Sustainable Living Festival 2010
Roving reporter Eliza spent the day soaking up the information about and enthusiasm for sustainable living at SLF 2010.
From 6 - 21 February 2010, thousands of locals and tourists flocked to the Sustainable Living Festival (new window). The Sustainable Living Festival is a free event designed to inspire individuals to embrace a less environmentally harmful lifestyle.
This year's festival was comprised of two programs: a series of Local Events and the Main Event, which was held at Federation Square from 19-21 February. Although I missed out on the Local Events, which were environmental-awareness events held by individuals and communities around Australia, I made it to the Main Event and had a lot of fun.
In Fed Square and down towards the Yarra were rows and rows of white tents, housing representatives from a diverse range of charities, organisations and businesses. There was everyone from Sea Shepherd to Pants to Poverty (a stall selling funky fair-trade undies). All together there were over 150 performers and over 130 exhibitors, so there was plenty to see and do.
All about sustainability
One of my first impressions of the Sustainable Living Festival was that it was predicated on a serious belief in the urgency of addressing the issue of human-induced climate change.
The big screen at Fed Square and numerous green and yellow posters declared "Climate Change - It's the Elephant in the Room". This reminded visitors that the 597 million tonnes of greenhouse gas Australians release into the atmosphere each year is "too big to ignore".
There were talks given about tricky environmental issues such as "Can nuclear power solve the climate crisis?" and car dependency, as well as plenty of workshops. These parts of the event made it very easy for interested people to learn more about climate change and what they can do.
Although the theme of climate change made the Sustainable Living Festival serious in many ways, that did not stop it from being highly entertaining. There was always something going on, whether it was an energetic interactive drumming show, a colourful performance of Indian dance or a film showing on the big screen.
Exhibitors like Wozwaste, selling awesome products made from "reincarnated rubbish", and Etiko Fair-Trade, with its non-sweatshop, non-leather shoes, clothes and sportsgear, showed that an ethical attitude and fashion do not have to be mutually exclusive.
By showing people that a sustainable lifestyle does not have to be boring or difficult in any way, the SLF made reducing one's ecological footprint very inviting.
The Sustainable Living Festival provided a great opportunity for people of all ages to get hands-on for a sustainable world by volunteering. I spent most of my time at the festival helping out on the Animal Liberation Victoria stall.
I had a fantastic time educating visitors to the festival about the devastating environmental impacts of the livestock industries, handing out information about veganism, wheeling around a life-size fibreglass cow in order to bring attention to the harm dairy farming does to the environment, and selling yummy vegan food to the populace.
I asked one of my co-volunteers from ALV, 13 year-old Jack Styles, what his favourite thing about the festival was. He said that "the fact that so many people cared so much for the planet and animals was overwhelming and it was great to be able to share the weekend with so many other compassionate people".
Indeed, the shared enthusiasm of the volunteers from all the exhibits made for a great atmosphere!
If you are interested in volunteering at next year's festival, keep an eye on the SLF website for updates (new window) to find out about general volunteer work at the festival (you can sign up for a number of roles). Alternatively, you could volunteer with an organisation that will be at the festival.
A great success
2010's Sustainable Living Festival was a great success in that an estimated 100,000+ people attended the main event and local events were held in rural and urban areas all around Australia.
Riki, a representative of the Sustainable Living Foundation, summed up the impression made by the Festival. "Beyond having a great time at the Festival - dancing, eating, drinking and celebrating - visitors take away skills to live their lives more sustainably."
"Whether it is the knowledge of where to source more sustainable products and services, or specific skills such as cooking, gardening or home renovations visitors have the opportunity to learn, engage, interact and be empowered to live a more sustainable life. The Festival connects people to their community, to the solutions available and the uprising swell in the community to live a better life."
I did indeed learn, engage, interact and feel empowered at the SLF. Although I am still unsure about some of the solutions to the daunting problems of climate change, habitat destruction and so on, I think the discussion and debate about these issues that the festival facilitated was invaluable!
So don't forget to check out next year's festival - it might just change your life!
For more articles about the environment, check out our Articles archive.
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