There is work to be done if Buenos Aires is to raise its environmental profile, but a new fair that launched on Sunday, just a stone’s throw away from San Telmo fair, is on its way to help the Argentine capital do just that.
Taking place every Sunday just off Plaza de Mayo, the Feria de Consumo Responsable promotes sustainability and consumer consciousness. Supported by APrA, the city government’s Environmental Protection Agency, it is organised by Ambientate, a non-profit organisation striving to raise environmental awareness in Buenos Aires. Since 2009 Ambientate has been informing the public about pressing issues through a series of networking events designed to connect “green” professionals and promote the benefits of thoughtful energy consumption, recycling, and sustainable living.
The mid-section of Av. Julio A. Roca was lined with more than 70 stalls, each manned by an environmentally conscious entrepreneur selling goods made from naturally sourced, recycled, or salvaged materials. The stretch was pedestrianised with an area for talks and workshops, some interactive educational areas, and stage from which live music was played. Demonstrations were set up including pushbike generators, one linked up to a monitor displaying power output, another rigged to a blender making fruit smoothies, while the band, Babel Orkesta, entertained the crowds.
Vivero Organico Sonyando, a company specialising in organic plants, were selling a range of herbs and small fruit trees. They also hold workshops and courses in organic gardening methods and offer a range of services from garden maintenance to design. “We are constantly helping develop cooperative spaces into eco-friendly, organic, sustainable areas,” said Sonia Pérez, Sonyando’s director.
Like Sonyando, Kokedamas are also devoted to harmonising city life and nature with their “non-pot plants”, which do not require plastic containers, eliminating any potential waste. “We see ourselves as a social trend that seeks to correct lifestyles immersed in a large city, surrounded by concrete and smog, towards sustainable and fresh forms,” said gardener Pedro Minotetti, who runs the company with graphic designer Marianela Màrquez.
Stalls displayed bottles morphed into lampshades and wind chimes, clothing made using organic cotton, and bags made from old car tyres and boat sails. Other stands included pottery and artisan crafts, recycled paper, as well as innovations such as solar cookers.
Despite the weather, which was overcast and cool, a steady number of people filtered through. “The fundamental concept of the fair revolves around responsible consumption and sustainability. We brought these businesses together to show the city what they are doing and to raise awareness about the impact of consumerism on the environment,” said Julieta Morosoli from Ambientate. “Each of the businesses here are totally aware of the environmental and social impact their products have, many of which have no carbon footprint at all.”
Babel Orkesta breathed some life into what was essentially a craft market, first playing on stage before moving amongst the audience and initiating a brilliant communal, melodic hum. Two or three skips, each full of rubbish, were perhaps a little clumsily placed in full view of the event, however, it is the first of what is to be a weekly fixture on Buenos Aires’ calendar and promises to improve as time goes on, spreading the environmental message and hopefully changing the way people live in the city.
Feria de Consumo Responsable, every Sunday from 10am to 6pm on Diagonal Sur (Av. Julio A. Roca) between Av. Belgrano and Alsina in the centre of Buenos Aires. For mas information, visit their facebook page.