Festivals – The future is green


For many music enthusiasts, festivals are an essential part of the summer period, there’s nothing we love more than to relax in the sun with a cold drink, good company and equally good music. Research by Linzi Nuttall suggests that in 2015, 14 million UK adults had plans to attend a music festival, with nearly 3 in 10 of these saying they would attend more than one.

Music festivals are getting bigger each year – not just in terms of the number being held on a yearly basis, but also the size of the festivals and the number of people attending them. Unfortunately, with high wastage levels, transportation issues and the disruption of wildlife, festivals have become known for being relatively anti-environmental these days. This poses the question, are festivals doing all that they can to be green?

Many festival organisers have acknowledged the growing concern for the environment as a result of the festival period, organisers are now exploring ways in which they can produce a more environmentally friendly festival. Glastonbury in particular have a green policy in place which vows to reduce negative impacts on the environment where possible, the procedures that have been put in place include:

  • ‘Reduce, reuse and recycle’ – Encouraging festivalgoers not to bring items that will end up in Landfill, or that they aren’t able to take back home with them. In 2014 50% of waste was recycled, however in 2016 the festival aims to recycle 60% of all waste generated.
  • ‘A tent is for life not just for a festival’ – Encouraging people to spend a little more money on a tent that is going to last you rather than leaving it behind for volunteers to dispose of.
  • ‘Taking energy directly from the sun to the stage’ – Glastonbury have introduced solar power and green technology. Certain areas of the festival will now be powered by sun or wind, reducing the need for diesel generators.
  • ‘We love trees’ – Since 2000 Glastonbury have planted over 10,000 native trees and hedge plants in the local environment, working hard to protect vulnerable habitats like badger sets, ponds, streams, hedges and ditches.

These are just a select few of the many green policies that Glastonbury organisers have put in place over the years. According to the Telegraph Glastonbury are leaders amongst the events industry when it comes to hosting a greener festival, as a result of Glastonbury, the industry now has its own green auditors and an awards scheme to ensure climate and wildlife are protected in the long run.

Similarly to Glastonbury, another festival that prides itself on being environmentally sustainable is the Northampton based festival Shambala. In 2014 they were awarded the international ‘A Greener Festival Award’ for the second year running! You may or may not be aware of Shambala and the brilliant things that they are doing in order to continue their lead as a greener festival, but here’s a few things that you should know-

  • In five years they have reduced the onsite carbon footprint of the festival by 81% and 100% of the festival is now powered by renewable energy.
  • They have reduced the use of 10,000 single use plastic water bottles by banning sales on site and promoting their ‘bring a bottle’ campaign.
  • Food stalls are only offered a pitch at Shambala if they can prove that they operate to strict environmental and ethical standards, including only using fair trade, organic and local supplies wherever possible.
  • Attendees are charged £10 as a recycling deposit, which they can claim back at the end of the festival, in return for a bag of sorted recyclable waste.

With this is mind, its clear that many festivals now seem to be doing all that they can to produce a greener festival, but are the current plans that are in place enough?

As the numbers of festivals held each year are increasing, so are the resources available to help festivals measure their green rating and discover ways in which they can be improved. Julies Bicycle is a creative industry green tool that can be used to measure the carbon impacts of energy, water, waste, recycling, transport and production materials. This data can then be used to understand the environmental impacts of festivals of all sizes and create an effective management strategy.

Similarly, another useful resource for festivals to use when looking to go green is ‘a greener festival’; they are a non-profit organisation dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of music festivals and events. Their main objective is to share good ideas and encourage festival organisers to put these ideas into practice, with the hope of increasing how green future festivals are. With tools such as these available to all festival organisers, is there really an excuse for festivals not to go green?

Photo sources – Flickr, Wikipedia

 

Comments

Alan says:

Great concept, I think festivals should try and be sustainable. Festivals are using the outdoors for the event therefore they should protect it.

The idea for the 10£ deposit in which they get it back when they give in recycling is a great motive, however festivals should and could do more.

