We all have a part to play when it comes to saving our planet. But as a festival organiser, going green can seem like a daunting endeavour, particularly when there are already so many moving parts to coordinate and ever-increasing demands on your budget.
The good news is, more and more festival organisers are taking note of the environmental impact of their events and working to improve it.
From solar-powered DJ stands to armies of green volunteers, festivals are finally recognising the need to show our beautiful planet the love and respect it deserves.
If your festival is attempting to go green for the first time, start small. Choose the environmental impact you want to focus on and get that right.
Here are some ideas to get you started…
Take the low-emission route
It might seem like you have little control over how your attendees get from A to B, but it’s easy to start carbon cutting before your ticket holders ever arrive. Transport to and from a festival is a massive carbon hog, typically amounting to 80% of the total carbon emissions generated.
You need to make it easy for your attendees to go the low-emission route by coordinating shuttle services and facilitating carsharing. Castlepalooza, who were finalists for the Green Awards 2018, team up with GoCarShare to help their audiences organise carpools. And why not make it rewarding by offering discounts to attendees who opt for the low-carbon route?
When it comes to tackling travel emissions your choice of suppliers can make a difference too, so don’t forget to go local!
Waste not, want not
If the current waste trends continue, experts warn that there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. This is a frightening statistic, and one that festival organisers should treat as the highest priority when it comes to managing waste. So what’s the first step?
Provide the right bins.
Clearly labelled bins for glass, recyclables and food waste are non-negotiable when it comes to encouraging a zero-waste event. Electric Picnic shared that 30% of the entire festival’s waste is made up of what’s left behind on the campsite. The organisers at Electric Picnic incentivise waste management by offering free tickets and rewards to the most environmentally conscious attendees.
Many festivals are taking waste management one step further by eliminating the need for single-use plastic wherever possible. This means working with traders to use biodegradable or reusable kitchenware. Why not try out more unconventional and eco-friendly materials like wood? Body and Soul run a ‘Food on Board’ initiative in which vendors serve their artisan food on handmade, reusable wooden boards.
Power your festival green
Our recent sustainability ebook revealed that 65% of festival emissions come from burning diesel, which powers generators for the stages, food stalls and other equipment to keep the festival running. There are many challenges when it comes to managing energy at events and for those who aren’t ready to tackle hybrid technologies and sustainable fuels, there are steps you can take to reduce your emissions.
Another Love Story is committed to leading the charge when it comes to being energy efficient. Alongside using LED lighting for their festival festoons and stages, they operate a strict ‘switch off policy’ for any equipment and appliances not in use.
Share the eco-friendly love
You can provide all the public transport and recycling bins in the world, but your efforts will be wasted if you fail to win over the green hearts and minds of your ticket holders.
Cultivate festival organiser, Davie Philip, highlights communication as the number one action point when it comes to running an eco-friendly event.
“Measures to increase the sustainability of festivals needs to encompass actions that reduce their environmental impacts, but organisers can also increase the communication of ways in which we can change our personal lifestyles and engage punters in the many societal challenges we face.”
Cultivate are the curators of Global Green – the conscious heartbeat of Electric Picnic. Global Green stands as a hive positive environmental inspiration and education for festival goers.
When it comes to promoting sustainable practices, you should use every opportunity to highlight the greening efforts of your festival. Many festival organisers, like Another Love Story, set up a dedicated webpage to share their commitment to sustainability and encourage attendees to get on board.
It’s also important to share your vision with the suppliers and contractors operating at your festival. This affords businesses the opportunity to think outside the box and get creative with new eco-friendly ideas.
While festivals bring major social, financial and cultural benefits to Ireland, the festive fun comes with a downside. From the food you provide to the tents that are abandoned, the environmental impact of your event cannot be ignored.
Going green doesn’t have to cost you the earth, but by turning a blind eye, the cost to our Earth is untold. No matter how small the change you make, you know you’re on the right path to making a positive impact.
For more information on making your event greener, check out our guide to a greener festival which includes a directory of suppliers and organisations, advice from experts and a host of great case studies you can use for inspiration.