5 Simple Ways To Go Green This Festive Season

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The festive season is upon us. Here’s how to have a Green Diwali and go green this festive season.

You’ve seen and heard about the unhealthy air quality in Delhi; you’ve nodded sadly at the amount of plastic that gets thrown because of all that festive gift packaging and you have probably thanked the schools for instilling in the grandchildren that they need to celebrate a cracker-free Diwali. Diwali will soon be followed by Christmas and then the New Year. Wondering how to keep your celebrations green this festive season? We being you some ideas for green, eco-friendly festivities. With special tips from eco-Warrior Mita Banerjee of Team Miracle, Pune, who tells us how to have a Green Diwali in the simplest possible way.

Go Natural With The Lights
Go natural and go local with earthen diyas, preferably bought from a roadside vendor. You are not only saving electricity by avoiding those Chinese-made fairy lights, you are also helping a local vendor out. All the commercial lighting consumes a huge amount of electricity and is a big drain on the power grids. Let’s try and be a little minimal, at least in our homes and try natural lighting with earthen diyas. During Christmas, ditch the plastic tree ornaments and fairy lights and opt for handmade, paper based tree ornaments and candles instead.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Instead of buying new things just because it is festival season and adding more to the clutter at home, buy only what you need or best, try to recycle. This is also the season of giving, so why not donate your unused or gently used clothes or useful items to those who may need it? Take a cue from Pune based cloth merchant Madan Wadekar. For the last 25 years, Wadekar has been collecting old but usable clothes from customers and distributing it to various NGOs across the city. The incentive for his customers? Donations bring them a discount which can be used at the store. “During festivals, I noticed that many families could not afford new clothes and it touched me. That’s when I requested my customers to donate their old outfits,” Wadekar told The Hindustan Times.

Say No To Crackers
They may look lovely when they light up the night sky in a burst of sparkly colours but firecrackers release pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide etc in the air, which causes ailments like asthma and bronchitis. In 2015, the air quality deteriorated across eight Indian states on Diwali night, according to the Central Pollution Control Board’s National Air Quality Index. According to the CPCB website, from the year 2015—2017; the range of AQI (air quality) in Delhi is in between 326-426 or the severe range during Diwali.

Mita, a grandmother herself says she understands why some people may still wish to burst crackers as they want to relieve the joy of their childhood and an intrinsic part of Diwali. Her suggestion? If you live in an apartment complex, why not burst some crackers as a combined activity with the neighbours within a short time limit instead of each family bursting a truckload of them? That way, you have your fun (if you can’t go fireworks-free) and reduce the amount of pollutants you release too.

Go Green With Your Gifts

Gifting green isn’t difficult anymore. There are a lot of products in the market that are eco-friendly and do not use plastics or any other non-biodegradable material. Take for instance products made out of bamboo, which are as green as they come!

Bamboo products 
Image courtesy: Team Miracle

“It helps to beat plastic pollution and you can find all kind of products, from a bamboo comb to a bamboo toothbrush to even a bamboo acoustic speaker!”

Mita’s other gifting favourites includes pencils that come with a seed incorporated in the end. Since few of us use the last two inches of a pencil, instead of throwing it away, you can actually plant it and watch something grow! A great way to teach children about reusing something and being kind to the environment! Another lovely Diwali gift would be notebooks and stationery. And now you have that made out of banana fibre to avoid cutting trees. You could also gift plants. They make the best of green gifts. Google some earth friendly gift ideas and keep it simple.

Avoid A Packaging Overdose

We end of wasting a lot of packaging around festivals. A good idea is to buy sweets or chocolates in bulk, instead of small separate boxes and pack it yourself. Be creative. You could back these in glass jars (reuse pickle and jam bottles instead of buying new jars) cloth pouch or paper pouches or be super creative and place them on an areca nut plate. “Even if you wrap a clingfilm on top of it to keep the sweets secure, you’re still using less packaging & plastic than you would otherwise,” says Mita who spotted the idea recently at a eco-fair.

Image courtesy: Design Mom/Pinterest

If you are buying a gift item at a store, be cautious and say no to any extra packaging or plastic wrapping.
Avoid shiny wrapping paper as that is made of plastic too. Instead get creative. Why not use a cloth bag with a lovely design that you could stamp on or use a newspaper to wrap your festive gifts? To make newspaper wraps bright and colourful, use a stamp or thumbprints of the kids at home. The recipient is bound to love not just the gift but also the lovely thought and effort that went behind packing it!

Mita Banerjee runs Team Miracle in Pune. They work with the under-privileged, disabled and homeless as well as have a huge focus on eco-friendly initiatives. They have been working actively in the field of Solid Waste Management.

Liked this story? Read about another eco-warrior here

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