Festivals bring people together in celebration and merriment. Festivals are celebrated all over the world but in a country like India, festivals can assume mammoth proportions. Festivities take place in every part of India all throughout the year. While festivals are supposed to be peaceful homage for gods and goddesses, it has now turned into something else. Festivals are nowadays commercialized celebrations that wreck havoc and pandemonium in more ways than one. They are now one of the major sources of air, sound, land and water pollution. In spite of taking several steps to curb the pollution, it is the lack of awareness among the general population that still needs to improve.
Let us make an effort to have pollution-free festivals this year. Eco-friendly festivals are gaining momentum among the masses gradually. Eco-friendly festivals are celebrated in such a way so as to bring minimum or no harm to the environment. It is through the initiative of each one of us that we can bring about eco-friendly festivals for years to come.
- Idol immersion
No matter what the festival, it invariably ends with idol immersion in nearby lakes or rivers. This can be extremely damaging for the fishes and other water plants and animals. The Plaster of Paris (POP), which is used to make the idols give out toxic chemicals like sulphur, magnesium and phosphorous. The toxic chemicals pollute the water and make it acidic. This can be deadly for the fish population. Moreover there are many people who take a bath in these waters. These people are likely to face a host of health problems in the near future. The way out of this is to make the idol with biodegradable or recyclable materials. Instead of immersing the idols, make ritualistic immersions in buckets. If the idol is too big, why don’t you keeping using the same idol every year? This is a wonderful way of avoiding any pollution. Furthermore, avoid using thermocol or plastic items in your festivities. Use clay or recycled paper instead.
- Other toxic waste
Idols are not the only things that are immersed in the water. Along with the idols, a lot of plastic items used in worship and thermocol also end up in the water. These are all biodegradable items that don’t dissolve at all- rather they keep on accumulating in the water and choking the river streams. Also, they give out toxic fumes.
- Chemical colours
Holi, a festival of colours is celebrated all over the country. Now while the festival is indeed a bright and colourful one, our futures may not be like that if we keep on using toxic colours. Chemical colours like black, green and blue contain harmful ingredients like lead oxide, mercury sulphite, copper sulphate and aluminium bromide. Health problems arising out of these chemicals are many- ranging from dermatitis to cancer. Also, they mix with the soil and pollute the land or get washed by the rivers and pollute the water. As an alternative, we can use organic colours instead. Made from chemical free natural products, these organic colours don’t damage our skin and hair. They also don’t cause a health concern and is safe for the environment too. You can even make these organic colours at home with the help of flower or plant extracts. In addition, try playing with dry colours to save water. Use henna or turmeric powders for playing or buy organic colours from local shops. You also must stop playing with plastic balloons filled with coloured water. Not only are you wasting water, but also using unnecessary plastic.
- Fire crackers and electric lights
Although diwali is supposed to be a festival of lights, we see that it has rather turned into a festival of noise. Burning crackers has become a ritual in this celebration but we fail to realise that we this is a major noise hazard. Blaring loud music and noisy firecrackers can cause a lot of health problems. Moreover it even affects animals and birds. Some fire crackers also give out poisonous gases that contaminate the environment massively. The smoke coming out of the fire crackers have the potential of causing serious lung problems, especially among children. Asthma is a common ailment seen among children that may have to do with this. This diwali try burning fewer crackers for the sake of your children. Also, instead of using electric lights that use a lot of energy, try using candles or LED lights. Refrain from listening to loud music as well.
There are some other simple tips that can be followed if you want to have a completely green eco-friendly festival from now on. Use recyclable or reusable items in your festivities. Avoid throwing anything out. It is also important to inspire others to do the same. Try and make others aware of the health and environmental concerns related to festivals and make them opt for eco-friendly festivals too.