We couldn’t be more chuffed with how our flagship event of the year, Y3K: Planet Lost & Found turned out. With 400 eco-warriors gathered in one spot (the loveliest Pioneer, Hall in Bandra, West, Mumbai) plus our largest ever lineup comprising ecopreneurs, conservationists, architects and urban planners, campaigners, journalists, investors, artists, designers, students and volunteers at a day long even featuring talks, panels, workshops, popups, networking and music performances — we frankly couldn’t have asked for more. It was thrilling to see our community mobilise and come together to find answers to the pressing question of, “ What can I do in the face of accelerated climate change?”
It would all have been quite meaningless had we only discussed lofty ideas without doing our best to ensure that the event itself was as sustainable as it could be. And from the time the event was conceived, this was at the forefront of all our decision making— big and small. For instance hosting the event at Pioneer Hall was one such decision. We made a conscious choice foregoing the slick convince of a hotel in favour of a more open, independent, partially air-conditioned heritage space. With introspection and advice from our mentors we managed to create a blueprint to minimise our impact on nature and resources, and take it one step ahead from just cleaning up after ourselves. With that goal in mind we drew up a manifesto and because we’re not experts in this field collaborated with bunch of practitioners who helped bring our sustainability goals to life IRL. Here’s how we went about the whole thing:
A sustainability manifesto
Y3K was conceived as an INCLUSIVE event where everybody is welcome regardless of where you are on the sustainability spectrum. The idea was to punch up together. We also envisioned Y3K as a LOW IMPACT - LOW WASTE event where we aimed to tread lightly, leaving as little physical trace of our activities as possible.
We encouraged participants to take public transport to get to the event. We also highlighted the closest local railway stations in our communication and encouraged people to carpool if they couldn’t manage public transport.
We decked up the halls for Y3K using discarded fabric scraps and other single-use material. We also reused printed brand material from past Dysco events for this one.
SAY NO TO SINGLE USE
We set up water refilling stations at the venue and encouraged participants to bring along their own reusable bottles. We also encouraged our participants to bring reusable bags to take back any purchases they make at our pop ups. There were also reusable bags available for purchase at the venue.
We encouraged participants and attendees to segregate their waste at the event but as a principle we worked towards generating and leaving behind as little waste at the as possible. Measures to recycle and compost most of the waste we generated were put in place.
The mandate was to be kind to ourselves and to others. We discouraged shaming, guilting, complaining, hating. We wanted to have a ‘solutions first’, constructive approach where all ideas, big or small, were given space.
We were aware that we were tackling a serious subject but like all Dysco events we set out with the intention of having a blast with our community. After all, our sustainability journey doesn’t end with this event, it only begins here. We’re all in this for the long haul and we may as well enjoy the ride.
Collaborating to deliver sustainability on ground
These eco warriors helped us realise our sustainability vision and we couldn’t have hosted Y3K without them:
WASTE MANAGEMENT WITH SKRAP
Skrap is a sustainability firm that helps organisations, workspaces and events adopt sustainable and zero-waste solutions. “We're thrilled to have been able to support the zero waste initiative at Y3K. It was wonderful to see sustainable measures integrated into every single aspect of the event,” says Skrap founder Divya Ravichandran. With their help:
- 97.4% of the waste generated at the event was recycled, composted or sent to NGOs for reuse.
- Food stalls were instructed to use only 100% natural and compostable serve ware, straws, bulk dispensers for condiments, segregate waste at their respective stalls and donate any leftover edible food. We’re happy to report that there was only one defaulter.
- Skrap’s waste sorting team undertook thorough waste segregation at the venue separating the event’s waste into biodegradable waste, recyclable waste, materials for reuse and reject waste.
- Biodegradable waste comprising food scraps compostable plates and wooden cutlery was sent to a composting facility for conversion into soil nutrients.
- 0.5 kgs of leftover bread slices were collected and shared with low-income communities.
- The waste segregation infrastructure set up by Skrap including colour coded bins with clear signage facilitated segregation at source.
- Many attendees stopped by to learn more about zero-waste and the event’s sustainability efforts from Skrap’s on ground team.
Waste segregation stations by Skrap
Food at the stalls was served in compostable serve ware
Bulk dispensers instead of single use condiment sachets were used
Skrap's unground volunteers spreading the message of sustainability and guiding the attendees
UPCYCLED EVENT DECOR WITH PRETTY THINGS
We partnered with upcylcing and repurposing experts Pretty Things for Y3K’s decor. “It was heartwarming to see people acknowledge and love the upcycled decor. Some of them showed greater interest in what more could be done and that gives a sense of fulfilment, when you have helped them look at waste with a slightly different perspective and that’s just the least it takes to ignite the infinite possibilities in each one’s potential,” says Pretty Things founder, Priti Kabra, adding, “The beauty about using waste materials is, you can’t always control the final outcome, but when put together, it all complemented each other and brought to it the vibe with each colour and element uplifting the space in its own way.” With their help:
- A lot of material from Dysco’s previous events including sunboards, vinyl sheets, fabric rolls and fairy lights, were reused.