Thank you for taking to time to share your thoughts Alan, i agree festivals should do as much as possible to protect the environment that they are using to host their events in. With regards to festivals doing more for the environment, do you have any thoughts on what they could be doing?

junderwood says:

I definitely agree that more festivals should acknowledge the growing concern for the environment. I had never heard of Shambala – that’s amazing that 100% of the festival is now powered by renewable energy! Hopefully more festivals will be as sustainable as the likes of Shambala and Glastonbury, and hopefully all festival goers will become more eco-conscious.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and give me your thoughts on the matter, its great to hear that you agree that festivals should acknowledge the growing concern for the environment. Shambala and Glastonbury really do set a great example, hopefully in the future more festivals will begin to do the same.

More festivals need to be like Glastonbury and Shambala! Great article on how to festivals can become more green.

I agree, with the industry becoming more focused on sustainability its important moving forward for as many events and festivals to become as green as possible.

HB says:

Great article and interesting to see how events are becoming more and more green

Thank you, I’m glad you think so.

Jo says:

Informative and interesting blog post. All festivals should take notes from Glastonbury and use the resources available to help measure and reduce environmental impacts. Hopefully this is the future for large outdoor festivals.

Thank you Jo, i agree that all festivals should take notes from Glastonbury and Shambala when it comes to managing the environmental impacts of events. If more people were to follow their example it would have a huge impact on larger outdoor festivals and events.

Beckiee says:

I completely support the idea of festivals going green, would someone really not recycle in their own home but expect not to have to in the fields which are animals homes?

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog beckiee, I’m glad you agree and support the continued growth of greener festivals. Recycling is something that should be introduced into all events, as like you said people do it in their own homes so whats stopping them from doing it at festivals.

The Pounder says:

I think developing sustainable festival practices for festivals such as Shambala and Glastonbury who attract largely respectful, family audiences is the easy piece of the puzzle.

I think delivering these practices at festivals such as Kendal Calling or a Reading and Leeds where the demographic is far more ‘park bench pregnancy’ is where the real ground needs to be made.

I completely agree, festivals such as Glastonbury and Shambala have worked extremely hard to implement green practices within their events, however other large festivals such as Reading and Leeds seem to have less focus on how sustainable their events are. Moving forward this is definitely something that needs work.

Kate L says:

I have some friends that organise a small(ish) festival of 4000-5000 people. Although the organisers are relatively ‘green’ themselves, when they looked into it the council fees for recycling bins/pick-up etc were too high for it to be financially viable to provide recycling…. which is a real shame. But the big festivals have no excuse!

Hi Kate, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. That’s an interesting point, as you say, many smaller festivals have the intention of being green but its just not financially viable. Perhaps moving forward the council need to introduce a scheme to help smaller events and festivals that are trying to implement green stratagies, this might then encourage the larger festivals to do the same, but i agree no excuse!

amyrebeccaevans says:

As a a regular festival goer, I have seen the tragic condition the campsites are left in at the end of the festival. I have witnessed out of control litter such as tents, air mattresses, cooking stoves and suitcases which have been abandoned with no consideration to the land in which they are depositing it and also the volunteers who have to clear up the mess afterwards. I think encouraging festivals to go green is a great idea, not only to reduce the carbon footprint and improve in the efficiency of things. It would be great if more festivals would make an effort to educate the customer on how they can help to make a difference personally. At Glastonbury, they helped to educate the customer by playing videos on the big screens at the main stages spreading awareness of the issues. Festival-goers were encouraged not to urinate on the land as it contaminated the grass which could poison animals in their natural habitat. Little things like this could make a huge difference to the state of the land at the end of the festival. Hopefully, someday day, festival organisers and festival-goers will work side by side on this for a greener future.

Great article to read! It’s really got me thinking about the bigger picture…

Hi Amy, thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog and give me your thoughts. I myself have also witnessed the shocking condition of festival sites after an event, as you say there is usually masses of rubbish that have been left for other people to clean up and people dispose of perfectly good tents and other camping equipment which is a real shame. I think you’re right, festivals need to do more to educate people on site to prevent waste rather than just finding a greener method of disposing of this waste. It may only be a minor step in becoming more green, but arguable showing videos during festivals and spreading the word on what attendees themselvs can do to help festivals become more green is surely the most cost affective way to help target this issue?

