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Festival of alternative lifestyles: towards a sustainable future | The Express Tribune

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KARACHI:

Environmental degradation is often seen as a necessary evil if it can ensure economic growth and development. But this reserve can become a catalyst for disaster, especially for countries like Pakistan, which are simultaneously struggling with stunted economic growth and environmental instability.

Given the country’s unstable economic situation and its position among the countries most affected by global climate change, the need to find more sustainable alternatives is imperative. And to that end, turning to options closer to home could provide the answer.

As Shaista Ayesha, CEO of social impact ecosystem development and impact investment organization SEED Ventures explains, “Given economic challenges, supporting local brands is an alternative to building the economy “.

To this end, under the banner of their sustainability platform, What’s The Alternative (WTA), Ayesha and her team organized and designed the ‘Alternative Lifestyles Festival’.

In keeping with the WTA’s focus on environment, lifestyle and wellness, the event took place recently at Beach Luxury and was open to the public free of charge. It functioned as a transformative, community-driven gathering that offered insight, highlighted sustainable businesses, and created spaces for creativity and learning.

As the newest addition to the WTA roster, the festival focused on the lifestyle side of the platform, bringing together locals looking for sustainable alternatives and industry leaders leading the charge. of these changes.

Like all WTA events, the festival combines insight and fun. To draw attention to the pioneers who are championing alternative methods of production and growth, the festival hosted an insightful panel discussion aptly titled “Choices for Change” where experts from various fields expressed their views on the need alternative approaches to growth.

Andleeb Uroos Ahmed of Philip Morris (Pakistan) Limited highlighted that the sustainability agenda is embedded within the structure of the company itself, a notion best encapsulated by the parent company’s global focus on smoke-free alternatives.

Commenting on the “product transformation” underway within the company, Uroos emphasized: “we are moving towards less harmful alternatives.”

Read: Is this economic stability sustainable?

At the same time, she noted that the company is keenly aware of its ecological footprint and has championed campaigns aimed, among other things, at reducing waste and encouraging recycling.

It was encouraging to see leaders from industries that are not always at the forefront of sustainability initiatives, as it suggested a shift in trend.

Sadia Dada, director of marketing and communications at K-Electric, acknowledged this, saying: “I know the electricity sector is really the last place where this conversation is happening. »

At K-Electric, she highlighted, the transition to a more sustainable path has taken into account the fact that the electricity sector is both necessary and simultaneously one of the largest contributors to environmental damage . The approach taken by K-Electric has set out a model that produces the necessary energy sustainably, whilst simultaneously offsetting some of the negative by-products of the energy sector and has helped develop a ‘pathway to progress’.

Sustainable fashion connoisseur Hasan Shehryar Yasin shared the importance of being very selective about what you attach your name to.

Commenting on fashion trends that have a negative impact on the environment, he noted: “Fabric wastage is a problem. And this is going to become a problem very quickly, as the consumption and appetite for fashion consumption seems to grow more and more. »

In light of this, he emphasized that “as a responsible citizen not only of Pakistan but also a citizen of the world, I must be very clear about where I place my influence.”

As a believer in craftsmanship and tradition, he said with conviction: “We don’t do fast fashion.” Instead, choose to offer your customers a refurbishment service, where they can bring back their HSY parts and have them revamped.

Sarah Nasiruddin, farm-to-table leader and co-founder of Karachi Farmers Market, shared her journey of creating a platform for clean producers and consumers who want to support them.

Reflecting on the platform’s ultimate success, she said “people started noticing changes in their health.” She enthusiastically noted that “a lot of their health problems are gone.”

Reflecting on the progress made by the Karachi Farmers’ Market, his final conclusion was that “local, seasonal and clean food” is essential for a sustainable future.

In a fireside chat with environmental and horticultural maestro Tofiq Pasha and US-trained child and adult psychiatrist and CEO and founder of Synapse, Dr. Ayesha Mian, delved into conscious choices when it comes to diet and lifestyle and offered valuable advice on how to make diet a meaningful part of one’s life.

A long-time proponent of conscious living and consumption, Tofiq Pasha has spoken at length about the importance of conscious living and preserving the earth. It offered a thought-provoking insight into the nuanced art of living consciously, inviting participants to reflect on their daily choices and adopt practices that resonate with both personal well-being and the natural world.

Reflecting on the new collective normal, characterized by alarming rates of mental health disorders and increasing health problems, Dr Ayesha Mian said that although “Covid has faded”, it has left in its wake a other type of “pandemic or endemic”.

She highlighted that while there is “a lot of focus on tertiary care when everything is already bad”, “prevention” is something we must all seek to champion.

Aiming to champion and celebrate sustainable and healthier alternatives, the event also included a vibrant marketplace full of eco-friendly products, organic food and beverage options, and sustainable fashion alternatives , technology and craftsmanship.

Health and wellness-focused vendors shared space with educational and nonprofit organizations. Particular attention was paid to startups focused on sustainable development.

Healthy food stores such as Organi’Kio and The Panjiri have delighted taste buds with hearty, eco-friendly options. Brands like Libas presented contemporary fashion pieces inspired by traditional craftsmanship.

While eclectic brands like Tween The Knots and Dastaan ​​offered truly unique home decor pieces, skincare enthusiasts could also sample organic products like 100% Wellness Co. While fitness enthusiasts found refuge with the stands of the famous TriFit gym. and Karachi’s famous trainer Mantaha, encouraging everyone to embrace physical activity as an integral part of their balanced lifestyle.

The writer is a Pakistani-Canadian content creator and writer, who has written extensively about Pakistan with a particular focus on sustainability. His work has appeared in Pakistani and North American publications.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th2024.

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