Among the challenges of holding cultural festivals is dealing with the sheer amount of energy consumption, environmental pollution and waste generation any such large gathering of people entails. Thankfully, our country has a small but growing share of festivals at which being ecologically conscious and earth-friendly is at the forefront of both their mission and mode of operation. Here are four eco-friendly festivals that are leading the way in staging their events sustainably.
Online literature festival Green LitFest aims to amplify “the role of green literature in shaping dialogues, debates, environmental consciousness, education and call-to-action from political, business and civil society leaders.” Its mission, Co-Founder Meghaa Gupta says, is to inspire attendees to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
“Behaviour change is hard,” she says. “Humans are too used to the conveniences of the modern world. Using literature, we hope to gently prod sensitivity towards the environment. I know children who have read books on the environment that have influenced them to be more mindful of waste, electricity consumption, and plastic.” One of the ways Green LitFest practices what it preaches is by sending out trophies and gifts made of recycled materials instead of metal or plastic.
Echoes of Earth calls itself ‘India’s greenest music festival’ that has a deep “commitment to the sustenance and preservation of the Earth” and upholds a “leave no trace policy”. The festival, which was launched in 2016, has been somewhat of a pioneer in its use of eco-friendly materials and technology. In addition to following a no-plastic policy, the stages and art installations are assembled using mostly recycled, upcycled and repurposed materials. The stages and charging stations are powered by solar energy. Waste is collected through the help of bins and metal detectors, then segregated and either sent to recycling facilities, composted and delivered to farms, or biomethanised. The programme also includes workshops that educate attendees on how to lead a more eco-friendly existence.
Similarly, Where Have All The Flowers Gone is a music and art festival in Manipur that aims to raise awareness about issues related to the environment. At the festival, inspired by the work and life of American folk singer Pete Seeger, the message of caring for our planet runs through the proceedings.
Folk and popular musicians talk about the importance of protecting the environment, and the attractions and activities include upcycled art installations, a bike rally, a tree plantation drive, and a painting competition in which over 1,000 school students create works around the theme ‘Save Earth’. There is a strict restriction on the use of plastic materials and free drinking water is provided to all attendees to prevent the use of disposable bottles.
Music festival Mahindra Kabira Festival, which celebrates the mystic poet and saint Kabir through song, has likewise worked to consistently adopt a green-friendly approach for every aspect of the festival. Organiser Teamwork Arts has been phasing out single-use plastic for the decor and switched to reusable and compostable materials such as flowers and cloth. Free water is provided through dispensers placed across the venue, food is served on biodegradable plateware and leftovers are donated.
Like a handful of other music festivals such as the Bacardi NH7 Weekender and Magnetic Fields, the Mahindra Kabira Festival works with sustainability partner Skrap to implement a comprehensive waste management system and divert over 90% of its waste away from landfills. “At Mahindra Kabira Festival, our responsibility to the river Ganges and Varanasi is to ensure the preservation of the character of the age-old city,” says Teamwork Arts Managing Director Sanjoy K Roy.