7 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Diwali

7 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Diwali

Diwali or Deepavali, meaning a ‘series of lights’, is known to mark the triumph of right over wrong and of good over evil. It is that time of the year when we think beyond oneself celebrating happiness and joy, sharing it with our friends and families as we light up our homes to welcome Goddess Lakshmi and commemorate the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya.

However in recent years, this auspicious day has become closely associated with an increase in plastic and food waste strewn on the streets, air quality levels are dwindling to dangerous levels, and there are signs of distress on the things that we value – people, animals and the environment.

With Diwali right around the corner, let us stop and think of the far reaching consequences our actions will bear on our environment. Perhaps there is still a chance that we may be able to create some positive changes that will lead to a brighter festival. Here are my tips to celebrate an eco-friendly Diwali this year.

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1. Start with Charity

Is there any better way to celebrate the festival of lights than by brightening up the lives of others? Since you may be revving up for the annual clean-up of your home, remember not to throw away the things that you deem unwanted. There is a chance that another family may find use for the same things. Instead, make two bags, one for things that can be recycled and another that will be disposed. All your used clothes, shoes, toys, linen can go in the recycling bag. Donate this bag to an NGO. For the under-privileged, the clothes you donate will become their new clothes for Diwali.

For your bag with disposable items, ensure you dispose them responsibly to create the least impact on the environment. For instance, dismantle electronic items, remove the silicon batteries and then use e-waste bins.

2. Use Flowers, Natural Colours, or Rice Flour to Create Rangoli

The festival of Diwali is also associated with the welcoming of Goddess Lakshmi to our homes. We clean our homes and decorate it with rangoli so that she can shower her blessings on our home. While rangolis are a great idea and they make our homes look really beautiful, the only drawback is that the use of synthetic colours has made it harmful for the environment.

This year, use flower petals, natural colours, or rice flour to create a lovely rangoli instead; your simple solution to safeguard our environment. Flowers augment the beauty of a rangoli and give it a refreshing look. The dried flower petals can easily turn into food for your garden soil once Diwali is over.

3. Use Earthen Lamps

As legend has it, the people of Ayodhya lit earthen lamps with ghee to light up the way for Lord Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana when they returned home after 14 years of exile. Let us celebrate Diwali this year, the same way Ayodhya had centuries ago – by decorating our homes with beautiful hand-made earthen lamps which have no negative impact on the environment. In fact the shimmering of diyas in the light breeze of the night is one of the most beautiful things to behold. {Try to avoid the painted ones that have chemical colours smeared over them}.

4. Why Buy Sweets When You Can Make Them Yourself?

A lot of sweets sold in the market use synthetic ingredients which could have a negative impact on our health. This Diwali, instead of buying sweets, prepare them at home. And when you do make them yourself, you know that your family will be savouring sweets that have been prepared from safe ingredients, while the joy of making sweets at your home will certainly add to the festivities.

5. Let the Ring of Laughter Replace Loud Crackers

Encourage community celebration instead of individual celebration. Celebrate Diwali by getting together with family and friends in your locality and hosting a cultural program and games for the children, and of course exchanging gifts. Celebrating together with others in your community brings a sense of togetherness and joy which is otherwise lost in the ear-deafening fireworks that seem to compete against each other! This year ditch those loud crackers for the sound of joy and merriment. But if your children clamour for fireworks, choose ones that will not add to noise pollution, for e.g. hand-held sparklers that are less harmful to the environment.

6. Exchange Hand-made Gifts

This Diwali exchange hand-made gifts. Let creative juices flow as you and your family create beautiful Diwali gifts/cards for the festival. Hand-crafted gifts & personalized cards are beautiful and they show that you took the time out to personally create something special for your friends and family. Not only will it mean a lot more to them, it will also help you preserve the environment.

During the festive season a number of environment-friendly stores and NGOs also promote hand-crafted articles which could include paper lamps, decorative earthen lamps, jute bags, cloth purses, handmade paintings and so on, which are perfect for Diwali gifting, while also helping a cause.

7. Wrap Gifts with Newspaper

If you prefer a rustic look {while also saving all those trees that are cut down for wrapping paper that will only be torn away and thrown out into the bin the next day}, try using newspaper to wrap your gifts. If you are not too keen on black and white newspaper covering your cheerful Diwali gifts then paint the newspaper to give it a pop of festive colour. After all, what really matters is the gift and the thought behind it, not what covers it.

End note: There is no better time to start making a difference than now; recognize the predicament and prepare a roadway by which we can create a healthy and environmentally balanced world. Let us take a pledge to have an eco-friendly and safe Diwali this year.

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Wishing You and Your Family a Happy Diwali!

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *

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