibit the diversity and equity inherent to life, but a shift in economic, cultural and emotional ethos remain particularly limited in the country.



 Much less is still realised about how the commodification of beauty and color is deployed to, and by men, and the degree to which they serve as consequential in their lifestyle. The chronic ‘preferences’ for light skin will require closer studies to interpret the contemporary interplay and meanings of skin color with(in) psycho-social, spatial and global contexts, and to observe whether the changes in branding, while strategic ploys at present, will gradually play any notable part in moving toward more inclusive story-telling and truthful representation of who we are.  

We collaborated with model and illustrator Namita Sunil for the illustrations in this thought piece.



Finding The Art in The Everyday

Finding The Art in The Everyday

Creating in Isolation

“My art is that of storytelling, of creating beautiful images with a voice and intimate narratives; an art that I thought came with certain requirements of props and equipment skill, but the lockdown changed all of that. “

Ever taken the time to look at and appreciate the inside of a papaya? Ever thought flowing milk would be soothing to look at? I certainly hadn’t. The lockdown has shown me a lot of things and for a lot of people it has been a period of reflection. For me, it was about truly embracing slow living. It became about finding joy in the little things. Having meals together with family, playing board games again, gardening, the simple things I never treasured as much before. Being a stylist, a lot of what I do involves running around and usually depends on a group of people. However, I took the extra time to finally start teaching myself photography. I took a picture every single day, for 60 days. I sat with myself everyday around the golden hour and let myself be surprised. The 60 days locked in with my camera, made me look at everyday things in a new light. It has challenged me to explore other mediums of props. It was the start to my journey of Finding the Art in the Everyday. The greatest gift the lockdown gave me was the freedom to surprise myself, to find joy in what I love most. 

My thought process when I create always starts with the colours. While choosing my props, I see a colour palette I would like to explore in my mind, and I illustrate and play with compositions from that. For traditional top shots, you would choose props that relate to each other and illustrate a theme. I wanted to challenge myself during the lockdown and so I scrapped all my understanding of the first and followed my colour palette instinct. For these isolation creations, I chose to photograph everyday things we consume, to re-look at the ordinary.

In most of my images, I have focused on creating an emotion. With the shapes and movement, I have tried to string together a story using a series of still life compositions that each evoked a specific emotion in me.

Art and words by Caroline Joseph

Caroline Joseph is a stylist and visual artist currently based out of Kochi, with a keen view in art direction. Find more of her work on her website and instagram


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On Ageing

On Ageing

conversations on the art of ageing

In a world that worships unattainable perfection of retouched images and toxic ageist words, it has become a norm for women to be made to feel insecure about the first strand of grey and the first wrinkle. Signs of growing older are often admonished as a step backward rather than forward. Through IKKIVI Zine we wish to change that. We see ageing as a process of becoming more of ourselves, being better equipped to dealing with the world and believing in ‘It is never too late to begin.’ We chatted with six inspiring women who took us through their journeys of growing older and left us with the wisdom of their luscious greys.

To me, it is important that I feel good, confident and balanced, in order to look beautiful outside. When one is young, it is all about aspiring for a perfect figure, groomed hair and made-up face, that is all important. But as you grow, none of it matters as long as you stay true to yourself and let the simplicity and character flow out from within. You learn that beauty of a person is permanent and age has nothing to do with it, it is about how we see ourselves and how we feel inside. It is as exciting to be old as one is young, it is about how you see yourself and the perspective you have.
— Uma Dhananjay

Stripped of all pretensions, I think everybody has an innate raw simple beauty which is truly appealing. And when someone believes in it and lives by it – that , to me, is being beautiful. I think I have always felt that nothing is more important than being yourself.
And that hasn’t changed over the years. The stress and strain of trying to be someone or be like someone is too enormous and intimidating. The strengths, the talents , the attitude and so many other factors are involved a person’s success or accomplishments. So there is no timeline before which a child has to achieve something or become
someone. I particularly like the phrase “ all in good time,” there is a time for everything and it will do us good to bide our time. By and large, we are moulded by society and our parents and what they expect of us . We are restricted to that extent, so it is important to follow your heart. Life is full of choices and we have to make the right choice at the right time.

