Environment

Celebrating Sustainability As an alternative of Consumerism


On a sunny day, tens of hundreds of individuals flock to the ‘Theresienwiese’ competition grounds. Supply: Pixabay

By Elmar Ujszaszi-Müller (Visitor edited by Anna Antonova)

Yearly in late September, the environment in Munich turns into thicker when Oktoberfest takes place. The extreme odors of roasted almonds and grilled rooster mingle with these of specifically brewed lager and the sweat of hundreds of individuals roaming the competition grounds. This olfactory sensation is accompanied by the dazzling lights of the varied curler coasters and the amplified lure of the ghost trains’ impresarios.

Since its beginnings as a celebration in honor of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese in 1810, the world’s largest folks competition appears to place town right into a collective state of frenzy. Over time, the ‘Wiesn,’ because the locals name it, has grow to be infamous not solely as a typical Bavarian folks competition but additionally as a German one. In the present day, greater than 6 million individuals from everywhere in the world flock to the competition grounds and into one of many 15 soccer field-sized competition tents. The huge variety of guests typically causes the tents to shut round midday because of overcrowding.

Hofbräu, one of many 15 giant competition tents. Supply Pixabay

Those that make it inside often gulp down over 7.3 million liters of beer throughout the two weeks of the competition. In 2019, a staggering 124 oxen and 29 calves have been eaten, with the variety of chickens, geese, pork knuckles, and sausages collectively including as much as hundreds of thousands. However the ravenousness not solely fills the coffers of the competition tents’ innkeepers. Worldwide vacationers attracted by Oktoberfest’s world popularity spend fairly some money and time in Munich, bringing round €1.23 billion into town’s financial system (in response to a survey amongst businessmen in 2014). So it comes as no shock that town’s advertising and marketing division diligently promotes photos of vacationers and locals in ‘conventional’ Bavarian costume, sitting collectively in concord and toasting with the one-liter beer mugs known as ‘Maß.’

An enthusiasitc temper abounds amongst those that handle to get a seat within the packed tents. Supply: xsnowdog (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Regardless of these idyllic photographs, questions of sustainability are more and more changing into of concern to the occasion’s organizers. With a view to scale back the consumption of assets and promote the people competition as a mannequin for large-scale occasions, the water used for rinsing beer mugs in lots of competition tents is now transferred to the bogs the place it may be used a second time. Since 2012, electrical energy has been generated from renewable vitality sources. Based on Stadtwerke München, the general public utility firm offering the pure fuel that’s used to organize the meals, carbon dioxide emissions are compensated for by emission discount certificates.

Nonetheless, carbon dioxide emissions are just one downside amongst many and regardless of efforts to sort out the waste of assets, Oktoberfest nonetheless can’t be thought of a sustainable occasion. Public statistics present that about 105,000 cubic meters of water, in addition to 2.84 million kilowatt-hours of electrical energy, have been consumed in 2019. As well as, in 2018, researchers on the Technical College of Munich (TUM) carried out measurements exhibiting that methane fuel emissions in Munich throughout the competition have been thrice increased than standard. The emissions even exceed these generated by the metropolitan space of the key US metropolis of Boston by an element of ten. On condition that methane is the second largest contributor to the man-made greenhouse impact after carbon dioxide, and mentioned to have 28 to 34 instances its world warming potential, the researchers known as for systematic methods to scale back these emissions.

Following the cancellation of Oktoberfest in 2020 as a result of Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 Oktoberfest, which was because of happen from 18 September to three October, was additionally cancelled by organizers. This disruption may be seen as a possibility to consider methods to do issues in another way when it comes to sustainability. However what may these methods appear like in follow? Wouldn’t it be adequate to look at the competition’s many kilometers of fuel pipelines seeking potential methane leaks, after which seal them, as researchers from TUM have advised? This would definitely be an necessary step. However it appears simply as necessary to consider how we as people and as a society arrange our leisure time and concerning the sustainability of the methods we rejoice. Contemplating the various guests from everywhere in the world, the query arises of how Oktoberfest can grow to be an ‘genuine’ and on the identical time sustainable expertise for each vacationers and locals.

The function Oktoberfest performs for the inhabitants has modified dramatically during the last 200 years. The primary Oktoberfest was held only a few years after Napoleon made the Duchy of Bavaria a kingdom. With a view to instil emotions of attachment to the brand new nation and type a standard id, the celebrations have been designed in such a method that not solely the royal courtroom but additionally frequent individuals may take part. There have been contests, akin to horse races, through which individuals may actively participate. They weren’t simply anticipated to devour. These days, the principle objective of the people competition is to stimulate mass consumption and preserve earnings flowing.

Oktoberfest guests fulfil the function of shoppers and have hardly any connection to the merchandise which might be put in entrance of them. Supply: JudithTB (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In its present manifestation, Oktoberfest stands for a type of social group through which leisure time and celebration have grow to be a product with a price ticket that may solely be consumed and now not produced or organized by individuals themselves. This results in a state of affairs through which the person, or reasonably the buyer, turns into an increasing number of alienated from the merchandise they devour. Following insights from important concept, I argue that with a purpose to rethink Oktoberfest in a extra sustainable method, individuals have to reclaim their pastimes and the methods they rejoice. Extra particularly, Oktoberfest should be reclaimed!

To realize this, mass consumption must be countered with sustainable alternate options that promote cooperation. Oktoberfest guests may take part within the manufacturing of meals consumed on the competition. Locals, in addition to international vacationers, may assist in the rising of greens in city gardens and within the elevating of and caring for animals on close by farms. On this method, they’d not solely get to know the city hinterland but additionally acquire perception into the thrill and toils of meals manufacturing, particularly in the case of meat. Likewise, locals and vacationers may brew beer collectively and study to understand not solely the craft but additionally the product (to an applicable extent, in fact).

Studying collectively, working collectively, and celebrating collectively, reasonably than simply the latter, may very well be a technique of creating a holistic, extra sustainable, and linked type of leisure. Reclaiming Oktoberfest is about altering the best way locals and guests alike rejoice Munich’s tradition.

In 2020, when Oktoberfest was cancelled for the primary time as a result of Covid-19 pandemic, the group Inexperienced Metropolis arrange a palm backyard on the competition grounds, exhibiting that the type of the competition isn’t set in stone. Picture courtesy of the writer.

This is likely to be thought of an unrealistic proposal. Nonetheless, the institution of a palm backyard on the positioning of the Theresienwiese within the wake of the corona disaster reveals that one thing beforehand unimaginable—that of a seaside rising from the competition grounds—shouldn’t be altogether unthinkable and even not possible.


This work is licensed below a Artistic Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Worldwide License.

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