More often than we’d like to admit, labels like sustainable, organic and healthy are nothing more than a marketing gimmick. So we want to be as honest with you as we are with ourselves about our journey to turning The Conscious Festival into carbon neutral and zero waste. Read all about it…
It’s been quite the journey. Since launching The Conscious Festival in Singapore back in 2015, our mission to become as sustainable as possible has been unwavering. After every event, we all get together and reflect (over a glass of well-deserved wine) and look at what we learned, how we can be better and what #LittleGreenSteps will get us there.
Our goal has always been to advocate and educate not only the people around us but also ourselves about how we can reduce our carbon footprint on a daily basis. But when you’re throwing an event with several thousand attendees, it’s not easy to follow those same principles – but we’re getting there.
We think it’s important to say that we don’t pretend to be perfect (nobody is), we believe in transparency with a touch of vulnerability and with that mindset, there are always opportunities to learn and grow. That said, we want to share what worked and what didn’t at the second edition of the Conscious Festival in Hong Kong in April 2019 at the Kerry Hotel. We also welcome any feedback, ideas or suggestions that you may have so we can be even greener. Leave us your thoughts here.
Here is the recipe for our very own #LittleGreenSteps:
So we went vegan for the first time…
The Conscious Festival has been vegetarian since 2017 but this year we challenged ourselves to make the entire event vegan, from the food that was served and to all the products available at the MARKETPLACE. Did it work? F*ck yeah and it was delicious. We received tremendous feedback from our attendees, partners, and vendors who all benefited hugely from this choice. I mean, did you try the vegan pizzas by Maze? If you didn’t, you surely smelled them.
THE ISSUE: Why was it important for us to go vegan? Because the agriculture industry currently accounts for 16% of CO2 emissions in the air.
THE IMPACT: Being vegan allowed us to save 60 kgs of meat that it would normally take to cater to 3,600 hungry attendees. By doing that, we also saved 124,917 liters of water and energy.
We upped our zero-waste game
Waste reduction has been a topic close to our hearts since the getgo and we are determined to minimize our waste as much as possible.
This year, this is how we went about it:
>We banned single-use plastics and packaging among our vendors
> Ensured that we had on-site recycling
> We worked with Hong Kong Recycles to collect waste from recycling bins on site and diverted 33.3kg waste from ending up in landfills, including paper and Tetra Pak
> We partnered with Oklin who brought over their food composer for all of the edible waste on-site which limited the amount of food waste from the event
> We also partnered with Urbanspring and provided water fountains at the festival which saved 1,151 plastic bottle.
Also, all of the signage were all products of recycled materials or FSC certified paper that we recycled after the event.
THE ISSUE: Why did we try to be as zero-waste as possible? Because in Hong Kong alone, the city’s three main landfills are expected to reach capacity by 2020.
THE IMPACT: By striving to become zero-waste within our festival, we made an impact, set an example and hopefully inspired other large scale events to do the same.
We gave back
Every year, we donate all screening profits to a charity. We are proud to announce that this year we have collected a total of HKD$9,100 for the charity Ocean Recovery Alliance.
We offset our carbon footprint
We’re pretty proud of our unique and diverse lineup but to do that, we have to fly a couple in from around the world (we can’t make them swim here, can we?). We also chartered a GITNB boat that traveled between Central and the festival to ease the commute for attendees. While small, our transportation did produce a carbon footprint and the best way to go about paying our dues was to make an effort in offsetting it. Thus, since a total of 5.61 metric tons of CO2 was emitted, we made a payment of USD$60 to Sadhana Forest.
We brought a 360° look at conscious living
Every year, we aim to provide as much information as possible to ignite a passion within our community, and this year was no exception. Our four tracks at TALKS covered a 360° approach to conscious living from the way we eat, purchase clothes and cosmetics, all the way through to how big corporations are changing their way of running businesses.
But there are still areas that need some work
Being transparent doesn’t mean looking only at the positives, but also looking at how we can improve (I don’t care who you are, there is ALWAYS room for improvement). Perhaps you can also learn from our trials and tribulations as well. Here are the things that we tried, but (regrettably) didn’t work out as we had hoped.
Like unavoidable food packaging
To align with our zero-waste goal, we wanted to avoid any and all types of waste, especially food packaging. However, according to HKSAR laws, we were obliged to have packaged food in temporary food stalls. But once again we endeavored to offset this and worked with HK Recycles to recycle as much of the packaging as we could.
There was also careless plastic waste
With a festival of this size, naturally, there are always a few careless slips ups. It has been brought to our attention that plastic slipped through via vendors and the production team, and also a few single-use plastic umbrella covers made their way in (it rained, and rained and rained). Although we have repeatedly communicated our vision with all parties beforehand, unfortunately, there were things that we didn’t catch but we will certainly be looking for ways to gently enforce our “policies” next year.
For those wondering about the hang ties used in the Green Warriors Exhibition, know that we re-use them multiple times for the exhibition and they are only disposed of when they are torn or broken or cut. But we’re always on the lookout for a more sustainable option.
What we’re going to work harder on
> Being carbon neutral for the whole event
> Lower waste in all areas
> No sneaky single-use plastic
> Better options to hang our exhibitions and installations
We’re on a journey, but are always pushing the boundaries
While we didn’t hit all of our goals this time around, we did well, we learned a lot and have already started brainstorming how we can reduce our impact even more and get closer to our goal of becoming entirely zero-waste for our next event. Here, we want to take this opportunity to call on our community for ideas and inspiration on how to bring you a bigger, better and greener Conscious Festival. Drop us an email or hit us up on Facebook with any suggestions you may have.