A new survey from Buckinghamshire New University and music industry campaign group A Greener Festival of nearly TWO THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED festival fans from around the World shows that the public is increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of events – but – when it came down to it, they would prioritise getting to see their favourite band over environmental issues.
The research, supported by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) in the UK and Yourope, the eighty eight strong European festival association, asked festival fans fifteen questions on green issues. Fans responded from 32 countries worldwide. Top responding countries included the UK (40%), Slovakia (27%) and Germany (13%) and the home nations of other fans responding included other European countries, the USA, Canada, China, Russia, India and Turkey.
Moore, T (2013) Audience attitudes on the environmental Impact of Events CM&SS/AGF
This article by our own Claire O’Neill, was published in IQ Magazine. It looks at data from 2009 festivals to ask just how green those festivals are…
2008 Summary of Research Headlines:
- Over 80% think noise, waste and traffic have a negative impact
- Big rise in CO2 awareness at festivals
- 48% would pay more for greener events
- 36% say green is important when buying a ticket
56% worried about CO2 Emissions – an increase of 26% in two years.
In 2008, 88% of the sample thought that organisers should be responsible for minimising any damaging effects that a festival may have and put the individual responsibility of festival goer (57%) and local authorities below this (42%)
In 2006, 91% of the sample thought that organisers should be responsible for minimising any damaging effects that a festival may have and put the individual responsibility of festival goer (79%) and local authorities below this (36%).
In 2008 74% of the respondents who answered said that they “would travel by public transport to a festival if it was provided as part of the ticket price.” In 2006 65% of the respondents who answered said that they “would travel by public transport to a festival if it was provided as part of the ticket price.”
In 2006 57% of the respondents who answered said that they “would accept an increased ticket price for a festival [I] attend, if it was for the reason of improving environmental performance.”In 2008 this had DROPPED to 47% in the UK with 30% not sure.
39% say that food stalls at festivals should use re-usable crockery and cutlery instead of disposables (although 36% disagreed) and 52% would be happy to pay a refundable £2 charge on beer cups – although 30% disagreed. Those supporting these activities are actually down in numbers from the survey in 2006 when more fans were ready to adopt recyclable utensils, cutlery and cups. In 2006 57% wanted recyclable utensils and deposits.
2007 Research by Julie’s Bicycle
- estimate annual greenhouse gas emissions of the UK music industry
- identify the key constraints and opportunities for reducing emissions
- make initial recommendations for specific actions and priorities for the medium term
The indicative total shows that the UK music market is responsible for approximately 540,000 tonnes CO2e per annum. While this is not as intensive as many industries, it is a significant challenge to reduce CO2e emissions by 80% by 2050.
The full details of the report can be seen here: First Step: UK Music Industry Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2007
2006 Research – The Impacts of Festivals: A Summary
Should UK Music Festival Organisers Implement Environmentally Friendly Practices into Event Management?
- 649 individual responses were obtained for quantitative analysis.
- 15 responses were obtained from Music Festivals for qualitative analysis as well as selected interviews with music industry professionals.
Comments from festival-goers did indicate a general concern for the natural environment, and a majority awareness that endeavours for its protection should be pursued. 74% agreed or strongly agreed that all festivals should implement EFPs. 91% think that organisers should be responsible for minimising any damaging effects that a festival may have.
Of the specific impacts explored in the festival-goer questionnaire, traffic and waste were the two impacts that were most agreed upon with 70% strongly agreeing or agreeing, and 71% strongly agreeing or agreeing consecutively. Water wastage seems to be the least concerning impact with 36% agreeing or strongly agreeing.
Results indicate that whilst festival-goers think that EFPs should be implemented by festivals, only 27% consider it to be important when choosing which event to attend.
Of the comparison groups females, and more frequent festival attendees appeared more environmentally conscious. The comparison between age groups yielded less conclusive results, although the age 24-35 age group indicated the highest concern for environmental issues.
Of the festival organisers/professionals questioned 2/3 of the festivals had an environmental policy or implemented some kind of EFPs. The methods most mentioned were recycling and traffic reduction. This is in line with the festival-goers most concerning impacts.
Most organisers believe that festival-goers are becoming more concerned about the environmental impact of festivals, although it was 50/50 as to whether competitive advantage can be gained. It was suggested that headline acts are more influential in drawing a crowd as opposed to environmental management. EFPs as a marketing tool was suggested. It was highlighted by one respondent that environmental protection is not about competition, but about saving the planet.
One organiser who does implement EFPs suggested it was a competitive disadvantage due to the extra costs that could otherwise be spent on artists.
Most organisers had noticed a move towards EFPs at festivals in their experience.
The most persuasive factors for implementing EFPs were legislation, financial incentives, support from the local council and more information regarding the issues and solutions. Some organisers also stated that they already have EFPs and do not need persuading.
Just 1/3 organisers were familiar with any environmental legislation affecting festivals. Areas of legislation raised included those regarding health and safety, noise pollution, local council rules on pollution, litter and emissions policies and land regulations. Most believed that environmental legislation was likely to increase in the future.
Costs associated with environmental protection were a large concern for festival organisers, and the main reason highlighted for not implementing such. Market incentives such as labelling schemes exist and the price of disposing of waste, energy and water are increasing. This means the environmentally friendly option will be the cheaper option.
