Every year, tourists flock into Goa to celebrate bachelorettes, birthdays and other similar parties. But, this involves a lot of décor and other single use items that may not be eco-friendly.
Some of them include balloons, sashes, candles, disposable crockery, cutlery and the like.
Balloons are mostly made of rubber, latex or nylon. These materials cannot be recycled at home, nor are they biodegradable. ‘Upcycler’s Lab’ says, “The balloons end up in the bin and then in the landfill if you're lucky. They could end up in the sea or rivers. Wherever they end up, they'll take years and years to decompose.” WWF-Australia estimates that polyurethane balloons take about 450 years to decompose.
Fresh flowers, cloth buntings, origami paper hangings make a sustainable alternative. Flowers go beyond colour, adding freshness and aroma to the vibe.
Cloth buntings are easy to reuse and may be washable. If you plan to make the origami figures, you get a reason to slow down and spend time with others while making them, while also learning an art form. These can be reusable if maintained well.
Sashes are made from nylon or polyester. Greenchoices.org states that “Nylon manufacture creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Making polyester uses large amounts of water for cooling, along with lubricants which can become a source of contamination. Both processes are also very energy-hungry.”
Sashes made of sustainable materials like cotton or modern ones like those made of bamboo are a better choice.
Candles are made of paraffin wax which is a by-product of petroleum. According to the Ecologist.org, “If the candle you’re using happens to be of the cheap, paraffin based variety, then you’re releasing a number of carcinogens, including acetaldehyde, acrolein, benzene, formaldehyde, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and toluene into the atmosphere, along with the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.”
Fairy lights and paper lanterns are reusable options and don't create pollution, either.
Disposable crockery and cutlery
Most disposable crockery and cutlery are made of plastic which are now banned. Some crockery is made of paper with a foil-like layer which is actually plastic. Others are made of plain paper or biodegradable materials like sugarcane bagasse. Some cutlery is made of wood. But these are all single use. A lot of resources go into producing them and then they need to be responsibly separated from other wastes when they are at the end of their lives.
Crockery and cutlery made of reusable materials like steel, ceramic, melamine, glass, wood or bio plastics are a great idea. These bio plastics may also contain wheat, rice husk, coffee grounds and the like which would otherwise have been burnt by farmers and created pollution.
Tissues are made of wood fibre or recycled materials. 30% more greenhouse gases are emitted when tissues are made of virgin materials compared to that of recycled. Tree cutting for tissues is the reason for 15% of the deforestation. About 25% of the waste found in landfills is paper and needs a very long time to decompose.
Old school napkins or handkerchiefs are the best proxies because they are reusable.
Foil curtains are made of tinsel which is mainly Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a fossil based widely used plastic hard to recycle.
Paper curtains and bamboo blinds might be an eco-friendly choice for backdrops.
Speaking of flowers for decorations, co-founder of Greenmyna, eco-friendly wedding planners, Ashwin shares, “Locally grown flowers in Goa like hibiscus, gerberas and marigolds are most commonly used at weddings. Apart from looking aesthetic, locally grown means they have a lower carbon footprint as well as uplift the local farmer community.”
So, the next time you are out there celebrating, won't you choose greener options?
(Heena Shah is an avid traveller and covers topics such as sustainable travel and lifestyle. Got comments, suggestions? Contact: Explorer.firstname.lastname@example.org)