Travelling via the Western Line on Mumbai’s local train gradually introduces travellers to a regular phenomenon. As the train crosses over Mahim Creek, passengers — particularly in the ladies compartments — head towards the entrance with bags in hand. These bags are filled with puja flowers and are tossed down the bridge into the water.
Though discarded flowers are known to be a major cause for water pollution, they continue to be tossed into water bodies. Used in puja and other religious/customary ceremonies, most users are hesitant to toss them into the trash. Flower bouquets only serve to add to the waste, and we often end up with either wasting the flowers or discarding them in the least eco-friendly ways possible.
While a number of organisations now work to recycle and reuse cut flowers used in temples and ceremonies like weddings, householders remain at a loss for the flowers used for daily puja or received as gifts. Here are a few ways in which you can make the most of these beautiful blooms.
Don’t be deceived by the packaged versions—potpourri is easy to make at home. A mixture of petals and spices, potpourri is a natural perfume and needs only dried flowers of your choice, combined with spices and essential oils. For a harmonious fragrance, pick your natural ingredients from the same season and bruise the flowers lightly to circulate the fragrance better. Scour the internet for recipes, mix the ingredients according to instruction and store them in a jar or drawstring bag.
As the hobby has regained in popularity around the world, a lot of journaling enthusiasts are now on the lookout for ways to make their journals prettier (and more Instagram-worthy). Along with pretty washi tapes and calligraphy, you can also elevate the pages with a sprinkling of dried petals in all shapes and colours. Paste them at random or arrange them in beautiful designs.
3. Floral art
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Pressed flowers can be rearranged to create beautiful, three-dimensional works of art. Use a tweezer to place the delicate flowers on the page, along with some foliage, and use an adhesive to stick it firmly on the base. Pick cardboard or sturdy paper over plain sheets, which may not be able to take the weight of the flowers. Let it dry and frame it for your walls.
4. Greeting cards and stationery
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Come New Year and birthdays, many still prefer old-fashioned paper greeting cards to e-cards or social media messages. You can stick dried or pressed flowers on the card or create a pop-up effect. You can also use flowers or petals on envelopes, post cards, wrapping paper, bookmarks, notebooks and any paper stationery you use.
5. Dried flower backdrop
Have a birthday party or even a small pre-wedding event at home? Eschew conventional decoration for a dried floral backdrop. Use a cloth backdrop and sew the flowers into the canvas or pin them on to a coir mat backdrop.
6. Bath products
At its simplest, flower petals can be scattered in the bath for a feel-good shower. Apart from that, you can put your DIY skills to work and combine flowers and other ingredients to make natural soaps and bath bombs at home.
7. Household cleaner
Flowers can make for great household cleaners. Take 1/4th cup of flowers and mix it with a cup of baking soda and tablespoon of salt to make some easy surface cleaner. You can also mix a few petals into your floor cleaner just before mopping for a fragrant twist!
8. Bottled flowers
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If you have accumulated a variety of dried flowers and have more than you can use, turn them into little decorative items for your home. Most of us have old glass bottles lying around—simply give them a good rinse-and-dry and fill it with neatly arranged layers of dried or pressed flowers. You can also add little pebbles and trinkets to spruce them up further.
Whether it is a wreath for your door during Christmas or simply a beautiful centrepiece for your coffee table, dried flowers do a fantastic job. Dried flower arrangements are also far more durable, and eco-friendly, than fresh flowers. While centrepieces are easy to create as long as you have a vase or container, you can also weave them into a wreath with some help from the World Wide Web.
Image source: Flickr
Coming back to the simplest method of using flowers without going through the process of drying or pressing, simply turn them into compost. Most household flowers are used during daily puja. While most people aren’t willing to mix them with regular trash, all you have to do is store these flowers separately in a compost bin.