Biggest edition of EarthFest walks the talk with compostable plates and utensils

People looking at goods by Husk's Ware, which sells tableware and cutlery made entirely of rice husks, at EarthFest 2018 on Jan 14, 2018. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Visitors browsing the wares at stalls selling organic locally grown produce, at EarthFest 2018 at the Marina Barrage on Jan 14, 2018. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - The Marina Barrage was a hive of activity on Sunday (Jan 14) as thousands of people arrived to attend EarthFest, Singapore's largest sustainability festival. All of the festival's 7,000 free tickets were snapped up, and people were eagerly browsing organic products, enjoying sumptuous vegetarian food and learning how to live more sustainably in everyday life.

This third edition of EarthFest was the biggest yet, with 120 booths hosting activities, educating visitors and selling products such as organic soaps, jewellery made of repurposed material and aromatherapy oils. Sponsoring this year's edition are media and property group Singapore Press Holdings and restaurant LingZhi Vegetarian.

There were also talks, a movie screening, a free market where all items, including homeware, decor and electronics, were free to take, book and clothing swaps, a farmer's market selling locally grown organic produce, and live music performances by local bands.

Participating Singaporean ventures such as Husk's Ware, a company which makes 100 per cent biodegradable, plastic-free but fully reusable cutlery and tableware out of rice husks, and TreeDots, an online marketplace for unwanted but edible food items which would otherwise be thrown away by food and beverage companies, said they were pleased with the turnout.

Mr Nicholas Lim, 25, co-founder of TreeDots said the festival was great exposure for the six-month-old company. "It's an opportunity to meet like-minded people who are aware about the environment and are doing interesting things to make change. It's a breeding ground for collaborations and sharing ideas."

Visitors enjoyed walking around the open space in Marina Barrage, itself a sustainable building with a Green Roof, solar park and natural ventilation.

Students Tanya Lau and Elycia Lee, both 18, learned about the festival through Instagram and were excited to check out the sustainable products. "It's not often that we have such environmentally focused events in Singapore, with so many environmentally friendly products in one place, and it's nice to be around a community of like-minded people who also care about the environment," said Ms Lau.

The range of plant-based, palm-oil-free food - which included laksa, vegetarian satay, hummus, wraps and organic juices - was also impressive, she said.

Even non-vegetarians, such as Mr Kee Kai Xun, 26, an accountant and self-described meat-lover who tried the vegetarian shark's fin soup, satay and a falafel burger, gave the food the thumbs-up.

Vendors served their food on plates and bowls made of sugarcane fibre and with bamboo utensils. Once visitors were done eating, they used scissors to cut theminto small pieces before throwing them away in biodegradable bags. At the end of the festival, the bags of used cutlery will be taken by Quan Fa Organic Farm to be composted and eventually used as fertiliser.

"We want to be a festival which walks the talk," says Mr Michael Broadhead, organiser and director of EarthFest, who said the festival aims to encourage people to be mindful of what they throw away and how they consume. "We need to inspire ourselves and others to do better, to create the world we know we want."

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