Indian Temples and Plastic Waste

India is a land of cultural heritage and diversity, and its temples are a prime example of this. People from all over the world come to India to visit its temples and experience the religious and spiritual practices associated with them. However, this influx of visitors also brings with it a massive problem of plastic waste.

500kg of trash collected at Mahabs monuments
Image Source: Times of India


In recent years, the amount of plastic waste generated in India has increased significantly. This waste is often discarded in the form of plastic bags, bottles, and other items, which can take hundreds of years to decompose. Unfortunately, many of these items end up in the temple premises and surrounding areas.

The issue of plastic waste in Indian temples is a significant concern. It not only harms the environment but also poses a risk to the safety and well-being of visitors and residents. Plastic waste can clog drains, pollute water bodies, and lead to health hazards such as respiratory problems.

The plastic waste problem in temples is not a new issue. For many years, devotees have been bringing offerings in plastic bags, bottles, and other plastic items. These items are often discarded in the temple premises or thrown into the nearby streets and water bodies. This has resulted in the accumulation of plastic waste in and around temples, which is not only unsightly but also hazardous.

Temple Plastic Waste Composition:

Plastic waste composition found in Indian temples can vary depending on the location, size of the temple and number of devotees. However, some of the common types of plastic waste found in Indian temples include:

  1. Single-use plastic items like water bottles, disposable cups, plates, and spoons
  2. Plastic bags used for packaging prasad or offerings
  3. Plastic flower garlands used for decoration
  4. Broken plastic idols or other religious artifacts
  5. Discarded plastic packaging materials and wrappers
  6. Plastic bottles used for lighting diyas or lamps
  7. Discarded plastic boxes used for storing or transporting offerings
  8. Plastic sheets or covers used for covering the idols during transportation or storage.

The above list is not exhaustive and there can be other types of plastic waste found in Indian temples. The composition of plastic waste can also vary depending on the religious practices and traditions followed in different temples. For example, in some temples, plastic plates and cups are used for serving prasad while in others, traditional utensils made of metal or clay are used. Similarly, the type and quantity of plastic waste generated during festivals or special occasions can be much higher than normal days.

Various Initiatives by GOI and NGOs

To address this issue, several initiatives have been taken in recent years. One such initiative is the “Green Temples” program, launched by the Government of India. This program aims to make Indian temples eco-friendly by reducing their carbon footprint and promoting sustainable practices. Under this program, temples are encouraged to adopt eco-friendly practices, such as using biodegradable materials for offerings and promoting the use of reusable bags and bottles.

Another initiative is the “Plastic-free Temple” campaign, launched by various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across the country. This campaign aims to reduce the use of plastic in and around temples by promoting alternatives such as cloth bags and bamboo products. The campaign also includes awareness programs and workshops to educate devotees and visitors on the harmful effects of plastic waste.

Apart from temples, many religious and spiritual leaders in India have also taken up the cause of reducing plastic waste. For instance, the Art of Living Foundation, founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, has launched the “Plastic-free India” campaign, which aims to create awareness about the harmful effects of plastic waste and promote eco-friendly practices.

Various Initiatives by Temples

Some of the earliest examples of temples implementing plastic waste management practices include:

  1. The Golden Temple, Amritsar: In 2018, the Golden Temple announced that it had become a plastic-free zone, with the aim of reducing plastic waste in and around the temple complex.
  2. Vaishno Devi Shrine, Jammu and Kashmir: The Vaishno Devi Shrine Board implemented several eco-friendly measures, including a ban on single-use plastic items like water bottles and bags in 2016.
  3. Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, Maharashtra: In 2017, the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple banned plastic bags and installed waste segregation bins to promote proper waste management.
  4. Sabarimala Temple, Kerala: In 2018, the Sabarimala Temple announced a ban on plastic bags, bottles and other single-use plastic items.
  5. Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, Madurai: In 2018, the temple authorities launched a campaign to reduce plastic waste and installed waste segregation bins.


In conclusion, plastic waste in Indian temples is a significant problem that requires immediate attention. While several initiatives have been taken to reduce plastic waste, more needs to be done to make Indian temples eco-friendly and sustainable. It is essential for devotees and visitors to recognize the harmful effects of plastic waste and adopt eco-friendly practices. Only then can we preserve the cultural heritage of Indian temples while protecting the environment for future generations.


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