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Simple Steps to Celebrating a Sustainable Diwali This Year

5 min read

Crisp autumn air infused with the smell of pumpkin spice — October marks the beginning of sweater weather, cuddles and warming candles, and I am so here for it! But the South Asian in me is doing a little happy dance for another reason. Diwali is just around the corner! Growing up, Diwali was one of the few festivals during which I witnessed both kids and adults having bucket loads of fun, and I like to believe that some things never change. Loading up on mithai, bursting crackers and spending the day watching specials on TV are just some of the things that the child in me adores about Diwali. But it’s also true that these celebrations contribute increasingly towards air and noise pollution in India. They put several lives at risk and leave a lasting impact on the environment. And it’s why we need to seek better ways to celebrate more responsibly. Here’s a little guide on how you can try and celebrate a sustainable Diwali this festive season.   

[Read Related: 6 Ways to Welcome Diwali in 2020]

Festive Fashion

Dressing up is a big part of Diwali celebrations. But with so much fashion waste ending up in landfills, it may not be wise to invest in another grand lehenga only to use it once. There are so many different ways to make your festive outfit both fun and mindful, and I’ve summed up some of the simplest ways to do so: 


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Read the Label

While buying from brands, make sure to look at the labels on their products or use their website to learn about their manufacturing process. A good place to start would be to keep an eye out for the GOTS organic certification as this is only given to brands who have at least 70% organic fibres in their final products. 

Choose the Right Fabric

Yes, it is never wrong to want to add some bling to your Diwali outfit. But choosing the right fabric can go a long way in making you feel stylish while also being kinder to the environment. Some options for you to consider include recycled cotton, linen or even hemp. In particular, opt-out of nylon and polyester clothing which use an insane amount of energy and chemicals known to pollute the air and water near production facilities. 

Donate or Sell

A good rule of thumb is to only add an item to your wardrobe when you decide to take an item out. So this festive season, take some time out to go through all the clothes you own and when you see something that hasn’t been worn in a while or doesn’t suit your current taste, remove it. You can either donate it or sell it to a thrift store of your choice. Consider it your festive good deed. 


At the end of the day, the best way to consume is to consume less. Although buying from sustainable brands is always better than going for fast fashion, it is important to remember that shopping, when there isn’t a real need, defies the purpose. Instead, reuse what you already own and if you’re keen to spice things up, throw in a wardrobe swap! You can do this with your friends or use the many online websites that offer an option to trade in your clothes for some other cute ones.

Buy Pre-loved

Another great alternative to festive shopping, even if it is from sustainable brands, is to shop thrift. You get to give a home to an otherwise abandoned item. To me, that adds a real nice touch to the celebratory spirit of Diwali. 

Responsible Gifting

What’s a better way to light up your day if not by putting a smile on the faces of those you love? And gifts surely help with that! Here are a few ways that can help you bring your A-game to mindful gifting: 

Shop Small, Local and Sustainable

Not to sound preachy and repetitive but shopping from small, sustainable local businesses is a game-changer to living a more conscious life — and vital to your sustainable Diwali celebrations! So keep this in mind, even while looking for presents. 

Homemade is Heartfelt

You may think that store-bought gifts are more impressive, but sometimes even the simplest of handmade presents can make your loved ones feel extra special. The amount of time, effort and love that goes into making something exceeds the wow factor of an expensive price tag! Be it baked goodies, fresh out of your oven, or a cute little handmade card, your friends and family are sure to cherish the thoughtfulness of a gift that you spent time making.

The Gift of Time

Now, I know this sounds a little cheesy but given the state of the world, spending time with your loved ones might be all they need right now. So even if it is not as a present, make sure to take some time out of your celebrations to cuddle those you love (but be safe about it, of course!)

[Read More: 3 Ways you can Dress up for a Virtual Diwali Celebration]

The Proof is in the Wrapping

While thinking about gifts, I can’t help but cringe at the thought of mounds of wrapping paper and plastic ribbons that end up in trash cans the morning after. In fact, a lot of these glittery add-ons are not recyclable or eco-friendly. Having said that, the dilemma lies in wanting gifts to still be neatly wrapped. So after a bit of digging, here are my top tips to dress your gifts up fashionably yet sustainably: 

  • Invest in reusable wrapping. This could be fabric wrappers, reusable bags or just some cardboard boxes that your recipient might reuse. 
  • Make use of wrapping tissues, ribbons, boxes, twine, etc. from your old mail (you can even iron your ribbons out to bring them back to their original state!). And of course, when all else fails, there’s always the good old newspaper to fall back on. 
  • Add in some natural elements as a replacement for ribbons. I just pick up some pine twigs on my daily walk and tie them to my gifts with a bit of twine — trust me, they not only help you save waste but also look incredibly cute!

Decor and More

Truth be told, I take my Diwali decorations very seriously. And in the best interest of our planet, it is imperative to be purposeful about it. 


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Choose Diyas Instead of Crackers

It’s been a tradition for as long as we can remember, and it’s also fun bursting crackers, but they do more harm than good. The obvious noise and air pollution aside, crackers contain way too many chemicals that pose health risks to humans and are a safety hazard. Not to forget our doggo friends who suffer throughout the celebrations; it seems a little unfair if you ask me. So instead, light your home up with gorgeous organic candles or diyas and ring in the festive season with light.  

Plant a Tree or Buy an Indoor Plant  

Plants add such a fresh dimension to a home. And if it was up to me, everyone would have them. If you can, plant a tree in your backyard and watch it grow, or go green indoors. Either way, it is sure to make your Diwali a special one. 

Use Organic Rangoli Colours

I remember my grandma drawing a huge rangoli outside our home on the morning of Diwali. And if you are a sucker for traditions like me, these rangolis might be part of your Diwali morning routine too. Opt for organic rangoli powder or even make your own, using rice flour, turmeric, dried hibiscus petals, orange peels and more. DIY projects can be so much fun! 

Set Your Table Consciously

Starting with biodegradable/reusable cutlery and serveware, like those decadent brass bowls from Papreeka, to minimalistic plant-based centrepieces, you can still achieve a Pinterest-worthy dinner table while keeping it eco-friendly. If you’re one for challenges, try throwing a zero-waste Diwali party and encourage all your guests to join the fun! 

[Read More: 60+ South Asian-Owned Small Businesses you Have to Shop from This Diwali and Festive Season]

I hope you enjoyed learning about these little but important steps that can help you elevate your festivities and make them more eco-friendly. Don’t forget to eat all your sweets, stay safe and have a happy, sustainable Diwali, peeps!