How to Go Green and Reduce Your Environmental Impact This Diwali
The diyas (clay-pot lamps) lit during the Amāvásyā (new moon day) of Diwali signify the defeat of darkness and ignorance by light and knowledge. This Diwali, educate yourself about the potential damage that boisterous Diwali celebrations may pose to our environment and society.
While electricity-consuming lights and air-polluting crackers have long been a part of Diwali celebrations, they are wasteful and can be highly detrimental to our environment. This year, embrace the real spirit of Diwali—spread joy, love, and laughter rather than consuming disposable resources and polluting the environment.
Why not choose to make your celebration eco-friendly this Diwali? Take initiative and go green by becoming more aware of your social responsibility and using the following methods to reduce your environmental impact.
6 Ways You Can Reduce Your Environmental Impact This Diwali
- Donate Money or Items to a Good Cause
- Limit Your Use of Crackers and Fireworks
- Reduce Your Electricity Consumption
- Cook and Serve Healthy Foods
- Don't Use Store-Bought Wrapping Paper
- Make Your Own Cards From Recycled Materials
What Is Diwali?
Diwali is an annual Indian holiday on which revelers celebrate victory over defeat, light over darkness, and awareness over ignorance—it is an occasion to embrace life and all of its beauty.
1. Donate Money or Items to a Good Cause
Diwali usually reminds us of festivities, sweets, new clothes, and crackers (fireworks). We tend to spend a lot of money on expensive gifts, sweets, noise-makers, and explosives. Unfortunately, there are many underprivileged members of our society who can’t afford to indulge in these traditions.
This year, Instead of spending hours bursting crackers, overeating, and partying, spend some time with underprivileged children at an orphanage or elders at an old-age home. Play games with them or bring them healthy sweets from home so that they can celebrate Diwali with you. Donate old clothes, stationery, home goods, or cash to non-profit organizations that serve underprivileged and marginalized communities.
After the traditional cleaning of the home, I usually find that I have items (old clothes, toys, books, etc.) that I no longer use. I take these items to an orphanage where they are given to children who cannot afford them.
You can also donate money to environmental organizations. If you plan to ignite crackers or other explosives this Diwali, consider offsetting your environmental impact by donating to an organization that plants trees in areas that have previously been deforested.
May the supreme light illuminate your minds, enlighten your hearts, and strengthen the human bonds in your homes and communities!— Common Diwali Blessing
2. Limit Your Use of Crackers and Fireworks
In recent years, a number of environmentally friendly Diwali crackers have become available. If you do choose to celebrate with fireworks, consider paying a little more for eco-friendly brands and models.
But why not give the fireworks a complete miss this Diwali? The loud noises produced by Diwali crackers may scare children and pets and can trigger stress in some war veterans. Instead of buying single-use crackers that pollute the environment and wind up in landfills, spend that money on a thoughtful gift for yourself or your loved ones.
Diwali means holidays. It’s a time to get together, go shopping, and have fun. We have a family get-together every year on Diwali night. Personally, I would rather hear the laughter of my family than the deafening bursts of noisy firecrackers.
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3. Reduce Your Electricity Consumption
Burning traditional oil lamps, candles, and diyas is a great alternative to using electric lights. Historically, diyas, or clay-based oil lamps, were widely used by celebrators of Diwali. In recent years, however, electric lights have become far more popular.
One should not waste electricity in the name of modernizing a festival, so let's take a pledge to make this a green Diwali by using candles and diyas like we did in the old days. This will reduce the amount of electricity we consume, and the flickering diyas will look prettier too. If you must use electric illumination, opt for LED lights which use about 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.
4. Cook and Serve Healthy Foods
To many of us, Diwali is an excuse to binge on sweets. Because of the high demand for sweets around Diwali time, many shops have unfortunately resorted to adulterating their pastries with unhealthy additives in order to produce a higher volume of product.
Instead of wasting our hard-earned money on unhealthy and potentially adulterated treats, why not try our hands at creating some healthier, home-made delicacies like besan laddoo, coconut barfi, shakkarpare, or gajar ka halwa.
5. Don't Use Store-Bought Wrapping Paper
Why do we buy wrapping paper for our Diwali gifts? Most store-bought wrapping papers are used once, torn apart, then discarded. Wrapping your gifts with self-decorated, recycled materials will save you money and reduce your environmental impact.
You can paint newspaper or spare cloth to make one-of-a-kind gift bags/wraps that will be more meaningful to their recipients than generic, store-bought wrapping paper. Similarly, instead of buying gifts, you can gift homemade sweets, home-baked cakes or cookies, or potted plants to your loved ones. If you have artistic talents, consider creating artwork for your friends and relations.
6. Make Your Own Cards From Recycled Materials
Instead of purchasing wasteful greeting cards from retail stores, consider making your own Diwali cards this year. Use spare stationery, colored pencils, newspapers, and paints to create personal images and messages for your loved ones.
You can also send paperless e-cards to your friends and family or communicate your Diwali wishes through twitter, facebook or text message. Better yet, pick up the phone and wish your relatives a happy Diwali in real-time.
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More on Indian Celebrations
- Hola Mohalla: Celebrating Valor
Holla Mohalla is a unique Sikh festival held annually at Sri Anandpur Sahib, India. It is a big event for Sikhs around the world and also marks the beginning of the Sikh New Year.
© 2018 Shaloo Walia