Clean festival, cleaner future

The key issues in festival sustainability are- waste management, carbon emissions, noise pollution, crowd management. Although noise pollution can’t really be helped with music blaring all day and night and crowd management is a whole other nutshell to be covered, this will focus more on the waste management and reducing carbon emissions.

Looking into how much festivals contribute to the environment, the Music Business Journal have provided that stats. Live performance venues and festivals alone cause at least 400,000 tons of annual CO2 emissions, not to mention the amount of energy consumed. 175,000 of the 400,000 tons of annual CO2 emissions are derived from audience transportation to the shows, so that’s 43% of these coming from audience travel alone! Whats being done to lover this? Festivals provide transport from major cities, for example The Big Green Coach big green bus(V Festival, 2015).

Alternatively, Glastonbury has set up a car share scheme for people traveling from the same places. If thousands and thousands of people are traveling to the festival site, they need to be encouraged to take these more sustainable methods of transport. I know I would be more likely to take a greener transport if it would get me as close to the campsite as possible so I wouldn’t have to carry my luggage far, as that is one of the most annoying things about camping at a festival. They need to provide more incentives to take these alternative methods, money off the ticket if they choose to take the coach would be an excellent one. Alternatively, money off food and drink around the site would be another one.

28.1% of festival goers did consider a festivals environmental impact when choosing to go to an event (Recycling and UK Music Festivals survey, 2013). Others are ‘too drunk and excited to care’. However, one festival that got me really thinking about sustainability was Glastonbury festival in 2014. 175,000 people do attend Glastonbury each day (Smith, 2014) and this will leave some sort of effect on the environment, even with the sustainability policies. However, the thing that struck me was their slogan ‘Love Worthy Farm, leave no trace’. leave no trace

I don’t know why this struck me so much, but I made sure I didn’t leave a trace, no litter, no cigarette butts, no peeing in the river (although that would have been hard to do anyway). Because of the nature of Glastonbury festival, I feel like the majority of the attendees picked up on this too and respected the land that the festival was on.


What are some waste management policies?

One example is Festival Republic aims to do as much as possible to reduce the impact that their festivals have on the environment. They strive to use innovative solutions to fundamental areas of impact such as energy, waste and transport. These include-

  • A three bin system across the festival sites
  • A campers waste kit containing a recycling bag and a biodegradable bag for composts.
  • A group of 100-150 volunteers help run the recycling initiatives and spread the message across the site.
  • Bio-diesel to run the generators onsite.

Another policy that festival republic do and many festivals have in place, which I first noticed at V Festival back in 2010, was paying a deposit for a cup or bottle and getting 5-20p return. So you’d look around the festival site finding cups and bottles on the floor, stacking them up as high and as much as you can carry, return them and get money back! So many people did this, I thought it was a wonderful idea. However, it was really well advertised back then and nowadays it is less well known that this is a policy, festivals need to market this more and the ones that don’t have this policy, need it!

Festivals that have just started up or don’t have a sustainable policy in place or would like a better policy, there are solutions. Either take advise and inspiration from other events. Or, there is a not-for-profit company committed to helping music and arts events and festivals around the world adopt environmentally efficient practices called A Greener Festival. They provide information, education resources and facilitate the exchange of good idea. It is worth it in the long run for festivals to take up this option.

a greener festval

Let’s hope that more of the big festivals can clean up their acts this year.



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