Greening up Thaipusam Festival

Malaysia is a multi-racial and multi-religious country. Almost every month of the year we celebrate various festivities, most of it either religious or cultural and sometimes syncretism. We partake in these kinds of festivities to connect with others, enhancing ourselves and serving others, nonetheless, we forgot about the environment. 

Last year, 120,000 tonnes of food wasted during Ramadan and Selayang Municipal Council collected 150 tonnes of waste consisting of plastic packaging, broken coconuts shells and milk bottles during the Thaipusam celebration. 

We can unanimously concur that almost every festivities generate enormous amounts of rubbish, which are mostly food waste and packaging waste that end up either in landfills or our drains that will flow into our rivers. 

However, this can be changed by incorporating the element of best management practices in every of our festivities. Thaipusam festival is coming up this Saturday, and to those celebrating and participating, here is a list of best management practices to green up your Thaipusam celebration while paying your dues to Lord Muruga: 

1.    Opt for green packaging

Use green packaging when offering annathaanam (offering food). The best is to use banana leaves. However, if you cannot find one, look for biodegradable ones.

2.    Avoid single-use plastic

Bring your reusable drinking bottle instead of using plastic cups to quench your thirst. If you need to buy milk and takeaway food, use your container. Bring your tote bag and containers to keep the archanai (Pooja to praise or honour the Lord).

3.    Do not waste food

Take what you need and avoid food wastage. It is nice to see people generously offering food but we need to be mindful of what goes to waste.  

4.    Reduce use of tissue

Do not use tissue whenever possible. Use handkerchief instead. Tissues are not recyclable and they are harsh to the environment. This multi-billion-dollar industry supports large scale of unnecessary deforestation, water wasted to clean and prepare the pulp and chemical is used to whiten and make tissues softer, which can pollute our water body when flushed to the drainage.

5.    Reuse the coconuts

Just because it is broken, does not mean you cannot use it. Collect and turn the used or broken coconuts into oil, compost or charcoal. Do not let them end up in landfills. 

6. Do not litter

Assist volunteers during the festival to keep temples and its surrounding areas clean. 

7. Segregate your waste accordingly

If there are recyclable bins provided, please use them. Sort your waste accordingly. Blue colour bin is for paper, the brown bin is for glass, the orange bin is for plastic, and the green is for organic waste such as flower garland.

Let us step up our efforts and green up our festivals. 

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