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Green Leader Q&A #32: Esther Koshari, Sustainability Manager, Paradise City Festival

Esther Koshari is sustainability manager and finance controller at Paradise City Festival, a 12,000-capacity event in a 90-hectare nature park in Brussels. Esther is involved daily in accounting, reporting, and looking for sustainable ecological developments for the festival. With a background in marketing, communication sciences and cultural management and just two years of experience at the festival, she feels like a rookie in the sustainability world, and she’s committed to creating positive change for the event.

Paradise City Festival recently featured in the Future Festival Tools  Green Festival Stories for keeping the onsite ponds from being polluted by treating grey and black water, read the case study.

Read about Esther’s sustainability journey below:

1. What is the proudest sustainability achievement or moment of your career?

Most recently, giving a keynote speech to more than 500 students about all the sustainable initiatives of Paradise City Festival. Super exciting that I got the chance to inspire this young generation something about sustainable event organisation.

2.  What was your worst ever sustainability-related decision, project or initiative and why?

The year our merchandise was produced sustainably, but ultimately proved unsustainable when used. The t-shirts were made of recycled plastic, but micro-plastic particles ended up in the water when they were washed.

3.  What are you excited about implementing this year?

Implementing much more renewable energy. But also, introducing composting toilets for our visitors for the first time!

4.  Which environmental issue do you most care about?

Carbon emissions.

5.  What sustainable change have you made in your personal life that you are most proud of?

Getting more comfortable about speaking publicly about our festival sustainability initiatives. At first this was very scary, but now it already feels more like something I enjoy doing and I realise how important it is in inspiring people to take action themselves.

6.  What do you read to stay in touch with green issues?

Listen to more experienced experts: for example from OVAM (BE), Green Deal Circular Festivals (NL), A Greener Future (UK) and Green Events (NL). 

 7.  What is the most memorable live performance in your life?

I loved the performance of Bicep and Disclosure at We Love Green 2022!

8.  Was there a moment you committed to taking action on climate change?

Not a specific moment, it is rather a seed that grows steadily.

9.  What are the most important issues to tackle at your event?

Supplier & visitor transport and camping waste.

10. What do you think is the most significant challenge for the events industry becoming more sustainable?

To get ALL stakeholders working in the same sustainable direction.

11. Can you share something sustainable from another artist or event or company that inspired you to make a change?

The compost toilets at We Love Green. Better experience than expected!

12. What is the secret to your sustainable success?

I am part of a superb team! 😉

13. Tell us something you feel positive about right now that relates to the environment

The sustainable event initiatives that are beginning to blossom in Belgium.

14. Tell us a book, film or recent article you feel others should watch/read and why about positive change?

I got inspired by reading the guest blog of Chris Matricci in Vision2025. At Paradise City we have a campsite of 4500 visitors and where the average age is under 25. The waste at the campsite remains a problem, we do find nice and good solutions to recycle the waste, but how do we prevent it? How do we ensure that our visitor leaves the campsite tidy?

15. Can you give people new to sustainability in events a top tip?

 Gather and analyse all the data. Measuring is knowing!

16. What is the favourite festival moment of your career?

Walking around the festival and knowing that it is another successful edition. We created again a festival experience that is both festive and sustainable.

17. What habit or practice has helped you most in your personal journey in life?

Have a good rhythm, including waking up early.

18. Is there anything new or exciting you are planning or changing for the future that you can tell us about? Even a hint!

Trying to reduce our water usage by 70%!

19. Will we save the world?

We must!

20. What would your sustainable superpower be?

To speak every language.


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This Q&A originally appeared in our May 2023 Vision: 2025 newsletter. Sign up to receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox.