Over the last few years, the number of UK communities organising green festivals yearly has intensely increased. These events are meant to attract a substantial number of visitors and provide information about environmental protection and ways of reconciling the need for it with the demands of modern existence.
They concretise their campaigning through a variety of activities, frequently seeking to engage different age groups, and aim to provide an educative as well as entertaining experience. Needless to say, the principles they stand for are also demonstrated by the manner in which these events are planned and run, in terms of not producing (or producing little) waste and saving energy.
The trend of green features has spread to other types of festivals as well, of a perhaps greater magnitude than those planned by and for local communities.
Akin to any event which amasses large numbers of people, music and arts festivals are targeted by companies for a mass sale of products, most of them intended for immediate consumption and involving packaging, such as soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Mountains of cans and bottles are left behind together with other types of packaging.
Festivals also employ a high level of electrical energy, which by some members of the public is considered an unnecessary waste. However, in recent times, festival organisers have been competing for a ‘’green festival’’ reputation, which is of course financially motivated, but at the end of the day, also beneficial to the environment.
Manufacturers of certain environmentally friendly products are directly associated with some festival organisers, in order to make their brands popular. Organisers could not achieve any significant results without the support of festival goers, who are being mobilised into participating in a number of initiatives.
Carbon saving: Visitors are encouraged to show their support even before arriving on the festival grounds, by opting for an alternative to driving, consisting either of using public transport, such as buses or trains, or perhaps riding a bicycle. That is a less expensive choice as well, in terms of not having to pay for a parking space.
Returning recyclable waste: Waste collection points are set so visitors can return items such as empty bottles and cans, which are then taken to nearby recycling centres and go through the normal processes. The participation rates have been surprisingly high in festivals such as Oxegen, for instance.
Green areas: Certain festivals establish ‘’green areas’’, where no waste at all is allowed on the grass. These areas are instituted in order to stand out in the backdrop and set an example of cleanliness and respect for nature.
Energy saving: Some festivals use partly or only electrical energy obtained from renewable energy sources. Green festivals are renowned for this particular trait, yet some music festivals have been known to include it as well.
Refilling water bottles from the tap: In order to encourage visitors to stop purchasing new bottles of water, which in the end results in bigger piles of empty plastic bottles, some festivals have a policy of providing free water from taps. That involves repeated refills of the bottles brought by visitors.
Environmentally themed festivals
The Green Festival (Peterborough): This is a lively, creative experience, both informative and entertaining to children, teenagers and adults alike. It includes a live arts demonstration, where environmental themes are incorporated into poetry, sculpture, digital art, mixed media, graffiti and so forth. It also includes workshops.
Newcastle Community Green Festival: In its environmental campaign, this event engages various types of entertainers, from local musicians to circus performers. There is a special children’s area, a circus area, and a healing area where holistic therapies are offered. There are also botanical gardens, two music stages as well as workshops.
The Big Green Gathering: This festival originated on Glastonbury’s Green Fields and although it is currently taking a break due to financial losses, it is known as one of the most prominent green festivals in the UK. Except for arts such as music, crafts and dance, the festival offers information on farming, permaculture, renewable energy etc.
Ludlow Green Festival: Akin to all green festivals, the goal of this initiative is to raise awareness about the changes individuals can make in their daily habits in order to protect the environment and save vital resources. There is a litter picking day people volunteer for, a local produce market, a green drinks event as well as music performances.
Borders Green Festival: An innovatively planned experience, this festival takes place in Berwick –upon-Tweed and includes attractive features such as archery, arts and crafts workshops and exhibitions and an ample sequence of music performances by renowned artists.
Chorlton’s Big Green Festival: In a similar manner to other festivals of this type, it includes workshops, information and entertainment, seeking to attract a substantial number of people in hopes that they will become more acquainted with the issues raised there, whatever their initial motivation for going.
Oxegen: Aside from encouraging carbon saving by choosing public transport, Oxegen festival, which takes place in Ireland, makes use of a talented team of artists specialising in visual arts, called Bin Your Empty. They craftily recycle empty cans into innovative decorative objects, an engaging process which can be viewed by visitors. They also hand out bags for collecting recyclable items, which are then filled and returned by visitors.
T In The Park: For its ‘’Green T’’ plan of environmental initiatives, this Scottish festival has received a few awards from international organisations working in this field. Among its many programs is a cup deposit initiative, which consists of paying a deposit for a beer cup and getting it back when returning it.
Glastonbury: Taking place at Worthy Farm in England, Glastonbury has had a long tradition as incorporating a green festival on one of its camping sites, which later developed into the Big Green Gathering and emerged as an event of its own. To encourage carbon saving, organisers are offering ‘’green travellers’’ (visitors who arrive by public transport or bicycle) several advantages such as meal discounts, solar showers and more.
Did You Know?
According to Defra, each person in England produced an average of 457 Kilograms of waste in 2009-10. Of this, an average of about 181 Kilograms per person was recycled. That left 60% of un-recycled waste, at an average of 276 kilograms per person.