December 07, 2015
As political leaders meet in Paris for the most important climate change policy negotiations in twenty years, it’s time for festival goers, and organisers to step up and play their part in protecting the environment. The odd recycling bin, or solar panel is nowhere near enough.
Festivals are at the height of their popularity with 3.17 million festival goers every year in the UK alone. Last year, approximately 615,000 people camped at UK festivals, with over 3,000 tents estimated to have been left behind. Tents, litter, food and human waste create 23.5 tonnes of rubbish that predominantly go to landfill sites leading to the production of methane gas.
Glastonbury have said that it costs them £780,000 to dispose of all the rubbish left after each festival – this is money that could otherwise have gone to Water Aid, Greenpeace or Oxfam. The majority of festival goers are perceived as being conscientious people, and this is demonstrated by the increase in demand for ethical coffee, and food produce, but not when it comes to leaving a tent behind. It is a myth that the tents are all cleaned and recycled, the truth is that most tents go into a landfill site, but this message needs to be clearly communicated to festival goers, who think that they are leaving their tent to a charity.
Most festivals urge that a tent is for life, not just for a festival, and they encourage people to not just buy the cheapest tent available, but to spend a little extra and buy a tent that is going to last. Tents are re-usable, but utterly un-recyclable.
As for the waste created by food and beverage, Bestival are working hard to increase renewable energy and run all their campsites on vegetable oil biofuel. Last year, they also had FareShare South West collect one tonne of leftover, useable food from traders, and created 550 meals for those in need. Normally this food would have been sent to landfill.
Shambala created a Bring a Bottle initiative last year, encouraging their attendees to bring their own reusable bottle/flask with them and they banned the sale of drinks in disposable cups and bottles. Reusable bottles are also being encouraged at Glastonbury, this year they made 10,000 stainless steel water bottles to sell on site, provided refill points, and gave the money to Water Aid.
At this year’s UK Festival Conference, a comprehensive environmental impact report called, The Show Must Go On, was launched as a call to action for the UK festival industry. The report aims to inspire organisers to commit to a 50% reduction in green-house gas emissions by 2025.
Download the report and find out more about getting involved and taking the Festival Vision: 2025 pledge: www.powerful-thinking.org.uk/vision2025/
“Its not too late for the festival industry to change our ways and help slow climate change. The Show Must Go On report has the potential to bring the industry together around a clear vision to tackle climate change in a practical way. As a founding member of Powerful Thinking, we are excited to see that a real shift is taking root in the industry” – Rob da Bank, Bestival