Summer festivals are some of the most highly anticipated events in a music fan’s calender, and a huge amount of planning and preparation goes into organizing each one. The clean up operation afterwards, however, is just as, if not more important, with the potential for waste and environmental damage of such large scale events being great. Green festivals not only reduce their environmental impact, but also raise awareness of preserving the beauty of the location in which they take place.
Despite being one of the largest music festivals in the UK, Glastonbury has made a name for itself in recent years for being one of the most environmentally aware summer events and setting a shining example for all green festivals. Glastonbury works under the mantra “Love the Farm, Leave no Trace” and highlights the importance of preserving the surrounding countryside whilst reminding visitors of its farming roots The festival works to monitor its carbon emissions and has recently gained a star under the Industry Green Certification, mostly through its high levels of waste recycling (50% last year), solar panels covering 1500 square metres and choosing compostable wood and cardboard cutlery and plates over plastic.
The Glastonbury website features a plea for festivalgoers to be more aware of the impact of their visit to the festival, asking them to spend just an extra 5 minutes ensuring to clean up and take home what they brought with them.
Other initiatives that Glastonbury has recently introduced is better (and more) toilets, including compost toilets, a lift share service provided through their website to minimize cars travelling to the site and Green Police, provided by the Save the World Club, working to keep on top of littering throughout the entire festival.
The Green Man festival in Brecon, South Wales is a great smaller festival with a host of green credentials too. The organizers work to try and keep the Black Mountains location looking beautiful all year round, and have an intensive litter picking and recycling scheme. The Green Man avoids large scale, commercial catering in favour of locally sourced food and drink from nearby farms and brewerys, all served with recycled and biodegradable cutlery, plates and cups, making it one of the UK’s best smaller green festivals.
Bestival takes place on the Isle of Wight and has a range of initiatives for keeping the event more green. Like many other festivals, these initiatives begin with transport, and they promote the use of public transport and car sharing through their website wherever possible. Locally sourced food and drink also helps to reduce the environmental impact of transporting catering supplies in from further afield, whilst supporting local farmers. The organizers of Bestival also promote recycling wherever possible, dishing out colour coordinated recycling bags to festivalgoers and providing free cups of tea to everyone who brings them back full. On top of this, making the most common sources of litter- disposable plates, cutlery and cups- 100% compostable also helps to reduce this waste and allow it to decompose along with any organic food waste collected. These initiatives have allowed Bestival to receive a Greener Festival Award from 2007 to 2011.
Bloodstock Open Air
The introduction of a car share scheme at this year’s B.O.A at Catton Hall, Derbyshire goes to show that it isn’t just the “hippy festivals” that care about carbon emissions! The popular metal festival works in hand with GoCarshare as well as Big Green Coach, encouraging festivalgoers to keep their cars off the road in favour of larger scale transport, minimizing overall emissions caused by transport to the event.
According to reading Festival’s website, if every car attending the festival carried 4 people in it, there could be almost 3000 fewer cars, equating to almost 240 tonnes of CO2! Because of this, Reading heavily promote car sharing and public transport where possible, and their location makes it easier to do this than more isolated festivals around the country.
A novel way in which reading reduce the impact of cans, cups and bottle waste is through a deposit scheme. When buying a drink at any bar on the site, you pay 10p deposit which is returned when the cup is brought back to the bar, which on average, keeps 90% of the cups used off the ground and away from landfill sites. Throughout the festival, campers are provided with waste kits which help organize different waste materials, and composting waste food is also encouraged. On top of this, organizers offer a free pint of beer or cider to anyone volunteering to collect discarded cans or plastic bottles- an initiative that many are happy to get involved with!
Image sourced: Billy Hickstagsgreen festivals