— Ramaa Murthy

Beauty is the inner self and being beautiful is how you express that inner beauty of yours. Self care and positive well being are very important. Over the years I have learnt that I can make a style look beautiful on me if I am confident in it. I feel age is something that should be embraced with grace and a smile, it is inevitable. It is good to plan ahead but not worth missing out on the present. Enjoy every phase of life. Make the most of your youth, make the most of your older days, they are all equally beautiful if you have the mindset to perceive them like that. I was advised once that it is one’s privilege to look beautiful, those words impacted me and I try my best to always be mindful of that.
— Anupama Mohan

Beauty to me is the person you are and how sensitive you are to the people around you. My learning in life is –Never stop learning – there is always something new to learn. Dostoevsky said – There is no subject so old that something new cannot be said about it. I am 52 – constantly learning in new jobs and roles – from people older and younger, continuing to enrich my learning in life. I would say, enjoy every age, live life to the fullest. Appreciate everything around you. Live and learn and be responsible for all that you do.
— Kausalya Satyakumar

I remember being told how pretty I was as a teenager and in my twenties. But I don’t think I knew who I truly was back then. The intervening decades, with their ups and downs, that have brought me to the present moment, have whittled away at the pretty, outer persona and allowed me track my true self down and it’s this inner person – wickedly funny, wise and compassionate, patient and courageous – who’s truly beautiful. I have learnt that no job, no relationship, and no institution is going to collapse without you – life will go on just fine should you choose to step down or leave. If you really take a look at it, societally dictated deadlines are so arbitrary – someone who’s most probably dead (pardon the pun) and long gone by now decided that this particular goal has to be attained by this particular time! Find the courage of your conviction in staying true to your desires. Dig deep inside and find the courage to self-advocate, saying “yes” only when you really mean “yes” and a resounding “no” when you mean “no”. When you are finally so grounded and both your external persona and authentic inner self are in alignment, then the beauty and grace of your true essence will shine through!  
— Maya Ramamurthy

Beauty is your persona, that you put out to the world, being beautiful is to have an attitude and trust in the essence of who you really are. Earlier, beauty was just things that seemed pleasing from the external and more influenced by people around you. However, growing up lets us see more beauty revealing itself, as we drop judgments in many other forms. My age has taught me the essence of balance, between holding on and letting go. Sometimes we need to hold on, so that we can learn to come of our own, before we have the strength to let go. The advice I’d give to all the young ones out there is to forget about growing older – jump into your youth fearlessly and discover your potential, ignoring the external voices that hold you back. 
— Sanju Dinesh


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In Colombo

In Colombo

conversations tracing the beginnings of independence.

On our travel to Sri Lanka for the IKKIVI launch at The Design Collective in Colombo, we had the opportunity to spend time with some of the brightest and most beautiful minds in the city. Spending time with them and getting to know their stories was an inspiring part of our trip to this beautiful country. Read along to get to know these women leading the way. And if you visit Colombo, do drop by The Design Collective to shop some beautifully curated IKKIVI pieces alongside much more. 

It is difficult for me to recall a clear moment; I guess I have gradually developed a strong sense of independence and individuality. The many obstacles and challenges I have faced both professional and personal, have made me the strong independent woman I am today.

I am an Accountant by profession, but I found accounting monotonous and boring as I always had an affinity for interior design. I started off on a small scale, only designing and fabricating customised kitchen units. As the demand grew, I gradually set up a professional interior design company, bringing on board qualified designers, architects and a manufacturing arm to produce customised furniture items. Today, I am proud to say that we have been able to establish Westgate as the market leader in the industry.

One of the challenges I faced was building the right team with the right talent from scratch. Over a period of thirty years, we have grown from a small team to a mid size company while retaining our talent and maintaining positive work ethics. I believe in having a vision and believing in yourself. Whatever you do, give it one hundred percent. Don’t believe in luck, believe in hard work.
— Dehara Gomes

My first full-time job, when I was around seventeen. It taught me responsibility both fiscally and in terms of taking ownership over your words and work. For the first time, I began to grapple with ideas of independence and individuality. 

I’ve been a writer ever since I could remember (my parents still have sheaves of meticulously drafted stories and wild demands from me as a toddler), and began my career in finance and travel journalism. However, I didn’t quite start articulating or exploring ideas of feminism, women’s rights, and equality until about six years ago. It took a lot of introspection and exploration to really recognise what I was most drawn to and how I wanted to write about it.

