Killing the “unhealthy” trash throughout this 12 months’s Durga Puja celebrations

by Radhika Iyengar, Apresh Deva, Kumkum Srivastav and Yogita Ahire
|October 20, 2021

Picture courtesy Radhika Iyengar

Many Indian households look ahead to October and November. It’s a time to rejoice the goddess Durga, who represents power and braveness to beat evil. That is adopted by the Dussehra pageant, throughout which we burn the photographs of Ravan. Diwali is the pageant of lights once we clear our homes in order that the goddess Lakshmi can go to our homes.

That 12 months, 40 individuals, together with youngsters, gathered in Millburn, New Jersey to rejoice Durga Puja. All wearing our lovely conventional costumes, we rehearsed our performances and have been prepared to point out our nice expertise.

Our group has determined collectively that we’ll cut back our waste this 12 months. Zero waste, as we all know, is a objective price striving for, however we have been decided to attain it. The organizers started planning how we should always cut back waste. A lot thought adopted. Paper or compostable plates? How will we cut back meals waste, even for 3 full meals plus snacks? How will we practice the meals caterer in our mission? We began checking our metropolis’s Recycle Coach app to see what gadgets could be recycled. It turned a venture of its personal. In some unspecified time in the future we thought an excessive amount of and it destroyed our get together temper. It was about having enjoyable collectively and appreciating everybody, and never having overloaded our brains. So we determined to take small steps to maintain the larger image in thoughts.

Tips for a green celebration

Suggestions for the organizing committee from the inexperienced committee

We did not use paper plates as individuals would have used a number of plates and the waste would have doubled. Paper plates would not maintain our curries and white rice both, so this concept was discarded. Compostable panels have been critically thought-about. Nonetheless, with a decent price range, shopping for compostable dishes made little sense. Our metropolis can be nonetheless testing a composting venture, so it was impractical to make use of this selection. Many of the gadgets offered as compostable must be composted commercially, so it might be troublesome to discover a facility in NJ that would compost them. We additionally mentioned that every household deliver their very own utensils. Nonetheless, that appeared a bit overwhelming for households with younger youngsters.

Plates, cups and cutlery

The Bartan Financial institution got here to our assist by lending us dishes and utensils

Fortuitously, we’ve got the Bartan Financial institution in Millburn, which lends plates, glasses and utensils and is run by eco-ambassador Ishika Srivastav. We borrowed sufficient plates, cups and cutlery units to cater for all of us. Plates needed to be cleaned after every spherical. Many households determined to scrub their plates individually. Volunteers additionally took turns washing the dishes, which helped distribute the work.

Along with avoiding waste with disposable gadgets, there was much less meals waste in comparison with utilizing paper plates. In accordance with Indian custom, meals waste is a strict no as we worth each grain on our plate. This was how the kids realized methods to end their meals. Small stays have been destroyed by the dad and mom and the dad and mom have been pleased to reuse the identical plate. To our shock, for a really small donation of $ 5, Bartan Financial institution turned a vastly profitable experiment for the group.

Due to Bartan Financial institution, we have been in a position to cut back plastic consumption and maintain a big occasion on a small price range.

Approximate financial savings

Plastic plates saved over three meals = $ 96 = $ 21

Plastic cups saved = 96 = $ 10

Plastic cutlery saved = 96 = $ 10

Variety of Plastic Bottles Saved = 32 $ 2 Bottles per Bottle = $ 64

Whole = $ 105 saved

minus Bartan financial institution charge ($ 5)

The whole financial savings have been $ 100, which was fairly sufficient for our price range.

Women in a kitchen

Picture courtesy Radhika Iyengar

If you wish to use the Bartan Financial institution:

  • Convey further aprons to your get together – they save in your costly get together garments.
  • Additionally deliver house scrubbers, tea towels, and dish cleaning soap from house.
  • You will not be lonely with washing utensils; many girls joined in and really the get together moved into the kitchen whereas chatting.
  • Use an meeting line the place one particular person washes the dishes, one other wipes them, and a 3rd piles them again on the desk.
  • Should you break a cup, don’t fret. Bartan Financial institution may be very lenient.

Our largest waste discount was with the plastic water bottles. In our preparatory conferences, we requested the households to deliver their very own refillable water bottles. Should you can, get a filter.

We did not purchase small packets of chips this time so all plastic wrappers have been saved. We had fruit for youths as a substitute, so it was more healthy too. If it’s essential purchase chips or different snacks, you possibly can recycle the luggage at Goal. However that provides journey, so it is higher to keep away from it.

Serving trays with marigold flowers in them

Serving trays could be reused to develop marigolds. Picture courtesy Radhika Iyengar

Different concerns included returning the cardboard trays to the vendor for reuse, which they fortunately took as they use them typically. That manner we could possibly be function fashions for finest apply and kids be taught sustainable habits in a sensible manner. Bear in mind to spill into a number of households as these bowls take up numerous area. Enter time for distribution on the finish of the occasion. We not too long ago discovered that aluminum trays are usually not recyclable in keeping with the Recycling Coach app. When the meal was prepared, the trays have been washed, wiped, and stacked to be returned to the distributors. As a fair higher different, we shall be utilizing the bowls for planting marigolds, as they have been used for the deity puja. Simply distribute the flowers as they include the seeds and the following puja shall be carried out with your personal flowers.

Leftovers have been mendacity on the serving trays. In our preparatory calls, we requested the households to deliver their take-away containers in order that any leftover meals could possibly be returned to the households. It is all the time good to deliver further carry-out containers in case you’re very keen on the mutton curry!

Our celebration created fairly a little bit of waste. We used paper towels to wash up any spills on the desk. You can even use scraps of cloth. Yoghurt containers (Plastic # 5) are usually not the popular recyclable plastic in our metropolis (in comparison with # 1 and # 2) and due to this fact ended up within the bins. You might be searching for recyclable yogurt choices. Dirty and troublesome to wash aluminum tray lids needed to be thrown away, in addition to leftover meals and an entire white rice tray that would not be used. All of these things introduced our trash right down to 7 gallons. Evaluate that to final 12 months once we had 52 gallons of trash. Our Durga Puja 2021 saved 87% waste this 12 months. Spectacular!

Garbage in a trash can

Picture courtesy Radhika Iyengar

Should you’re completely into trash, you possibly can run a trash audit to plan for additional reductions within the following 12 months.

Remaining concerns: Java Compost additionally does an event-based assortment of meals scraps that we realized final minute. In case you are planning a celebration, contact Java Compost effectively prematurely to deliver your leftover meals with you. On this case, mark the trash cans as “compostable waste” and “shall be incinerated”. Some coaching is required to keep away from contamination. Home composting crops is not going to work as a result of the cooked meals accommodates oils.

Did somebody say that doing the dishes is just for the women? Our get together has confirmed in any other case. Many husbands helped wash the utensils. They waited patiently for his or her flip. It was additionally heartwarming to see older youngsters washing their plates, actual function fashions for his or her youthful siblings.

In brief, plan your inexperienced agenda prematurely. Bear in mind to take child steps and be happy with them. Perhaps begin out with simply 1-2 doable gadgets. All are environmentally pleasant, it solely takes an individual or two to place it on the agenda and plan the logistics. EVERYONE participates, you aren’t alone!

Let’s make Goddess Durga pleased and save her creation by killing rubbish collectively. Get pleasure from your festivities!

Radhika Iyengar is an Affiliate Analysis Fellow on the Heart for Sustainable Growth at Columbia College. Apresh Deva, Kumkum Srivastav, and Yogita Ahire are residents of Millburn, New Jersey.

This story was initially printed right here.


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