Being Positive is Not Enough, Be Waste Positive says the promoters of India Environment Festival

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Raising awareness about environmental concerns, through community engagement events, and letting the eco-preneurs connect with consumers is what the India Environment Festival is set to achieve in its three day celebrations.

The India Environment Festival is being held at the Ahmedabad Haat from the 24th to the 26th of February. It is an interesting event with a range of activities; wherein the academic inputs on concepts of Waste Management merge with community engagement portions like Flea Market, Workshops, Food, Music and Festivities. The waste positive discussions were held in the presence of Chief Guest Mukesh Kumar, Municipal Commissioner, AMC. Guests of Honour present were Kartikeya Sarabhai, Sunil Parekh and Piyush Desai, Chairman, Wagh Bakri Tea Group. The flea market titled ‘Hara Pitara’ is a unique concept where Organic, Sustainaible and Eco-Friendly products are showcased. It is open to public on all three days from 11 am to 9 pm.

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What caught my immediate attention was the decor at the festival. It is created using material from waste and the theme for it is ‘Under The Sea’. The waste has been procured from Wealth out of Waste (WOW), a waste management company, and the result is absolutely stunning. The decor depicts the beauty of the sea with its lovely azure colours and the wealth of sea life. Further it goes on to depict how human progress has a harming effect on it due to large accumulations of waste in the sea. The display is a tool to sensitise the visitors about the harm we are doing to the environment and the damage created by the burgeoning human footprint on it.

There is a Make and Take space within the festival, where people can make various things and take them home. These include tribal art forms like Lippan and Patra, and a reprint of tiger pug marks; it made children and elders engage with natural material like Mud and Water.

The Festival takes the community involvement part seriously and this is exhibited in the well-developed activity zone at the event. The activities include a range of workshops on varying themes. One is on recycled plastic and weaving it to create products. It has been organised by Khamir, a Kachchh based NGO and is being conducted by their master weaver Rajjiben. Khamir has also put up a stall in the Hara Pitara where one can buy the recycled plastic weave products.

A workshop on turning trash into traditional board games called ‘Pebble-o-Picasso’ is being conducted by Shradha Jain of Studio Clock Works. They too have a stall in the Hara Pitara, selling innovative games. Shradha tells us that these games are a good way to take children away from the screens they seem to be constantly attached to these days. The games are developed to promote non-digital leisure among families, which, in turn, can enhance the social and emotional connect within families.

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Another workshop worth a mention is by Button Masala, where participants can create garments with the help of buttons and rubberbands and take them home, their stall has innovative products which have been created with the same technique.  As they shared with me, the same cloth can be draped and used in multiple ways with a slight change in the place of the buttons and bands.

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Diving Deep, an Ahmedabad based group of nature enthusiasts, who are known for their offbeat trips and tours, have participated in the festival to sensitise city dwellers with Tribal Food, Art and Culture. “Being in nature, working with mud, has a therapeutic effect, which we want more people to experience”, shared Bharadwaj Jani

In the following days, a dog adoption show has been scheduled on February 25 followed by a clean-up drive of Thol Bird Sanctuary on the last day of the festival on February 26. Also lined up is an eco-preneurs summit to harness new knowledge, build networks, foster multi- stakeholder dialogue and a showcase of eco-tainment programs.

Hara Pitara has a lot to indulge in. Selling Organic Agri Produce and Food is Arya Sanskriti, there is Penpals – which recycle waste pens to make products, Roots – that makes traditional African Musical Instruments from recycled Tin and Wood. Hygiene & You and Saathi pads – are ventures that have eco-friendly and sustainable solutions for personal hygiene.

WAY started observing Worlds Environment Day from 2011 onwards with a motley crew of fellow residents. And our commitment to the cause of the environment has grown by leaps ever since. The India Environment Festival is special and represents every stakeholder who can make a difference. Hara Pitara is perhaps a first such initiative ever conceived and the first day of the fest has seen a very encouraging response,” said Wricha Johari, Founder, WAY.

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The planet is under stress, uncontrolled human progress, has done its damage. Experts say that to sustain the current trend of human progress, we would need four Planet Earths to provide resources. In these times, it is important that non-wastage of resources become our way of life. The immediate and significant change can be achieved if societies control and manage their waste well. It is a welcome initiative by WAY (World Around You) to take this serious discourse in to the public domain, while keeping the flavour of festivity intact. More than sermons, small experiences have lasting impressions on minds of people; the India Environment Festival, culminates a variety of small but rich experiences that may lead to subtle impact on the acceptability of non-accumulative green lifestyle.

Photograph Courtesy: India Environment Festival

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