I’m very passionate about gender equity and employment. I believe that sustainable and equal opportunities for women and men can drastically change South Asian society for the better. It’s the fastest (and healthiest) path to more equitable families, better eco practices, and safety.

I think as an editor of a publication, there’s a constant question of integrity. With everything you publish, there has to be a conversation about who or what the focus is, who is paying for it, and who it will affect when they read it. For example, “Is the interview subject a positive role model? Is the product detrimental to young women? Is this conglomerate-sponsored article truthful?”. It’s a constant battle between advertising interests and basic integrity.

Shadow the smartest and most driven people you can find. And don’t beat yourself up over small failures or mistakes, because in the long term nothing at work matters as much as you think it does. Don’t take someone’s opinion seriously unless they’re an expert on the topic at hand, or they care about you.
— Kinita Shenoy

My choice to divorce a husband I was made to marry at 19 through an arranged marriage left me feeling independent in every sense of the word. My family rejected me and so did his. I was caught up in a legal battle for the custody of my son. I was up against prominent lawyers my then husband was able to afford. I couldn’t afford such highly placed lawyers because my family disowned me and I was left with hardly any funding. None the less I fought. I did everything I could to stay afloat and maximised every resource I had. The outcome was successful and for a girl who had been told all her life that she couldn’t do much without a man; this was the ultimate triumph. It made me feel incredible. All the heart break was worth it because the experience I gained from that has left me feeling invincible.

I was raised in a conservative background. Although I was given an education that was without prejudice I was also told that an education for a girl was to be utilised in the event that my future husband allows it or Incase he is no longer able to financially provide for our family.
As far as a respectable career was concerned; I was conditioned to think that the only appropriate career befitting a woman was a profession associated with the sciences , math or law. In keeping with tradition I completed a degree in law after which I educated myself in Fashion design. I worked in many jobs for other companies and myself for a decade during my 20s before deciding that this was not my calling.

Creativity is in my soul and that’s what makes me happy. I stumbled across an article that read; beauticians and hairdresser have the highest job satisfaction. Something inside me clicked; It took me back to my school years when I was always called upon for hair and makeup duties during school concerts and ballets. In hindsight it’s what I always should have pursued. I took the risk and dived in head first into an education in hair and makeup and subsequently opened The Wax Museum hair and beauty salon. We are 5 years in the making and I am proud of the woman I have become and the business I have built.
I don’t regret the decade of work I did in different fields in my past as the experience I received from it has made me the woman I am today.

Challenges are far and wide. I don’t like stressing over them. I have a philosophy when it comes to work;
* If there is an issue just solve it! It doesn’t matter what/ when or who caused it.
* Once the problem is resolved evaluate what went wrong with the intention to learn from that mistake and put into place better systems to avoid the same issues going forward rather than to point fingers and assign blame.

Don’t let failure stop you, heart break destroy your spirit and fear paralyse you. Failure, heartbreak and fear, as crippling as they may become; when you overcome these obstacles the feeling of invincibility that you experience is empowering. When someone speaks, listen to hear and not to answer. If you are already forming an answer while that person is still talking then you are denying yourself the opportunity to understand, evaluate, learn and grow.
— Nadiya Fernando

Dehara Gomes is the Managing Director of Westgate Interiors.

Kinita is a Writer, Editor and Communications Specialist. Over the last decade, she’s worked for the IFC (World Bank Group), served as Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka and, as well as written for publications like Conde Nast Traveler and Harper’s Bazaar.

Fathima Nadhiya Fernando. known as Nadiya Fernando is a mom to a tween Aadam Careem and wife to Ranil Fernando. She is a makeup artist, hair extension specialist, blogger, salon owner and fashion enthusiast.

Photography by RHEA GUPTE
Location Courtesy Gandhara
Produced by IKKIVI ZINE
in partnership with The Design Collective.


IKKIVI Zine is a property of IKKIVI by Founder Nivi Murthy

On Sustainability

On Sustainability

the story behind starting our online magazine

A letter from IKKIVI takes our ZINE visitors into the thought process and inspiration behind starting our online magazine. 

