The Hindu Lit For Life 2019: An eco-friendly gathering of bookworms

The Hindu Lit For Life is on its way to becoming a zero-waste festival. In addition, win free coupons if you cycle to the venue or take public transport

January 10, 2019 12:39 pm | Updated 12:39 pm IST

Abundant plastic and rampant waste are everywhere in a music or literature festival — or any cultural festival, for that matter. It’s not just about plastic water bottles, though those are the most glaringly evident. If you look around the next time you are at such an event, you will notice a number of red flags, less obvious than the bottles, but equally problematic.

Flex banners, standees and signages are invariably made of plastic. Bags — cloth, plastic or otherwise — are churned out in large amounts, filled with keepsakes that are invariably thrown away in a week. Delegates, panellists, volunteers constantly make their way in and out, usually in a pollution-spewing private vehicle each: traffic jams are a common sight at festival entrances.

So let’s face it: for all their well meaning and high brow conversations, most cultural and literary festivals are not the planet’s best friends. The Hindu Lit For Life is attempting to change that, taking steps towards becoming a zero-waste festival.

Zero Waste Lit For Life is a joint effort between the organisers of the festival and city-based NGO Chennai Kalai Theru Vizha. With a host of volunteers joining forces and pitching in ideas, changes are afoot in every little aspect the team can think of, from plastic coatings on paper cups to laminations on tags and ID cards. We take a look at some areas of focus.

The right direction

Eschewing the plastic-coated flex material that is usually favoured for banners, signs and even directions — such as ‘Parking: left’ — city based artists’ outfit KRI Foundation - The Paintbox will be decking the venue with kada instead. An easily-available variant of cotton fabric, kada also provides the team of artists some scope for creativity. “The logo will be screen printed on the fabric,” clarifies Saravanan Antony, one of The Paintbox members involved in the effort, “Everything else will be painted by hand.”

Hari Haran, founder of KRI Foundation - The Paintbox, adds that the team is also joining hands with professional signboard artists for the larger banner. “It is an employment opportunity for them,” he says, “Artist Irudayaraj from Egmore is already working with us, and talks are currently on with another artist.”

How to go about it

Traffic woes are one of Zero Waste LFL’s biggest focus points, which is why a separate team is dedicated entirely to the task of ‘traffic audits’. One of their responsibilities is to encourage those taking public transport to the festival, explains Harismitha TC, a Bachelor of Arts student and volunteer.

“Audits are being done for the stalls, water, traffic, and different zones at the venue,” she says, “We plan to survey how many people choose to come by car and how many people take public transport, and also look at their reasons to do so.” Attendees’ place of residence and distance from the venue will be taken into account. However, it’s the ones who take public transport — or better yet, cycle to the venue — who will be lauded. Free food coupons await the first 50 people each in the morning and afternoon sessions, who produce ticket stubs as proof. Their names will also be going up on a wall of fame, so feel free to pedal your way over.

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