How a Bellandur family organised a low-waste celebration

Sobha Quartz in Bellandur, Bengaluru is a residential apartment complex with 146 families. Some families living here compost their kitchen waste in their own balcony-based mini composting plants. They also embrace zero-waste events, sustainable menstruation hygiene practices and other eco friendly practices. Here’s how a typical Sobha Quartz family, Naresh Sadasivan and his wife Shanthi Naresh, ensure their event was zero waste.

Invitation cards, non-biodegradable decorations, plastic disposables, water bottles, leftover food, tissue paper and plastic bags create a mass of trash that go to a landfill, which is not only a waste of money, but a problem when the city is facing a huge garbage-disposal crisis.  Landfills are already overflowing. Garbage-disposal is further compounded by lack of separation at source and generally poor waste management practices.  Lack of proper disposal clogs drains, leading to water-logging and other ecological issues.  As a measure of addressing these garbage issues, many socially-conscious families are now opting for green events. 

Here are a few things that they did, in order make their event participated by over 200 guests stand out!

  • Everything starting from invitation, decoration, to food and gifts, was planned to be eco-friendly.

  • They opted out of invitation cards!  Invitations were sent through Whatsapp messages.

  • “No gifts please, but if you must, they better be plants or saplings”, said the invite.

  • 95% of the gifts they actually received were plants, all of which quickly found home in their backyard. 

  • A grand South Indian feast was served for lunch, on banana leaves as is the norm for any such event in the south. It is one of the most eco-friendly, disposable food serving systems. 

  • Single-use-disposables like thermocol / plastic plates, cups and spoons are banned in Karnataka on account of the garbage issue. So the couple were against ‘use-and-throws’.  They rented good steel tumblers, cups, and spoons for a deposit of Rs 20K at Adamya Chetana.  Adamya Chetana, a not for profit organization supporting sustainable living, rents all kinds of steel utensils free of cost.  They have in stock more than 8000 sets of plates, water / coffee glasses, bowls and spoons. Adamya Chetana also has a commercial dishwasher that it uses to clean the returned dishes. 

  • The couple requested their caterer not to bring in any kind of disposable cups / bottled water for drinking and they provided several 50-litre cans of filtered water, with dispensers and steel cups.

  • Separate bins for dry, wet and reject wastes were placed appropriately around the lunch venue.

  • Organic wastelike banana stem / leaves, flowers, et al went to the local vermi-composter in the complex. Wet waste like mango leaves etc that was of relatively low volume went into their own garden in their backyard.

  • Use of both plastic bags and non-woven polypropylene bags (NWPP) is banned in Karnataka. NWPP, also known as Chinese Jute, looks and feels like cloth but is actually non-biodegradable plastic. They avoided using them for Tamboolam and instead distributed coconut, betel leaves, kumkum packets, et al in small cloth bags.
  • For disposal of food waste – food left uneaten on the banana leaves and the leaves themselves, the couple found a Goshala on Dommansandra-Sarjapura Road, not far from their new home, which accepted it all.

  • Unused food was served to the construction labour in the neighborhood camp.  

  • The table liners – the paper that caterers lay on top of the tablecloth were dried well and sent for recycling.

  • Thus, the event generated no mixed waste at all.

The ideal ‘zero waste event’ sends nothing to landfills and incinerators and continually strives hard to reduce the volume of waste. This couple has thus clearly demonstrated that it is indeed possible to render an event of this kind, ‘less waste’. Going by this, it is possible to render any such event ‘Zero-waste’, no matter how big the event is!

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