As we launch our Zine, our brand is taking new steps on creating an environment to learn about the causes that we hold dear. The issue of being conscious in fashion has often been overwhelming to people. We want to change that.

Many of you visiting our zine are already friends of our brand while many of you may be first time visitors. We began as a online marketplace for sustainable brands which can be easily purchased online. Making sustainable fashion accessible has always been important to us. And with our online magazine, we wish to make information about sustainable fashion accessible too.

Our zine is a place without judgement, with strong views and openness to dialog. We see it as a safe place for everybody to learn and grow. We want to explore issues that we recognise and that are important to us, to our environment, to our mental health and to becoming better advocates of humankind.

As IKKIVI starts this journey we want to welcome all of you to be a part of it with us, to enjoy the creativity of the labels we partner with, the heartfelt interviews from leaders in this industry and beyond and to discuss the real and raw aspects of fashion and how it impacts our world, positively and negatively.

As we begin this new journey, we want you to be part of our growth, keep us accountable and hopefully learn a thing or two along the way. Thank you to all of you for being part of ours story so far, this is just the beginning.


Code Green

Code Green

To be the change and pass on the gift to others.

Code Green, explores sustainability and the environment in light of the UN’s recent moves to tackle problems in the fashion industry. The essay tackles the writer’s thoughts of what it means to be in this era of transformation, in an industry finally veering its focus towards responsibility, mindfulness and change.

I have often found myself thinking about sustainability in light of my choices, big and small. With constant dialogue on the planet’s impending doom and the stark realisation that we aren’t doing nearly enough to stop it, it is hard not to think about it.

The present perception of sustainability is along the lines of a groundbreaking lifestyle that opens us up to an alternative of the trend fuelled consumption that we are destined for. But practice in many parts has shown otherwise.

In fashion, there is a serial offender- the fast fashion lifestyle many of us are accustomed to, some way or another.  Cheaper takes on luxury items have a way of making us feel special. Vintage trends recreated for the market through polyester versions of tie-dye and destroyed denim. All accessible by an easy ‘Add to Basket’ option.

Some have been luckier, witnessing mindful living throughout their life. Preservation and purpose make part of their inheritance, passed down across generations. Many of the tools we need are right in front of us. All we need is to understand and appreciate their use, play a conscious role in using them and educate others to do better. 

Earlier this year, I got to witness the launch of the United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion at the Fourth Session of UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. The UN Environment Assembly is a programme that brings together stakeholders, government bodies and other organisations to address the critical environmental challenges facing the world today by setting priorities for global environmental policies and develop international environmental law.A timely launch, making concrete a plan of action for an industry that not only needs hope but strict direction moving forward.

Until recently, the fashion industry’s impact on Earth was not taken seriously. Many of the standards set, both environmental and labour were often ignored. But it is clear —  for the United Nations to specifically tackle sustainability issues in fashion, something must have gone terribly wrong.

On the positive, we are on the cusp of an industry shift. Serious attention is being paid to the impact of fashion. Representatives from well known and young brands like H&M, Gucci, Olistic The Label, discussed their position on issues like toxic chemicals, the use of sustainable materials and reduction of industrial waste. The audience was not shy about asking the right questions and labels were willing to answer, adapt and learn how to be better. Initiatives like Forests for Fashion and T3 explored ways in which to use nature’s resources respectfully and a new concept of recycling plastics in this industry.

The past couple of years has seen many taking on the feat of disrupting fashion’s negative practices. The launch of the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion is a stepping stone for the future. We need bigger players to be part of the change. Countries need to set regulations, communities need to demand better and industries need to look beyond profits as just monetary value. Let us set out expectations for how we want our future to look like and work together to achieve them.

Learning about how many environmental and social problems exist as a result of this industry is a gift I don’t take for granted. I was able to be part of a conversation bigger than myself where the overwhelming sense of dejection was replaced with a sense of excitement on what’s to come.

Reflecting on this event gives me a sense of nostalgia. A welcome breath of fresh air, needed from the worry I bet we all feel when thinking about the issue of climate change. The comfort it brings is not different from the sense of security I had as a child in the arms of my mother. Knowing that with all the wrongs in the world, eventually, all will be well if we rally to work towards it.

