Last November, as I was returning from a trip, I received a phone call from someone I didn't know. They were calling to place a bulk order of 100 copies of my Let’s Talk Trash books for gifting. Let's Talk Trash is my little illustrated handbook on zero-waste and sustainable living, that was born from a purely personal project over four years ago. The first ever book I self-published, without really thinking too much about whether I was qualified to do this, without overthinking, and without the self-doubt that comes from ‘knowing’. I self-published because no one told me I could not. What's more, I had fun doing it. As simple as that 😊
How this personal project was born
In 2018, I took part in the Sketchbook Project, and I picked an idea that I'd been thinking about. I had been reading up about the zero-waste movement and how sustainability was becoming something that more people cared about, and it took me back to my childhood. And so, I chose to draw and write about how growing up in the ‘80s, in a middle-class Indian family, we were naturally raised to be frugal and low-waste. Like carrying cans to get milk, reusing jars to go buy cooking oil, wasting nothing. And then, I went on to add a few tips to reduce waste in various aspects of life as well. I drew, and I wrote, and my plan was to send the book off to the library. I used a paintbrush and Sumi ink to make the original illustrations and wrote using a pen. The original sketchbook is now part of the Brooklyn Art Library (I hope to go see it one day!) And then, when I shared the illustrations on my Instagram account, there were a lot of people who wanted copies. Luckily, a little voice in me had urged me to scan the originals before sending off the books. So then, I worked with the scanned artwork, typed out the text, designed and laid out the book for printing, and printed a bunch of copies initially.
There was also an event themed around sustainability (Bhoomi Habba), where I put up a stall and sold more copies. Since then, the little book has gone into several reprints, got a lot of love from newspapers and online media, and a few months later, the response encouraged me to follow it up with the Let’s Talk Trash Activity book for kids.
Over four years ago, I turned a passion project into a small, simple handbook, and it turned out to be something that has touched thousands of lives. It has given my work a huge boost, given me confidence in myself, and continues to bring in some income on the side. It also led to me subsequently writing and illustrating a couple of more books on sustainability with Hachette. When people tell me how much they love the books and they support my work, it reaffirms my belief in doing things with all my heart and trusting that it will connect and resonate with the right people. I had thoughts of stopping production of my Let's Talk Trash book at the end of 2022 because there are so many books on the subject (heck, I have written a couple of more elaborate ones since then!) but I guess the format and the simple story-telling in Let’s Talk Trash has its own charm. So I will keep it going 😊
The best of this all was that it spurred me on to start another personal project. My 100 Days of Joy. In the meanwhile, I hope my story inspires you a little bit to pour your heart into the things that bring you joy :)