Going Green in the Gurdwara

“Air is the Guru, Water the father, Earth the great mother.
Day and night, Male and female nurses, In whose lap the whole world plays.”

JAPJI SAHIB, Guru Granth Sahib (p.8)

greengurdwara.jpgWe as a community can do an enormous part in contributing to the preservation of our planet. Our Gurus were environmentalists, and looking at the values they gave us, we can see that we should be ahead of the game.

Some of us might be doing our small part each day: Maybe you recycle your newspaper after reading it or even better, subscribe to the news online; maybe you drink free-trade coffee and tea; or maybe you eat organic cereal and drink a healthy shake of organic fruits; or maybe you turn off the tap while you brush your teeth to save some water? These are all great steps! But there are some additional steps we can take as a community.

Our Gurdwaras are not the most environmentally friendly places, but that is due to our own responsibilities. That can change! If we start taking even one of the following steps, we can look forward to a greener Gurdwara in our future, and additionally teach the next generation about preservation and the importance of Seva.

  • Recycling
    By providing onsite placement of recycling bins we can do our part by recycling materials such as plastic, paper products, glass and cans. Unfortunately there are not many programs established yet to recycle Styrofoam, which happens to be the largest part of the waste in Gurdwara due to plates and cups.
    In order to involve everyone, there should be signs on the recycle bins in English and Punjabi, so everyone can do their part and understand the importance of recycling. A brochure explaining the importance of recycling would be good to display so the Sangat can feel inspired to continue this act when they are at home also.
  • Install energy efficient lighting
    There are many online resources that can provide information on how to efficiently install lighting so you use less energy and also save money. Contact your local PG&E representative and have them come out to do a free assessment to improve energy efficiency and save a lot of money on your energy bill. The insulation around the Gurdwara will also be assessed as this can sometimes decrease the effect of keeping heat inside a room, thus using more energy, and consequently costing you more. Once lighting is installed, it is important to close lights when not in use, and also to turn off electrical appliances not in use.
  • Install air driers.
    Paper towels are constantly wasted and found on the floor around the gurdwara. Instead of one napkin, many people will grab a few and end up throwing them away. By installing air driers and sinks outside where Sangat can wash their hands before/after Langar, we can decrease the use of napkins and paper towels. This is better for the environment, and would cost less money.
  • Bring back the Thaali
    Gurdwaras in India and around the rest of the globe use steel thaalia to serve langar. In the U.S. we use plastic trays, or Styrofoam. This can be an initiative a Gurdwara works towards, by implementing a small number of thaalia and eventually not having plastic trays. Convenience will be lost, but long-term, we would be doing something very positive for the environment.
    This would also allow for some seva from the Sangat to be able to wash the thaalis langar. Just imagine how many thaalis are washed daily at the Harmandar Sahib! We could even incorporate some organic, chemical-free washing liquids, to make it that much greener.
  • Carpool
    Familie
    s that live close-by to one another could be smart by carpooling to the Gurdwara. Reduce your carbon footprint, and save from polluting the air. People can build relationships this way too and are ultimately helping the environment.
  • Plant a tree
    Have children from your local Punjabi school plant a tree. By planting a tree, you are combating the deforestation that is occurring on a daily basis. Put something back in the earth and teach future generations about positive giving. Incorporate Earth Day into a Punjabi class, and teach children that giving back is part of our Sikhi values.

Please feel free to share any additional ways you feel we can make a positive change!


bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark
tabs-top


48 Responses to “Going Green in the Gurdwara”

  1. kprincess says:

    at some gurdwaras where I live (in US), they have the steel plates or plastic ones that are reused over agian.

    we really need to take steps reduce the amount of garbage at some gurdwaras though. Some have styrofoam/paper plates and just kills me to see the amount of waste that goes out.

    not to mention the food that's thrown away, though i love it when the babay tell people to finish their food. they need to do that more often.

    we definetly need to do something about it during the nagar kirtans because there is so much waste produced as a result of those events. especially water bottles. and just because you recycle doesn't mean your doing a good thing. a large amount of the clean up sites around the country are previous recycling centers.

