Temples, churches, gurudwaras and mosques possess a characteristic of attracting positive and divine vibrations from the surroundings, they sanctify the area and are believed to charge the atmosphere with heavenly vibes. People are accustomed to offer flowers, garlands, coconut and milk to the deities in the temples as they are considered a symbol of devotion and reverence.
But every year, 80, 00,000 tons of temple waste are dumped into the rivers– killing fishes and other living beings, creating chaos in the fragile atmosphere and thus causing enormous water pollution. With these, pesticides and fertilizers also stream in the river, threatening the civic lives to a large magnitude.
Degradation of the temple waste is a very slow process
The bulk of flowers, leaves of plants, coconut shells, milk and curd do not have a suitable means of disposal in most of the religious places and they are disposed randomly at several public places. In 2005, WHO deemed 36% of the chemicals used in the flower plantations as highly toxic, having an adverse effect of health leading to respiratory problems, skin rashes and eye problems.
It takes a lot for people for take that crucial minute to wonder what happens with this waste. Instead of developing a cold feet to the damage caused to the environment, it is necessary to synthesize a solution applicable to all the religious centers in India.
Devotee offerings can get a green turnaround
A need for an awareness is felt amongst the individuals in the past few years and few examples can be quoted which act as catalysts in raising public consciousness.
A 33-year old Praveen Chauhan, alumnus of National Institute of Fashion Technology, Bengaluru signed an MoU with Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee to reuse 200 kg of floral waste into natural dyes. These dyes were soaked in authentic Khadi wear which were available for sale in domestic and International markets.
Praveen and Kathy, founder of ‘Because of Nature’ inhibited creativity by showcasing their talent in Lakme Fashion Week 2017 in Mumbai, garnering a good response. A large part of the manufacturing is done by underprivileged women, rendering them a sense of belonging and purpose.
These dyed Khadi clothes are exported in Australia and Japan, where people pay between $ 100-400 for authentic Khadi clothing. They aim to accommodate 60-70 temples in the near future, to ramp up employment and contribute through sustainable fashion.
Temple waste can be utilized for the making of diversified products
At many places, flowers are thoroughly washed and dried in the sun. They are powdered and mixed with natural raisins to make a dough which leads to the generation of handmade roll-out herbal incense sticks. Vermicomposting is also an excellent and eco-friendly process for floral waste management.
Coconut shells, burnt in open air for three hours can produce coconut shell ash that can be used in partial replacement of cement. The coconut shell concrete can be used in reinforced concrete construction as a substitution for granite.
Floral waste can also serve as a sustainable source of raw material in handmade paper production. These papers are 100% free from wood and other harmful chemicals thereby contributing to reduce, reuse and recycle concept.
Where marigold flower extract can be used as an additive in food industries and in veterinary feeds, dry mahua flowers can used in the preparation of sugar syrup.
Floral oils possess medicinal value eg. Lily to cure jaundice, Madhuca in treatment of bronchitis, calendula oil a good source of massage oil etc.
Floral waste management has yielded good results in Ajmer’s Dargah Sharif, where the flowers generated regularly are recycled and with the technical assistance from Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plant, Lucknow, a rose water distillation plant has been established in the outskirts of the city.
The green-temple concept will prove a beneficiary in the long-run
As the initiatives taken by the people are proving effective, these baby steps can help the Government in policy formulation at religious centers. The novel approach can additionally generate revenue and empower people, significantly benefitting the bio economy.