Ganesh Chaturthi
The poster by Sprouts Environment Trust.

'Apparently, the fish are looking forward to this Ganesh Chaturthi', states the line in a poster by Sprouts Environment Trust, a Mumbai-based NGO that has come up with a unique way to make the popular festival environment-friendly. 

Every year, lakhs of Ganesh idols are immersed in the sea and in lakes and ponds across Mumbai during Ganesh Chaturthi, and most of the idols are made up of the non-biodegradable Plaster of Paris (POP) that ends up polluting the water bodies. The toxic paints used on the idols also kill fish and other marine life.  

Keeping this in mind, Sprouts has come up with an ingenious way to address the problem, under its #‎GodSaveTheOcean‬ Campaign. 

The NGO is making 9-inch Ganpati idols from ingredients such as corn, spinach and other vegetarian items that can be food for the fish, and binding the idols with clay. 

The outer cover of the idol will be made of clay while it will contain the 'fish food' inside, and once the clay dissolves in the water after immersion, the food will be released.

They are also using natural colours such as turmeric (haldi) and sandalwood (chandan) to complete the look of these idols. 

"We were thinking of making Ganpati idols more eco-friendly and some members from an advertising agency suggested  this idea to us. Most artisans refused to make them, since each idol takes at least six to seven days to make as the ingredients have to be dried and put together," Anand Pendharkar, founder and director of Sprouts, told IBTimes India

"This time, we will be able to make only about 40 to 50 idols, but we plan to make more next year," he added.

But this limited supply of the fish-friendly Ganesh idols falls far short of the demand. 

Ever since the NGO put out the poster for the Ganpati idols on its Facebook page on Sunday, it has received more than 2,000 shares, while the idea also seems to have caught on with Twitterati. 

For the last 12years SPROUTS Environment Trust have been cleaning the beaches of Mumbai Post Ganesha Chaturthi Festival...

Posted by SPROUTS Environment Trust on Saturday, August 29, 2015

"I have already received more than 2000 calls asking to buy the idols. People are calling from across India, and I even got some calls from London," said Pendharkar, who is also a Wild Life Science professor. 

"We did not expect our initiative to receive such a response. We will not be able to ship idols outside Mumbai this year, but we will try to do it next year onwards", he said. 

Each 9-inch idol is priced at Rs 900. The idols are still in the making ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival on 17 September, and Sprouts will share photos of the idols with IBTimes India shortly. 

Meanwhile, netizens applauded the idea on social media, while environmentalists also appreciated the initiative.

"It is the first time that such idols are being made, and it is a very commendable initiative by Sprouts. I am waiting to see the idols," environmental activist Rishi Aggarwal told IBTimes India.

"It is good to see that over the years, there has been a positive trend to use more eco-friendly idols by Mumbaiites. People are willing to take smaller idols, are opting for clay over POP, and are choosing natural colours," he said.

Here is a look at some reactions on Twitter and Facebook for the unique eco-friendly Ganpati idols:

A brilliant initiative by Sprouts Envt Trust this Ganesh Chaturthi #GodSaveTheOcean

Posted by Shibu Thomas on Sunday, August 30, 2015

Oh wow! Let's do the right thing, shall we?

Posted by Saloni Gajjar on Monday, August 31, 2015