One of the things that most college students look forward to are annual cultural fests in different colleges. Fests are those times when students get a break from the monotony of their college life and have fun. However, a lot goes into the planning and execution of a fest. From the decoration to the events to finding sponsors and artists to perform, college fests involve a lot of commitment.
A major issue with college festivals that is often not paid the attention it deserves is the high amount of waste generated. From paper wastage and food wastage to the plastic cutlery used by food stalls (and many other such things), a lot of waste is generated during cultural fests. While there are some colleges in India that organize environment-friendly fests (like Fergusson College, Pune), a lot more needs to be done.
This year, “Banjaara”, Ashoka University’s annual fest is aiming to be a socially and environmentally conscious event. While giving back to the society has always been the objective of the university, this time they are also ensuring that waste generation is as minimal as possible.
Leading up to the fest, some of the initiatives taken by the students were introducing a 4-bin segregation system in the hostels and running a social media campaign, suggesting ways in which students, teaching and non-teaching staff can adopt sustainable practices in their daily lives. A few of them also organised a sustainability workshop, creating beautiful items from trash such as lampshades from newspapers and wrappers (for chips) and decorative lights using toilet rolls.
With the aim to be environment-friendly, the fest decor and cutlery for the food stalls will be made using recycled and biodegradable items. As far as social impact is concerned, there are several events lined up, such as ‘Human Library’, where people can have random one-on-one conversations, ‘Blind Conversations’, where two blindfolded people get the chance to know each other, and art installations.
Besides that, there will also be a Haat showcasing the work of local artisans and craftspeople from Delhi and Haryana, NGOs selling handicrafts, second-hand bookstores from Daryaganj and food stalls of “Ilham” and “Macquul”, which are catering startups affiliated to the UNHCR and promote self-reliance among Afghan and Somali refugees living in Delhi.
These are some of the steps that “Banjaara” is taking to become a socially and environmentally responsible event, while also making sure that everyone has a great experience, and setting an example for other fests to follow.