ECOLOGIC: Your shopping choices can be sustainable now

14th October 2017, New Indian Express: ECOLOGIC- Pavitra Sriprakash, the Chief Designer and Director of Shilpa Architects writes about how to make shopping more sustainable during this Diwali.

Full article

Your shopping choices can be sustainable now!

Bust out the new clothes and sweets; our favourite festival is here! It is time to get set for the week of fun and frolic. But remember that the choices we make at this time of the year can particularly impact the environment.

The obvious ones are of course the crackers and the pollution. To be fair, there is a lot more sensitivity towards these causes in recent years. We hear of more and more people supporting a noise free Diwali because they care about not disrupting natural habitats and about not wrecking the air quality during the festival. Every such individual’s decision nudges public opinion and social attitudes towards the cracker industry, child labour, and notorious working conditions. Now, the Supreme Court has taken notice too. Icons and public figures appeal to children about the fight against crackers; but this affects jobs, especially around Sivakasi.

When it comes to shopping, what can you watch out for to make your shopping choices more sustainable this year?

  • Opt for ways to get to the stores with the minimal footprint — this could mean online shopping, and neighbourhood shopping to eliminate driving or even using public transport for some!
  • Carry your own shopping bag and water from home in metal containers to quench your thirst.
  • Avoid plastics and packaged items using styrofoam.
  • Buying local products or goods produced by local artisans and craftsmen promotes local economies and reduces pollution caused by transport vehicles. For esxample, diyas and lamps.
  • Eating healthy is a challenge these days. You would do well to avoid processed foods that includes refined sugar, excessive salt and preservatives.
  • As a gesture, share your joy with a visit to an old age home or an orphanage.
  • Pick sustainable clothing as well — buy a handmade garment which is responsibly sourced and produced.

Earlier this year, Reciprocity Foundation, an NGO that promotes economic, social and environmental sustainability or reciprocity, had a plastic bag exchange programme at a sustainability fest in the city. The promise was that for every five plastic bags brought in, a canvas bag will be given in exchange to promote an eco-friendly choice. The idea was to rid plastic and dispose plastic waste from homes through approved recycling channels, and also to make people learn not to sully roadsides, choke drains and streams.

Instead, they were shocked to find people queuing with suitcases of plastic bags for exchange, some brand new and unused! They later found that on hearing about the exchange scheme, some folks had gone into stores, and asked for extra plastic shopping bags just to exchange. Surely, the plastic bag is the first thing to eliminate.

Raise the bar — enjoying Diwali in a holistically sustainable way is not about firecrackers alone. There’s more to it. Be aware!