Munich’s annual fest and feast is the world’s largest public festival. Last year, an impressive 6.4 million revelers made their way to the city’s (in)famous ‘Wiesn’ (short for field after its Theresienwiese location) to enjoy 7.4 million quarts of beer as well as countless tons of soft pretzels, roast ham, chickens, and candied almonds. Faced with this lively jamboree – and its associated energy requirements and hulking mounds of garbage, environmental activists are close to despair. Local government, however, is very aware of the situation and has tried for years to introduce measures designed to make the event more sustainable and, ultimately, environmentally friendly.
Last year, all beer tents and stalls started to use green power, swapping conventional sources for 2,730,083 kW/h from renewable sources – a sizeable switch and impact. For their cooking and heating, restaurateurs now use environmentally friendly gas while many gastronomes and ride operators have installed economical LEDs and rooftop solar panels for their lighting and hot water requirements. All across the site, use of throwaway tableware, cutlery, or cans is strictly forbidden – and a sophisticated recycling system helps to optimize waste recovery, including grey water reuse from dishwaters in nearby lavatories.
But that’s not all: As of this year, all Wiesn fans can do their bit for climate protection via the “Wiesn friends of climate” campaign. Purchase of a special gingerbread heart entitles buyers to CO2 offsets based on emission certificates from a Bavaria-based climate protection project set up by FuturCamp. Flanking these measures, the new online platform http://oktoberfest.raumobil.de provides anyone interested with information on carbon-neutral and climate friendly ways to reach the Bavarian capital. Options range from carpooling to online train tickets while a CO2 calculator determines each person’s individual emissions based on their Oktoberfest travel – including sensible offset options.
And there is good news for those among us looking for sustainable gustatory pleasures: Whether traditional Wiesn chicken, crisp candied almonds, fried sausage, steak burger or sweet waffles – many gastronomes on site have started to offer organic options.
With its unique mix of folklore and boisterous fun, the Oktoberfest will continue to divide opinions: Some love it; others prefer to run a mile. Expect a loud, crammed, and rowdy affair, plenty of drunks who forget their manners, and a painfully steep price per quart (around 10 euros for a traditional “Maß”) – but all of this is underscored by some welcome positive trends. Cheers to that!
Text: Romy Uebel
Header image: sir_hiss/ photocase.com