We’ve been running Conscious Festivals in Asia for the last six years. But 2020 was the first year we took things virtual. While that pivot threw up a raft of new challenges to overcome, it also presented us with the opportunity to create our most conscious festival to date. Here’s the skinny from our sustainability report.
You may have heard us banging on about sustainability being a journey, but it’s true. And over the years, it’s been our goal to continually evolve the Conscious Festivals to make them as sustainable as possible. Listen, we’re not perfect. But we do work our socks off to ensure we leave no stone unturned when it comes to minimising our impact. We’ve made a lot of progress over the years with our physical events and then Covid-19 happened and, well, you know the script.
With plans for our Hong Kong and London events in tatters, we decided to take things virtual. And while that presented myriad challenges, it also meant we could deliver our most sustainable festival to date. Our team operated remotely from across the globe in Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Paris to pull off the behemoth task of co-ordinating over 1,300 attendees, 90 speakers, 63 conscious brands, 20 workshops, and 21 hours of live-stream juicy content. And in the spirit of transparency and sharing our journey, here’s the sustainability scoop on the Virtual Conscious Festival. But first, ICYMI here’s a sneak peek of all the action.
1. It was the first time we threw a 100% digital event
Which meant no flights, limited transport requirements, and barely any waste. Naturally, that meant our carbon footprint was significantly lower as a result. A total of 2.685 metric tonnes of CO2 was emitted during the entire festival. This was significantly lower than our last physical festival which emitted 10.34 metric tonnes (which we offset, btw).
2. We offset our carbon footprint
Thanks to Carbon Care Asia, The Virtual Conscious Festival was certified carbon positive. A total of 2.897 metric tonnes of CO2 was emitted, and we will be planting 50 mangroves to offset this. You can see a full summary of our emissions below.
3. We’re planting mangroves
We’ve teamed up with our pals at Mangrove Trust to offset our carbon footprint. We will be planting 50 mangroves (which have a conservative survival rate of 80%) that will sequester and store 22 tonnes of CO2 and will reach a steady mature mangrove state by 2045. Our mangroves will be planted this season in Ayeyarwaddy, Myanmar in the Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park. If you want to get in on the mangrove-planting action, go right ahead and do so here.
4. We ate plant-based
You can’t host an event without food! Even though we were virtual, we lined up some incredible foodie partnerships in Singapore (barePack x foodpanda), Hong Kong (Treehouse), London (allplants) and Paris (Naturaliste) to supply attendees with delicious plant-based grub throughout the event.
Our team in Singapore took full advantage of the barePack x foodpanda collab and enjoyed eats throughout the weekend in barePack’s brilliant zero-waste, reusable containers. If you’d like to see more zero-waste food delivery options, please keep supporting this collaboration. And hopefully, soon we’ll be saying sayonara to single-use takeout disposables for good.
5. Radical diversity and inclusion
One of our key priorities for the Virtual Conscious Festival was to ensure we brought together a more diverse speaker line-up. This time, 30% of our speakers were minority voices. But we recognise this still isn’t good enough and we have more work to do. It is our goal to increase this to 50% by our next festival. We will also continue to talk about the relationship between climate change, racism, and colonialism on our platforms to educate and ensure the conversation doesn’t end here.
And finally, we’ll continue to push boundaries
We hope you enjoyed the first-ever Virtual Conscious Festival as much as we did! While we hope that we’ll soon be able to return to physical events, we had great feedback on this digital experience. Moving forward our goal is to find a way to blend the two experiences and bring you bigger, better, and more sustainable events in future. Wish us luck!
Questions from our community
1. Why did you charge for a virtual event?
There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, in order to host a digital event of this scale, we needed a suitable hosting platform which we had to pay for. Secondly, we wanted to offer payment to our speakers, panellists, and guest hosts, more on that below. Thirdly, there are overhead costs involved in running an event, be it virtual or physical – things like team costs and extra equipment. Fourthly, we wanted to plant as many mangroves as possible and a % of ticket sales went towards this. And finally, it is a core goal of GITNB to make sustainability accessible, and therefore we did offer a free ticket option to those who needed it, students, and NHS workers from the UK. In total, we gave away 646 free tickets. A huge thank you to the individuals who chose to spend a bit more on their ticket which in turn enabled access for others.
2. Do you pay your speakers?
This year we did offer payments to all of our speakers. Some chose to be remunerated. Others donated their fee back to the pool for other speakers who needed it more. And some of our partners donated their fee towards our mangrove planting initiative.
*Lead image by Harsha Poojari