Featured Customer Story: Vasundhara Film Festival

Vasundhara Festival is an environmental arts festival that weaves together the various arts - music, film, performance, visual & healing, in exploring and celebrating our relationship with ‘Gaia’, our Mother Earth. The message of the festival is to preserve, protect and save the earth for the next generation.
Below are excerpts of a conversation with Adrienne Thadani, one of the organizers, about their efforts in not just creating but also striving to maintain the vision and motive of Vasundhara.

1. What prompted the decision of using biodegradable products at the Vasundhara festival?
Vasundhara was envisioned as an environmental arts festival and the organizers, Lata Seth and Danielle Rubio wanted it to be so in more than just a name. In Goa, where tourism and festivals often leave a negative impact on the environment, they wanted to show that even when a few hundred people descend on an empty field, respecting the earth is possible. With that in mind, the organizers consulted Jonathan Benda and myself on waste management and sustainability to figure out ways in which the event would not cause any damage to the field/venue. 

2. What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
The challenge was common to any festival, of not wanting to waste – and if there is waste – the challenge was to ensure it be biodegradable. Food stalls/caterers being one of the biggest hubs for waste at any festival, we had to rethink the resources that were being used. Thus, we made it obligatory that all food vendors use biodegradable tableware. When vendors drew a blank on how to fulfill this requirement, we proposed to them ‘Shunya’, the environment-friendly alternative. We also assured vendors that they would not have to pay for the plates themselves but could add the cost of the plates to the food cost.

3. How did you create awareness amongst the participants about this event being Eco- Friendly?
Firstly, we put up signs explaining to participants and visitors that Rs 10/- extra was being added to the cost of the food to fulfill the festival's intention of sustainability. In order to introduce the participants to the idea of composting, and encourage them to live sustainably, a compost pit was dug in the ground at the festival. We also planted banana saplings around the compost pit so that they could visualize the life-cycle of the products and see how this could be a zero-waste solution.

4. What were the key observations and people’s reactions to using these plates?The participants and the vendors loved the plates. They were sturdy enough to re-use when going back for seconds or when sampling different offerings. Some even thought that the Shunya plates were too nice for one-time use! Participants also enjoyed the opportunity to be part to have hands-on involvement in, in the composting of the plates.

5. How did you feel at the end of it?
In the end, the festival proved a great place to spark simple choices and changes in ecological living for all. It showed how everyone including the organizers, performers, facilitators and participants were able to celebrate consciously with a commitment to the earth, in a fun and creative environment.

6. What would your advice be to people who are organizing similar events? 
The vision and commitment of the organizers is critical in making the effort a success. They have to take a stand of being eco-friendly. Once that decision is made then it’s only about convincing and collaborating with the vendors. We ensured that the vendors were not losing out. Logistically, this meant choosing the tableware that would be the most versatile, and fixing a fair price.
The other important piece is to spread awareness, educate and convince participants. For us, putting up posters and creating a visual experience of composting in which all can participate was really helpful in effecting behavioral change. 

Adrienne Thadani, Founder, Fresh & Local.
Adrienne founded Fresh & Local in 2010 because she believes growing, even just some of your own food, is life changing. Growing up in Washington D.C., she moved to India with almost no gardening experience but had a strong desire to eat fresh, organic produce. Over the years her work has shown her that even the smallest garden can bring people together and transform a place. Through her work with Fresh & Local she aims to make urban farming easy and accessible to all. She is a two-time Unltd India Investee and has received grants from UCL Grand Challenges and UN-HABITAT for urban farming projects.