So Plaster of Paris has been banned. What are the alternatives? Each of the alternatives have to be carefully considered as each has an impact - so its pros and cons need to be weighed.
Natural clay is a non renewable resource that is mined and create its own ecological damage. So the next step is to ensure we reduce the use of this clay too..
RENEWED CLAY - To counter the increase in use of natural clay that is expected when PoP is stopped, last year we launched a process of recollection and recycling of natural clay after the visarjan is complete. This will ensure that fresh stocks of clay are not mined and that a closed loop is created with the same clay. We have nine designs this year made from such renewed clay - we call them the Punaravartan series. We have kept them free of all paint - using only multani mitti to finish them and decorations made of threads alone.
To read more about the Punaravartan campaign and to know how you can return your clay after visarjan , visit the campaign website at www.punaravartan.org
RED EARTH - is soil taken from agricultural land that can easily be put back where it was taken from and retains its fertility as it is not baked. Plants and trees can be grown in this soil which is not as clayey in consistency. The concern here is that we should ensure that we do not use fertile top soil for sculpture...
COW DUNG - Recently some artisans have started using cow dung for the Ganesh idols - this is a completely biodegradable material that also adds value to soil when it is immersed and put into a garden. Our cowdung idols this use a soft pastel pallette of natural colours.
PAPER MACHE - Paper mache is another material that is a good alternative to both PoP and Natural clay - it is used along with natural glues and can endure several years of use. When immersed in water it dissolves and the sludge is biodegradable.