Edinburgh Science Festival: Interactive public exhibition to shine a light on climate impacts of human consumption

Innovative clothing that grows along with its wearer is just one of the items in a new interactive public art installation set to go on display in Edinburgh to highlight the effects of human mass consumption on the planet.

Food, fashion, power and stuff are the themes of the exhibition, titled Consumed, which will be on show for two weeks next month as part of the Edinburgh Science Festival.

The showcase’s aim is to highlight the environmental impact of what we eat, the way we travel, what we wear, and how we live and show people that small changes in everyday habits can make a big difference.

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The exhibition, which is aimed at youngsters, will feature four different mini galleries – converted shipping containers – each featuring displays, games and hands-on demonstrations on the key themes.

Edinburgh Science Festival is back in full force in April with a massive programme of events -- including Consumed, a free public exhibition highlighting the effects of mass consumption on the planet

There will also be photo cubes – booths providing information for visitors.

It is hoped the free event will attract both those already interested in science and the environment as well as shoppers, families and other passersby.

Consumed is the brainchild of events developer Graham Richardson and co-creator Charlie Pike from Edinburgh Science, the company behind the festival.

“We want people to talk about over-consumption,” Richardson said.

Big data features strongly in this year's Edinburgh Science Festival programme. Picture: Getty Images

“It’s scary, but we want the message to be hopeful and full of practical advice.

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“We hope people will come away feeling empowered, that they can make decisions to change their lifestyles to help tackle the problem.

“The first stage is knowing the scale of the problem and that’s what we hope to demonstrate.”

Gaia at 50 celebrates James Lovelock's ground-breaking hypothesis that all living organisms are interdependent half a century on. Picture: Getty Images
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It is one of countless shows, exhibitions, tours, talks and events for adults and families taking place across the Scottish capital as part of the festival, which is back in full force after being heavily scaled back for the past couple of years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Other highlights include Gaia at 50, an event celebrating half a century since James Lovelock introduced his ground-breaking hypothesis that all living organisms are interdependent, Discovering the Deep, an exhibition exploring the secrets of the oceans, and Climate Cocktails, a talk looking at what the Scottish drinks industry is doing to help fight the environmental crisis.

Wild Scotland, an outdoor exhibition of nature photography on Portobello promenade; and Phenomenal Fungi, exploring the importance and multitude of uses of this unique kingdom, are among other events.

Festival and creative director Amanda Tyndall is delighted with the latest programme and “excited” in-person events are back.

Phenomenal Fungi -- lichenologist Dr Sally Gouldstone, medical mycologist Prof Elaine Bignell and expert forager Nev Kilkenny host an evening exploring the weird and wonderful world of this extraordinary kingdom of life on earth. Picture: Getty Images

Climate change is the defining challenge of our lifetime,” she said.

“This year's festival acts as a heartfelt call for a truly radical shift in the attitudes and behaviours of individuals, organisations and nations to combat the climate crisis and protect the delicately interconnected life cycles of our planet.

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“Consumed forms a major centrepiece of the festival.

“We hope it will help bring in people who are not usually interested in science, offering an accessible route in and information on life choices and the importance of pocket power in tackling environmental problems.

“It’s a special plea to embrace the circular economy concept.

Edinburgh Science Festival director Amanda Tyndall is delighted that in-person events are back this year. Picture: Ian Georgeson

“We hope to show how ‘circular’ thinking can be a good thing.

“We’ve also got a whole host of other amazing events for adults and children, with an overall theme of transition and recovery.”

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