Wanderlust: Yoga, Art, Mindfulness, and Sustainability

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Wanderlust’s second Oahu festival took place the weekend of March 1st on the fabled North Shore at Turtle Bay Resort. Andrea Bertoli of Vibrant Wellness Journal and I were graciously treated to a press pass to the event, giving us access to yoga classes, nature walks, educational “talk story” sessions with local progressive leaders, and social events catering to the yoga demographic.

We sat down with co-founders Jeff Krasno and Sean Hoess to discuss yoga, sustainability, and conscious entrepreneurship. For some back story, Wanderlust started six years ago, and the festival has grown substantially. The Oahu festival just concluded its second go-round, with registration up 30% over last year, to roughly 1500 attendees at the peak of the festival.

Wanderlust’s stated mission is to create community around mindful living. It’s hard to be mindful and then be wasteful, so the core of the company and the festivals really does coincide well with many elements of sustainability. While yoga is the central focus, the company also states that it:

  1. supports local farms and purchases organic, sustainably grown products whenever possible (like this year’s Sea to Table Dinner)
  2. to be good stewards of the earth, including waste reduction, recycling, composting, use of renewable energy sources and carbon offsetting
  3. pledges to improve its sustainability achievements year after year
  4. build partnerships with like-minded companies who value social good as well as the bottom line (for instance, the main food vendors this year were Beet Box Cafe, Pono Aina Catering, and Luvo.
  5. to improve or solve some of the great challenges facing us today, from environmental damage to food shortages to disease to political upheaval through raising awareness. They do this through talks given by local thought leaders at each of their events (like this one about nurturing native forests on Oahu).

Like all gatherings of large numbers of people, Wanderlust experiences its sustainability challenges. “We’re going to have to continue to invest in sustainability,” said Sean Hoess, Krasno’s business partner and the other co-founder of Wanderlust. At other festivals, they’ve been working with Zero Hero, a Boulder-based sustainability consulting firm to head up their sustainability efforts. Here on Oahu, they’ve been working with Sustainable Coastlines to do waste management and to raise awareness to sustainability, including the partnership with Method and the beach cleanup that’s helped pull out several tons of trash from Oahu’s North Shore beaches.

Acknowledging that, at least for Oahu, the biggest carbon footprint the festival has is the travel of its attendees, Krasno let us know they’ll be selling a companion ticket at future festivals that will help offset carbon emissions from the festival. Hoess said they don’t quite have the resources internally to hire a Chief Sustainability Officer just yet, but it’s something they’ve been thinking about in the short to medium term timeframe.

As for their 10 year plan, Krasno described the business opportunity as an “asteroid field”, essentially saying that there’s a lot out there and it could go in a lot of different directions. They have 3 permanent yoga studios in addition to the festival itself. The flagship in Austin, TX, is not quite a festival-in-a-box, but it’s a great “3rd space” where people can hang out, do a class or two, get organic grab and go food, and the like.

Personally, I’m hoping for mini-festivals to emerge, so we can do it more often!


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