My takeaway from this is a sense of hope reinforced. Going forward, I want to create that same sense of comfort for those that will come after me. To be the change and pass on this gift to others.


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On Slow Living

On Slow Living

conversations about the joys of mindful living

Often we feel paralysed by the state of the world. The weight of the damage can make one believe that their actions can never make a lasting impact. At such moments we turn to our friends to inspire us to keep going no matter how small a deed or how tiny a step. We spoke to five inspiring women who have made these acts a part of their lives in small and big ways.

Charlyne Weiss

I am Charlyne, I am from France. I have been living in India since 4 years, first in Kerala and now in Goa. Currently I manage Alliance Française Goa, an Indo-French  Institution. I am passionate about self development. I practice pilates and I try to meditate everyday.

I started to be more conscious few years ago, I was 25. I realised that some brands I used to love in France, were decreasing the quality of their products while the price was constantly increasing. The clothes were not produced in France anymore, not even in Europe. I decided to stop buying those brands even if I loved their design. When I moved to Budapest, I started to buy second hand garments, because there were a lot of very cool second hand shops and it is very common for people to shop second-hand. It is also in Budapest  that I started to be more conscious about all that I consumed in general. It was really easy to consume organic and local produce at a low cost over there.

I am certainly not the perfect example of “good consumption.” According to me, I am still consuming too much but slowly I am cultivating the habit of whenever I buy something I question myself about the origin of the product, the condition of production and if I really need it or not.

My style has been more or less the same since I was twenty. I know exactly what suits me and I am careful to buy something that I will still be able to wear in five or ten years.

I find it difficult to always buy the best products, especially when it comes to local and organic food. With my work, I don’t always find the time to go to the market and cook everyday. Sometimes, I choose the easy way and feel guilty about it.

I can see more and more people becoming conscious in France and in India. In France plastic bags are banned, I think it is a big progress.

Last year, I organised with Alliance Française the first “Conscious Fashion Festival” in Goa, a two day event with panels, discussions, popup stores and an alternative fashion show. I became even more conscious when I organised this event, meeting all these professionals and creatives from different backgrounds but all working towards the same direction. It inspired me to strengthen  my personal convictions.

With my work, I meet a lot of people taking small actions which eventually lead to a big impact. There is still a long road ahead for us but all actions, individual and collective, makes a difference. I am really optimistic, I believe in the future.

Gayle D’Souza

I am Gayle D’Souza, 26 years old and someone who has always found comfort in cooking. I’ve lived most of my life in Goa, moved to Spain and now to London, all due to my constant love for food by learning as much as I can on how to treat and respect what the Earth has painstakingly offered  us for free.

It all started when I was 24 years old, my sister, Jane had introduced me to Bea Johnson, who lives a zero waste lifestyle. Even prior, I have always tried to do my part in a few ways I knew, but after coming across the zero waste lifestyle I was inspired to do more. It is amazing how small adjustments in our lives can make so much of a difference to our state of mind as well as the planet.

I started out by not accepting plastic bags. Today, we turn all our food waste into compost, we have been mindful of the amount of plastic wrapped items we buy, stopped accepting anything we do not need hence decreasing drastically how much garbage we generate. I have this ultimate goal of saying no to everything in plastic (that will be a task, but again, it can be attainable)

Its as simple as, getting adjusted to a new phone  from the one you previously had. At first, you might make a number of blunders with the different placement of keys, options etc. But eventually with constant use, your brain gets wired to that way of working and  it becomes a part of your routine.

My advice to someone new would be to take baby steps. Start small. You don’t have to make changes all at once. Its all about decision making. Be mindful each time you make a decision and maybe ask yourself “Is this adding any value to my life?” or “Is there a way I can attain the same result by doing things that are kinder to the environment?” or “Am I spending my money at the right places on the right products?”

Jane D’Souza

I’m Jane, a photographer, born, brought up and based in Goa. I have a 14 month old son who is the centre of my life right now. I love my laid back village life and can’t imagine how I survived seven odd years in Mumbai. I love food. I like to read, to paint and of course, the great outdoors. I’m also a tad bit lazy, so these days it’s my son’s love for the outdoors that motivates me to get out.

