Green Guardians: Artists and activists
The Green Guardians Guide, spearheaded by the Green Events and Innovations Conference and IQ Magazine, is a new yearly iniative highlighting some of the work being done around the world to reduce the carbon footprint of the live entertainment business.
The inaugural list features 60 entries across ten categories, selected by the Green Guardians committes, which includes representatives from some of the sector’s most respected bodies, such as A Greener Festival, Go Group, Green Music Initiative, Julie’s Bicycle and Vision:2025.
Following on from the event infrastructure pioneers featured earlier this week, this edition of Green Guardians looks at the artists and acvtivists doing their bit to make the world a cleaner and better place.
Artists and activists
Norwegian artist Marte Wulff was originally driven by a simple desire to make sustainability and environmental issues more mainstream from an artistic perspective.
“My ethos is that we need to speak up about what we can do as individuals and as an industry, even though it’s hard and uncomfortable,” she tells IQ. “We have the possibility right now to go ahead and define our own industry before nature or someone else does it for us.”
Wulff tours mainly by train or boat, and focuses on quality and sustainability before quantity. She asks all venues for low-carbon solutions in every part of the production, from food and drinks to transport, accommodation, promotion, etc. She makes and releases carbon neutral music videos, and when making physical albums, she puts pressure on suppliers to offer the most ethical products with the lowest carbon footprint, all the way from the paper used on the vinyl, to cutting out plastic and avoiding unnecessary or unethically produced merchandise.
“My ethos is that we need to speak up about what we can do as individuals and as an industry, even though it’s hard and uncomfortable”
Greenbelt believes passionately in the ability of individuals to come together and make a change – hence winning the 2020 International A Greener Festival Community Action Award.
Committed to halving its carbon footprint by 2025, Greenbelt continually examines all aspects of sustainability within the festival, while also sharing lessons with the wider industry to inspire others to also make changes. Greenbelt’s activities range from halving fuel usage, to introducing bamboo wristbands, and even discovering the success that Bin Fairies can have on recycling rates.
Greenbelt 2020 was planned single-use plastic free (apart from cable ties, which it is still working on) and this is ambition will be retained for 2021 when fully electric crew and artist buggies will be onsite.
“If you’re looking to improve your green credentials, focus on just a couple of things at a time – you can’t fix everything in one go,” says Greenbelt’s Mary Corfield. “Transport is a great place to start – how festivalgoers, artists and kit get to site, is a huge part of the emissions from every event.”
“If you’re looking to improve your green credentials, focus on just a couple of things at a time”
MaiNoi is a Romanian NGO that specialises in sustainability, environmental communications and education campaigns for youth, at national and international level.
It has successfully pioneered sustainable events management at music festivals in Romania, through a five-year environmental programme developed at Electric Castle festival, which reduced the carbon footprint of the event and created thousands of agents of change from the audience, artists, and the festival’s ecosystem.
Other notable projects initiated by MaiNoi are the Music Drives Change campaign, which encouraged musicians to act as sustainability champions; as well as the “eco-ambassadors” behavioural and policy-change campaign to promote cycling as an alternative means of transportation and to push for the adoption of a cycling law in Romania.
The advice MaiNoi gives to those who want to improve their green credentials is to believe in their power, to make an impact at their scale, and to drive all their energy towards this objective: walking the sustainability path pays off sooner rather than later, and opens up wonderful opportunities for personal and collective evolution along the way.
Walking the sustainability path opens up wonderful opportunities for personal and collective evolution
RAW Ltd exists to do one simple thing: help create a world free of pointless plastic, one stainless steel bottle at a time. The organisation intends to help make this happen while having a lot of fun along the way. Every bottle sold not only tackles single-use plastics, but also makes partner brands look amazing. Whilst also helping to fund RAW Foundation’s campaign work globally on this critical issue, and supports its aim of eliminating single-use plastic by 2030.
RAW was co-founded by campaigner Melinda Watson, the founder of sister organisation RAW Foundation; the folks behind Shambala Festival; and Ed Gillespie, founder of global sustainability consultancy and creative change agency, Futerra.
RAW bottles are made of stainless steel, which will not leach, stain or react with the bottles’ contents. The vessels are durable, reusable, light, easy to carry and virtually indestructible.
The company has already eliminated the use of countless plastic bottles and is busy persuading others, to help it toward its 2030 goals.
RAW Ltd exists to do one simple thing: help create a world free of pointless plastic, one stainless steel bottle at a time
In the late ’90s, a group of like-minded people met and bonded over a shared love of music, good times, and a thirst for questioning the world. They threw a lot of parties, including Afrika Jam – a regular live African night, which they took on national tour in support of charity People & Planet.
Shambala quickly followed with 100 folk, a couple of toilets, and a farmer’s trailer for a stage. There was no real plan for the future, but people had a good time, so it was repeated again and again. Twenty years later Shambala is still going strong.
