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Eco Living Festival pops up in Lion Yard


By Mike Scialom


Visitors to the pop-up shop enjoyed a variety of talks, workshops and exhibitions. Picture: Sam Moore
Visitors to the pop-up shop enjoyed a variety of talks, workshops and exhibitions. Picture: Sam Moore

The second Cambridge Eco Living Festival took place on Saturday in Lion Yard shopping centre, offering inspiration and guidance on sustainable consumerism.

Last year’s event saw lots of stalls in the public area: this year the event took place in a pop-up shop – a 4,000 sq ft unused retail space on Petty Cury, which hosted various talks, exhibited several items of art created from waste and held various workshops throughout the day. Visitors heard from Free Eco Bricks, learned to make their own beeswax food covers, and saw Lush face mask-making workshops.

Speakers included Ocean Waste dress designer Linda Thomas, Women’s Environmental Network director Kate Metcalf on plastic-free periods and Anglian Water’s Keep It Clear Campaign representative Clare Pellinger, who explained what environmental damage is caused by various items that are flushed down toilets.

“The turnout and response from the public has been fantastic,” said Caroline Shaheera Asante, founder of the Eco Living Festival. “We’ve had over 600 people come into the Eco Pop Up during the course of the day who couldn’t believe we had created the decor of the space with timber, paint, trellises, room dividers and decoration, all salvaged, upcycled and saved from landfill – also the idea of having a dedicated consumer-facing space which is edgy, engaging and fun where you can learn and be inspired on how to live a more low-impact lifestyle while having fun with others, is what I wanted the core purpose of the space to be.”

Included in the pop-up was a wall which saw plastic waste spewing out of the ocean. It was designed by Caroline with help from Charlotte Sam and Michael Sanders, based on work by Japanese 'wave' artist Hokusi.

“In this interpretation of the legendary Great Wave off Kaganawa by Japanese 19th century artist Hokusai," said Caroline, "I wanted to create my first climate art instillation to represent the horrific amount of plastic waste currently and continuously spilling around and out of our world’s oceans. All the plastic you see is one week's worth of plastic packaging waste ‘hauled’ from destined commercial recycling bins."

Bags upon bags of mixed plastic packaging were salvaged by the eco team to create the instillation to demonstrate the scale of plastic recycling used in all fast fashion stores.

Concerns over plastic packaging are paramount.

The Cambridge Eco Living Festival team with founder Caroline Asante, left. Picture: Sam Moore
The Cambridge Eco Living Festival team with founder Caroline Asante, left. Picture: Sam Moore

“The system of fast fashion and excessive plastic packaging has to end,” says Caroline. “We cannot continue to have this mindset and blame others on the supply chain. Often a retailer will say it’s the manufacturer, the manufacturer will say it’s the insurance company regulations on shipping and this is where the system is broken.

“Unless we as consumers just simply stop purchasing over-packaged goods, this will continue.”



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