Lynn says:

Not a festival goer but this makes very interesting reading & thoroughly agree that yes as much recycling as possible should be done & sites should be as green as possible

Hi Lynn, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Glad that you agree, hopefully in the future more festivals will adopt these green policies making events as green as they can be!

Harriet Gibbons says:

A great read! I hadn’t heard of Glastonburys ‘greener’ policy before, and I think it’s fantastic that they are now taking the lead in making festivals more sustainable… hopefully more lesser-known festivals will follow. I particularly like the ‘A tent is for life not just for a festival’ which I am definitely going to consider when I go to a festival in the summer. Until reading your blog, I naively hadn’t even considered the amount of wastage levels and disruption to wildlife festivals have – lets hope by getting the word out there more, all festival organisers and attendees will become more eco-friendly!

Hi Harriet, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It’s great to hear that you will consider following the policies that festivals such as Glastonbury have in place when next attending a festival. As you mentioned hopefully by getting the word out there more festival organisers and attendees will become eco friendly. You also mention that you hadn’t considered the levels of waste that festivals produce before reading this blog, sadly i think this is becoming a common thing as smaller festivals aren’t educating attendees on the effects that waste has on the environment, hopefully over the coming years this is something that events managers can improve on. Again thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Annabel says:

I agree more should be done to make festivals greener. You have made it clear that some festivals are doing their part, but some others need to follow their example. I particularly like the idea of Shambala who ask for a £10 deposit in return for a bag of recyclable waste. I think it is a great idea to encourage festival goers to think about what they can do to make their sure their experience is not having a negative effect on the environment. Overall a great blog and a very interesting read- well done!

Hi Annabel, Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I’m glad you found it interesting. I completely agree that event organisers need to follow the example set by greener festivals such as Glastonbury and Shambala. Also i think by educating attendees on the effects that littering and wastage at festivals can cause we can help to make festivals and events much greener!

Thomas Banks says:

This blog is a real breath of fresh air, just showing the amount on which everything can be improved is crucial to the planet we live on.
I can’t stress enough how important a clean field is to not only the farmers but to us. If they don’t have a clean field we make not George resources they would normally provide us. I really like the face that certain festivals are encouraging the ‘bring your own bottle’ policy as it not only helps decrease contamination but it can instantly show lower stars of illnesses during festivals. I am a festival goer & have been for year… I have seen many of people pick up a random water bottle & use it as their own. It is vile! Therefore the person is not only spreading contamination but the person before was littering which is a massive issue within festivals. Glastonbury as a key festival I’m the world as an example could easily do more with the connections they have, it would just more interesting to see them come out with more rates about the ecofriendlh part rather than a stat about Kanye West. There is always more to do about going greener at a festival & I have to say the way Shambala is going is a brilliant way forward. Great read, will definitely be keeping updating on this.

Hi Thomas, Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I’m glad it struck up some interesting points for you. As you mention above, we only get one planet and its down to us to look after it as best that we can. With this in mind you could argue that events managers have a duty of care to protect the surrounding environment when hosting events, but particularly festivals. As for the water bottles, i agree that the bring a bottle campaign has benefits other than just environmental. Clearly by bringing your own water bottle you can help prevent illness and contamination as well as just being kinder to the environment. If more festivals had policies like this in place it could take a lot of pressure off festival workers, be that medical staff treating people who have become unwell or volunteers who go around picking up rubbish. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts 🙂

Thomas Banks says:

You definitely hit the nail on the head with all of your points you raised & it’s a very interesting read. I have passed the link on to others to also raise the awareness as I know people who not only find this interesting but will take up their own role in helping over a festival period. Well done & keep making people aware.

Thats great to hear and thank you for passing this blog on to as many people as possible. As you mentioned earlier its down to us to do as much as we can to help create awareness and help the environment.

