Britain's greenest festivals


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Britain's greenest festivals

  1. 1. PERFORMANCE REVIEW leafy depths Summertim e… and Britain’s . Daisy Dumas are awa sh with festivals rganisers are nd s out how the o rbon footprint tackling their ca 92 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC GREEN | SUMMER 2010
  2. 2. [ intelligencearts ] W e’re a nation of festi- val-goers. With more than 500 festivals this year, the UK’s appetite for bands, cider and dubious hygiene stan- dards appears insatiable. Blissful, liberating and muddy as they remain, countryside festi- vals have come a long way since their heady, hippy roots. Gone are free milk (Glastonbury, 1970), and free love (Isle of Wight Festival, 1968), and here to stay are corpo- rate behemoths, 12-pint pouring machines and glam-camping. It’s no surprise that 100,000 people in a eld represent an energy-hungry, waste-producing, lorry-dependent, car-driving, beer-swilling, cheap-tent-buying nightmare of an ecological sce- nario. Environmental cost is the price we pay for the unbridled optimism and happy-go-lucky release that festivals embody. Or so it seemed. While Ben Challis of A Greener Festival believes “a green festival is one that doesn’t take place”, he is part of a wave of powerful eco- thinking that is doing its best to clean up the act. “Most festivals are trying to engage in some sort of environmental practice,” says Challis, who has seen entries to A Greener Festival Awards rise JASON BRYANT Glastonbury’s main stage, inspired by the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt WWW.GREENNATGEO.CO.UK | 93
  3. 3. [ intelligencearts ] threefold in three years. “Not all festivals can do everything on our checklist, but it helps to have targets to aim for.” Co-founder of Sunrise Celebra- tion, Daniel Hurring, is ahead of most. “We’re always trying to be “ FESTIVALS ARE innovative,” he tells me. As well LOW CARBON. as selling only organic and local SEVENTY-FIVE food, creatively pushing low carbon transport and using only THOUSAND renewables or biofuel, they were PEOPLE LIVING the rst to use compost loos. But AN ALTERNATIVE it’s the Transition Movement that really de nes Sunrise. “Festivals LIFESTYLE IS AN are ultimately communities. They ADVANTAGE ” suffer the same issues that wider society faces, albeit a microcos- mic version. We deal with ideas of community resilience to mini- strict controls. Environmental Happily, size isn’t a barrier mise our impact and contribute manager Aylin McNamara ex- to progress. Scotland’s T in the to the local economy.” Their plains that “traders will upgrade Park, at more than 85,000 people, message seems to be spread- to compostable cups so that they became the largest carbon ing – Radio 1 recently contacted can attend, then they’ll convert neutral festival in the world in FESTIVALANNUAL.COM; A GREENER FESTIVAL/BEN CHALLIS; CAMILLA MORRIS Hurring for advice on how to to greener practices. People can’t 2006 and being based on a Site of ‘transition-up’ its events. help being green – just by being Special Scienti c Interest limits Public transport is often in- there, they are greener than if organisers to leaving the site centivised and it pays to recycle. they were at home”. exactly as they found it – mud The Latitude festival charges She raises an interesting aside. Bestival and the revived for reusable cups and Croissant point. Festivals are, arguably, low Isle of Wight Festival score well, Neuf Summer Party – ‘Greenest carbon. “Seventy- ve thousand boosted by the need to take Festival’ winner in the UK Festi- people living an alternative val Awards 2009 – is run entirely lifestyle is an advantage,” says Moving towards a greener on solar and wind power. Alison Tickell of campaign group festival: solar power and Waveform, diminutive though Julie’s Bicycle, “but it’s probably reducing on-site waste are it may be, has high hopes – and still too much carbon.” steps in the right direction WWW.GREENNATGEO.CO.UK | 95
