The festival season of India is well underway, with the Ganesh Chathurthi and Dussera just having passed. Coming up are the giants and titans of Indian occasions – Diwali, Christmas and New Years. While the fun, frolic , and frenzy are part of the package, the noise, the waste, and the plastic will also be on a high.
This year, many people resorted to making eco friendly Ganeshas, using clay as opposed to choosing the Plaster of Paris alternative, with their gaudy and toxic paints. The wise did it, the rich did it and also the stars because it was sending out a strong and impactful social message.
For Dussera this year, many places used eco friendly techniques to burn the Ravana effigies. Well, mostly burn. One neighbourhood in Delhi went one leap ahead by hosting an effigy burning ritual, but not really burning anything. This community of residents decided to not have any crackers and they also decided to use a virtual show of burning the effigy – they held a laser show to highlight the traditions. Smart.
The spotlight however was on a Ravana made from parts of a 23,177kg plastic waste collected by a group of resident associations, and school and college students to send to a waste to energy plant in Noida. The plastic waste effigy was then sent off to cement plants for recycling.
One association built a 5-feet tall wooden Ravana and covered it with colourful paper. They then invited children to use toy swords and arrows to destroy the Ravana – and afterwards the torn paper was kept aside to be recycled as paper mache.
Many more such examples took to the headlines indicating one thing and one thing alone – eco friendly and environmentally friendly and sustainability are no longer just some new trend or fad, it has now become a social norm for people to be conscious of the environment they are living in.
With Diwali looming in the horizon and Christmas not so far away, here are some green ways we think you will enjoy celebrating these festivals.
1. Avoid crackers – it spits out toxic fumes and attempts to deafen us. If you still want to feel nostalgic with the sounds of crackers, play it as white noise using an app or a music clipping on your phone or speakers. You will continue to revel in the sound while managing to keep your chest clean of any impurity and your ears safe.
2. Lights! Plenty of string lights and florescent lights, incandescent bulbs, and halogens, flood lights and what not. All wasted energy! Try touching a tiny bulb to realise the energy spent on these. And no, LED lamps and lights are no alternative because they are just an eye sore at most times. Forget power, light up your home the way our great mothers did. Little or big diyas all around your home. Yes, you will need to watch the flame, but that cannot be so difficult. You could use closed candle holders or lamp shades in metal to avoid any freak accident. Also, children will love dressing up and lighting lamps together with their family.
3. Food. What is a festival without food? There is nothing like great food with great company to celebrate great festivals. However, let’s face it. Not only do we always manage to have extra food in the house (because just what if!), but many times most of this food end up in the trash. And cutlery. The more the people the more the chances of us having to rely on plastic or paper plates. There are eco friendly options, true, but the waste? Here’s a plan – list out your guests, calculate and conquer in the kitchen, or while placing the order. Any food left over, pack them up for your guests or give it off to your security guard of house cleaner. Or even to that little imp on the street you pass everyday to work – that would probably be the only mean he will have that day. Secondly, use plates that you have at home, if your guest list is manageable. And for cutlery as well – steel or wood. Or else, get banana leaves! Once the party’s over, just dump all the food waste and these leaves into the compost. Imagine how happy your plants would be! They get a chance to celebrate Diwali too! And Christmas!
4. Coming to Christmas – the tree. What makes yuletide more special than the tree? But plastic trees? Come November and the streets are going to be laced with scrawny plastic green trees. That is not Christmas – that is a make-shift Christmas. Instead, buy a plant – like a palm, or something else of a decent height, if you don’t have any at home. For the tree using a short string light wouldn’t hurt, but make sure that they come with LED bulbs.
5. Dressing up. The festival season is going to bring a wave of discounts and special offers from every single retailer in town. Especially fashion retailers. As is our tradition, we will want to go window shopping, then trial shopping, then actual shopping. But that was us then. We are not that now. We are conscious of what we buy, what we wear. Take a day off from all your other tasks and delve into your wardrobe. Get creative, be nifty – find out the perfect festive wear in your own cupboard, mostly tucked into corners you never knew your furniture had. And, surprise yourself!
6. Gifts are going to be expected. Yes, bags, clothes, jewellery, bath & body products, stationery, toys, cutlery – all great options. Rather than choose these products from your regular run of the mill brands, opt to go green. There are plenty of great choices that are sustainable and ethical, while at the same time appealing and catchy. [Check out our store to find more gift ideas.]
On that note, Happy Diwali, and Merry Christmas much in advance!