Addressing the Myths Around Zero-Waste Celebrations


Reading Time: 3 minutes

India, a potpourri of traditions and cultures, celebrate our multitude of festivals with posh and pomp. They are joyous occasions where family, friends, and communities come together. So, we have always made it grand. These traditions have also evolved through generations to suit the modern era. Unfortunately, the modern touch we added to our celebrations have had major repercussions on the environment. There are crackers bursting everywhere, coloured water spilt around, paper and plastic litter on the streets, food leftovers, and chemicals and flowers floating in water bodies. The air quality dips, water pollution peaks, noise pollution affects humans and animals, and waste generation almost doubles after these events and celebrations.

This is not how it used to be. Much before zero-waste and sustainability became hot topics, we Indians celebrated events and festivals in a green manner, and yet with grandeur. We used clothes, flowers, and leaves for decoration. Served food in banana/areca leaf plates and drinks in earthen/steel cups. Made the idols for festivals from clay and used natural colouring materials like turmeric and beetroot. We even had compost pits in every backyard, where we dumped all the wet waste and made manure out of it.

Of course, this was a time when our lives weren’t as busy and there was the land around every house. Wouldn’t it be expensive, time-consuming, impractical, and impossible to conduct a zero-waste event or festival these days?

Short answer: No. You just have to be creative and willing to try out new (or old) ways of celebrating. There are great examples of celebrations that followed the Green Protocol in India. The Green Protocols, when implemented, results in a significant reduction of waste. The primary focus for all these events was to prevent the use of disposables and using reusable alternatives.

 

Myths Around Zero-Waste Celebrations

 

Bengaluru’s Music Festival: Echoes of Earth (EOE) is an annual music festival that sprawls across 150 acres in Namma Bengaluru, known as the country’s greenest music festival. 80% of the festival’s production (stages, art installations, and festival build) consists of recycled, upcycled, and repurposed materials. They have been using solar energy to power the stages, conducting workshops and activities to educate the attendees, and following strict waste segregation throughout the festival ground. The festival is beloved not only to the city’s music lovers but also to children and adults who want to learn more about zero-waste events.

Zero-Waste Wedding: With the right intention, one can turn even an extravagant event like wedding into something sustainable and aesthetically pleasing. A couple from Kerala has shown us how. The event had reusable plates and cutleries, decorations of fruits and coconuts instead of flowers, recyclable gifts, and sustainable food menu. Thus, it is still possible to hold a zero-waste wedding.

 

Checklist for a zero-waste wedding

 

Eco-friendly Ganesha: KReate Foundation’s initiative of creating zero-waste Ganesha idols for Ganesh Chaturthi presented unique ways to reduce the massive water pollution and marine life imbalance caused by millions of idols being immersed in the sea every year. Last year, we distributed organic idols with seeds in them that sprout into spinach plants and other edible vegetables after visarjan. This year, we encouraged people to make Ganesha idols from easily available eco-friendly materials like turmeric, maida, and toothpicks.

Bright Diwali, not loud: No, firecrackers are not traditionally a part of Diwali or other celebrations in India. Even conservatively, firecrackers were only available for use by common people in the 20th century. But what always have been traditions of Diwali are earthen lamps (Diya), tasty food, bright clothes, families and friends, well wishes, and gift exchanges. So this Diwali, skip the crackers and celebrate a Diwali of compassion and consideration.

These only go to show that holding zero-waste events and reducing the pressure on the environment during celebrations is easy and classy. Indians pride in our ability to manage things and create alternatives; celebrating our festivals with zero negative impact is not a difficult challenge for us. All it takes is the right intention.

 

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