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

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

Photograph courtesy Radhika Iyengar

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

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

Our group has determined collectively that we are going to cut back our waste this 12 months. Zero waste, as we all know, is a objective value striving for, however we had been decided to attain it. The organizers started planning how we must 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 prepare the meals caterer in our mission? We began checking our metropolis’s Recycle Coach app to see what objects will be recycled. It grew to become a challenge of its personal. Sooner or later we thought an excessive amount of and it destroyed our occasion 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 folks 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 had been severely thought-about. Nonetheless, with a good price range, shopping for compostable dishes made little sense. Our metropolis can be nonetheless testing a composting challenge, so it was impractical to make use of this feature. Many of the objects offered as compostable have to be composted commercially, so it will be troublesome to discover a facility in NJ that might compost them. We additionally mentioned that every household carry their very own utensils. Nonetheless, that appeared a bit overwhelming for households with younger kids.

Plates, cups and cutlery

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

Fortuitously, we now have 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 clean their plates individually. Volunteers additionally took turns washing the dishes, which helped distribute the work.

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

Due to Bartan Financial institution, we had been capable of 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 price ($ 5)

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

Women in a kitchen

Photograph courtesy Radhika Iyengar

If you wish to use the Bartan Financial institution:

  • Deliver further aprons on your occasion – they save in your costly occasion garments.
  • Additionally carry dwelling scrubbers, tea towels, and dish cleaning soap from dwelling.
  • You will not be lonely with washing utensils; many girls joined in and truly the occasion 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.
  • In the event you break a cup, don’t be concerned. Bartan Financial institution could be very lenient.

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

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

Serving trays with marigold flowers in them

Serving trays will be reused to develop marigolds. Photograph courtesy Radhika Iyengar

Different issues included returning the cardboard trays to the vendor for reuse, which they fortunately took as they use them typically. That method we might be position fashions for finest observe and kids be taught sustainable habits in a sensible method. Keep in mind to spill into a number of households as these bowls take up lots of area. Enter time for distribution on the finish of the occasion. We just lately came upon that aluminum trays usually are not recyclable based on the Recycling Coach app. When the meal was prepared, the trays had been washed, wiped, and stacked to be returned to the distributors. As an excellent higher various, we shall be utilizing the bowls for planting marigolds, as they had been used for the deity puja. Simply distribute the flowers as they comprise the seeds and the following puja shall be carried out with your individual flowers.

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

Our celebration created fairly a little bit of waste. We used paper towels to scrub up any spills on the desk. You can even use scraps of material. Yoghurt containers (Plastic # 5) usually are not the popular recyclable plastic in our metropolis (in comparison with # 1 and # 2) and subsequently ended up within the bins. You possibly can be in search of recyclable yogurt choices. Dirty and troublesome to scrub aluminum tray lids needed to be thrown away, in addition to leftover meals and an entire white rice tray that might not be used. All of this stuff introduced our trash right down to 7 gallons. Examine 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

Photograph courtesy Radhika Iyengar

In the event you’re completely into trash, you may run a trash audit to plan for additional reductions within the following 12 months.

Remaining issues: Java Compost additionally does an event-based assortment of meals scraps that we realized final minute. If you’re planning a celebration, contact Java Compost effectively upfront to carry 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 won’t work as a result of the cooked meals incorporates oils.

Did somebody say that doing the dishes is just for the women? Our occasion 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 kids washing their plates, actual position fashions for his or her youthful siblings.

Briefly, plan your inexperienced agenda upfront. Keep in mind to take child steps and be happy with them. Possibly begin out with simply 1-2 doable objects. 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 joyful and save her creation by killing rubbish collectively. Take pleasure in your festivities!

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

This story was initially revealed right here.

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