THE OTHER day, a friend posted a photo on Facebook of her toddler at a music festival. He looked somewhat unimpressed by the muddy grass, soggy tent and what I imagined was the tinny, distorted sound coming from the band onstage.
I could sympathise. I’m more likely to be found at a flower or food festival these days than a popular music extravaganza, favouring day visits where you can come home with some handcrafted oatcakes and a nice dahlia rather than trench foot and tinnitus.
It wasn’t always this way. I’ve moshed at the front of the main stage at T in the Park with the best of them, but somewhere along the line I became one of those people who likes their own bed at night and who became traumatised unless there was a healthy falafel van in the eating area. A halt must be put to this decline, and if a two-year-old can stomach festival conditions then so can I. But will those conditions be green?
Six million festival tickets are sold each year at 500 festivals around the world. As you can imagine, this comes with rather a large carbon footprint and, according to the sustainability organisation Julie’s Bicycle (www.juliesbicycle.com), a large music festival with, say, 40,000 people produces around 2,000 tonnes of C02. Despite this, festival organisers are taking steps to reduce the impact of the events, and in 2011 A Greener Festival’s annual awards scheme (www.agreenerfestival.com) recognised 46 festivals that have made substantial efforts to ‘green’ their own activities.
The only Scottish festival on the list was T in the Park, which has an impressive record of eco-initiatives. Grey water is collected and emptied securely each day to avoid polluting nearby Loch Leven; all festoon lighting uses energy-efficient bulbs (the lights are photo-sensitive too, meaning they turn off automatically as soon as it is bright enough); more than 60 per cent of waste is recycled and there’s a 10p deposit scheme for drinks cups to encourage people to recycle them.
A number of British festivals were judged outstanding, including Shambala (23-27 August, www.shambalafestival.org), which features six micro-renewable energy suppliers on site and a biofuel shuttle bus service from the local train and bus stations. The Isle of Wight festival was also highly rated, withits own plastic bottle recycling village, acoustic solar stage and sponsored local bee hives.
So what can we, the festival-goers, do? Coach travel and lift-sharing will help reduce your festival footprint (80 per cent of which comes from transport), as will recycling on-site, taking any rubbish home with you and using eco-friendly toiletries. Research published this year by A Greener Festival found that 66 per cent of festivals had a problem with tents being left behind. I know you wouldn’t do that. Nearly 90 per cent of the award-winning festivals use some renewable energy, and we can do our bit by using solar or wind-up chargers for our gadgets.
The festival on my radar right now is the Big Tent (21-22 July, www.bigtentfestival.co.uk), at Falkland Estate in Fife. As well as offering music, it is a gathering place for all things environmental with talks and demos on topics such as sustainable farming and local forestry. And did I mention that it has solar showers and composting toilets?
I’m psyching myself up for a weekend of roughing it with the reassuring thought that I’ll probably have less environmental impact there than I would at home. I might even end up in the mosh pit.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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