    I remember when in india they used to make plates out of the leaves and then you could just throw the leaves wherever since they're just leaves. i think they have those at Harmandar Sahib when they give out parsad.

  2. kprincess says:

    at some gurdwaras where I live (in US), they have the steel plates or plastic ones that are reused over agian.

    we really need to take steps reduce the amount of garbage at some gurdwaras though. Some have styrofoam/paper plates and just kills me to see the amount of waste that goes out.

    not to mention the food that’s thrown away, though i love it when the babay tell people to finish their food. they need to do that more often.

    we definetly need to do something about it during the nagar kirtans because there is so much waste produced as a result of those events. especially water bottles. and just because you recycle doesn’t mean your doing a good thing. a large amount of the clean up sites around the country are previous recycling centers.

    I remember when in india they used to make plates out of the leaves and then you could just throw the leaves wherever since they’re just leaves. i think they have those at Harmandar Sahib when they give out parsad.

  3. baingandabhartha says:

    I tried to bring up at that issue at the local gurdwara I attend sometimes. The amount of styrofoam thrown away makes me sick and this is not even a big sangat compared to say San Jose or Fremont, CA. I was laughed at “chhaddo jee” “aithey keeday kol time hai bhandey saaf karn da”. Another guy felt that our community was simply not able to be taught this. Now, I understand that these comments were made by a couple of people and dont reflect the entire congregation but I do think they reflect the prevailing attitude held by our community towards garbage/recycling/environmental issues.
    Leaves would be a great idea-turn em into compost which can be re used.

  4. baingandabhartha says:

    I tried to bring up at that issue at the local gurdwara I attend sometimes. The amount of styrofoam thrown away makes me sick and this is not even a big sangat compared to say San Jose or Fremont, CA. I was laughed at "chhaddo jee" "aithey keeday kol time hai bhandey saaf karn da". Another guy felt that our community was simply not able to be taught this. Now, I understand that these comments were made by a couple of people and dont reflect the entire congregation but I do think they reflect the prevailing attitude held by our community towards garbage/recycling/environmental issues.

    Leaves would be a great idea-turn em into compost which can be re used.

  5. JeSuisDot says:

    Moving to the Thali is an easy fix that can happen immediately. It makes sense and can have a great impact. Personally I've only seen disposable dishes being used in US Gurdwaras. Canadians – correct me if I'm wrong but I think Thaalis are the common choice.

  6. JeSuisDot says:

    Moving to the Thali is an easy fix that can happen immediately. It makes sense and can have a great impact. Personally I’ve only seen disposable dishes being used in US Gurdwaras. Canadians – correct me if I’m wrong but I think Thaalis are the common choice.

  7. Sundari says:

    These are really great ideas that can be easily implemented. I agree that a ridiculous amount of food is wasted and so Gurdwara's really should start composting the leftover food so that it can be receycled. It's dismaying how much waste occurs within gurdwara's and perhaps it would be great if youth/student organizations could take this on as a project to work on for the year within their communities.

  8. Sundari says:

    These are really great ideas that can be easily implemented. I agree that a ridiculous amount of food is wasted and so Gurdwara’s really should start composting the leftover food so that it can be receycled. It’s dismaying how much waste occurs within gurdwara’s and perhaps it would be great if youth/student organizations could take this on as a project to work on for the year within their communities.

  9. Kirpal Singh says:

    Great suggestions in this article..First 5 pauris of Asa Ki Var & some others also provide great dialogue about creation,wonder,natural order & environmental ideas of our Great Gurus'.Perhaps each gurdwara'youth can form a discussion group to review these ideas & devise practical ways to implement them instead of Kirtan only which alone is not enough tribute to our Guru's wisdom.