  4. 4. [ intelligencearts ] recklessness.” By siphoning cash into local systems and a new on-site reservoir, the Festival is looking greener than ever. The Pyramid stage is powered “ SUPPORTING by 1,500m2 of new solar panels, GREENPEACE, while on-stage charm offensives OXFAM AND have changed behaviour, most signi cantly reducing a penchant WATERAID, for peeing in the bushes after the GLASTONBURY IS collective call of nature infa- A MONUMENT TO mously gave rise to dangerous water ammonia levels in 2003. GREEN THINKING, As a working farm, the Glas- WITH VARYING tonbury site is kept immaculate SUCCESS ” through grim determination – and ingenuity. “Dad invented a giant roll magnet – it’s so public transport to the island for ve extraordinary days, and strong it sucks all the metal up (though a dozen brave swimmers disappears two weeks later. into a big truck,” explains Eavis. got to Bestival under their own “The Festival has been cham- “Everyone was like ‘Cor blimey! steam in 2009). pioning green ideas since day Who’d have thought he’d come For its 40th anniversary at one,” says co-organiser Emily up with that?’” the end of June, Glastonbury is Eavis, whose father Michael Audience travel and waste pulling out all the stops. The started the Festival in 1970. “We stubbornly remain Glastonbury’s undisputed festival champion never assume we’re in the clear.” biggest headaches, however. It commands crowds of up to Staunchly supporting Green- is not alone. Research by Julie’s 177,550, who are fed, watered peace, Oxfam and WaterAid, ‘the Bicycle shows that, at 68%, audi- and entertained by an almost Festival’ is a monument to green ence travel’s portion of all festi- entirely temporary infrastruc- thinking, with varying success. val CO2 emissions is by far the FESTIVALANNUAL.COM; JASON BRYANT ture. A tented city appears, stays Lucy Brooking-Clark, Glaston- biggest and hardest to control. bury’s environmental manager, Waste, from fencing to chip fat, As well as music and mud, green faces quite a task. “It’s all about is a close second. Despite efforts ideas have always been part of trial and error – things don’t by Glastonbury’s 2,000-strong Glastonbury (top) according to necessarily run smoothly – ‘recycling community’ – nearly co-organiser Emily Eavis (above) but there’s no indulgence or half of its waste was recycled WWW.GREENNATGEO.CO.UK | 97
  5. 5. [ intelligencearts ] above last year – a whopping 936.28 – nature and the arts combin- tonnes headed to land ll. ing. Environmental awareness is There’s a long way to go. Still, given a burst of creativity.” BRITAIN’S GREENEST it’s a far cry from 20 years ago, Nurturing the transformative FESTIVALS Tickell tells me. “You’d leave and power of music and art combined there’d be scenes of Armageddon with nature, festivals can strike Waveform – there’s been a dramatic shift. a powerful chord. “It’s not about The green ticket is becoming the getting up on stage and shout- Sunrise Celebration brand ticket.” ing at people to turn lights off,” Traders, from Bell Tent UK to argues Tickell. “Festivals have a Loose Tea Tent, agree. So too do capacity to engage.” The over- Sunrise Offgrid the statistics: people are more whelming message is that the likely to buy a ticket now be- public, too, have responsibility. cause of green credentials. Even It’s a great Glastonbury tradi- Isle of Wight Festival bands, most notably Radiohead, tion to watch the sun seep over are choosing gigs on an eco the Somerset hills at the break of basis. According to green record dawn. The simplicity of soak- Bestival label Archangel’s Bruce Elliot- ing up a moment with friends is Smith, “Being eco has seeped what festivals, and putting the into normal life”. earth rst, are about. Big Tent Ironically, festival life is any- As Waveform’s McNamara thing but normal. “People are in puts it, laying the foundations of tents, part of a special com- green thinking “is about appreci- munity and living cooperatively, ating a sunrise”. Workhouse so it’s not an issue not having access to mod-cons and luxury,” How we can help says Tickell. “Green living is part Croissant Neuf of what they are.” Summer Party And while some urban festivals are low carbon because of their infrastructure links, nothing sup- ports this ethos as symbiotically Useful sites as the countryside itself. As Sophie Rivett-Carnac, an avid festival-goer, says, “Festivals are a celebration of the outdoors More summer festivals: page 116 98 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC GREEN | SUMMER 2010