I have just returned from an enlightening weekend at Lightning in a Bottle Music and Arts festival in Southern California. This festival creates a certain type of magic not felt at other festivals by encompassing sustainability, music, workshops, and creating transformative experiences. This was a special year for Lightning, as it was the 20th anniversary of the festival! There were four stages and tents where workshops were presented at each day of the festival: Beacon, Crossroads, E.R.A, and Learning Kitchen. The E.R.A. tent (Ecological Renewal Alliance) was a space dedicated to workshops designed to teach attendees about different aspects of sustainability ranging from regenerative agriculture to sustainable consumerism. I attended numerous workshops and talks, and found them all to be educational, insightful, and entertaining.
The photo below is taken from the workshop, “Easy Conscious Consumerism”, lead by Unique World Inspirations CEO Michelle Goyette. The main thesis from the talk that they wanted to get across was that any effort (however big or small) to be more conscious about what you consume as an individual is worth it. They gave examples of small changes you can make in your life that will add up immensely over the course of a lifetime. For example, being conscious of your plastic consumption is easy! Most of the plastic we consume is with the foods we buy. Buying prepackaged frozen meals uses a ton of plastic, as does forgetting to bring a reusable bag to the store. By simply buying more fresh foods (or foods packaged with no plastic) you have the opportunity to make a noticeable impact on the environment. Michelle’s company only sells products that are Fair Trade Certified and sustainable. Much like my company, she has partners around the world that supply her with products she knows were made in good conscious and are eco friendly. Michelle also discussed the importance of buying sustainably produced clothing, as the textile industry is one of the largest polluters in the world. I had a chance to talk to Michelle after the workshop and she was nice enough to give me some products and let me know of some potential fair trade companies I could partner with.
Workshop at the largest tent, The Compass.
Making some delicious plant-based “Powerballs” at the Learning Kitchen.
I have been wanting to improve my diet and start eating more sustainably, so I knew that attending a few workshops at the Learning Kitchen was a must! I attended: Om Yum Ayurveda: Ghee, Kitchari, & Chutney, Fueling Your Festival: Good Nutrition & Recovery Techniques, and Powerball: Plant-based, Protein rich, and Nutrition Dense Bliss Balls and Power Snacks. Each presenter did a great job of explaining the benefits to your body and mind you will experience by starting to eat a healthier organic diet. In the Om Yum Ayurveda workshop, I learned ancient techniques to “nourish the body and soul” for optimum health. The presenter, Christina, is the founder and chef at Rasa Foods, an organic farm-to-table cookery that specializes in Ayurvedic tradition. She is also the founder and director of the Learning Kitchen tent at Lightning! It was interesting to learn about how much the human diet has changed in the past 50 years and how we are in unprecedented territory in terms of the new types of chemicals we consume on a regular basis.
The next workshop I went to was called Fueling Your Festival: Good Nutrition & Recovery Techniques. Chef Katelyn made us a delicious recovery milkshake along with some snacks that were made from superfoods, plants, and herbs. During the workshop, Katelyn delved into what makes certain foods great for detoxification and gut health. At festivals most people eat less and get less sleep, meaning that the food they do consume really needs to count. She stressed the importance of eating protein to power you through the day (and gave options for vegans). I came away from the workshop with great insight to the types of foods I should include on my next shopping list, as well as those to avoid (sugary foods).
Lightning is the only festival that I have been to where they had food compost bins throughout the festival along with recycling. People working on the Green Team would also walk around the festival and pick up and sort items that may have been misplaced. I noticed an improvement of more waste stations and less trash on the ground this year compared to last. I spoke to someone who has worked on the Lightning team the past five years and they said that this was the cleanest, most organized version of the festival they have experienced. Each year people are slowly getting more cognizant of their impact and are doing their part to reduce consumption and dispose of their waste properly.
This year I camped in an RV and was able to stay in a different location on the festival grounds than I did last year. We did this in part to escape the dust, but also because all of my group were flying in and it is much easier to set up with an RV. By the end of the festival our group of five had only accumulated two bags of trash, one waste and one recycle. LiB has a disposal policy where trash must be sorted before being dropped off or you have to pay a fee. This encouraged people to get in the habit of sorting their recycling and compost materials so that they would have to pay less to dispose of everything at the end of the festival. Since we sorted our trash, we did not have to pay a fee. This saves the festival team time and ensures that more materials can be recycled.
I had an incredible time at Lightning in a Bottle this year and learned a ton from the workshops and talks I attended. I met some people that were interested in going on Eco trips that I will be connecting with over the following days to help plan. There were no bad vibes anywhere to be found for an entire weekend, which is a rarity these days. I encourage anyone interested in sustainability, loves music and art, and wants to meet wonderful new people to attend next year!