  10. Kirpal Singh says:

    Great suggestions in this article..First 5 pauris of Asa Ki Var & some others also provide great dialogue about creation,wonder,natural order & environmental ideas of our Great Gurus’.Perhaps each gurdwara’youth can form a discussion group to review these ideas & devise practical ways to implement them instead of Kirtan only which alone is not enough tribute to our Guru’s wisdom.

  11. nimmi says:

    [Removed by Admin]

  12. nimmi says:

    [Removed by Admin]

  13. gurminderpal singh says:

    i dont know english very much but iwant to say i met with an oldperson

    who was from england who washes utensils in many gurudwaras and earn money and he help shahid singhs families.wjkk wjkf

  14. gurminderpal singh says:

    i dont know english very much but iwant to say i met with an oldperson
    who was from england who washes utensils in many gurudwaras and earn money and he help shahid singhs families.wjkk wjkf

  15. Langaver seva is kirt kamai…Washing utensils and plates used by other is a great sewa. We should earn the blessings of Waheguru by washing utensils. So stop using plastic plates and shift to Thaali's and Steel Glasses to serve langar. Waheguru ji ka Khalsa…Waheguru ji ki Fateh.

  16. Langaver seva is kirt kamai…Washing utensils and plates used by other is a great sewa. We should earn the blessings of Waheguru by washing utensils. So stop using plastic plates and shift to Thaali’s and Steel Glasses to serve langar. Waheguru ji ka Khalsa…Waheguru ji ki Fateh.

  17. Manjit Singh says:

    PLEASE DONATE STEEL PLATES, GLASSES, BOWLS, SPOONS TO YOUR LOCAL GURDWARA! AND, MAY BE EVEN A COMMERCIAL DISHWASHER/DRYER.

  18. Manjit Singh says:

    PLEASE DONATE STEEL PLATES, GLASSES, BOWLS, SPOONS TO YOUR LOCAL GURDWARA! AND, MAY BE EVEN A COMMERCIAL DISHWASHER/DRYER.

  19. Manjit Singh says:

    OH YEAH, DON'T FORGET DETERGENT AND BLEACH!

  20. Manjit Singh says:

    OH YEAH, DON’T FORGET DETERGENT AND BLEACH!

  21. palo singh says:

    i am surprised to hear that i thought it was a most to have steel dishes at all gurudwares in germany we have only steel which is the most seva in the gurudware so if they use plastic what do they do as seva ??????? i think that the ideas are great but what annoys me is that when you say to the sevaders to put in not so much langer they just dont listen they scoop in with the big spoon i mean not all can eat so much so i allways try to finish my food busometímes its just too much !!!!!!!! i will try and put these ideas in too action but again the problem is the attidúte from our people all new ideas are a reason too argue and right and wrong doesnt matter too them

  22. palo singh says:

    i am surprised to hear that i thought it was a most to have steel dishes at all gurudwares in germany we have only steel which is the most seva in the gurudware so if they use plastic what do they do as seva ??????? i think that the ideas are great but what annoys me is that when you say to the sevaders to put in not so much langer they just dont listen they scoop in with the big spoon i mean not all can eat so much so i allways try to finish my food busometímes its just too much !!!!!!!! i will try and put these ideas in too action but again the problem is the attidúte from our people all new ideas are a reason too argue and right and wrong doesnt matter too them

  23. Bkaur says:

    I think most Gurudwaras are already green , esp with plates & glasses – where we have to do sewa . Apart from that, probably planting trees, using less of paper products would keep it greener. Langaar should not be distributed in excess, and after the programme has finished, whatever is left over should be distributed to orphanages or needy centres, rather than throwing it out

  24. Bkaur says:

    I think most Gurudwaras are already green , esp with plates & glasses – where we have to do sewa . Apart from that, probably planting trees, using less of paper products would keep it greener. Langaar should not be distributed in excess, and after the programme has finished, whatever is left over should be distributed to orphanages or needy centres, rather than throwing it out

  25. Narinderjeet Singh says:

    By Guru's Grace, We in South Florida (USA) now have steel thalis for langer time. It has created more seva, for those who want to do seva, however getting to this stage was a huge hurdle.

