Sunday, November 4, 2007

Three Ways to Celebrate an ecosensitive Diwali this year

The first step towards celebrating an ecosensitive Diwali is to become aware of the impacts the festival of Diwali has on Nature. Here are three such impacts:

1. Firecrackers and Air Pollution

Firecrackers are the fun of Diwali! These aesthetic forms of light seem so appropriate when celebrating the 'Festival of Lights'! But in our increasingly polluted cities, the temporary joy of watching the firecrackers is soon replaced by the intense air pollution caused by these. The toxic substances used in the firecrackers release toxic gases that are harmful to the health of all living beings. The high level of noise generated by the crackers also cause immense sufferring to birds and animals and are dreaded by the sick and the ailing.

Besides few of us realise that the firecrackers are made by very young children using child labour. Since the substances being handled are extremely toxic many of these children get sick and die in their early teenage years.

Let there be an explosion of joy without crackers!

Say No to Fire crackers and ‘Yes’ to life!

2. Consumerism

An indirect but equally significant impact of Diwali on nature is due to the increased consumption. Since Diwali is also a celebration of abundance and wealth - many people believe that it is a good time to buy. Often, people go out and buy new items even when they dont need them. Advertisements and hoardings scream out to people offerings sales extravaganzas, bargains, discounts encouraging us to buy and buy more!

How does this increased consumption affect Nature?

All man made items are made out of materials that come from Nature. Be it plastic, metal, paper or cloth – the raw materials for all of these come directly from nature. Those sources that are non renewable ( cannot be grown back) such as fossil fuels and metal ores get depleted and will one day run out. Depletion of non renewable natural resources is one of the most significant impact of consumerism. The gold earrings that you will buy from Diwali is coming from a gold mine that is not only depleting the gold resources of the earth, but in the process of mining is probably ruining several ecosystems.

Where do all the things we throw away go finally? Solid waste created by human beings which is non biodegradable ( does not easily decompose ) has to be filled into holes dug up in the ground. These ‘landfills’ as they are called may exist for centuries without completely getting integrated into the soil. The plastic toys that you are throwing away today, may exist in a landfill several generations after yours!

This is why to be able to conserve our natural environment it is important to

  • Reduce : the amount of things we use
  • Reuse : the things we have in different forms until we have absolutely no use for them
  • Recycle : items that are no longer functional.

In addition we could add two more principles

  • Rethink : the choices we make when deciding to buy something and
  • Refuse : things that we do not need at all.

Before you buy something new this Diwali apply the above five principles and only then pay at the counter!

3. Energy Consumption

The festival of lights puts a considerably heavy load on electrical energy sources that are already overloaded. The use of electric lights to adorn homes, business establishments, monuments and roads requires a huge amount of electricity.

The older tradition of burning oil lamps is a possible alternative to electric lights – even though it does use oil, the duration of the lamps is shorter.

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