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Merch, Brexit, Green Riders and Awards: GEI 11 report

The 11th edition of the Greener Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) saw panels taking place in a new, much larger space to accommodate the record number of delegates in attendance. The event saw 200 people attend the day packed with presentations, workshops and activities.

With the focus firmly on the future of sustainability at festivals and events, the schedule featured four main panel debates interspersed with breakout sessions, round tables and even yoga!

To start the day, our delegates gathered for the Welcome Address from A Greener Festival directors Claire O’Neill and Ben Challis, followed swiftly by the first panel titled “The Essentials: Food… and Merch?!”. This section could even be considered two panels in one, which started with a discussion around best practice in choosing ethical merchandise for both festivals and artist promoters. Then, with a quick change of panelists, the conversation moved onto the topic of food, in particular the carbon emissions created by the meat and dairy industry, and providing crew and attendees alike with information and options to make a less environmentally impactful choice. Both DGTL Amsterdam and Eighth Plate opened up conversations around food waste and creating a circular system to minimise it. This session was supported by the NCASS.

During coffee breaks supported by Natural Event, breakout sessions Innovation Quick Fire Round showed low impact Snow Business as an SFX solution for events, Loowatt toilet solutions and a new Hydrogen Fuel Cell project led by Green Music Initiative.

The Green Artist Rider encourages artists, promoters and venues to minimise impact as much as they can by adopting a greener rider for their own shows

Our next panel; “Come Together, Right Now… Over Brexit” covered the imminent yet wildly uncertain future of Brexit and the impact it will have on our industry. All panelists agreed that we need to develop opportunities to collaborate, and create partnerships for purpose. This session saw frustrations around the uncertainty ahead aired, but Kierra Box from Friends of the Earth ensured that we focused on taking positive steps to safeguard our environmental efforts, and use our respective events as platforms to celebrate multiculturalism, and to inform and inspire change.

Lunchtime saw a number of smaller sessions hosted in our workshop rooms, including ‘IPM Yoga: Wellbeing for Delegates’, production notes on ‘Event Security & Safety Summaries’ and ‘The Green Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds’, and a round table on ‘Inspiring the Next Generation’. Ash Perrin of the Flying Seagull Project was particularly compelling in the latter; discussing his work with refugee children and how happiness matters: “I think kids should be kids and be able to play, no matter their environment or upbringing”.

One of the most heated debates of the day came in our first panel of the afternoon; “A Greener Tour: Is Green the New Rock n Roll?”. Touring shows by their very nature aren’t particularly environmentally friendly, with artists being flown around the world to perform, and their entourage and seemingly increasing equipment following suit. Coda Agency has partnered with A Greener Festival to launch their Green Artist Rider, which encourages artists, promoters, and venues to minimise impact as much as they can by adopting a greener rider for their own shows; for example ensuring venues do not use plastic bottles, ethical food purchasing and using local suppliers for equipment. Coda’s Alex Hardee celebrated the launch with a compelling and entertaining speech about all of our responsibility to take urgent action due to climate change.

Coda Agency and AGF launch Green Artist Rider

Pieter Smit represented the trucking industry presenting their latest work with HVO low carbon fuels and the Euro 6 emissions regulations from major Cities. The discussion became lively when the experts tried to pinpoint who should spearhead this, with most agreeing the artists themselves have the most power to ensure change, however some arguing that the major promoters need to take leadership on fundamental issues before asking artists to do so. Conclusions suggest it needs to be from all possible angles, and any statements made by artists should be supported with solid references.

In our final panel we tackled one of the biggest obstacles facing the festival industry which is the waste we leave behind. In “Circular Live – Campsites, Cups and Creativity”, supported by Pentatonic, our experts delved into the psychology behind discarding camping equipment and choosing green/premium campsite options, turning off the ‘plastic tap’, and new innovations in packaging. The panel all agreed that people do care about sustainability, but an overwhelming number of festival attendees are unaware that abandoning their tent and single use plastics are one and the same. We need to create the same uproar that there is behind plastic bottles and straws, and drive change by incentivisation. A festival is the perfect place to test a utopian, circular civilisation because it is temporary, and because the festival itself builds the infrastructure and therefore decides the rules.

The first-ever winner of the overall International Greener Festival Award was the very deserving DGTL Festival

The overwhelming feeling in the room when leaving this final panel was one of hope and determination for festivals and events to be pioneers in the circular economy.

