For a 'green' Diwali

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For a 'green' Diwali

Sunday, 15 October 2017 | Masooma

For a 'green' Diwali

This Diwali, let us observe and emulate our traditional principle of sustainability to bring back the concept of recycle, refurbish, and reinvent, writes Masooma

Diwali is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in India and is often termed as the festival of lights. Traditionally, the whole house is cleaned, painted and decorated with a lot of enthusiasm as a part of the festivities. The preparations begin a long time before the festival and the whole house buzzes with activities that involve the entire family.

As we prepare and clean our houses for the arrival of Goddess lakshmi, we must broaden our horizons and take an initiative this Diwali to keep the environment clean and out of harm’s way. As the nation is swept by the wave of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, people are not only becoming aware but are taking informed steps for its implementation too. However, during and after Diwali, the amount of waste generated is immense, most of which is non-biodegradable. Unfortunately, the entire waste ends up in a dump somewhere in a landfill. let’s extend the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and include Diwali in it as well.

The traditional value system of sustainability has been usurped by mindless consumerism where we reach out for the convenient options and forget the long term impact they have. Taking up eco-friendly measures in every aspect of our life is the need of the hour and not a mere trend. This Diwali let’s observe and emulate our traditional principle of sustainability to bring back the concept of recycle, refurbish, and reinvent. Here is a list of the little initiatives you can take to make this Diwali eco-friendly.

lighting is the most important part of Diwali decor and there are multiple options available in the market. However, it is important to think beyond what is easily available and put a little thought into our actions and their impact.

  • The traditional clay or earthenware lamps or diyas leave little to no carbon footprint behind. For a brighter look and appeal, you can buy hand-painted ones, or paint them yourself using eco-friendly colours.
  • Bring out the old glassware, hand-paint them and put in some lED lights. Use these DIY lamps in a darker corner, on a table, side board, or hang them in the balconies to light up the house.
  • Buy some rice paper to craft out paper lanterns and engage the whole family, including kids. This activity will add an emotional value to your lanterns and the environment will thank you for not bringing home store-bought plastic film lanterns.
  • Procure used or old bamboo sticks, cut them out and use as candle holders in place of store bought candle holders which may not be so responsibly manufactured or sourced.
  • Make your own candles at home and encase them in mud, orange peels, old cheese tins, or even soft drink cans. You can buy wax from the shops or even melt leftover crayons to bring in colours and cheer.
  • A big brass Urli can be decorated with flowers and floating candles atop a water bath. The brass Urlis can be reused for any other festival in different ways. Another great way to go is to buy terracotta Urli, which may later be used to put out water for the birds or plant micro herbs.
  • Whether it is an office space, home, or the common spaces in the apartment buildings, a colourful rangoli creates a festive aura.
  • Use natural materials like rice, pulses, and flours for their natural texture, shape, and colours to create a unique, innovative design.
  • Traditionally, natural dyes and materials were used to create rangolis. Use different grains in your kitchen to make flours like rice flours, or spices like turmeric, natural colours, flowers and other such organic materials to create a unique design.
  • Make your own torans using paper mache, flowers, cardboard cut-outs, fabric, glass beads, or even origami. The intent is to engage kids and the family and to make sure that all the material may be easily decomposed after the festivities are over.
  • Bring out the old colourful umbrellas, hand-paint or hand-embroider them to create bright canopies in the foyer or patio.
  • nRefurbish old furniture, repaint them and showcase them as a statement piece this Diwali. The vintage ethnic look would suit the occasion and take the whole decor up a notch.
  • Table decor with flowers, diyas, succulents, or other houseplants is a great idea for eco-friendly decor.
  • Bring out your old, heavy sarees or dupattas, paste them on to a panel and create a unique wall accent.

As far as possible make use of organic material for all elements of decor. At the end of the celebration, all these materials may be collected and put in a centralised community compost pit. Diwali is accompanied with extensive mosquito breeding and infestation. There are a lot of plants that may be used as mosquito repellents which is way better than using chemicals.

At your dinner party this year, avoid using disposable, non-biodegradable dinnerware. Make it a rustic theme and use plates made from dried leaves furthering your vow of an eco-friendly Diwali. Apart from decorating the spaces around you, Diwali has another tradition — gifting. Wrapping and packaging form a big part of gifting. These days, we tend to put in a lot of thought into what we buy and the way we package it for a personal touch and festive flavour. Bring out your old zari sarees and craft out gift bags, pouches, or packets to wrap the gifts and make them memorable. Gift plants or terrariums and make it an eco-friendly Diwali. Buy wrapping paper with CIPET certification and be a responsible consumer.

The writer is MD and Creative Head, Belita Design Solutions

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