The need to protect the environment is making headlines on a daily basis, and I find that with the overwhelming amount of content being delivered it can really scare some people away from even wanting to think about it.  It seems that many people believe that if we make the transitions environmentalists are telling us are necessary it will mean a return to the Stone Age.  But this last weekend Joey Hundert, founder of Sustainival, demonstrated that we don’t need to abandon our way of life in order to live in balance with the environment.  What we need to do instead is rethink the way we produce, consume and dispose of all of the things we use.

Sustainival, which set up four rides as part of the Freezing Man Festival, offered a tangible demonstartion of how we can actively reduce our environmental footprint without that return to the Paleolithic.  The rides, which have been spinning people around for decades now, were operated for their first time with biofuels that were created from waste mustard seed as well as used cooking oil from various restaurants in Edmonton.  Additional power for one of the rides was provided by Bullfrog Power which generates electricity from the wind.  For 11 hours Edmontonians rode the indoor carnival rides while listening to over 20 live performances on three different stages!

So what carnival messages reverberate past the party and reach real life?

  • Be aware of how much waste you produce and where it goes afterwards.  Joey estimates that in Edmonton we dispose of over 900 million liters of cooking oil per year.  Besides carnival rides, this waste product could be fueling our cars and heating our houses.  (Luckily in Edmonton we are quite progressive with our waste, check out this link to find out how our Waste Management facility is aiming to divert 90% of our residential waste away from the landfill: Edmonton Waste-to-Biofuels Facility.)
  • Be aware of where your energy comes from and how much you use.  Most of the energy we use in Alberta comes from burning coal to produce electricity and much of the rest of it is from burning gas to fuel our cars.  Not only are these fuel sources non-renewable, they are significant contributors of greenhouse gases which are rapidly accumulating, causing climate change.  We can all lower our impact by simply using less energy, or by switching to renewable power.
  • Be creative!  It will take innovative ideas like Sustainival if we are going to successfully maintain our way of life and avoid the catastrophic consequences that come with climate change.
  • Have fun!  If there is anything that you really learn at a carnival it is that life is all about having a good time and connecting with community!  By coming together and celebrating regularly as Edmontonians we will continue to strengthen the resilience of our city.

This was only Edmonton’s first taste of a sustainable carnival though.  Coming up this summer the Sustainival crew is planning to launch the World’s First Green Carnival!  With dozens of biofuel powered rides, locally sourced food, a farm fair and much more, Edmonton will get to play host to a truly monumental event!  Check out to learn more and find out how you can become involved.