Arcadia Earth proves sustainability can be beautiful

Arcadia Earth

It's tempting to take on a defeatist attitude when it comes to adopting more sustainable habits. The problems facing our planet are so massive that figuring out how to start taking actions toward saving the environment can be difficult. Luckily, there's a place in New York dedicated to educating and inspiring the public on that very matter. It's called Arcadia Earth, and it's a pop-up museum spanning 15,000 square feet featuring over 15 interactive rooms.

Arcadia Earth

The brainchild of founder and designer Valentino Vettori, the museum's exhibits range from a massive cave created from 44,000 recycled bags to augmented reality sessions where visitors can wear special headsets to find surprises in each exhibit. Last August, Mic reported on Arcadia Earth's burgeoning opening. Seven months in, it's proved to be a successful venture, attracting environmentally-conscious visitors who want to learn more about how they're affecting the environment and what they can do to live more sustainable lives.

"I designed Arcadia by working with Oceanic Global, which is my charity and scientific partner for the ocean, and WWF for the land," Vettori tells Mic. "I asked them: what are the real problems? Once we realized [the important issues] and selected some of them, I tried to create immersive installations in collaboration with other artists."

If all American people would stop eating one meal a day of meat, it would be the equivalent of removing half a million cars from the street. - Valentino Vettori

As it turns out, as Vettori noted, many visitors aren't even aware there's an environmental crisis currently happening.

"We deal with the concept of living under a protected, fake environment where everything bad is taken away from us and hidden under the carpet," Vettori says of Arcadia Earth's biggest impact on visitors after they leave the exhibit. "I don't think people know how many resources go into meat consumption, particularly with the use of water and deforestation as well as how ineffective the meat industry is ... If you eat a pound of meat, you use more water than if you don't shower for four months."

It's exactly these kinds of facts that visitors may not know before heading into Arcadia Earth, but are sure to be intrigued by on their way out.

Arcadia Earth

"Arcadia is designed to inspire people to learn about small things that they can do to be more responsible. For example: eat less meat. If all American people would stop eating one meal a day of meat, it would be the equivalent of removing half a million cars from the street. So the impact is that major. We just need to behaviorally change little things that we do."

Arcadia in its current form is already rife with a variety of different hands-on installations and informative approaches to keeping the public informed. But there are plans to do even more.

"We want to expand," says Vettori. "We're looking into new locations. But we are also trying to understand how we can connect with our community online. We don't want the Arcadia experience to finish once the people go home, so we're trying to collaborate to pass or to help pass important bills in the city and state, together with our community. I think we need to stop riots and we need to start action tasks. So, for example, a vote or a petition — have people sign a petition or demand a change. These are things that are specifically actionable that we can do. That's where I think our mind is now. How do we make it even more relevant?"

Arcadia Earth

More on Arcadia Earth, including ticketing information, can be found on their website.