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Echoes of Earth 2022: India’s ‘greenest’ music festival?

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Echoes of Earth promised to be India's most sustainable music festival, but did they live up their promises?

Artwork by Nivedita Bansal

Set in the lush woods of Embassy Riding School in Bangalore, Echoes of Earth Music Festival is said to be the greenest of all. This festival has consistently managed to distinguish itself from its peers, thanks to its eco-friendly ideas and exceptionally eclectic lineup of artists. It brings people together by celebrating music, art, and culture while adhering to the ‘leave no trace’ principle.

The festival combined stories of wildlife and nature conservation from five distinct ecosystems in India - the Himalayas, the deserts, the forests, the coastlines, the grasslands, freshwater, and urban — under the umbrella of this year's theme, "Circle of Life." There were infographics, murals, and art installations aimed at educating the attendees. With such an ambitious foundation, they were able to deliver. There were no roads and pathways constructed in and out of the festival premises ensuring that the grass is not damaged. All four stages were powered solely by solar panels. Massive production work was done, all with natural and sustainable materials like bamboo and cardboard.

However, they claimed all food is locally produced and sourced, stalls of commercial brands like Social said otherwise. As for zero waste, the cigarette butts on the ground, the myriad of beer cans, and the plastic hooks on entry bands were a bummer. We’d like to believe that a plan for disposal is in place and the festival will be able to achieve the aim to keep waste at the minimum.

The event was kid-friendly as well, with a special area including entertaining activities like face painting and tiara making. It is admirable to be able to establish a space where parents can unwind.

Pets also had a separate area, but considering the raucous volume and passive smoke, one wonders if it is really safe for them. It made me wonder how it could be a carnival for domesticated animals but a nightmare for wildlife and birds, especially at night when they return to the woods to rest. Noise pollution and light pollution are very pertinent threats to wildlife across the country. It can disorient birds due to disruption in communication (especially birds using sonar), disrupt the sleep cycle of flora and fauna, and can cause stress in sensitive species, sometimes leading to death. A sustainable alternative to some of the loud noise at the festival could be silent discos for some of the performances and using certain light spectra that interfere less with the circadian rhythm of nature nearby.

The music curation with over 40 diverse acts was a treat for every attendee. From soft acoustic music to raging electronic beats, they had it all covered. Klangphonics, the mainstage's headliners, had to be the high point on this front. During the final few minutes of their performance, they cleaned the stage using the vacuum cleaner they had requested to be placed on the stage.

While the international performers shared their magic with the gathering, It also came to mind that more regional performers and musicians from nearby nations should be given preference over acts from overseas. We can only imagine the amount of carbon emission involved in bringing the US/EU acts down for the festival. Replacing personal cabs with shuttle buses could be another way to contribute to the cause.

The staff at the festival was very hospitable and courteous, indicating that they were taken care of by the organizers. The cleaning staff, especially the women, had banded together and helped each other, instilling a sense of community and duty towards our environment. This is a rare occurrence in many music festivals which do not place emphasis on the well-being of the organizers and staff.

The pioneering spirit of the festival rests on giving its attendees a splendid sonic and visual experience. It reminds us of just how beautiful our nature and environment are and inspires festival goers to take care of our earth and truly cherish what we have. To think of it, running an event of this scale without harming the environment is close to impossible, but with every new edition, Echoes of Earth proves to us that it can be achieved. Cheers to them for building a community around the beauty of the Earth and their ode to it.

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