Diwali is the season that adds brightness to a cold season. Festive fun, parties and, of course, firecrackers add to this exuberant atmosphere, which also means a lot more trash than ever. Between decorations, parties, gifts and sweets, plastic and non-biodegradable materials have become a fixture of modern life. Apart from filling our landfills, this waste is also wreaking havoc on our ecosystems and compromising the health of the planet.
Thankfully, there is a groundswell in the demand for eco-friendly alternatives. These sustainable and environmentally conscious options not only help us save time, money but also be guilt-free, especially when entertaining. A conscious and environmentally aware party planning can help us do our bit in making the planet a better and safe place to live in. Moreover, these choices won’t take away your Diwali spirit or interfere with your family and community traditions.
So many parties, and so little time; the last thing you want is for no one turning up at your party. Save Ditch the old-school paper invitations as they will eventually end up in the dustbin. Social media, emails, even WhatsApp are your best bet allowing you to organise and manage RSVPs all in one place. However, if you do decide to send out paper invites, stretch your creative muscles and make your own invites using seeded paper or simply opting for plantable invitations. Who wouldn’t love receiving a card that they can plant anywhere!
It might be an easier option to hit up your local party store for decorations that fit your Diwali theme. But hold on to that thought—it will be extremely wasteful and cost-intensive as you will get rid of most of it once the party is over. Stick to minimalism. The easiest way to decorate is to be inspired by nature.
Bring out the unused mason jars, magazines, newspapers or plastic bottles, and go the DIY way for your party decorations. Instead of diyas or candles, use fairy tea lights or lanterns to light up your house. A few minutes (or hours) spent on Pinterest will leave you brimming with ideas on how to customise or recycle household materials for your zero-waste Diwali.
3. Say no to disposables
Bid adieu to paper or plastic cutlery and opt for the real deal—ceramic or China dishes, glasses or cups, and cloth napkins. If you’re short on crockery, borrow from your friends and neighbours. And if you’re still not convinced about this, simply opt for compostable plates, napkins, cups and cutlery.
4. Buy local
When shopping for food and other party supplies, support local businesses and stores. It helps cut down shipping costs and packaging materials. Don’t forget to carry your own bags with you everywhere. Head to your farmer’s market or local supermarket for fresh produce.
Buy supplies for your party in bulk. Whether it’s the grocery store or the farmer’s market, you don’t need to ask for a brand-new plastic bag each and every time you go shopping.
One of the best ways is to save on resources is to have a potluck. Everyone brings something in their own containers, and they end up taking back leftovers in the same containers. If not a potluck, then keep the menu simple, easy and limited with a few standout dishes. Don’t forget to remind guests to bring their own reusable containers in case of any leftovers. You could also donate the excess food to the needy.
Make your own drinks and serve them in reusable glass bottles and tumblers to reduce waste. While shopping, opt for beverages and liquors that come in glass bottles, as they are much more reusable than traditional plastic bottles or cans. If you’re picking up six-packs or crates, be sure to look for ones with either recyclable or minimum plastic.
7. Clear the air
Make sure you’ve informed your guests beforehand that you're trying to have a waste-free party. Not everybody likes surprises, and moreover, by doing so you’d be sending out a positive message encouraging them to help you with the same. And so that your guests have a pleasant experience without sabotaging your eco-friendly efforts, don’t forget to have clear instructions or directions to let them know where the dirty dishes, non-recyclable and other compostable waste belongs. Make sure you have provisions for the same and that to clearly identify what is compostable, recyclable, and trash.
8. Party favours
For favours, pick something that the guests will actually find useful, and most importantly abide by your zero-waste policy. Tiny succulents or plants in biodegradable planters, personalised goodie bags, wine or shot glasses, all make for excellent gifting options. It can be something as extravagant as edible or eco-friendly Lakshmi and Ganesh idols too! In the case of candies or other small items, opt for packaging that the guests can reuse–teacups, mason jars or cloth bags.