“Indians are the Italians of Asia and vice versa. Every man in both countries is a singer when he is happy, and every woman is a dancer when she walks to the shop at the corner. For them, food is the music inside the body and music is the food inside the heart.” Gregory David Roberts writes this in the book Shantaram, speaking about the beauty that is our nation. He’s right in every way – from the festivities to the colours – India in short, has character! Adding much needed pomp to the latter half of the year, we usher in a festival extremely close to our hearts. Whether it’s the legend of Ram returning from Ayodhya, to lamps lit across the city, or just the happiness we feel when in the company of our loved ones – Diwali has something for everyone!
While the tradition of adorning homes with lights and decorations is an integral part of Diwali, it’s also essential to think about the environmental impact of our festivities. Here are a few ways in which each of us can enjoy the festival of lights, sustainably of course!
Choose sustainable materials
The first step in creating an eco-friendly Diwali decor is to be mindful of the materials you use. Opt for decorations made from sustainable materials like bamboo, jute, or recycled paper. These materials are biodegradable and have a lower environmental impact compared to plastic and other non-biodegradable options. Bamboo lanterns, jute rugs, and recycled paper garlands or recycled paper for gifting are excellent choices that can add a rustic charm to your decor.
Switch to LED Lights
Traditional incandescent bulbs consume a lot of energy and are not energy-efficient. Consider switching to LED lights for your Diwali decorations. LED lights are more energy-efficient, last longer, and emit less heat, making them a safer option. They come in a variety of colors and styles, so you can create a beautiful, energy-efficient lighting display that will last for many Diwalis to come.
Embrace the art of do-it-yourself (DIY) decorations this Diwali. Making your own decorations allows you to exercise your creativity and reduce waste. You can upcycle old items to create something new, such as turning glass jars into candle holders or making origami paper lanterns or even using old drawers to create hang-it-up candle stands. DIY projects can be a fun and sustainable way to involve the entire family in the festive preparations.
Instead of buying new decorations, consider upcycling existing items to give them a new lease on life. Old sarees can be transformed into beautiful curtains or even place settings, and discarded furniture can be refurbished and repurposed. Upcycling is not only eco-friendly but also adds a unique, personalized touch to your home decor.
Sustainable Candles: Lighting candles is an integral part of Diwali traditions. Opt for candles made from natural materials like beeswax or soy wax. These candles burn cleaner and are free from harmful chemicals. Beeswax candles, in particular, emit a subtle honey-like fragrance, adding an extra layer of warmth to your home. You can also use decorative candle holders made from recycled or natural materials to enhance the visual appeal.
Reduce Packaging Waste: When shopping for decorations, pay attention to packaging. Choose products with minimal or eco-friendly packaging. Avoid single-use plastics and opt for products that come in recyclable or reusable containers. This small change can significantly reduce the amount of waste generated during the festive season.
Minimalism: Embrace the concept of minimalism in your Diwali decor. Instead of overloading your space with decorations, focus on a few key pieces that have a significant impact. A minimalist approach not only reduces waste but also allows you to appreciate the beauty of each decoration more fully.
Donate or Reuse Decorations: After the festive season, don’t simply discard your decorations. Store them properly for future use or consider donating them to those in need. Many organizations and charities would appreciate your gently used decorations, extending their life and spreading the joy of Diwali to others.
Green Gifting: As part of your Diwali celebrations, consider giving eco-friendly gifts that promote sustainability. This could include potted plants, reusable products, or gifts made from recycled materials. Encourage your loved ones to adopt more eco-conscious practices in their lives.
In conclusion, Diwali is a time of joy, togetherness, and reflection. We must use it as an opportunity to celebrate not only our culture and traditions but also our responsibility to the environment. By adopting a sustainable approach to modify your home for Diwali, you can create a beautiful and eco-friendly atmosphere that aligns with the spirit of the festival. Let us light up our homes and hearts with the glow of sustainability and make this Diwali truly special. Wishing you a bright, green, and eco-friendly Diwali!
Suren Dsouza is the Principal Architect at Deksha Design Studio