Celebrate Diwali, the environment friendly way

eco friendly diwali

The most awaited festival of lights is here. ‘Deepawali’ (also known as Diwali) gets its name from ‘deep’ i.e. light and ‘avali’ i.e. a row/ series. These rows of lights were lit up in the form of oil diyas in the days of ancient India, to welcome Lord Ram and Sita upon their return after 14 years of exile. Today it involves lighting diyas, candles, fancy lights and bursting loud, noisy, air polluting fire crackers. It’s a festival of sound and light.

Every year around Diwali, the pollution and decibel control departments issue notices and make attempts to keep noise and pollution levels low. Though there is an increased awareness, levels continue to be disturbing. Our post today is an attempt keep your Diwali fun and spirited, while helping you ensure it’s safe for the planet.

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Listed below are ways to do things differently, in a greener way, this Diwali. So, let’s enjoy an ecofriendly diwali this time. 

Buy the right idols: It’s considered auspicious to buy a new set of Ganesh – Parvati idols every Diwali. Most of these idols eventually find their way into local rivers, or under pipal trees, where they lie for years before they slowly disintegrate. Next time, ensure you buy the unpainted options, and once Diwali is over, put the idols into a bucket of water. Leave it there a few days, and you’ll see that the idols just dissolve into the water. This water can finally be used to water a Tulsi plant, or into the river of your choice. Just make sure you pick idols that are painted with chemical based inks. This is one of the best ways to enjoy a green Diwali. 

Image Courtesy: https://pixabay.com/en/ganesha-elephant-god-hinduism-idol-390881/

Image Courtesy: https://pixabay.com/en/ganesha-elephant-god-hinduism-idol-390881/

Rangoli: Rangolis are great fun! They liven up your floors and your doorstep making your home more inviting and festive. However, the rangoli colours available in the market may be chemical based and hence can be harmful to both the person using them and to the environment. Once off the floor, they mix with local water sources adding to pollution.

  • Replace colours with chemical free kitchen ingredients – turmeric, vermillion, coffee, rice powder, etc. Click here for a detailed DIY instruction on making your own rangoli colours at home.
  • Make rangoli with flowers: Rangoli made with flower petals or flowers is also a great option. Not only do they look pretty, but also once done, they can be easily mixed with the compost at home.

    Image Courtesy: https://pixabay.com/en/flower-rangoli-folk-art-india-593791/

    Image Courtesy: https://pixabay.com/en/flower-rangoli-folk-art-india-593791/

  • Environment friendly colours: Another environment friendly option would be to use ready made acrylic rangolis. These ones can be stacked away for later use at another time too.

Lights: The twinkling of the lights across homes during Diwali makes for a spectacular view but also results in excessive consumption of an important resource – electricity. Here’s how to celebrate light, the environment friendly way this Diwali.

  • Opt for locally produced earthen diyas: The good thing about diyas is that they can be reused year after year, it also helps conserve energy that would be incurred if the electric lights were imported, and they can be disposed off quite easily. When buying diyas though, care should be taken to buy ones that aren’t painted, as these would have been done using chemical paints.

  • Opt for LED lights and locally made kandils (lanterns): Not only does it not disturb the feel of the festivity, but it also conserves tremendous amount of energy and helps reduce your carbon footprint. Again, try and buy locally manufactured lights and kandils.
  • Use Beeswax or Soy candles: Candles can be a source of indoor air pollution, and this is more so with the scented ones. Most candles are made using paraffin wax, which when burned; emit harmful chemicals into the air you inhale. The best option is to replace these candles with Beeswax candles, which can be easily bought online.

Firecrackers: Firecrackers are an integral part of the diwali festival but equally responsible for the high levels of pollution both noise and air, which is further linked to multiple health hazards among children, adults and pets. You now have 3D firecrackers and electric ones, that can be used indoors too and are safe to be used by children too. Though these options aren’t available everywhere, do look out for them.

Image Courtesy: http://foter.com/photo/vishu-a-happy-new-year-1/

Image Courtesy: http://foter.com/photo/vishu-a-happy-new-year-1/

Sweets: There’s no Diwali without the mithai. If you have the time, and inclination, it’s best to make your own sweets. However, when buying sweets too, consider buying ones that the place is locally famous for – like opt for Rasgullas if you are in Calcutta, or Mysorepak when in Bangalore. This again helps in the livelihood of the local Halwai or the sweet maker. Another thing to note about sweets is the packaging involved – from plastic bags to cardboard boxes. Once consumed, these end up going into the garbage and add to the local landfills. A good option would be to carry your own boxes from home, reusing the cardboard boxes and in case of gifting, using trays that can be reused once the sweets have been consumed.

Image Courtesy: Photo credit: Saad.Akhtar via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Image Courtesy: Photo credit: Saad.Akhtar via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Gifts: Another integral part of Diwali, is the exchange of gifts. A key thing to note when going shopping for these gifts is to try and carry your own cloth bags from home. This helps cut down on the plastic bags consumption. When choosing gifts, there are a wide range of products that are environment friendly and can be picked up. Bamboo products make for great gifts and you can read in detail about them here. When choosing gifts, try and buy things that wouldn’t cause any damage to the environment, like organic clothes, skin care products etc.

Image Courtesy: https://pixabay.com/en/flower-rangoli-folk-art-india-593791/

Image Courtesy: https://pixabay.com/en/flower-rangoli-folk-art-india-593791/

We hope you can put some of our ideas to use to celebrate a joyful, but green Diwali. Doing your bit can help make a huge impact on the environment. If you have any other ideas for a greener Diwali, please do share them with us.

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