With the Festival of Lights round the corner, promise of fun and laughter is a definite thing. Diwali is a time of excitement and celebration. The very mention of Diwali fills our mind with images of a night sky colourfully lit, an equally colourful variety of sweets, new clothes and not to forget the programmes on TV. But in the midst of all that, do keep in mind the fragile state of the earth and also those less privileged than yourself. Pollution shoots up at an alarming rate making it hazardous for everyone when people burst cracking without thinking twice. We tend to go overboard with the celebrations putting the delicate environmental balance and people and animal’s health at risk.
This year, with the ban on foreign crackers and goods, we have a good reason to shun all detrimental ways of celebrating Diwali and go for a greener, safer and more sustainable Diwali that is enjoyable for all.
We have 26 ways how you can go eco-friendly this Diwali :
1. Earthen diyas instead of candles and lights
This Diwali, replace the harmful and the foreign candles and fancy lights with indigenous, handmade oil diyas. These will help you embrace the true spirit of the festival in the best way.
While burning candles emit harmful gases and fancy, foreign lights are a strain on the electricity supply, these earthen diyas provide bread to poor Indian craftsmen.
Moreover, you can learn to make DIY diyas of your own for more self-involvement and to same money. You can also make over DIY decorations instead of buying expensive, foreign stuff from the market.
2. Biodegradable rangoli
Rangolis were originally meant as a way to share with birds and animals. They used to be made with rice, pulses and other natural ingredients. Over time, even this has lost its essence with harmful colors dominating.
This Diwali, go back to the original way of making rangoli by using pulse, rice, turmeric and other herms. You can also use flowers like chrysanthemum, roses, lotus, and some leaves to brighten it further.
These will make for a safer rangoli not plagued by harmful colours from the market and will be easier to clean too.
3. Give what is not needed
All festive spirit is that of giving and sharing. This Diwali, de-clutter your life while brightening those of others.
Take out all that is not needed and donated to the needy. This way, you won’t just brighten your home but the lives of others.
You can do this by simply donating to anyone you see in need, or specifically approaching NGOs that take donations in order to allocate those in need.
4. Greener gifts wrapped in paper wrapping
This Diwali, shun the same old, store bought, expensive gifts that lack any character. Instead, opt for greener gifts like plants, feng-shui and bonsai that make for greener gifts.
Further, you also gift something more usable or handmade.Lastly, say no to plastic wrappings that are harder to dispose and a nuisance to the environment by wrapping your gifts in paper packaging.
5. Greener crackers
Those crackers should be shunned completely, but it is understandable that it is a gradual process and can’t be undertaken once and for all. So, opt for eco-friendly crackers that are made from recycled paper.
These emit less pollutants while producing light and sound. Though, these might be a little expensive, they are much safer and better for the health for our loved ones, specially the elders and pets.
6. Festive treats in a greener way
Say no to fancy sweet packaging this Diwali. Instead, present friends and family with homemade sweets and dishes.
Yet, if you have to present people with store-bought sweets, make sure to lessen on the unnecessary and hard-to-dispose packaging by reusing them or making your own.
7. Collective celebration
Lastly, the best way to celebrate any festival is together. So, gather friends and family at one place to celebrate the festival in a warmer, sustainable and cost-effective way. You can have a bonfire, or a small firework display with the whole community joining and chipping in so that it isn’t too hard on anyone’s pockets while everyone can enjoy together.
Bringing people to one place will ensure that there is just one place of action and only that needs to be decorated, saving on costs and wastefulness. Further, it will bring people closer.
We hope we can all adopt at least few of these greener practices this Diwali and spread and enjoy the festive spirit. If you can think of other innovative ways to go green, do tell us in the comments below.
8. Innovate your gifts
Instead of gifting age old sweet boxes which increases cholesterol and comes with diabetes risk, it is advisable to give some healthy gifts to your near and dear ones. Give some eco-friendly gifts this Diwali- air purifying plants, feng shui plants, kitchen herbs along with solar power gadgets and khadi clothes would be some environmental friendly gifts.
9. Unleash your creativity
This Diwali, plan and create your own decorations. Silk stoles, resplendent sarees are amazing for home decorations. Use recycled items for decoration in order to give an environmentally friendly touch to Diwali.
10. Go for Local
Light up the life of local artisans this Diwali. Buy bio-degradable products from them and contribute in making their Diwali a joyful one.
11. Opt for homemade sweets
Although innumerable options are available commercially, many of them come with artificial colours and way too much sugar.
So this Diwali make your own sweets instead, using only natural products like milk, chickpea flour (besan), coconut, jaggery, dry fruits, sugar etc and keep them both nutritious and unadulterated.
Some of the choicest Diwali sweets you can try making at home would be:
● Laddoos made of besan and rava (semolina)
● Barfi made of coconut and milk
● Kheer made of milk, rice and jiggery
● Shakkarpare made of flour, ghee and sugar
Gajar ka halwa made of carrots and milk
12. Don’t waste food
Food is a luxury for people who cannot afford it. Do not waste food not only during Diwali but on other days as well. Spread happiness by providing food to the needy.
13. Organise events
Instead of buying expensive crockery for all your parties this festive season, go traditional and stay eco-friendly. Use banana leaves and small earthen glasses to serve the guests.
Organise community competitions both for adults and for the children. Some options:
● Rangoli competition
● Flower arrangement competition
● Sweet-making competition
● Paper lantern competition for kids
● Organise music programmes, puppet shows, talent shows and other cultural events
● Throw a dance party. All you need is a music player and you will have all the sound you need without crackers. It will also be less expensive.
14. Eco friendly paints
Use eco-friendly paint for your homes to celebrate pollution free Diwali.
