The Final Solution

Here is what we found out after our research on the environmental impact of celebrating Ganesh chaturthi or Ganesh utsav

  1. Ganesha idols made from PoP or Plaster of Paris contain gypsum which add to the toxicity of water and harm marine life
  2. Ganesh idols are generally painted by colours that contain trace metals like mercury and cadmium which can be fatal for humans and other life forms once it enters food cycle
  3. Large size of Ganesh idols contain large amounts of PoP, large amount of paint, need more time to dissolve thus causing more harm to the environment
  4. Ganesh idols made from shaadu clay or clay from the river bed dissolved easily in water however it was still not a part of the ecosystem and deposits in the bed
  5. Ganesh idols made from paper mache also dissolved easily and are broken down by micro organisms in the water however they can create anerobic environment depleting oxygen levels in the water killing fish
  6. Eco friendly colours sold by paint companies and home-made colours like sendur, gulal, kum kum, turmeric, geru are much gentler on the environment but can still harm the marine life since they are also foreign to the eco system and their presence in large quantities
So what could be the solution to the problem?

The only way we can reduce the impact of this festival is through community efforts. One of the reasons why Ganesh utsav started in the first place was to foster a feeling of community and unity among people and we again need to come together to reduce the damage we are doing on the environment.

Ways of minimizing the impact on environment-

Reducing the number of Ganesha idols. This can be done by having a few idols for a buildings, complexes and societies. Many families can come together and decide to celebrate the festival together, reducing the impact and increasing the joy of the festival.

Decreasing the size of Ganesh idols. Tougher regulations and more awareness are needed so that bigger idols are not immersed in the rivers and seas. These idols take more time to disintegrate and cause more damage to marine life.

Using eco friendly idols, paints and decorations. After reducing the number and size of the idols we need to look at the most eco friendly idol, paint and decorations and use it. Through innovation and originality we can surely celebrate ganesh utsav in the same lively manner but without harming our planet.