The festive season in India is a grand affair. As the end of the year approaches, it also marks the beginning of multiple cultural celebrations. From Dussehra to Diwali to New Year, we spend these months surrounded by fanfare & excitement. At a time like this, when preparations are always in full swing, it is likely for one to lose sight of the impact of their festive choices.
But thankfully, it’s quite possible & actually easy, to stay conscious without missing out on the essence of festivities. With just a few conscious changes and some responsible decisions, you can make the most of this festive season while staying sustainable. The best part? These changes are also easy on your budget!
Assess Before You Shop:
Undeniably, one of the most exciting aspects of the festive season is shopping. While it is believed that buying new things can be highly auspicious, shopping with restraint can help prevent mindless consumption.
A good way to stick to only what is needed is to first assess the reusable decorations, cutlery and pooja essentials from the past year. Once you take stock of the things that can be reused and repurposed, it saves both money and waste. Items like decorative lights, buntings, glass or metal candle holders, and the like can be used year after year around the house!
DIY Always Saves The Day!
There is something undeniably special about handmade things. In the earlier days, homemade and handmade gifts were the norm. Today, the convenience of online shopping and the lack of time has replaced this tradition for more modern forms of gifting. But, that’s exactly why a thoughtfully made handmade gift will set you apart. Not to mention, it’s a highly budget-friendly and sustainable option.
The DIY rule doesn't just limit to gifts either! It is one of the best ways to level up the festive decor at home. Easy hacks such as repurposing old sarees into festive table & cushion covers, turning old glass bottles into table lamps & converting old jewellery pieces into decorative danglers can all be done in a matter of a day without much additional cost. It's also a great way to bond with kids and encourage their creativity around the house! Win-Win, right?!
Make the most of being a conscious party host:
It wouldn’t be Diwali without a little party, right?! Sure, parties are super fun but are . one of the quickest ways to generate large amounts of waste too. If you’re an Earth lover, attending or hosting large parties may often build up your eco-anxiety. Questions like- Will I manage to stay waste-free, will my friends & family understand by low waste house rules, etc. may come to mind.
Well, the good news is that there are some easy ways that you can be a great host without compromising on your values:
- To start with, make sure to have a no plastic policy. For intimate home gatherings, opting for reusable glass or steel bottles & glasses are an easy feat.
- Be strict about RSVPs and keep a headcount before preparing party food. This simple step saves loads of food waste!
- If you do end up generating some unavoidable food waste, contact a local NGO that collects cooked food for redistribution to the needy.
- Use reusable cutlery for smaller dinner and lunch parties, and biodegradable disposables when you expect a large number of guests
- If you’d prefer to avoid receiving unsustainable gifts, it's a good idea to let guests know your ‘no gift’ policy in advance
- Keep the decor minimal and repurpose it as much as you can!
Make Arrangements For A Sustainable Pooja:
Poojas and festivities are two sides of the same coin in India. Almost every Indian festival has a spiritual significance. At a time like this, it is likely for one to want to follow every norm. From flowers to incense, everything has a specific significance and cannot always be eliminated.
An ideal solution in such cases is to look for Earth-friendly swaps and prepare for them in advance. This helps prevent last-minute pooja shopping which often leads to shopping from unsustainable sources Here are some quick things you can do:
- Replace regular incense sticks with sticks made of recycled flower waste. They are biodegradable and do not add to eco pollution levels. They are also 100% natural, hence preventing environmental or health damage.
- Opt for brass, copper or marble idols & thaalis that can be used year after year. Not only do they look beautiful, but they also prevent the need of buying new sets every pooja season
- When sourcing flowers and decoration, choose hyper-local varieties that are grown organically. Exotic flowers have a high carbon footprint, are chemically treated & end up in landfills. Local flowers are easier to source and also provide an income source to vendors. You can even take flowers from your own home garden for smaller poojas!
One of the most commonly prevalent festive pollutants is firecrackers. Used extensively during Diwali, crackers have a short-lived excitement but a long term impact. It has been reported that India’s air pollution levels increase significantly during the days of Diwali due to the mass use of crackers. This often leads to respiratory illnesses too. A great start to having responsible celebrations is to pledge to not use firecrackers. Rather, you can replace that bonding time by opting to plant new trees in your neighbourhood! It’s a great way of honouring both culture & nature.
Additionally, you can also avoid the use of loudspeakers that lead to extensive noise pollution. Be it society parties or home gatherings, it’s always appreciated when you’re mindful of how your celebrations are affecting others.
Last but certainly not least is using the season of gift-giving wisely. There is a dual benefit to gifting only sustainable gifts. Not only do you help reduce eco-pressures with this choice, but also help advocate a culture of sustainable living amongst your near and dear ones.
From planting trees on behalf of your loved ones to gifting sustainable versions of things on their wish list, the gifting standard you set will go a long way in promoting the values of sustainable living within your core groups. You can read more about mastering the art of ethical gifting here.
One thing worth noting is that most of the Earth-friendly changes required for celebrating responsibly are not majorly different from your regular routine. Be it reusing decoration or shopping locally for poojas, these practices are already quite prevalent in our homes.
Additionally, if you’d like to source all your ethical festive needs from one place, Brown Living is your one-stop-sustainable shop. From hundreds of planet-friendly gifts to thousands of plastic-free swaps, you can access them all at once.
We wish you all a prosperous, happy & truly sustainable festive season.