Amerjit Briah and her family put the planet first at home – always. And their journey to being environmentally conscious is a fascinating one.
Mum-of-two, Amerjit, decided to quit her job as a lawyer and focus on creating eTHikel, an eco-friendly marketplace working with brands people can actually trust. She was inspired to do so after a family holiday to the Maldives.
“Some moments just immediately affect you and become a greater power within you that pushes for change,” she tells Smiley News. “The holiday was that.”
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The family went to the Maldives for Amerjit and her husband’s 10th wedding anniversary. It was like stepping into paradise there, she says, and the children were obsessed. However, she was observant, and noticed early on that the beaches kept being swept. Amerjit decided to get up early and take walks along the beach – really early, before they were swept – and started noticing beached coral being washed up.
“There was so much of it,” she says, “this became an obsession. I was so aware of it, and I realised that’s why they were sweeping, to hide that devastation.” It sparked the question: What is the cost of a highly luxury holiday?
At one point during the trip, the family also went to land to a turtle sanctuary – the children, who were four and six at the time, were in tears as there were plastic straws stuck in the stomachs of turtles, and their flippers were cut off because plastic had been wrapped around them. “The volunteers didn’t hide anything,” she says. “We went back to the resort and my children refused to use plastic straws.”
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Coming back from the holiday, Amerjit did lots of research – not just about the coral, but also about the islands housing plastic waste. This is when life really changed for her. She wanted to help people make a difference to create a better planet for us all.
“We started our own journey as a family,” says Amerjit. “The habits we created may seem little, but when everybody does them they make a huge difference.”
As well as starting up eTHikel, her family changed their lifestyle in a number of ways. Here are just some of the ways they did it.
- Light: “My son became the light monitor in our house, switching lights off! We also bring in natural light as much as we can.”
- Water: “Both children have an egg timer in the bathroom – when they take a shower, they switch the egg timer on and don’t shower for longer than that.”
- Plastic: “Single-use plastic is a no-no. We swapped to soap bars, water bottles, and we went through everything that we could swap that was single use.”
- Walking. “We love it! And we’ve really got the children into it. They use trackers for their steps and end up comparing their total each day, which encourages them to walk more.”
- Gardening. “We created a veg garden, growing peas, leeks, potatoes, plums, pears, and apples.”
- Upcycling. “My daughter found her old toddler table and chairs recently – she got creative, upcycling it using stencils of butterflies, and now uses it as a bedside table.”
- Supporting local. “We support local charity shops. The children have got into the habit of passing their toys on, as they’re fortunate enough to get gifts for birthdays and Christmas.”
- Ingredients. “Both children are obsessed with looking at what’s in food. They check for palm oil and follow where things are made.”
- Beach cleans. “We went to Cornwall and went straight on the beach for a mini beach clean together as a family.”
- “We make it fun,” adds Amerjit. “We have an eco chart, and the kids collect points on there for doing something good for the environment. This then leads to a treat or family day out.”
That’s just a snapshot of what Amerjit and her family do. “We enjoy it, and the big bonus is we’re making a difference to the planet,” she says. “We really need to all step up.”
Of course, a huge part of Amerjit’s day-to-day also includes running eTHikel – the environmentally conscious retail destination. “What we stand for is honesty, trust, respect and transparency,” she says. “It’s fundamental to what we do.
“I’m in awe of the sellers and the lengths they go to, to make sure that suppliers and sellers are ethical.”
Find out more about eTHikel and shop here.