We had our annual Onam festival celebrations coming up at our apartment. One of my partners- Jyothi had a deep pull to make it a Zero waste event. The 3 of us (@ Fine Elements) deliberated on ways to avoid waste. Traditionally food is had on plantain leaves for the celebration — a green waste, but some of the items are given in single use plastic containers by the caterer. We decided that if we could take those items out, and ensure that no plastic was used in the celebrations or decorations, we could truly make the event a Zero waste.

We contacted Adamya Chetana (a voluntary organisation in the field of social development), and decided to pay their steel plate bank facility a visit. The organisation is a zero-garbage generating unit as well. We were convinced that we could use their plate bank for the event. To keep things under budget, we knew we will need to reuse the steel vessels and cutlery in between the sadhya panthis (lunch feast) for the expected 700 people. The cleaning of the steel utensils and cutlery would be a monitoring overhead as we would need to engage housekeeping staff just for this task, and coordinate the availability of clean vessels and cutlery during each panthi.

Now, to convince the different stakeholders for the event regarding the additional expenses and work required. We talked to the Onam management team, and surprisingly the decision to make this a Zero waste event was well received. Next was the Apartment Management Committee’s agreement to lend the housekeeping staff to take on extra work of cleaning the steel plates and cutlery and have them available in time during sadhya (lunch feast). As long as they were assured that the three of us would coordinate the entire exercise, they were happy to help.

The caterer was communicated to not bring any single use plastic or plastic containers. And we placed the orders for the required steel containers and cutlery at the plate bank at Adamya Chetana.

The plate bank is situated a good 25km from our apartment. As the old cliché goes, no pain no gain. The only rider was that we had to ensure the exact number of utensils were returned in the same good condition that we were receiving.

Since we were making the Onam lunch and festivities zero waste, why not create more awareness around it. Kids were asked to share their thoughts as pictures or paintings or posters on Refuse, Reduce, Recycle theme.

Check out the cool drawings by the kids:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv7SgUxaBuU

By going eco-friendly, we had savings of 2000 single use plastic disposable waste.

It was a collective effort of the Onam management team, and us (team @Fine Elements). Of course the 3 of us had to count all the steel vessels and spoons, and ensure they were spick and span to return to Adamya Chetana! :D

The green event was very well received, many appreciated the green move and it encouraged folks to think along the lines of conducting more such zero waste events for such celebrations in the future.

We were happy that it was worth all the effort that we put in and a very important awareness for all.

We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly. — Anne Marie Bonneau

Social Entrepreneur, Green enthusiast, Avid reader. Co-founder of Fine Elements,@ fine.elements.eco, fb:FineElementsEco, LinkedIn:fine-elements-eco, nisha-vinod