Diwali is around the corner. It is a happy time—a time of shopping, consuming and gifting. But, it’s also a time when we tend to generate a lot more waste and buy things that actually add clutter to our lives.
Over the past few years though, there is a growing awareness about celebrating sustainably and living consciously, especially with respect to the environment. What’s more, balancing the festive spirit with conscious consumption is not only good for the Earth but also for your wellbeing. It doubles your joy while subtracting the guilt that comes with acting irresponsibly. The financial savings are an added bonus.
Do you wish to celebrate an eco-friendly Diwali? In other words, do you want to celebrate mindfully, minimalistically and sustainably like I do? Here are five tips that will help you get started right away:
Ideas for celebrating an eco-friendly Diwali
1. Say no to shopping for new clothes
Diwali had always meant new clothes for me. Well, the same went for Christmas, Easter, birthdays and other special days in between. But over the years I began to notice that the clothes I bought for festivals were the ones I wore the least throughout the year. It seemed like such a waste of money and resources. Now, I don’t feel the need to buy anything new, just because it is Diwali.
We all have clothes lying in our wardrobes that we’ve worn only a few times, especially those festive clothes that can only be worn on occasions. Now when a festival arrives, I simply mix and match my outfits to create a new one and I am sorted.
Sometimes, I simply repeat something I have worn earlier. That’s because I no longer feel pressured about what people will think or how I will be judged or the fact that I will be seen wearing the same dresses in my photos. The thing is, most people don’t bother what others are wearing. So why should I bother about them? Besides, the happy moments and memories won’t change simply because I repeated an outfit.
2. Say no to non-recyclable decorations
It’s easy to get lured when you see something attractive and novel, especially if it is cheap. The markets are flooded with such decorative items that are not very long-lasting. Before I make a purchase, I check for the durability and the value it will add. The problem with buying cheap decorative stuff is that not only does it come apart pretty soon, often it can’t even be recycled that easily. Once discarded, such things just lie in a landfill, or worse, end up in the ocean.
Before making your purchase, just pause and ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I really need it?
- Is it durable enough to be reused in subsequent years (I am thinking for at least 6-7 years)?
- Is it made from eco-friendly, bio-degradable material?
- Would it be possible to recycle/ upcycle it in case it breaks?
A word about observing rituals for an eco-friendly Diwali: I prefer earthen diyas, fresh flowers and Rangoli for decorating my home. I always reuse the decorative rice lights from the previous years, even though sometimes they need a little fixing.
3. Say no to firecrackers
This one may seem so obvious but it’s actually not. Probably because our celebrations, especially Diwali, have become so synonymous with firecrackers that we cannot imagine enjoying without at least some firecrackers. But I now make it a point to celebrate without firecrackers—and I encourage everyone around me to do the same, including children. The air- and sound-pollution apart, the risk that these firecrackers pose is simply not worth taking. It may have started innocently but this tradition has now become quite destructive, especially considering the climate conditions—that is why we must not pass it on to the next generation.
4. Say yes to responsible gifting
Firstly, I don’t feel obligated to give gifts anymore just because it is a festive occasion; I give them only when I genuinely feel like giving. And when I do, I make it a point to choose eco-friendly gifting options. Here are a few thoughtful and sustainable gift ideas:
- Indoor plants or saplings in a ceramic planter
- Dry fruits in a crystal bowl that can be reused
- Handmade soaps that come without any plastic packaging
- Homemade sweets packed in a steel or glass container
- And of course, the best gift that everyone appreciates the most—cash!
Also, I try to use newspapers to wrap my gifts. Sometimes I recycle the wrapping papers from gifts that I have received (yes, I preserve them). Often, I just skip the wrapping altogether and simply use an attractive paper or cloth bag—no plastic!
5. Say yes to decluttering and downsizing
Diwali deep cleaning is a non-negotiable tradition in Indian homes. As a matter of fact, deep cleaning is an activity that is undertaken across the world during festive times. But along with deep cleaning, I also do some decluttering and that gives me great joy and satisfaction. In the past Diwali cleaning meant going through all cabinets and storage spaces to clean and rearrange gifts and other things that we had collected over the years. Some of these things were lying unused for a decade and yet we kept them. Having recognised the immense value of minimalism and sustainability to our wellbeing, I declutter more often and am firmer with myself about not hoarding stuff. Here’s what you can do to begin decluttering your home and office.
- If there is stuff in your home or office that you are no longer using [even if it is new], get rid of it. You may want to donate it, gift or recycle it
- If you have more than three repeats of the same items e.g.: pressure cookers, casseroles, dinner sets, tea sets give away at least one of them
- Don’t forget to declutter and deep clean your pantry and refrigerator too
These tips should help you to celebrate an eco-friendly Diwali, or any festival for that matter.
Spot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!