Do not use balloons as decorations. Give cloth or paper flags, not plastic flags. Do not use eruption and lights on trees. Ask all vendors to keep single-use plastic away from the celebration.
“Except one tip (“Give sweets without wrappers as chocolate wrappers are not easy to recycle”), all the advice was followed,” says Bhuvana Raj, co-founder of SIMPLE, a resident-led zero-waste initiative.
How to have a zero waste festival
Create separate bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste
Encourage residents to bring their own dishes and water bottles
Rent cutlery instead of buying disposable plates
Kumkum, Mangal The thamboolam during kulu can be wrapped with newspaper
Say no to gift wrapping
Engage with a non-profit before D-Day so they are prepared to collect surplus food that can go to those in need
To remove biodegradable waste generated during community events, contact Greater Chennai Corporation authorized vendors
SIMPLE is expanding to include improving sustainability through multiple projects for a better environment.
The gated community of about 300 villas has developed a sustainability model for the association to follow during any community event.
“Last Deepavali, we collected 320 kg of cracker waste that residents handed over to the housekeeping staff,” says Bhuvana. Deepavali, SIMPLE hopes to provide a checklist to encourage residents to reduce the amount of waste further.
The House of Hiranandani Upscale in Egattur has also raised the bar when it comes to making community celebrations green. The guidelines are circulated through the various communication channels sponsored by the association. At Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations last year, they had “green team” volunteers stand by the bins and ask people not to waste food, and if they had to throw away food, to throw it in the correct bin.
In many other gated communities, environmentally conscious residents gather to urge residents to adopt environmentally friendly practices.
At DLF Garden City in Semancherry, the recent Onam celebration featured shades of green, thanks to the efforts of several green volunteers in the community. Vinatha V, one of the organizers of the Onam celebration, received a request from Renuka Mani to all the Malayalis in the community to send them dried flowers after Kaikkutikali, a form of dance. The florist was instructed to bring flowers in one box to avoid the use of plastic.
“I have a 50-litre composting machine at home and one family gave me five kg of flower waste and overall, on an average, each family gave two kg of it,” says Renuka Mani, an eco-volunteer, who leads several initiatives during Navarathri. And Deepavali.
She says that driving such eco-friendly initiatives, even if they are collective, continuously through different WhatsApp groups is one way to make residents adopt green practices.