Residents of Bengaluru are familiar with the bizarre phenomenon that Belandur lake displays every now and then, with froth overflowing onto the roads and neighbourhoods. This sight, a direct result of the environmental damage our urban way of life has on nature, inspired 42-year-old Padmashree Mahesh to focus on curbing threats to nature.
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A resident of HSR Layout in Bengaluru, Padmashree calls herself an environmentalist and is an active volunteer with the HSR citizen forum. This year, she and her team played a key role in ensuring that the annual Ganesha festival held in Hogasandra had a minimal generation of waste.
Each year, almost 10,000 people are fed as part of the annadan during the Ganesha festivities. Typically, the waste generated during the fest was enormous. This year, the HSR citizen forum decided to explore ways to reduce wastage and employ environmentally-friendly means to celebrate the festival.
Their goal was to demonstrate that despite large numbers of revellers, the event can be zero-waste and eco-friendly. An ideal zero-waste event sends nothing to landfills and incinerators.
Contractor Rupesh and his team from Hogasandra helped the forum in organising the event. They approached Adamya Chetna, a plate bank in Bengaluru for the utensils. Another forum member, Dr Shanthi from the HSR citizen forum, along with many volunteers, also pitched in.
‘We deliberated a lot and after a site visit, we decided to use steel plates and also look into the water consumption. We managed to get about 2,000 plates from them and we started the food distribution at 10 AM which went on till 4 PM. We had people coming and eating continuously.”
Given that this was also the first time we were trying something on such a large scale, that too an event that was open to the public, there were several issues we had to consider.
As for washing the plates, while the initial plan was to use bio enzymes, Padmashree mentions that using bio enzymes consumes a little more time than using other conventional washing products and since the quantity and turn around time was quick, they were unable to use it effectively.
“I would like to emphasise that we ought to reduce our carbon footprint on earth in whatever way we can. While we have the option of bio-degradable products, using them would still generate some amount of waste, but in using reusable there is absolutely no waste and we can take pride in conducting a zero-waste event.”
If this article has inspired you even a little bit to try and be environmentally-conscious, then here are a few ways in which you can also conduct zero-waste events:
· Start by doing away with paper invitations. Go meet, call, SMS, or Whatsapp, the invitation instead. Going paperless could contribute a great deal to the environment.
· Urge people to not get gifts and if they absolutely must then perhaps a plant would be a great option.
· Find disposable or even better, reusable cutlery to serve food at the event.
· Say no to plastic water bottles, instead set up water booths and urge people to use that.
· Use effective waste management technique at the venue itself to segregate the waste at source.
If you have conducted a zero-waste event or have attended one, do write in and tell us about it.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)