Looking forward to festivals this year? Killers. No, not the ubiquitous straggly quartet from Las Vegas, you. You who, step-by-step, are destroying the environment and our beautiful planet with your discarded beer cups, burning up, well, everything, and probably hiring an 18-wheeler to transport you and your mates there.
Yes, festivals are bad for the planet. Have you looked over the rubbish-strewn fields the day after the craziness has ended? Unpleasant stuff.
And, given that 2007 is the year of ecological awareness, we should probably be doing something about our Carbon Footprint. Um, what the hell is a Carbon Footprint?
Firstly, the Carbon referred to is Carbon Dioxide (CO2): a greenhouse gas which is one of the major causes of global warming and climate change.
A Carbon Footprint is made up of the sum of two parts, the direct / primary footprint and the indirect / secondary footprint. Explained…
1. The primary footprint is a measure of our direct emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels including domestic energy consumption and transportation (e.g. car and plane).
2. The secondary footprint is a measure of the indirect CO2 emissions from the whole lifecycle of products we use - those associated with their manufacture and eventual breakdown.
Right, science class over. Who are the big players, and what are they doing about our endangered environment?
Weekend rock behemoths Mean Fiddler’s Reading/Leeds festival make a fairly token effort on their website, saying that: “The Carling Weekend: Reading And Leeds Festivals is committed to causing minimal environmental impact". Right. So what do you recommend, Reading/Leeds? "Travelling by coach allows you to take the most ecological option whilst also starting the weekend early with like minds on the trip to the site and ending the weekend later with all your new friends on the return journey.”
Hmmm. Given that about a quarter of the bands and crew are flying halfway across the globe, that ain’t much, matey.
In the capital, the 02 Wireless Festival offers a tad more guff on their website.
“The 02 Wireless Festival in London takes place in one of the capital’s most beautiful green spaces, and this year we are committed to making the festival greener both by reducing our carbon emissions across the whole festival organisation and by providing you with ways to reduce your own carbon footprint.
“Please stay green; use the recycling bins provided for cans and plastics, use the litter bins for other waste. There’s a 20p deposit on cups at the bars, to encourage you to hand your old cup in for recycling. Look out for other ways you can reduce your carbon footprint on-site at the festival.
“Remember to use public transport to get to the festival, and give yourself at pat on the back for helping us to reduce the festival's carbon footprint.”
The best of the lot in terms of the super-size events is, of course, Glastonbury. Their site is a veritable bonanza of eco-awareness, with links to all manner of energy saving camping devices, links to good causes, and handy hints and tips for your average festival goer. Plus, the Glasto’ site will be patrolled by ‘Green Police’, helpfully pointing out the dolts who piss in bushes (bad for the streams) and drop their burger wrappers on the ground.
Good work, Team Eavis.
Of course, various other events around the world manage to offset their rock ‘n’ roll chicanery with a tree-hugging awareness that is only fitting in this day and age.
The Sasquatch Festival in Washington, US (headlined by Arcade Fire, Beasties and Björk) has proudly announced that it is certified carbon neutral by Sustainable Energy Partners this year. And there are many more.
Of course, DiS’s green-awareness festival of choice this year is the magnificent Hove Festivalen in Tromoy, Norway. At the five-day event this summer (June 25-29), all food, eating utensils and drinking vessels will be composted and become garden mould. There will be a deposit on the drinking cups, and these will also be recycled to new products. The paper is recycled. All of the Hovefestival promotional material is printed on recycled paper.
The organisers had this to say:
“The main objective is to minimise the impacts from the Hove Festival activities on nature and environment, and support, facilitate/contribute and encourage a sustainable development. The sub goal is to give all employees/volunteers in the Hove Festival ownership to the environment sustainability profile, and to establish an environment and sustainability accountancy for the Hove Festival including indicators for reporting/monitoring and improving. We also want to encourage the audience of the Hove Festival to take environmental and sustainability responsibility – even after the festival – with concrete, good and simple information on "how" and "why". We have a great responsibility in this unique opportunity to communicate and promote these extremely important issues, and in showing how environmentally friendly and sustainable a music festival can be.”
DiScuss: Are you going to be more environmentally aware this year? What can you as a punter and the bands and organisers do to make festivals carbon neutral? Which events are the best advocates for cleaner, greener festivals?