Hi Thomas, Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I’m glad it struck up some interesting points for you. As you mention above, we only get one planet and its down to us to look after it as best that we can. With this in mind you could argue that events managers have a duty of care to protect the surrounding environment when hosting events, but particularly festivals. As for the water bottles, i agree that the bring a bottle campaign has benefits other than just environmental. Clearly by bringing your own water bottle you can help prevent illness and contamination as well as just being kinder to the environment. If more festivals had policies like this in place it could take a lot of pressure off festival workers, be that medical staff treating people who have become unwell or volunteers who go around picking up rubbish. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts 🙂

Really great read. Having been to a variety of festivals over the last 5 years it is always a shock to see the state in which festivals are left.

Glastonbury are a great example of raising awareness and changing behaviours of those attending the festival and I have seen this change over the last few years as those attending are more responsible for their waste and looking after their surroundings.

A green festival is achievable, you only need to look at the past state of our streets here in Britain in comparison to them now. Through law, common practice and knowledge our streets are now vastly cleaner than they were before. The biggest factor in this for me is a change in behaviour and perception, we have done it on our streets. Why is it when we are at a festival/holiday that we then disregard these morals.

A very enjoyable read and I hope that this informs more and helps make a difference to more festivals!

Hi Nicholas,
I completely agree, i myself have only been to one festival and that was Bestival. I was equally as shocked to discover the state that the campsites were left in upon leaving the festival which inspired me to write this blog. As you say, festivals such as Glastonbury that attract such a large and diverse crowd of people definitely have the power to change peoples perspective on waste and taking responsibility for their actions. I also agree, a greener festival is most definitely achievable, but festivals need to support each other, particularly the smaller ones and share ideas moving forward in order to make as much of a change as possible.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and share your thoughts.

Ben Fletcher says:

Glad I’m going to the Greenest Festival this year after reading this 🙂 Bring on Glasto 😀

Hi Ben, thats the attitude to have! i hope you have a great time and remember to take your tent home and put rubbish in the bin 🙂

Sarah says:

great read, some really interesting points!

Thank you Sarah, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

Charlotte says:

Very interesting read! You don’t often think about the green side of festivals. It’s great that you’ve highlighted this important aspect, so that people are more aware of the issue and to try and tackle the problems, encouraging a greener way to enjoy future events.

Hi Charlotte,
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I’m glad you enjoyed it, hopefully by making people more aware of this issue we can help to tackle it in the future.

Debs Hardy says:

A really good well written read.

Part of the battle with creating ‘greener festivals’ is in changing the mind set of the audience that attend.

For some of the larger festivals it is the first time 16/17/18year olds are staying away from home unsupervised and there perspective of a festival is to get drunk and have fun, often acting in irresponsibility ways. After saving hard and paying a lot of money for a ticket, the environment is not at the forefront of their mind, which is an attitude that needs to be tackled in order to implement greener festivals. Although in a lot of cases the reckless attitude is shared by some older attendees too, not just those who are away from home for the first time.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! I completely agree that more needs to be done to change the mind set of attendees. If more festivals worked together, perhaps focusing more on the younger generation, to educate people on the effects of reckless behaviour at events and festivals the effects on the environment could be lessened.

Helen says:

Great article lots of really interesting and relevant points.

Hi Helen, thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

Robert says:

Fantastic read, straight to the point. there aren’t enough people getting it out there that we can always do more. Keep getting the word out! It’s most important to do so!

Hi Robert, thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I agree, people aren’t spreading the word and educating consumers about the environmental effects of festivals. Hopefully the word will continue to spread and festivals will begin to become more green!

Nicola guise says:

Really great blog, I myself haven’t been to a festival but after attending concerts in the past I’ve witnessed the levels of rubbish that is left behind. I hadn’t heard of Shambala before reading your blog and I also wasn’t aware of the green concepts that each festival has in place. Great idea though, if only more festivals were like this!

Hi Nicola, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. As you mentioned Shambala and Glastonbury have a lot of great green policies in place, however many people like yourself aren’t aware of this. Moving forward it would be great if festival organisers could help to educate event attendees on what they are doing in order to be green! this might also then encourage attendees to become more green themselves.

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