    It is the best feeling washing all the sangats dishes and then some :)

  26. Narinderjeet Singh says:

    By Guru’s Grace, We in South Florida (USA) now have steel thalis for langer time. It has created more seva, for those who want to do seva, however getting to this stage was a huge hurdle.

    It is the best feeling washing all the sangats dishes and then some :)

  27. J Singh says:

    Gur Fateh.

    we the youth brought up the issue of going green at our gurduara specially since we are building a brand new building. One great suggestion was to use solar power, and since the Gurduara is mostly in use only during the weekend, the excessive power produced during the weekdays could be sold back to the grid which would also mean extra income for the gurduara. But as usual, the "vaday siyaney lok" shot down our idea.

  28. J Singh says:

    Gur Fateh.
    we the youth brought up the issue of going green at our gurduara specially since we are building a brand new building. One great suggestion was to use solar power, and since the Gurduara is mostly in use only during the weekend, the excessive power produced during the weekdays could be sold back to the grid which would also mean extra income for the gurduara. But as usual, the “vaday siyaney lok” shot down our idea.

  29. Camille says:

    These are all really great suggestions and ideas. I know for many the "vade syane lok" are difficult to work around. What if, in the great expanse of gurdwara bureaucracy/organization, sangats were able to create "sustainability" committees (with actual power to move forward on things)? I love the idea of harnessing solar energy and putting it back into the grid, as well.

    I wonder if there's a bit of a divide in what kinds of things are used based on if a gurdwara is large or small. In larger gurdwaras I often see disposable cookware/eat-ware. In small gurdwaras I almost always see actual dishes (thaalis, hard plastic plates).

    Re: Food for compost vs. the hungry, I think it should be both. Isn't langar a free kitchen? It's made chiefly for those who need food (in my opinion), but in practice often goes to feeding a congregation instead. I don't think the poor should get the "leftovers" — they should get first dibs. That said, food does spoil, and better to compost it than throw it out when it gets to that point.

  30. Camille says:

    These are all really great suggestions and ideas. I know for many the “vade syane lok” are difficult to work around. What if, in the great expanse of gurdwara bureaucracy/organization, sangats were able to create “sustainability” committees (with actual power to move forward on things)? I love the idea of harnessing solar energy and putting it back into the grid, as well.

    I wonder if there’s a bit of a divide in what kinds of things are used based on if a gurdwara is large or small. In larger gurdwaras I often see disposable cookware/eat-ware. In small gurdwaras I almost always see actual dishes (thaalis, hard plastic plates).

    Re: Food for compost vs. the hungry, I think it should be both. Isn’t langar a free kitchen? It’s made chiefly for those who need food (in my opinion), but in practice often goes to feeding a congregation instead. I don’t think the poor should get the “leftovers” — they should get first dibs. That said, food does spoil, and better to compost it than throw it out when it gets to that point.

  31. […] Readers and bloggers have had great ideas of ways we can be environmentally conscious in the gurdwara. Considering the grave consequences of climate change, how can we be environmentally conscious outside the gurdwara too? Even little things like making sure to turn the lights off when we leave the room could be considered contributions. […]

  32. […] our discussions on dividing Gurdwaras to Green Gurdwaras; from confronting the demons within to forging a new consensus; from questions of grassroots […]

  33. […] Adding onto prior posts concerned about the environment, it’s interesting that the Transport Minister of Punjab made a statement today by riding his bike to work. […]

  34. SKaur says:

    We are bringing back the thali!! Our Gurdwara in Milford, MA uses a projector in which shabads are displayed while it is being sung by te kirtanees. A group of us took advantage of that projector and did a Powerpoint Presentation on how Guru Har Rai Ji was an environmentalist and our lifestyle needs to shadow is compassionate nature. We used pictures and included facts. Within a week, we have begun using steel thalis, and we hope to completely transition into them once we get better infrastructure and planning. The Sangat has been extremely supportive with this initiative. We still have some obstacles, but it can be done! I urge all of you to give it a shot. We will also be happy to send you our presentation as a reference or template.