Shambala is committed to being as environmentally sustainable as possible. The carbon footprint of the festival has been reduced by over 80%, achieved 100% renewable power, become meat- and fish-free and has eradicated disposable plastics. The organisation is more than five times carbon positive, and it works with a large network of charities to generate income.
Shambala is committed to being as environmentally sustainable as possible
Sebastian Fleiter’s grandfather taught him to use things up to the very end, and then try to repurpose them, “Later on, while staying in the US as a teenager, I learned about a first nations ancient language. This language had no word for ‘trash’… Everything used was part of an everlasting circle. That blew my mind.”
One of Fleiter’s best-known projects is The Electric Hotel – a recycled, 1960s Airstream trailer capable of mass-charging over 1,000 mobile phones simultaneously, with energy generated on-site at music festivals and other events all over Europe. The installation can provide enough power for small bands to perform in the middle of nowhere.
“I ask myself two questions when using something – the clothes I wear, electricity I use, the melon in the supermarket, a smart phone, a hairbrush, a search engine, pens, my knowledge, fossil fuel, the keyboard I am writing this on, or the coins in my pocket. The questions are very simple: Where does it come from? Where does it go?”
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Green campaigners call for festival tent tax
UK-based environmental organisations have urged for a deposit scheme to be implemented on festival camping tickets, with funds returned to those who take their tents home.
Clean Up Britain called for a £25 “tent tax” to be paid by all those bringing a tent to a festival, with founder John Read stating it was “very sad to see so many tents abandoned” this summer.
It is estimated that 250,000 tents are left at UK music festivals each year, resulting in almost 900 tonnes of plastic waste every year.
“That is hypocrisy, leaving tents in an age where we are doing our best to fight plastic bags and water bottles,” says Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of anti-litter charity Keep Britain Tidy.
“That is hypocrisy, leaving tents in an age where we are doing our best to fight plastic bags and water bottles”
The proposed “tent tax” is the latest in a host of initiatives to cut down on tent-related plastic waste at festivals. The Association for Independent Festivals (AIF) this year launched a campaign urging festivalgoers to take their tents home.
A 2016 pledge to reduce waste at Glastonbury Festival reaped rewards this year, with organiser Emily Eavis announcing that over 99% of tents were taken home after the 2019 festival, an 81% increase from 2017.
Many festivals implemented their own green initiatives, including Reading/ Leeds Festivals, Sziget, Roskilde, Tinderbox and Lowlands. Live Nation also launched its Green Nation campaign this year, committing to eliminating single-use plastics at all its events and venues by 2021.
Record-low waste levels for FKP Scorpio festivals
Over the 2019 festival season, German promoter FKP Scorpio reduced plastic waste across its festivals, as part of ongoing sustainability plans.
Attendees of Hurricane 2019 generated 4.5 kilograms of waste per person, the lowest amount on record. Around one third of this waste can currently be recycled, with plans to increase this amount over the coming years.
The waste reduction is the result of the “Green Rocks” programme, launched in 2013 to improve cleanliness and sustainability at Hurricane and Southside, and to ensure FKP Scorpio communicates effectively around issues of sustainability.
New regulations include a ban on single-use plastics for vendors, sponsors and caterers, as well as a multi-platform online campaign encouraging festivalgoers to renounce plastic products and bring reusable alternatives.
Attendees of Hurricane 2019 generated 4.5 kilograms of waste per person, the lowest amount on record
Backstage, plastic bottle usage was reduced by 70%, following the introduction of reusable alternatives and water stations.
To make clean-up operations more efficient, maintenance teams mounted a two-metre wide magnet on the front of tractors to clear the ground of all magnetic waste such as cans, tent pegs and hairpins.
The introduction of recycling collection sacks, which could be handed in at stations around the festival site, allowed for more efficient and effective sorting of waste.
Performers at the 2019 festivals included Foo Fighters, Mumford and Sons, the Cure and Tame Impala.
Hurricane and Southside return on 19 to 21 June 2020. The twin festivals recorded their best-ever presale for their 2020 events, selling 40,000 tickets in two days.
What to expect from Glastonbury Festival 2019
Glastonbury Festival returns tomorrow (Wednesday 26 June) following a year’s hiatus. As hundreds of thousands of fans prepare to descend on Worthy Farm, here’s what to look out for this year.
Stormzy will become the first UK grime act to head up the Glastonbury Pyramid Stage on the Friday night, followed by the Killers and the Cure on the following evenings. Kylie Minogue will play the Sunday afternoon Legends Slot.
Festival organisers recently revealed dancehall star Sean Paul as a late addition to head up the John Peel stage on Saturday.
Elsewhere, European Talent Exchange Programme (Etep) leaders and May’s Radar Station runnersup, Fontaines D.C., will show why they’re one of Europe’s fastest emerging acts on the William’s Green stage.