We grew up being happy with what we had. Thanks to my parents, we learned early the value of money and were very particular about spending it. I don’t think I was ever a hoarder. Or a compulsive shopper. Did I buy things I wasn’t 100% sure I’d use? Yes. But I’ve always had few things. However, one year, when I was moving back to Goa from Mumbai, I wanted to save money. I was 25 years old and I used to just blow every bit of my tiny pay check, so this was a conscious effort to save. What I realised was that I spent a large amount of said pay check on food (still do) and fashion. I stopped shopping for over 8 months and all that money went into travel. So I think that set off something in my head. From there, the learning has extended to why I should shop not just less frequently but more consciously as well. I stumbled across Bea Johnson’s and Lauren Singer’s Ted Talk and was really moved by their amazing lifestyles. This was the real kick starter to taking things to the next level.

I saw this very achievable wardrobe project called Project 333 and decided to adopt that for 3 months and see how things go. In short it asks you to assemble a 33 piece wardrobe including footwear but not including lounge, workout, sleep and underwear which you will use for 3 months. You box up all your other stuff and keep it away. When the time is up, you bring back all the old stuff and again go through the closet for the next 3 months only buying what you really need and understanding what you haven’t really needed. As it is I’m a no frills dresser, so going down to just 33 pieces was so liberating. It took, I think, hours of combined time off the decision making process of dressing up.

Fashion wise I have also decided, when I go shop, to shop more consciously in terms of clothing. I also started to compost my wet kitchen waste which has also been very rewarding. And since I now have so much compost, I’m planning to finally start my own vegetable and fruit garden. I already have a bunch of vegetables and fruits I grow, but I want to be more active and expand even further. I already carry my own vessels and bags to buy fish, meat and groceries and I have started the arduous process of ridding my house of plastic, it’s going to take a while, but it’s begun.

Oh and I use cloth diapers for my son. 😀

I think it takes a conscious effort to change. At least for me, it’s very easy to fall back on old patterns. Convenience, in this respect, is a 4 letter word. It gets in the way of changing. Of going back a bit to the way our parents did things. Now its easy for me to go shopping with friends and not buy anything. It’s easy to go to a store and say no to plastic. I am still new at this. I want to start carrying my own steel containers everywhere I go so that when we eat at a restaurant, I can tell them to parcel the remainder in there instead of in foil or plastic.

I often wonder whether there is a point to it at all. But then I see the result of my efforts and it makes me happy and gives me fuel to go on. Like a shopkeeper applauding me for not taking a plastic bag, my rich beautiful compost pile which was once what people consider waste, a friend being more mindful about shopping because of me.

My advice is start small. I don’t think anyone expects you to go cold turkey. My cousin got rid of her microwave and that made it easier to get rid of plastic in her kitchen. You can start by greening up your house, invest in plants. Start by repurposing your income and time towards ‘experience’ based things rather than ‘tangible’ things, like travel, cooking, helping out a friend. Declutter and donate things you don’t use to those who need it or to an organisation. I keep a box in a corner of my house and I keep dropping things in there I don’t need or want. That way when someone needs something, I have it ready. Support your local grocers and meat/fish sellers. Carry cloth bags. Say no to plastic (especially straws).

I once had a very low moment where I was in fact wondering just this. It seemed futile. And I voiced this to a few friends. What they said really made me rethink my negativity and the ‘supposed’ futility of my efforts. They said that what you are doing might seem like close to nothing, but what if what you do makes just one more person change what they do. What if then that person changes others. The chain reaction could in fact lead anywhere. Even to global change. And that is all the reminder I need, to keep going.

Edlyn D’Souza

I am 30, currently going through a huge life-changing moment. I love creating, staying active and creating recipes for my family and my blog.

I have always been conscious. I don’t mean to sound boastful but the messages I got from my parents as a child were always along the lines of being good to others and shunning materialism. Over time, I have sought my own meaning to these ideals and I try to keep to the spirit in which they were taught to me.

I was only able to change my way of living once I moved out of my parents’ and into my own place (honestly I didn’t have much of a say in these changes as my move meant living in a new country). As I tried to feel at home again, I realised what would help me the most was not trying to fill the void with things but rather create new experiences. I started dirty hands therapy also known as gardening. I tried to spend more time outdoors in nature. These connections helped me build this new sense of self and it slowed me down a lot. I learnt to value the importance of tiny steps leading to big magic.