To round off the day, delegates were invited upstairs for the awards ceremony, supported by RES and Video Illusions, which featured not only those events that had garnered an A Greener Festival Award for 2018 but also for the first time the announcement of the International AGF Awards winners for a range of categories including the Greener Transport Award, the Water & Sanitation Award and the first ever overall winner of the International Greener Festival Award, which went to the very deserving DGTL Festival. The awards were followed by a closing drinks party with the opportunity to network with both GEI delegates and those from IBM (held concurrently).

What a fantastic and inspiring eleventh year for the Green Events and Innovations Conference!

With thanks to Jessi Dimmock (Where’s My Tent?).


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No more plastic bottles at Glastonbury

Single-use plastic drinks bottles will not be available at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, with organisers encouraging festivalgoers to bring reusable bottles to refill at free water taps, WaterAid kiosks and from bars across the festival site.

1.3 million plastic bottles were used at Glastonbury Festival in 2017. The Greenpeace-partnered festival has now announced that plastic bottles will not be available to purchase at this year’s festival and will not be supplied backstage, in the production, catering or dressing room areas.

Greenpeace estimates that up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each year. The environmental NGO advises that the best way to avoid plastic pollution is to reduce plastic usage.

Festival organisers urge visitors to bring reusable bottles, stating that the number of WaterAid kiosks dispensing water around the festival site has tripled. Free drinking water will be available from all bars across the site.

Traders who previously sold soft drinks in plastic bottles will now stock canned soft drinks and Life Water, available for purchase.

“It’s paramount for our planet that we all reduce our plastic consumption, and I’m thrilled that, together, we’ll be able to prevent over a million single-use plastic bottles from being used at this year’s festival,” says Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis.

“I really hope that everyone – from ticket-holder to headliner – will leave Worthy Farm this year knowing that even small, everyday changes can make a real difference”

“I really hope that everyone – from ticket-holder to headliner – will leave Worthy Farm this year knowing that even small, everyday changes can make a real difference.”

The festival has already phased out plastic cutlery and plates from food traders, as well as single-use plastic cups and plastic straws.

Single-use plastics and reusables have been a hot topic of conversation within the music industry over the past year and will be discussed in detail at this year’s Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI).

The Plastic-Free Festival Guide, launched at last year’s GEI, has sparked many festivals to take a look at their festival consumption.

Last year, festival operators across the corporate and independent circuits committed to a ban on plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds at their events. Festival Republic, Global/ Broadwick Live and AEG/ Goldenvoice banned plastic straws across all their 2018 summer festivals. The move followed the elimination of plastic straws at Live Nation/MAMA events.

In the independent sector, 60+ signatories of the Association of Independent Festivals’ (AIF) ‘Drastic on Plastic’ campaign pledged “to eliminate single-use plastics at our event(s) within 3 years by 2021, and to promote reuse solutions wherever practically possible.”

The 11th edition of GEI, in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), will take place on Tuesday 5 March at the Royal Garden Hotel in London.


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Green Events & Innovations 2019 launches

The 11th edition of the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), the conference for sustainability at live events, is open for registration.

Next year’s conference, run by A Greener Festival in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), will take place on Tuesday 5 March 2019, at the Royal Garden Hotel in London, the day before ILMC. After selling out last year, and amid increased interest in sustainability, GEI is moving into a larger space in the hotel in 2019, accommodating more delegates and a bigger networking space.

Alongside the change of venue, GEI’s agenda is expanding and will collaborate more closely with the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM), which takes place concurrently in the same venue, thereby allowing delegates of both events to share knowledge and experience and network.

“A heightened awareness of plastics in our oceans, our food and our bodies, the health impacts of poor air quality, and stark warnings released recently relating to climate change mean radical and rapid changes are vitally important across every industry, and in our personal lives, too,” say organisers in a statement.

“We are already witnessing unprecedented involvement from stakeholders … But so much more can and needs to be done”

“We are already witnessing unprecedented involvement from stakeholders (from governance, individuals and businesses), who are investing in tangible solutions. But so much more can and needs to be done. GEI11 will welcome some of the top events in the world, and the best innovators, to share knowledge and experience; connect and network; and accelerate the transition of events and festivals from environment costly to environment friendly.”

Topics confirmed for the 2019 agenda include plastics and reusables, in light of the recent ban on single-use plastics by the European parliament; campsite waste and behaviour; merchandise; touring and transport; and event catering and food. The full GEI 11, agenda along with key note speaker, chairs and panellists, will be published over the next few months.

In addition, the conference will feature focused break-out sessions for industry groups working on specific collaborative projects.

Early-bird rate is available until 4 December 2019, at a cost of £80 plus VAT. To buy tickets, normally priced at £100 + VAT, click here.


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