Other popular Etep acts performing at the festival include Black Midi, Flohio, Pip Blom and Octavian.
Performing arts collective Arcadia will bring a brand-new installation to this year’s festival, in the form of Pangea. The new arena, Arcadia’s “most ambitious yet”, will see performances from the likes of the Black Madonna, Four Tet and Carl Cox.
Standard tickets for the 2019 event sold out in 36 minutes, compared to 50 minutes in pre-fallow year 2017
The weather, a major talking point of any UK festival, is looking to turn around in time for Glastonbury. Some forecasters are predicting the hottest Glastonbury Festival on record, with London’s Met Office indicating temperatures could hit 35°C.
According to Met Office forecaster Grahame Madge, “it will start out overcast and there could be the potential for some showers but going forward it’s going to be much dryer than in recent days.
“There may be some heavy showers in the south west of England, though these are likely to be further west than Glastonbury.”
The Greenpeace-partnered festival is striving to up its eco-friendly policies this year, banning single-use plastic bottles and encouraging attendees to leave no waste behind. National food retailer the Co-op will sell sandwiches in 100% compostable packaging at its pop-up shop at the festival.
A proposed Glastonbury spin-off festival, the Variety Bazaar, appears to be on hold. Organisers had previously claimed that the event would take place instead of Glastonbury Festival in 2021, on a different site.
Social issues top festivalgoers’ concerns
Sustainability and gender diversity are among the main concerns for UK festivalgoers, new data released by Ticketmaster has revealed.
Of the 4,000 festivalgoers that participated in the survey, 62% state that waste reduction at events, along with better recycling facilities, is their number one concern this festival season.
Despite growing awareness of environmental issues, the Ticketmaster survey shows that more than a third of fans (38%) admit to leaving their tents behind at a festival, with 36% saying they do so assuming tents will be recycled.
A recent campaign by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) revealed that abandoned tents result in almost 900 tonnes of plastic waste every festival season.
Victoria Chapman, head of sustainability at Festival Republic, says it is “a huge positive” that sustainability is festivalgoers’ number one concern.
“It is imperative that festival organisers look at how they can minimise the environmental impact of their events and work together with fans to enjoy an amazing festival experience whilst respecting the planet,” comments Chapman.
Several initiatives have been set up to make festivals more eco-friendly, including Live Nation’s Green Nation coalition and Glastonbury Festival’s single use plastic bottle ban.
“British summer wouldn’t be what it is without festivals and these findings give us an insight into what festival fans really want”
Gender representation in festival line-ups is another concern for festivalgoers, with 41% of those surveyed saying that want more diversity in line-ups and almost a third (29%) saying they take the gender parity of a line-up into account before buying a ticket.
According to Ticketmaster, more traditional festival gripes are down, with 37% of respondents stating that festival toilet facilities need improving, compared to 66% in 2012.
The survey also highlighted the importance of festivals for emerging artists, showing that three in five festivalgoers find new artists by attending festivals. On the headliner side, fans of BTS stated they would pay up to four figures to see the K-Pop band head up a festival.
The numbers are also in on festival romance. Two fifths of people (37%) have hooked up at a festival, with a fifth doing so with someone they met at the event. Those who shower at a festival are more likely to find love (45%), than those who opt not to (36%).
Almost one in ten festivalgoers (7%) have carried on a relationship with a fellow attendee after the event. Location-based dating app Tinder is tapping into the romantic potential of festivals, rolling out its specialised Festival Mode at events across the UK, United States and Australia.
“British summer wouldn’t be what it is without festivals and these findings give us an insight into what festival fans really want,” says Ticketmaster UK managing director Andrew Parsons.
“While it’s mostly all about the music and having a great time, I’m not surprised and encouraged to see fans wanting more action on sustainability issues and line-up equality.
“Festivals have always been a microcosm of wider society and with the continued rise of social consciousness we expect fans will only become more demanding of festivals to get it right,” adds Parsons.
The full report is available to read online here.
Green Nation: LN venues and events go greener
Live Nation has announced that its global sustainability coalition, Green Nation, is committing to new environmental goals for all its owned and operated venues, clubs, theatres and festivals.
In a new charter published today, the live entertainment behemoth pledges to reduce negative environmental impacts associated with live events. Live Nation events and venues will pilot a range of programmes, establishing the most effective methods and implementing best practice on a global scale.
Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) will be cut by 50% overall across Live Nation’s venues and live events in just over a decade. The company will measure GHG emissions at every venue and event, enabling the establishment of annual reduction targets for each.
Single-use plastics will be phased out by 2021 “at the latest”, as reusable, renewable, certified compostable or at least 30% recycled products will replace single-use items. Plant-based water bottles will be trialled at Live Nation festivals and venues across Europe this year.
