- Reduce holiday waste with green gifting
By Ravini Perera
The holiday season is a time when a considerable amount of waste gets added to the ecosystem. While food and decorations are the most obvious (and biggest) contributors to pollution during the festive season, there is another less obvious contributor; gifts. While gifts are an integral part of the holiday spirit and celebrating the season, and wrapping papers, ribbons, tapes, cards, tags, and the many other accessories help beautify the external appearance of the gift and enrich the gift-giving and gift-receiving process, they also add tonnes of waste to the environment. Furthermore, these items are most often non-recyclable.
Gift-wrapping accessories are not the only issue that threatens the planet. The gift itself can also have a profoundly harmful impact on the environment. Glassware, plastics, new clothes, stationery, and perfumes, alongside most other gift options, are toxic to the earth.
With the whole world moving towards sustainable living, many individuals and organisations have developed ideologies and concepts to reduce pollution by introducing and encouraging consumers to buy organic and eco-friendly holiday products. “Greener Fingers” Creator Inthiqhab Majid is one such individual. This week, Brunch chatted with Majid about his love for the environment, how his passion for gardening set him off on a journey to make a change in his own unique way, and the concept of green gifting.
Speaking with Brunch, Majid explained that gardening was always one of his favourite pastimes. “Greener Fingers was started in keeping with the requests of my family and friends. People who saw this hobby of mine and the garden I maintained, requested my assistance and expertise to develop their own gardens. Greener Fingers is something I manage part-time and on a small scale. Given that the future is unpredictable, this may one day grow into something enormous,” he said.
The truly green ‘green gift’ idea
“The Christmas season is a time when we exchange countless gifts. If we were to add to that tradition and give a gift that will keep growing, it will be a gift to remember,” said Majid. Greener gifts were introduced by Majid with the intention of reducing the purchase and exchange of plastics. Hence, this method of gifting focuses on sustainability.
This gift box contains a variety of herbs used in daily dishes. He said: “You will be able to add products from your own garden to your daily meals. It is such an amazing feeling when you grow what you eat. I always opt for eco-friendly and organic produce for consumption. That is the same concept I have developed at Greener Fingers. From the plant to the packaging, 99% of the end product, except for the lining inside the box, is eco-friendly, recyclable material.”
These plants have been cared for using only organic fertilisers and homemade pesticides. This is one other factor that makes this gift even more special. However, one cannot expect a harvest overnight. According to Majid, if these plants are well-maintained and cared for, the potential harvest would be jaw-dropping.
Additionally, this is an affordable gift option. Purchasing numerous gifts for one’s family and friends during the festive season adds to the list of expenses borne by an individual during the season. However, this herb garden can be presented to an entire family to be enjoyed for years to come. Furthermore, a pamphlet containing information about the exact methodology of caring for the plants is also provided.
This gift idea for the Christmas season has been adored by many, and since its introduction, it has been a go-to gift option. Majid highlighted that this would make a perfect gift for anyone; people who love nature and greenery, the ones who are passionate about consuming organic food, and even for people having no garden space for cultivation. This herb box can be kept in any area including a balcony or an apartment.
Plant your own Christmas tree
One of the easiest and most effective ways of protecting this planet is by planting a tree, and Greener Fingers is doing just that. They have initiated the concept of planting Christmas trees to signify a greener and more eco-friendly celebration. “Every New Year, there is a tradition we all practice in Sri Lanka. That is, to plant a tree to indicate a new beginning. So why not carry out the same practice during Christmas?” asked Majid.
Cypress trees offered by Greener Fingers are considered a long-term investment given their ability to last for decades. Therefore, adopting this option of planting a cypress tree would contribute to a significant reduction in the annual cutting down of trees for Christmas decorations. Majid noted: “This is a sustainable option. Moreover, it is a joy to decorate a tree you grew yourself. It will make the holiday celebrations that much more special.”
There is a method to plant a tree. Thus, the progress and preservation of these plants, during their early years, are dependent on numerous factors including the weather, the location where the tree is planted, and the attention given to it. Generally, provided that these conditions are satisfied during the first few weeks, they will require relatively low maintenance and will grow easily. These plants can either be planted in one’s garden or if requested, Greener Fingers will take measures to plant these trees in plant pots to suit the requirements of the clients.
“I will not encourage people to raise their hopes and to expect these trees to be seven feet tall at the end of a year. Trees grow at their own speed. However, rest assured that one can enjoy the fruits of their efforts within a reasonable period of time,” said Majid. “Hundreds of trees are cut down for Christmas decorations each year. This has contributed to so many issues including global warming. We must cut less trees and plant more. Teach your children these values also. This is a rewarding hobby anyone can adopt. Spend a few minutes each day with nature, doing your part in preserving it. You will automatically fall in love with the beauty it holds and tend to avoid polluting it,” he added.
“Green” and “sustainability”, two terms that go hand in hand, represent nature and the duty of all mankind to preserve it. Therefore, choose to plant your own Christmas tree and to become a trendsetter. Majid further emphasised that one must influence others through their own example: “Though the majority of the power to initiate programmes to protect the environment lies with the authorities, we are not completely powerless ourselves. We must use every opportunity to voice issues related to nature. Though we can only do very little, it can still make a significant difference.”
The micro gardening trend
One of the major challenges we face today is the lack of space to develop a garden. Hence, this is also one of the most common problems brought to Majid’s attention. Taking these issues into consideration, Greener Fingers is dedicated to promoting micro gardening concepts. This method of gardening has proved to be the best way to achieve one’s dream of cultivating a wide range of plants within a limited space.
Greener Fingers offers a variety of plants and boxes to choose from. The “chili box”, an assortment of five types of chilies, includes green chili, curry chili, nai miris, varaniya chili, and kochchi. The “three green box” contains gotukola, kankun, and spinach. The “vegetable box” and the “herb box” among many other options are their most famous products. They also customise boxes to meet the requirements of clients and as gift options for all special occasions.
“I am also currently experimenting with a few other options which I will introduce through my social media platforms depending on their successful execution,” Majid said.
In addition to the wide range of plants, they also provide assistance to buyers. Advice, booklets, providing organic fertilisers, and recommending YouTube tutorials are the most common methods they offer to clients who have requested their help. Customer satisfaction is an important part of their routine. Hence, if the plant withers away within the first week of purchase, it will be replaced by Greener Fingers for a lower price.
“Plants are similar to human beings and thus must be well taken care of. When we change its environment, it goes through a ‘transplant shock’, hindering its ability to root well. We must pay extra attention to plants during these first few weeks. People can contact us for support on these matters as well.”
Greener Fingers, established in 2020 during the pandemic, was a lockdown project for Majid. By making use of his free time during the pandemic, Majid managed to master the art of planting and utilising organic material for plant maintenance. Understanding the correct proportions of sunlight, soil, organic pesticides, and compost fertiliser needed for plants to grow well was an area that caught his attention. “I simply learned through trial and error. However, the outcome has been rewarding. Nonetheless, the pandemic has taken us back to our roots,” he stated.
Majid plans on continuing his passion while encouraging as many people as possible to plant more and to end any food scarcities that may arise. “It is a great accomplishment and a soulful activity to engage in. To go green is our ultimate goal,” said Majid, encouraging everyone to try their hand at micro gardening.
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