Lit-up streets and houses, firecrackers exploding into rainbow colours against the night sky and packets of sweets waiting to be devoured. Who doesn't love Diwali?
All the fun, however, comes at an expense. Diwali is also a festival that leads to a spike in air and noise pollution, and overall energy consumption. This, when global warming is one of the biggest problems the planet faces, is not a wise idea.
But does that mean we stop celebrating Diwali? Of course not. We just choose to go eco-friendly.
1. Clay diyas, not candles
They will add nothing to your electricity bill and still light up your home in the prettiest way. You can also reuse them multiple times. Candles, on the other hand, release toxins such as benzene and formaldehyde when burnt. Buying diyas will also benefit local sellers instead of already-rich brands. However, when buying diyas, avoid the coloured ones, as they are usually painted with chemical colours. Rustic is the new black these days.
2. Eco-friendly crackers
These may be slightly more expensive than traditional ones (Rs 30-Rs 3,500) but go a long way in controlling noise and air pollution. Based on the vacuum combustion method, they are made from recycled paper, use lesser amounts of chemicals such as sulphur and potassium nitrate, and emit less smoke than traditonal ones. The sound they make are also within the defined limits of the pollution control board. Win-win all the way.
3. Organic rangoli
Give those chemical-laden colours a miss this year. Instead, head to your kitchen and reach for turmeric, ground coffee and rice paste. For more colour, opt for flowers such as marigold, crysanthemum, rose, hibiscus and lotus. Not only will your rangoli look fresh, it will also give off a beautiful fragrance. Besides, it's a beautiful way to share food with birds and insects. Why should only your human friends receive gifts and goodies?
4. Community celebrations
Instead of burning crackers individually in various parts of the city, get together for Diwali festivities. Also try and limit the burning of firecrackers till a certain time in the evening. This will not only control noise and air pollution in the city at large, but will also reduce littering and make festivities a lot more enjoyable and fun. The more, the merrier.
5. Gift a plant
Why spend thousands on gifts you can give any other time of the year as well? Why not gift something that can help reverse the spike in pollution Diwali leads to? Head to a nursery, buy a pretty potted plant that is easy to take care of and gift it to your loved one. Eco-friendly message, delivered. Albeit with a little red ribbon tied around it.