General waste reduction goals include ensuring all Live Nation offices, venues and events are zero waste to landfill and have a 50% or higher material recovery rate by 2030.
Another Green Nation aim is for all venues, offices and live events to run on 100% renewable energy over the coming years. All Live Nation buildings and events will operate to certified energy and efficiency standards, as the company increases the share of energy from renewable sources and invests in energy efficiency measures.
The promoter and venue operator will spread its sustainability goals, working with its many partners and sponsors around the world.
“The adverse effects of climate change are undeniable and we want to use our place on the world stage to be part of the solution”
“Hosting over 35,000 concerts and festivals each year, Live Nation has the opportunity and responsibility to provide our artists and fans with a live music experience that protects our planet,” says Live Nation president and chief executive Michael Rapino.
“The adverse effects of climate change are undeniable and we want to use our place on the world stage to be part of the solution. Together our concerts, venues, festivals and offices around the world are setting new sustainability standards for live events.”
Green Nation’s executive board consists of Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn, Live Nation Venues – US Concerts president Tom See and C3 Presents co-founder Charlie Walker, who will lead these initiatives along with support from regional sustainability managers and teams at the local venue and event level.
The new charter builds on Live Nation’s existing environmental efforts, which include its “Sustainability Rocks” recycling programme, the introduction of climate-friendly plant-based food option, the elimination of plastic straws across all US venues, the installation of free water refill stations to reduce single-use bottle waste, and more.
“As the world’s leader in live entertainment, we have a responsibility to preserve the live music experience for generations to come and a tremendous opportunity to use our platform to inspire global environmental action,” reads Live Nation’s position on climate change.
“We will work to reduce the environmental impact of our venues and festivals to ensure we are being responsible global citizens, taking care of the communities where we operate, and doing our part to curb the most harmful impacts of global climate change.”
“Take your tent home”: AIF tackles single-use tent
The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has issued a call to major retailers including Argos and Tesco to stop marketing and selling ‘festival tents’ as single-use items.
The call comes as part of a new AIF initiative to reduce the waste caused by single-use festival tents. As well as appealing to retailers, today (May 8) the association has launched a campaign to tackle consumer behaviour, urging festivalgoers to “Take your tent home” and “Say no to single use”.
The campaign includes an animated educational video that will be displayed across social media for all participating festivals.
AIF’s ten-year report revealed that almost 10% of people attending its member events, which include Shambala, Boomtown Fair, Boardmasters, Kendal Calling and End of the Road, had ditched a tent during the 2018 festival season.
Across the UK in general, it is estimated that 250,000 tents are left at music festivals each year, resulting in almost 900 tonnes of plastic waste every festival season. The average tent weighs 3.5kg and is mostly made of plastic – the equivalent of 8,750 straws or 250 pint cups.
“AIF launches this campaign to raise awareness and highlight abandoned tents as part of the single-use plastics problem”
Research by Comp-A-Tent, an organisation dedicated to reducing festival waste, suggests that Argos and Tesco tents make up as much as 36% of those left at festivals.
AIF member festival Boomtown is partnering with Comp-A-Tent to provide a pre-order tent service, selling £45 tents for collection at the festival. After the festival, attendees can choose whether to keep the tent or sell it back for £10 to be cleaned and resold the following year.
“We call upon major retailers to stop marketing and selling tents and other camping items as essentially single-use, and profiting from disposable culture,” says AIF chief executive Paul Reed. “AIF launches this campaign to raise awareness and highlight abandoned tents as part of the single-use plastics problem.”
Reed stresses that “the message here is not ‘buy a more expensive tent’”, but for festivalgoers to “reduce their carbon footprint simply by taking their tent home and reusing it.”
The issue of tent waste has been at the centre of attempts to make festivals more eco-friendly in recent years. A coalition of 36 festival organisers and six festival industry associations and sustainability groups formed the Campsite Roundtable in January 2018.
“As festivals, we can work with audiences to inspire better decisions, reduce single use and waste, and minimise ecological damage at this critical moment in history”
The group, led by A Greener Festival and Yourope’s green operation division, Go Group, aims to tackle “campsite chaos” and reduce waste left by festivalgoers.
The reduction of single-use plastic has also been a central issue. AIF launched Drastic on Plastic in 2018, an initiative encouraging member festivals to commit to eliminating all single-use plastic at their events by 2021.
Glastonbury Festival announced a ban on single-use plastic bottles at this year’s event and Danish festivals including Roskilde and Tinderbox are replacing disposable plastic cups with reusable models.
“We’re finally waking up to the climate crisis en masse,” says Shambala festival co-founder and director Chris Johnson. “The stuff we use is part of the problem – everything has an impact, usually hidden from the user.
“As festivals, we can work with audiences to inspire better decisions, reduce single use and waste, and minimise ecological damage at this critical moment in history.”