I am a lot less wasteful when it comes to every thing from cooking to shopping. With cooking, I consider how time consuming and labour intensive it is to grow vegetables and try to use every part of my food once it enters my kitchen. I only buy things I know I’ll use and everything else is either from my “buy nothing” group or a second use shop. I generally avoid buying clothes and if I do, I make sure I donate what I’m not using. Of course I’m not Miss Perfect-only-salvaging-the-reject-pile but when I do shop, I avoid things that only perform one function. I have a lot more borderline obsessive habits thanks to my anxiety but this life is for learning and I’m on that journey just like everybody else.

It helped me a lot to get rid of the clutter. Not just physical clutter but also clutter in the form of life hacks online. There is no one way to be and you don’t have to figure it all out instantly. It helps to write your thoughts down. It will make them seem more real. Just find what you’re passionate about and work from there.

Nobody has it all figured out. We are all students, as human and imperfect as can be. What binds us in our humanity is the desire for good. I would like to let my actions dictate this passion even if it might seem meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Mallaika Kamat

When I was 18 I began following more social activism accounts on my social media, the bite sized pieces of a variety of different causes helped me understand “societal ills” from multiple perspectives. And made me question myself, beginning with my diet. I never really thought about why I ate chicken. I didn’t question it, it’s what my family did, I was always a sensitive child but the cognitive dissonance encouraged by our culture led me to think it was okay. I started questioning norms, such as the idea of teenage rebellion, typically advertised as sex, drugs and alcohol. But why? Those things just chain you in different shackles. Nothing liberating about it. I rebelled by going vegetarian (and now vegan), rejecting societal ideas of femininity (much to my mother’s disdain I didn’t shave or wax religiously like I used to because it dawned on me that I don’t owe looking “presentable” to anyone), and starting my own business with my Best friend Sara, so I could be financially independent. The idea that I can do what I want, for myself, by myself, I think that’s true rebellion.

I changed my diet, I stopped caring about my appearance, (wearing thrifted second hand clothes, whatever was comfortable) and then I began to make things. I was always interested in beads, I find the process almost meditative, passing each bead one by one. But I get bored easily, so then I wanted to work with more mediums. I didn’t want to work with conventional mediums I wanted to experiment so I started with polymer clay, then moved on to crystal resin, and now my medium of choice is copper electroforming. I think I’ve grown through my art and my art has grown through me. It is definitely overwhelming to realise that we don’t actually mean much in the grand scheme of things, and our actions mean even less. But the realisation that life is inherently meaningless can either scare you, or liberate you.

There’s this philosophy that there are three ways in which humans deal with their mortality— First was to make children, ie. continue your “lineage” live through them and their children. Second was believing in religion and heaven, deluding yourself with illusions of grandeur of life after death and better things to come. And the third is through art, to create something which is yours and live through it like Da Vinci lives on through the Mona Lisa. I have chosen the third route at the moment. I am aware at the apocalypse nothing will remain, till then somewhere, someone has a little piece of Mallaika in their jewellery drawer. Tucked in with it is a tiny memory of me. So that’s how I deal with feeling overwhelmed, if I die today, I know that even if everyone forgets I existed I have left tiny reminders of the life I lived.

I enjoy documentaries and reading non fiction, I think that had been a big effect on how I think and perceive the world. Learning more about the butterfly effect. And definitely to not stop trying. Progress isn’t always an upward trend, there are ups and downs, the point is to try. That’s enough I feel, if nothing else, just try.

— Photography & Styling by RHEA GUPTE

Charlyne is the Director of Alliance Francaise Panjim, Goa

Gayle is a pastry chef whose love for food has taken her across the world and transformed her from a student to a culinary creator. Follow her adventures here.

Jane is a photographer, low impact lifestyle advocate, plant lover and proud mama to her baby boy and co-founder of SST Goa. Follow her journey here.

Edlyn is a writer, photographer and proud aunty. She spends her time reading books by themes, making art, lol-ing at memes, looking inwards and tending to a small patch of urban land. Get to know her better here.

Mallaika is a handmade jewellery and curiosity artisan with a flair for chemistry, crystals and flowers. Join her explorations here.

IKKIVI Zine is a property of IKKIVI by Founder Nivi Murthy