- The lamps used to light up the space is one of Pretty Things’ own products made from fabric scraps.
- A sphere, again fabricated out of discarded pieces of metal, depicting the world we have made today full of trash, welcomed guests at the entrance.
- Hand-painted signage was installed
- Bunting made with up cycled materials from previous events were used
- Any minimal new material printed for the event was printed on paper.
- Jute cloth and banners that were reused from previous events were sent to an NGO for reuse by Skrap, thus giving these a third life.
Handpainted signage at the venue
Handpainted venue map by artist Jai 'Zaiu' Ranjit
Upcycled buntings made from past event branding
Lamps made by Pretty Things from fabric scraps
Water stations set up by Cupable
Cupable's reusable glasses
WATER STATIONS AND REUSABLE GLASSES WITH CUPABLE.
Cupable is India's first brand that designs, manufactures and recycles drinkware that is good for our planet. Cupable’s mission is to create a sustainable and circular economy for the future. With their help:
- We set up water refill stations at the venue where attendees could refill their own bottles.
- For attendees who forgot to carry their own bottles Cupable provided reusable sippers against a nominal refundable deposit.
- This step alone prevented a whole lot of single use waste from being generated (imagine how many paper/ plastic cups would be discarded by about 400 people at a day-long event).
GREEN TRANSPORT WITH CITYFLO
We partnered with Cityflo to offer a number of free bus routes to the venue. Cityflo, an urban transport startup, has been designed to solve daily commute challenges of city professionals. Currently operating in Mumbai, the young company's fleet of premium, smart buses offer an upgraded travel experience that has led users to give up their cars to travel to work. Cityflo’s objective is to bring joy back to commute and help cities breathe a little better.
FURNITURE WITH THE RETYREMENT PLAN AND FURLENCO
We rented furniture for the event from The Retyrement Plan who, as the name hints at, makes upcycled furniture from old tyres. We also rented furniture from Furlenco, a Bengaluru-based furniture and appliances rental company that is working towards reducing the amount of brand new furniture people purchase and promoting the culture of reusing.
Upcycled furniture from The Retyrement Plan dotting the venue
We moved from wristbands to stamps to manage admission to the venue
Beer was served in sturdy, reusable glasses
Signage from Dysco's paste events being reused for Y3K
- We moved to stamps from wrist bands to manage venue admission to attendees and participants.
- Drinks at the event were served in sturdy reusable glasses with a system in place to wash and reuse them.
- Pre-event social media and on ground messaging helped increase sustainability awareness among attendees.
10 things we learnt in trying to make Y3K a sustainable event
(in other words 10 takeaways for anyone trying to host an event with minimal environmental impact)
- We went into Y3K thinking this is a small event and how much waste will we really generate. But looking at a comprehensive report from Skrap we realised that there’s so much waste generated at events even if you’re conscious and that waste is dealt with appropriately.
- Sustainability is not easy but it’s worth it in the end. A lot of effort and time that goes into planning and executing a sustainable event.
- All or nothing thinking is not the right approach to going zero-waste. It’s best to improve things incrementally.
- You won’t be able to do everything by yourself. Identify partners who can help you achieve your zero waste goals.
- Communicate. communicate. Communicate - even at the risk of sounding like a broken record. We used all platforms to communicate our zero-waste goals for the event and what we needed and expected from attendees.
- Flexibility is key— we were forced to change our minds about a lot of things in course of putting the event together in the interest of sustainability and it wouldn’t have been possible had we been rigid about the whole thing.
- A few potential participants dropped out because they felt they were not sustainable enough to be part of Y3K. It was interesting to see that everyone including ourselves were self-examining and questioning ourselves at every stage.
- Compliance is key— its one thing to want to go sustainable and have plans and measures in place and quite another to ensure that house rules are followed. Always find inspiring ways to make compliance happen at your events.
- Your vibe attracts your tribe—we’re super lucky to have a community that cares as much about the things we do. Participants and attendees at Y3K were happy to do their bit in the interest of sustainability. So don’t be afraid to make a statement and take a stand.
- Zero waste doesn’t have to be zero fun. We made fun a priority at Y3K (much like all Dysco events) and it paid off.
In conclusion, we couldn’t have done any of this without you. You might have found some gaps in the implementation of these measures on ground and may have encountered some compromises we’ve had to make along the way. But we’d like to assure that we’ve weighed in on everything carefully. We’re not perfect when it comes to sustainability, but we’re trying to make it better and this is just the beginning. So if you have any ideas on what we could’ve done better on the sustainability front do let us know. We hope to carry this forward to all our events in 2020 and beyond.