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1st March 2008

Festivals And The Environment - How Are We Doing?

Can You Be Green And Be Clean In 2008?

Green issues have been in the news recently with Thom Yorke from Radiohead saying that the band won't be playing Glastonbury this year because of the poor public transport links -  this was followed up by new research showing that fans are waking up to green issues at live events.

Thom, speaking at a Friends of the Earth press do said:

"One of the conditions of the band carrying on touring is that we do everything we can to minimise our impact on the environment. What we're trying to do now is only play in areas that have a public transport infrastructure in place. So that rules out Glastonbury for this year. Maybe we can work out a plan for the future. They’re probably sick of the sight of us anyway."

This might have come as quite a shock to the Glastonbury team who have managed to successfully promote public transport to the Somerset site - in 2007, 22,500 people came by coach and another 10,000 by regular and specially organised trains.

The organisers also promote lift share - where people share cars - trying to get the audience to help reduce the Festival's carbon footprint. In fact Glastonbury is a good example of the host of good examples put in place to minimise the environmental impact of music events.

Festivals as diverse as Reading, Latitude, Bestival, Sunrise and Download have all  encompassed new ideas - concentrating on minimising waste, recycling, re-using, protecting the environment and wildlife, saving water and reducing CO2 emissions.

Latitude launched a successful cup deposit scheme in 2007 which vastly reduced the disposal of plastic glasses as waste; Glastonbury and a number of other festivals have composting toilets and make compost from waste and festivals use the sun and the wind to power stages, lights and public address systems. some festivals even have pedal powered discos!

Recent research by Buckinghamshire New University for the campaign website made it clear that music fans were waking up to green issues - over 80% of the music fans sampled saw traffic, noise and waste as potential negative impacts of festivals - and 56% thought that CO2 emissions were a problem - up 25% in just two years. It's time for everyone to wake up to these issue. Many festival organisers are doing a lot to be more environmentally friendly - and it seems bands are too. But the biggest contributor to CO2 emissions from a festival are the audience - the fans - and they are the ones who can help with reducing and recycling waste too.

Glastonbury had a massive problem in 2007 with tents left on site - in fact its recycling rate dropped from 50% to 38% as the wet conditions prevented the usually well managed recycling programme from working properly. 38% is still good, but it is not good enough and it's worth knowing that some festivals actually manage to recycle 90% plus of their waste.

There were the tens of thousands of fans coming to the festival one or two to a car - producing a massive carbon footprint. Glastonbury has a new moto - "Love the Farm, Leave no trace" and Agreenerfestival have a 'leave no trace' policy too. These moto's need to be in everyone's psyche -  everyone really needs to minimise their own environmental impact.

So what can you do? Well, Agreenerfestival and music industry climate change group Julie's Bicycle have produced some tips for the home and small businesses and you can click on these here at Julie's Bicycle tips. On top of that here are some practical tips on being green at concerts and festivals in 2008. 

  1. If you can, travel by public transp
  2. If you use a car, lift share - four to a car is really quite environmentally friendly
  3. Make sure the event you go to has an environmental policy or green ideas
  4. Reduce what you take to just what you actually need
  5. Take your tent home
  6. Buy durable products, returnable bottles and containers that can be re-filled
  7. Look out for recycled goods and those packaged in recycled materials
  8. Cut down on packaging by buying your fruit and vegetables loose
  9. Buy local, fair-trade and organic food, drinks and products - at stalls if possible
  10. use re-sealable containers to keep your food fresh
  11. Use rechargeable batteries
  12. Avoid the queues – charge your mobile with your own echarger
  13. Smokers can take portable ashtrays – the ashcan
  14. Do you need to take bottled water? And re-use your bottle at the taps or
  15. Re-use whatever you can
  16. Recycle what you cannot re-use
  17. Remember - reduce - re-use - recycle
  18. Leave no trace – just footsteps and memories

It not really that difficult and most festivals now have recycling bins as a minimum. If they don’t – don’t go! We all love live music so we know you want to have fun, but if you just spare five minutes a day for the planet we are going to have a much greener future!

Article written by The Team at

Photos (c) 2007 Claire O'Neill

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