No tripping (over plastic bottles) at WONDERFRUIT Festival


While Europe and States are slowing down for cosy (supposed to be cold, but hey! #globalwarming) Christmas, in Thailand festivities are in full bloom. All that because of WONDERFRUIT Festival - “A 4-day celebration of the arts to catalyze positive impact”. And you read the right, WONDERFRUIT did a very good job limiting the amount of single-use plastics. Stay with us to learn more about the rest of our mindful hunts during the festival.

[…] What we’re saying is that we are committed to environmental sustainability, and we recognise that sustainable resolutions to environmental issues can be brought about through a cultural agenda. This provides us not only with opportunities to engage and advocate in this area but a responsibility to do so. […]

Says the description of WONDERFRUIT on its official website. And we could not agree more! Cultural agenda can definitely bring more awareness around environmental issues, and we are pleased to see (and attend) events that proclaim that message. Going to WONDERFRUIT we were excited to see the different music stages, some of which are entirely built of bamboo, we were excited to hear the talks and were curious to see how sustainable the food availability would be at the festival (as you all know, WOMB is a strong advocate for veganism, and one of the main reason is the fact that animal agriculture, meat production and fishing are extremely pollutant and a big burden for our planet - hence not sustainable).

Limiting single-use plastics

WONDERFRUIT, you did what you promised. It makes complete sense not to promise and advertise with being Zero-Waste because we all know it would be completely unachievable for a festival, but WONDERFRUIT definitely managed to cut down the number of single-use plastics. The disposable cups were made of cassava sugarcane, which is compostable and degrades naturally in under 6 months.
(They did call the cup “a zero-waste cup”, which might be questionable in terms of production, but we give all the credit to the festival for implementing this solution!)
Hence, yes - the cup was a great solution from the organizers’ side, but what about the vendors that are supposed to actively use it? That’s another story. We have received regular (made of paper, lined with plastic) cups from several vendors during the festival, and our sustainably conscious friends have even reported receiving a plastic straw!

cassava sugarcane compostable cup thailand wonder fruit festival

Another way of limiting the use of disposable cups was introducing a reusable cup which gave the owner 50 TBH off alcoholic beverages. Yup - temp them with money (saved on alcohol). We all know that works. Our problem was that if you had someone that doesn’t drink alcohol, there is absolutely no incentive to buy a (fairly expensive for Thai standards) metal cup. Discounts should have been offered on all beverages, or maybe even the price of the cup could have been lowered down slightly, but included in the price of the ticket? If you give people no choice but to be sustainable, they kind of have to bet, right? And we think no one would say no to go to WONDERFRUIT because the ticket got 400 TBH more expensive and now includes a reusable cup.
(But it might also just be us…)

Getting circular:
Trash segregation and recycling at WONDERFRUIT

We were super happy to see the recycling bins at Siam Country Club. And one could segregate it all! Food compost separated from compostable food containers, there were containers for general waste, metal cans, tetra pack water boxes and glass bottles. We couldn’t be more excited to see that many litter-families! But some people weren’t…Recycling only works of people… do segregate the trash! Several times we had seen people throwing the litter into wrong containers or not segregating their compostable cutlery and tissues from organic food waste. But we need that for the system to function fully!

Disposal points for cigarette buds were also around, but we must admit, there were only a few, and they were not placed near the main stages, where the majority of the people enjoyed their nicotine kicks. It was poorly planned, and hence buds did end on the ground.WONDERFRIUT did have a team of cleaners though, who were active at all times of night and day and very thorough, so indeed necessary steps were taken to keep the noble resolution to protect the festival grounds from excessive man-made pollution.

wonderfruit festival thailand waste recycling circular economy

Sustainable Festival Decor and Eco Gadgets

… were to be found! We decorated our faces with biodegradable glitter and found Palo Santo scented mist sold in bulk, encouraging the customers to fill up their own bottles or dispensers instead of selling excessive plastic packaging. That made us happy. We were slightly less happy when we discovered that there were vendors selling head decorations with small, battery-powered light bulbs, and the battery was of course in a plastic protector box and on-site there were no disposal bins for batteries, which are some of the most toxic waste items to end up in our landfills!

Once again, we see that the festival did a lot to facilitate and encourage sustainable solutions, but the vendors and attendees didn’t think further.

Raise your Consciousness at WONDERFRUIT

A broad, well-curated selection of talks was another thing worth mentioning at WONDERFRUIT. One presentation that triggered a lot of thoughts was led by Sonia S. Mendoza who spoke about implementing low waste solutions in a local community in the Philippines. Sustainable solutions at grassroots levels and we loved it! Sonia shared a success story of creating jobs and bringing waste down at the same time, and she stressed the fact that Zero Waste circular economy is only reachable if we decentralize waste management and involve everyone in waste reduction and prevention. Her message resonated with us, and was (as we mentioned already) highly applicable to WONDERFRUIT itself. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and we can only speak about lowering waste if all the involved agents (and that’s us) are willing to take action and the necessary steps!

And speaking of weak links…

Seeking vegan festival food

… wasn’t easy! Only a few food vendors were entirely vegan (and some of them were juice bars (which - as delicious as juices might be - just doesn’t satisfy WOMB’s munchies). The majority of the food stalls sold very meat-heavy dishes, which made us a bit worried because we were hoping that WONDERFRUIT would look further than non-plastic plastic cups and invite more vegan and vegetarian food vendors.
Crossing fingers for more veg at WONDERFRIUT 2019.

How sustainable was WONDERFRUIT?

Nobody is perfect, and we know it! And first and foremost we must express deepest respect to WONDERFRUIT for organizing a festival where arts and sustainability merge and are celebrated together. What a powerful mix, a powerful event, and loads of inspiration all around.
That said, we do hope that the focus on sustainability will grow and that “festival sustainability” becomes more than skipping the straw, but turns into a lifestyle. We hope to see more festivals where conscious choices are the obvious (and only) choices without vendors sneaking in plastic lids for their cups because there is a cute logo on it…

WONERFRUIT is doing a great job, and it’s never easy to be a pioneer. The attendees and the vendors must start caring too, so essentially, whether we can be looking forward to more sustainable WONDERFRUIT 2019 is entirely up to you, us, and the kazillion other happy people that we had the pleasure to party with for the past 4 days.

On your way to more FESTIVALS soon?
Take a look back at our post about being a conscious festival-goer, we’re sure you’re going to like it!

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