When we think of ‘green festivals’ the image of long-bearded men talking about wormeries deep in a forest may spring to mind.
While that kind of experience is still on offer (see Scotland’s Big Tent Gathering), even the most mainstream of festivals - from Glastonbury to Reading - are going green, encouraging music-lovers to reduce, reuse and recycle everything from their tents and wellies to their cutlery and travel habits.
Ben Challis, co-founder of A Greener Festival [www.agreenerfestival.com], a charity which audits festivals worldwide according to their policies on cutting CO2 emissions, eco transport initiatives, waste and recycling, water management and noise reduction, has been impressed with the increase in festivals’ eco awareness.
“We were worried that in a year when the recession bit hard we might see festivals shying away from their ongoing commitment to green issues, but we have been generally pleased with the efforts of festivals around the world to keep sustainability high on their agenda and to promote environmental awareness to fans,” he says, referring to 2009’s UK award winners - which included Bestival, Big Chill and Cambridge Folk Festival.
“We had more ‘outstanding’ winners in 2009 and a 20% rise in applications from 2008.
“But much remains to be done and in the UK, a car-centric society means that audience travel, and indeed leisure travel in general, is a massive problem.”
While choosing an eco way to get to and from a festival can help both organisers and ticketholders cut back on their emissions, simple efforts on behalf of the festival themselves, Challis says, can often make the biggest difference.
“Festivals like Croissant neuf make a real effort to get local suppliers to provide local products - anything from beer to bread to bikes to baltis, and many festivals have now adopted souvenir cups for beer. not only do these dramatically cut down on waste and pollution, they reduce litter on site and give you a real momento to take home!”