Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil. It is a time of warmth and bonding with family and friends. The Festival of Lights is all about connections, of loving and sharing; and the true spirit of Diwali is celebrated when we think of others more than ourselves! That also means that it is also a time to think of the environment. That’s why we should do all we can to celebrate Diwali in an eco-friendly way!
Just look up at the sky on Diwali night, and you will see that the smoke and dust makes it impossible to see the stars! All those who have asthma suffer at Diwali time. It’s been found that the pollutants from firecrackers reduce the air quality a great deal every year. Firecrackers also add to noise pollution. Many children get serious burns from firecrackers, too, with some even losing their eyesight due to nasty accidents. And that’s not all…the garbage that collects after firecrackers are burnt is toxic and pollutes our landfills and water supply! There’s no doubt at all that the best way to celebrate Diwali is by deciding not to buy firecrackers this year.
Eco-Friendly Gifts For Diwali
A lot of the gifts we receive at Diwali are of no use to us and are thrown away soon after the festival. Take some time to choose gifts with care. Potted plants or seeds as gifts would be a welcome change from the usual sweets that only end up making you gain weight! Eco-friendly wooden or terracotta artefacts, handmade paintings or crafts, organic food hampers, organic soap and eco-friendly fragrances are thoughtful gifting ideas that do not pollute the environment. Re-cycled and up-cycled items are also great gifts that are unique and also speak volumes about your love for the planet!
Give Gifts To Those Who Really Need Them
Every year, after Diwali has come and gone, you are left with many, many boxes of sugary sweets that no one wants to eat anymore! Why not make a change this year, by choosing to donate to an orphanage or by spending your time at an old age home. Choose to teach your illiterate maid how to read and write. Give sweets or clothes to poor children who really need them.
Do Not Wrap Your Gifts!
While still on the topic of gifts, please make sure that your gifts are not wrapped in the usual gift wrapping paper. If you must wrap them (for that element of surprise!) do so creatively, using newspaper. Stay away from plastic or metallic wraps. Muslin bags that are reusable are also a good alternative.
Buy Terracotta Diyas
Diyas are often decorated with metallic paint that can be toxic, especially if it comes in contact with oil and heat. Plain diyas are always the safest. If you must use decorated diyas, it’s a good idea to buy safe non-toxic paint and decorate diyas by yourself. It’s also a fun Diwali activity that the whole family can participate in!
Make Rice Powder Rangolis
Rangolis that are made of rice powder instead of synthetic coloured powder are biodegradable and do not harm the environment. You can also make beautiful decorative rangolis using flowers like marigolds and jasmine that create a lovely fragrance and add to the festive air.
Go Light On The Lighting!
At Diwali time, it’s common to see strings of lights festooned on the balconies and windows of almost every home. Try to restrict using too much electricity; or better still, you can power these lights using solar energy for a green Diwali. LED lamps use much less power than regular bulbs, so use LEDs wherever possible. When you light diyas, use leftover cooking oil to save on fuel. Check to see that the wick is burning clean, and not letting out smoke into the air.
Make Eco-Friendly Diwali Decorations
When decorating our homes, we should do away with anything that is synthetic or plastic. Use recycled paper to make decorations. Use flowers and leaves that are easily available in the neighbourhood. Save your diyas for next year instead of throwing them away. If you are giving sweets as gifts, put them in stainless steel boxes that your friends can use, rather than in fancy cardboard boxes that will be thrown away after use. If you are lighting candles, use old ones that you already have instead of buying new ones.
Donate To The Poor
Nobody could describe the joy of giving. This Diwali gives away clothes that are in good condition but you no longer wear. Old bed sheets or blankets can also be given away to the poor; winter is around the corner and they will surely come in handy! Notebooks and textbooks and old books that you have finished reading can be given to the public library or to the local public school. If you have received too many sweets, by all means, give them away and brighten up someone else’s Diwali as well!
Use Biodegradable Utensils
If you are planning a Diwali party, why not try to make it a zero-waste affair? Use steel plates and tumblers, and give return gifts that are organic and biodegradable. Do not buy plastic water bottles, instead offer water to guests in steel or copper glasses from a reusable jug that is made of glass or metal. To minimize the need for cleaning soap, you can line the plates with banana leaves that can be composted to make organic fertilizer. Biodegradable crockery is also available that can be turned into compost after use.
Diwali is the perfect time to educate our children on how to care for the environment. The future of the planet is in their hands, and we should teach them the right way to celebrate by setting the right example ourselves!
This Diwali season, if we can all be mindful of the environment and celebrate in a respectful and responsible way, the world will be a better place! From the Homelane family to yours, here’s wishing you a happy, safe and green Diwali!