In­dian tem­ple pushes for zero waste model

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES PASLEY

One of New Zealand’s largest Hindu tem­ples is paving the way to zero waste.

Since Oc­to­ber Bharatiya Mandir In­dian Tem­ple in Bal­moral has been work­ing to send as lit­tle waste to land­fill as pos­si­ble.

Re­li­gious events, meals and gen­eral rub­bish have been mon­i­tored and sep­a­rated to make the tem­ple more sus­tain­able.

Vol­un­teer Sudesh Mit­tal, the fig­ure be­hind the change, said her dream was to make the tem­ple a model that other tem­ples could use to cut down on their waste.

In Oc­to­ber the tem­ple held a waste au­dit to work out what waste was be­ing gen­er­ated by the tem­ple.

Since then Mit­tal and vol­un­teers have sep­a­rated rub­bish be­fore it reached the bin to en­sure noth­ing un­nec­es­sary made it to land­fill.

On Fe­bru­ary 25 the Tem­ple held Maha Shivrati, a Hindu fes­ti­val with more than 2000 par­tic­i­pants.

Dur­ing the event 7000 litres of milk was of­fered up to Hindu gods and be­cause of the new sys­tem about 350 two litre bot­tles were re­cy­cled.

‘‘Pre­vi­ously ev­ery­thing would have gone to the land­fill,’’ Mit­tal said.

Mit­tal said she hoped through mon­i­tor­ing bins they could start con­ver­sa­tions with tem­ple users and ed­u­cate them about re­cy­cling.

For the rest of the year Mit­tal said the tem­ple would have about 70 din­ners with ap­prox­i­mately 500 peo­ple at­tend­ing. At each din­ner a vol­un­teer would en­force waste sep­a­ra­tion.

‘‘There’s a chance for a lot of ex­po­sure so we can send a good mes­sage,’’ Mit­tal said.

‘‘I want to make it a place where peo­ple are in­spired to im­prove.’’

The tem­ple’s also ex­plor­ing other av­enues to be­come more sus­tain­able.

It set up a worm farm, ran com­post­ing work­shops, and was look­ing into us­ing the tem­ple’s grounds to cre­ate ed­i­ble gar­dens.

Tem­ple pres­i­dent He­mant Prashar said the tem­ple was well on its way to avoid­ing land­fills.

‘‘We want to be­come good at what we do and then we plan on shar­ing that knowl­edge,’’ Prashar said.

Bharatiya Mandir Tem­ple was built in 1993 and is one of 12 Hindu Tem­ples in Auck­land.

JAMES PASLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Sudesh Mit­tal wants to make the tem­ple a place where peo­ple are in­spired to im­prove.

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