The holiday season is right around the corner and we could not be more excited! It’s the time of the year with so much joy and pomp, how memorable.
Off late, we have been witnessing new ways to celebrate the festival and while these are innovative, they also come with a heavy environmental cost. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, the amount of trash produced increases by an estimated 25%—that's about one million extra tons of garbage each week.
Notably, one of the negative aspects of festivals is the different types of pollution that we see unfurling. Loud music and firecrackers result in dangerously high decibel levels, we see significantly high noise pollution, particularly concerning for animals in the neighbourhood. Speaking of firecrackers, few cities in India are already experiencing poor air quality, prior to the arrival of the festival of Diwali.
As of 9th November 2023, Delhi’s air quality was under the ‘severe’ category, with AQI recorded at 423, leading to schools shutting down. Bursting crackers during the festival will further deteriorate air quality.
All festive waste eventually ends up in the environment, in water bodies and landfills, burdening municipal solid waste management systems. In India, the 6 metro cities on average generate about 30 per cent more waste during festivals and the two days following a festival like Diwali!
We are at the time of the year when the festive season is raining down on us. We definitely celebrate with the best intentions, and this year let’s take a few sustainable steps to be kinder to the planet. To help you, we’ve put together a little festive season guide to help you celebrate mindfully, resulting in as little waste as possible!
- Get your sustainability caps on! For starters, when planning events, think backwards to identify elements that can be easily avoided or swapped out for sustainable options.
- Invite with zero waste: Oftentimes, invites are not useful after the event. Make your invitations sustainable by using seed paper, recycled paper or embrace e-invites since everyone is so tech savvy now! And hey, what happened to old school phone calls to invite your loved ones?
- Eco-Decor: Replace single-use plastic decorations, by investing in reusable cloth based bunting and streamers. Use flowers which are not only gorgeous but biodegradable too! Incorporate rangolis, a traditional form of decoration, using natural materials
- Mood for food: Isn’t food the one aspect of the event we all look forward to? And this time, instead of using disposable plates and vessels, distribute sweets and savouries in steel plates and vessels, reducing plastic waste. Cook meals at homes with local ingredients and explore root to stem cooking to prevent wastage.
- Make way for the segregation station!: Create segregation spots at your event to ensure your guests dispose of their waste responsibly. Get in touch with waste segregators to collect and compost wet waste. What might be trash to you, is definitely treasure for the environment.
- Wrap up sustainably: Use newspapers or cloth to wrap up your gifts. Consider gifting starter's kits into sustainability or offering experiences, homemade goodies, plants, or handmade items instead of conventional gifts. Encourage donations to charitable causes as meaningful gifts.
By consciously making sustainable choices and implementing these practices, you can significantly reduce waste landing up in the environment. Be a zero waste hero this festive season, and together we can be kinder to the planet.