15. Personalise your gifts
If you are shopping for gifts, don’t buy any wrapping paper; save on it and stop trees from being cut.
Instead, wrap your gifts with painted newspaper / make your own gift bags with newspaper / use pieces of cloth lying about in the house, which you can embroider or handpaint, or even jute.
As for the gifts, instead of buying them, this year make them at home. Some options:
● Bake cookies or cakes
● Make homemade sweets
● Make candles of different shapes and colours
● Paint a picture
● Create an artwork by using pieces of bright coloured cloth on a canvas
● A potted paper plant or a bouquet of paper flowers
● Try your hand at pottery and make a small decorative vase
If you do want to go ahead and buy your gifts, then:
● Opt for organic cosmetics, plants (or seeds), dry fruit, art work, wind chimes etc.
Gift likenesses of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi to your near and dear ones — the traditional silver coins are in accordance with a green Diwali.
16. Go organic
Use organic incense sticks as well as fresh flowers. Stay away from synthetic room fresheners.
17. Handmade Diwali Cards
Try making your own Diwali cards. If you don’t fancy making them, go the technology way. Just tweet, message on Facebook or SMS your wishes or WhatsApp them.
18. Decorate your home
If you must paint your home during Diwali, then use eco-friendly paint.
Besides, here are a few ideas to decorate your home without having to paint it at all.
● Twist colourful saris and dupattas to create streamers. Or paint old newspapers and hang them up as wall decorations.
● Use brocade saris or gold embroidered dupattas as drapes and curtains instead of going on a shopping spree.
● Use your child’s leftover craft materials like tissues, sandwich or rice paper to make paper lanterns (kandeel). You could use match sticks to form the spokes.
● Save on electricity and stop using the doorbell for a few days. Instead, hang a bell at the door entrance and let all visitors ring that instead. It will definitely add to the puja feeling.
● Bandanwars or traditional door hangings are the first thing that welcomes every guest. Make these with leftover papers or bright coloured cloth and then add glitter or paper flowers to them.
● Don’t throw away any fused incandescent bulbs. Instead, turn them into small flower vases by placing an orchid in the centre as a decorative accessory. You can also paint them different colours and hang them from the ceiling.
● Use organic incense sticks and fresh flowers to create that heady fragrance that one associates with a puja. Do away with the synthetic room fresheners.
19. Gift a Plant This Diwali
Gifting is a given during Diwali and you just cannot visit your friends/relative without a gift to give.
Instead of carrying sweets and other edible items (which again come packed in plastic), why not gift some decorative plants? There are umpteen options available. Gift a plant this Diwali and set a new trend altogether.
20. Tone Down The Music Volume
Loud music in any form is simply a nuisance. Tone it down. You will not only feel good but will also help those who need to rest.
You never know your aged neighbour next door may be unwell and wanting some rest, or there might be a little child in the neighbourhood waking up from her sleep with the loud music being played by you. Have a quiet and peaceful Diwali.
21. Biodegradable Plates and Glasses
Guests pour in numbers during any festive occasion. So it is natural that food and drinks are to be served, and this eventually leads to a lot many dishes to be cleaned.
At such times, we tend to veer towards using disposable plates and glasses, which unfortunately are very damaging to the environment.
To counter that and resolve both your problems, we suggest you opt for biodegradable crockery. It looks chic and elegant and will also save you all the effort to clean up post the event.
22. Go Shopping With Jute Bags
Diwali is a time to shop! That also means carrying home not just what you have shopped for but also the bags they would be stuffed in. Do the environment a favour… carry your own bags next time you decide to head off shopping.
The best part is you save yourself the trouble of doing away with all the unwanted plastic at home when its cleaning time! A win-win for you and the environment!
23. Use Leftover Material to Make Crafts
You can use the old saris and dupattas to make colourful curtains. Paint the old newspaper and twist them into certain shapes to create wall hangings. Hang a bell at your doorway in place of doorbell for some days.
24. Say no to crackers
You all are aware of the harmful effects of crackers on our environment. On the day of Diwali and the next day, the news channels are full of the news regarding damage caused to the people, animals, and property. I want to share something with you that I lost my dog Gollu, a street dog who lived in my house due to the fear to crackers runs away and never comes back. Yesterday god blessings were with me I am alive and writing the article with you. Actually what happened, in the evening I was sitting in my colony park with my mom and in our locality, some boys were burning crackers throwing them in the park a small part of the bomb came and strike to my hand. I got afraid and shouted at those boys. It’s not their mistake, parents are responsible. So try to stop burning crackers.
25. Cut out the noise:
Diwali is a festival of Lights, not of noise and pollution, so use these holidays as an opportunity to spend time with every beloved member of your family. Use this time to get together, share concerns or simply talk as most of us rarely get to spend time with the whole family together. When you do finally, we sure you want to hear their voices and not get deafened by noisy crackers.So, make sure that this Diwali you cut out the noise.
26. Eat Light
Believe it or not but festive season is when you eat countless number of calories. Apparently, you cannot give intimidating festive foods a miss but you can surely do the following:
● avoid consuming heavy, deep fried snacks and other fast foods.
● dismiss any craving for chocolates and sweets.
● say no to chilled drinks as these can aggravate wheezing.
As a responsible generation, we should think about preserving our environment so that the generations to come can enjoy and live the way they are living. So that the generations to come do not end up cursing us for being selfish. Encourage people to go green and eco-friendly this Diwali! Happy Diwali from the WhatSheLikes team!
Smita Diwan a Television Journalist and Communication Specialist with an experience of 10 years in media and leading satellite channels started whatshelikes.in as a digital hub for women in India. Smita specialises in Lifestyle, Home Decor, Health, Food and Product reviews. When she is not working,she is researching or practising yoga! @SmitaDiwan