  35. Jodha says:

    That is amazing news SKaur. If you don't mind, tell us about the opposition and what were some of the obstacles faced. Congratulations and I do hope that others are inspired by your success.

    Fateh

  36. SKaur says:

    A couple of people do not see the point in transitioning from styrofoam to steel plates, and they also think that its a lot of work. So we have focused on showing that we do have enough manpower and interest in making this happen. One obstacle that is a little more challenging is funding, specifically for dish washer, extra sinks, steel plates, and/or paper plates (the sturdy kind). Our Gurdwara will be moving into a larger builder so all fundraising is going towards this project. Because we recently started this initiative, we do not want to step in their way. At the same time, this initiative is extremely important. Our goal is to make this a very collaborative transition.

  37. SKaur says:

    We are bringing back the thali!! Our Gurdwara in Milford, MA uses a projector in which shabads are displayed while it is being sung by te kirtanees. A group of us took advantage of that projector and did a Powerpoint Presentation on how Guru Har Rai Ji was an environmentalist and our lifestyle needs to shadow is compassionate nature. We used pictures and included facts. Within a week, we have begun using steel thalis, and we hope to completely transition into them once we get better infrastructure and planning. The Sangat has been extremely supportive with this initiative. We still have some obstacles, but it can be done! I urge all of you to give it a shot. We will also be happy to send you our presentation as a reference or template.

  38. Jodha says:

    That is amazing news SKaur. If you don’t mind, tell us about the opposition and what were some of the obstacles faced. Congratulations and I do hope that others are inspired by your success.

    Fateh

  39. SKaur says:

    A couple of people do not see the point in transitioning from styrofoam to steel plates, and they also think that its a lot of work. So we have focused on showing that we do have enough manpower and interest in making this happen. One obstacle that is a little more challenging is funding, specifically for dish washer, extra sinks, steel plates, and/or paper plates (the sturdy kind). Our Gurdwara will be moving into a larger builder so all fundraising is going towards this project. Because we recently started this initiative, we do not want to step in their way. At the same time, this initiative is extremely important. Our goal is to make this a very collaborative transition.

  40. Rajdeep Singh Arora says:

    Satsriakal,

    I am a Global MBA student, pursuing my specialization in supply chain management, and as a part of my curriculum i recently completed a research project on how to adopt the green path.

    I am willing to share the knowledge that i gathered during my project, those interested for various measures of going green in their personal lives or their business may drop me a mail @ [email protected]

    Rajdeep Singh Arora

    Business Student

    Global Logistics and supply chain management

    SP Jain Center of management,

    Singapore

  41. Rajdeep Singh Arora says:

    Satsriakal,

    I am a Global MBA student, pursuing my specialization in supply chain management, and as a part of my curriculum i recently completed a research project on how to adopt the green path.

    I am willing to share the knowledge that i gathered during my project, those interested for various measures of going green in their personal lives or their business may drop me a mail @ [email protected]

    Rajdeep Singh Arora
    Business Student
    Global Logistics and supply chain management
    SP Jain Center of management,
    Singapore

  42. […] Langar Hall has discussed the need for environmentally sustainable practices within our communities, our gurdwaras, and our […]

  43. […] know we’re a long way away from this in most of our gurdwaras and communities (where styrofoam use is the unquestioned status quo!).  But if Guru Nanak and his followers succeeded in creating the institution of langar in the […]

  44. […] know we’re a long way away from this in most of our gurdwaras and communities (where styrofoam use is the unquestioned status quo!).  But if Guru Nanak and his followers succeeded in creating the institution of langar in the […]

  45. mehedi5 says:

    We as a community can do an enormous part in contributing to the preservation of our planet. Our Gurus were environmentalists, and looking at the values they gave us, we can see that we should be ahead of the game.
    <a href="https:// http://www.jx-plastic.com/custom-coroplast-box /” target=”_blank”> custom coroplast boxes