If there is one month that all Hindus – young and old- look forward to with pleasure and anticipation, it has to be November. This is the month of Diwali or Deepavali, the festival of lights, which banishes the gloom and darkness that surrounds the world with its message of joy and auspiciousness. It is also a time to meet up with families and friends and share sweets and gifts, burst crackers, and have a jolly good time! But despite the happiness and warmth generated by the festival, Diwali is also associated with an irresponsible attitude of people, which contributes to environmental pollution.
During Diwali, many people burst a lot of crackers, which causes smoke and sound pollution. The smoke emanating from the crackers can cause breathing problems and eye infections while the loud noise disturbs babies, the elderly, sick people, and animals.
There are other issues too. The factories which make the crackers often employ children who are paid a pittance for their labor. They also suffer health problems due to working with dangerous chemicals and explosives. Poorly stored crackers have been known to explode, causing loss of life and limbs. On the day of Diwali, and the day preceding it, loud crackers are burst continuously, which is traumatic for both humans and stray as well as pet animals. While pets are safe at home, stray dogs and cats have no place to shelter in.
So let us be responsible even as we celebrate Diwali and ensure that we do not cause harm to the ecosystem or make the innocent suffer.
Here are ten ways to maintain the spirit of the Diwali festival, even as we have fun. With these 10 green measures, we can protect our eco-system and ensure that no one is harmed.
1. Avoid plastic lights
On Diwali, people string lights all around their houses and buildings. But instead of electrical lights that consume a lot of energy, go for traditional earthen diyas. These look beautiful, too, and are organic. The diyas can be washed and used again. You can also paint designs on them. Buying the diyas from roadside vendors will help them as well.
2. Eco-friendly rangolis
What is Diwali without alpanas and rangolis? Avoid using oil paint and artificial colors in your rangolis. Instead, you can use flowers discarded by flower sellers to create some lovely designs. And your fragrant rangolis will be the envy of others. Try to use kitchen ingredients like tea and turmeric when making the design.
3. Avoid firecrackers
Nowadays, eco-friendly crackers are readily available, but they may also release pollutants into the atmosphere. Do not buy the loud ones as these are very disturbing for babies, old and sick people, and animals. Many strays have accidents as they flee in blind panic or get burned by the crackers. Even pets suffer during this time.
4. Upcycle the previous year’s supplies
There really is no need to buy fresh supplies each year for Diwali. Candle-holders, light bulbs, diyas, and agarbati stands can all be recycled. Don’t throw away old sarees but use them to make a quilt. Old dupattas can be used to make pillow cases. It will lend them a creative touch.
5. Gift ideas
Gifts are a must for Diwali. Consider organic options for gifts. Plants, green tea, ceramic mugs, handicrafts, etc. make for good gifts. Try to donate old clothes, footwear, and gadgets that have been sparingly used to those who need them.
6. Wrap responsibly
When wrapping gifts, don’t go for the usual shiny wrapping paper as they can be used only once. With some plain paper and non-toxic paint, you can create your own wrapping paper. Old newspapers can also be used to paint your wishes on. Or, you can use old stoles.
7. Healthy sweets
When it comes to mithai boxes, instead of the sugar-loaded options, gift sugar-free mithais made with date syrup. Dairy-free alternatives are best for people who are lactose-intolerant or die-hard vegans. Sweets made with soya milk and coconut flour are also fine.
8. Conserve water
If you’re having a lot of guests for a Diwali feast, try to save water by using eco-friendly and biodegradable vessels rather than those made of plastic or thermocol. You could also explore options like banana leaves and edible cutlery.
9. Be considerate
A little consideration goes a long way to make your celebration guilt-free. To make your cats and dogs feel safe, create a space in your home or area. Feed the strays to prevent them from getting burnt while searching for food. Give shelter to frightened strays in your building premises.
10. Curtail multiple celebrations
One way to avoid multiple celebrations which can increase the wastage and pollution manifold is to get together with friends and family in one place. This will also help you build better bonds with them, and it will also confine the waste and pollution and waste to one area