Outline Results and Comment
2% of the 56 festival-goers comments were to the nature that festivals are one-off events and whilst they should be environmentally friendly, there are “bigger fish to fry”. This supports the argument put forward by Shone and Parry (2004) that most events have little impact, and environmentalism and sustainability should not be given undue attention. Jones (1993) noted that there were 900 festivals in the UK. The literature review revealed a trend of growth and consolidation within the music festival industry. As Larkin (2005) pointed out UK festivals are experiencing continued growth. If an individual festival’s impact is minimal, extrapolate this to all of the festivals that take place in the UK in one year and the impacts are increasingly significant.
The same principle can be applied to festivals-goers and any individual. 20% of the comments on the festival-goer questionnaire highlighted the responsibility of visitors to festivals to minimise their impact. When looking at an individual visitors impact upon the environment it is certainly very small. If this is multiplied 100,000, 10,000 or even 500 times it starts to become more significant. Miquel Santos, organiser of Atlantic Waves commented that EFPs are good practice, but because their festival is indoors it does not need an environmental policy. Santos also suggests that environmental concerns are “a matter of concern for any outside events organisers and attendees”. Indoor events do still cause waste, use power, use water etc. The major difference in this situation is that the onus may be upon the venue owner, to make provisions for sustainable resource management. Wheatley (1993) gives advice on environmental management for all companies, not just those who are outdoors.
Similarly, Paul Hudson, organiser of Clogfest, states that they do not have an environmental policy and the event is very small. Nick Ladd, creative director of the Glade Festival and co-organiser of the Glade at Glastonbury, states that “recycling should be a legal necessity – not an option – for homes, businesses and festivals!”. Getz (1997) argues that smaller festivals should also improve their environmental performance.
Noise pollution is considered a potential impact by 50% of respondents (Fig. 3). If the survey was directed to local residents who do not attend the events it may be that this figure would be higher. Defra (2002) survey revealed that this was the least worrying environmental impact of 20 options.
Hannah Ross Morris, who deals with licensing and safety for Angel Festivals Ltd (Global Gathering, HiFi Festival etc) refers to the noise controls that most Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) set and strictly enforce. Chris Kemp also describes the sound monitoring at Milton Keynes Bowl, whereby decibel readings are taken to ensure they do not exceed that set by the EHO. Kemp also highlights the difficulties that organisers face when monitoring or controlling sound as weather conditions will impact upon its travel. Yoeman et al (2004), Getz (1997) and Hall (1992) all suggest noise is an issue that should be monitored and controlled and the results of the survey indicate this is a prominent provision at festivals in the UK.
Three of the festival organisers questioned made reference to Noise pollution and local authority controls to minimise its nuisance. The control that local authorities enforce may be a reason for the lower percentage of festival-goer respondents worried about its impact. One respondent raised the point that noise pollution at festivals is only temporary. For noise disruption over a number of days it may be argued that any lasting damaging effects of this are negligible. However, the issue of health and safety for the hearing of those working at events comes into play.
Perez and Nadal’s (2004) study revealed that 82% of locals of the Balearic Islands believed local tourism caused traffic congestion. 70% of festival goers believed the same to be true of festivals. Yet 61% of the respondents travel by car to festivals.This highlights that traffic is one of the major negative impacts that should be addressed.
Six of the festival organisers referred to measures they take to reduce the amount of traffic coming to events. This includes provision of public transport, car park charges, and encouragement of car shares. One festival-goer positively highlighted the method used by Shambala festival which is to charge £10 per vehicle brought to the event, the proceeds of which are used to subsidise cheap public transport.
The degree to which people are willing to give up their vehicles is questionable. A number of festival goers highlighted that it was really not practical for them to use public transport as they were travelling with babies and much luggage. This may explain the high negative correlation between age and use of public transport and agreeing that inclusion in the ticket price would encourage use of public transport. This could be interpreted as younger generations being more environmentally conscious, although difference in income and life styles would have a bearing.
The festival goer survey found that most festival goers agreed that this is a negative environmental impact of music festivals. 20% of the comments made by festival-goers related to this issue. and festival organisers also referred to waste as a key environmental impact with 7 respondents with recycling schemes. 71% of festival-goers agreed or strongly agreed that waste is an impact. 81% agreed or strongly agreed that if provided with separate bins they would separate their rubbish. Network Recycling indicated a 30% recycling rate by festival goers as the average. This posses the question, were the respondent sample particularly environmentally conscious? Has the festival going population become more environmentally aware since Network recycling recorded their figures? This may indicate some level of idealistic responses on the part of festival-goers.
Organisers and festival-goers themselves made comments indicating that even the most well intending person may drop litter, especially where drugs and alcohol are consumed. This could prove a challenge to enforcement, and is where the use of litter pickers and volunteers is needed.
Yoeman et al (2004) discussed the health risks associated with waste. The festival-goer survey revealed that 57% of festival-goers agree or strongly agree that re-usable crockery and cutlery should be used instead of disposables at festivals. 2 of the 56 comments made highlighted hygiene issues with this approach, and suggested that recyclable/bio-degradable disposables would be better. One comment referred to Glastonbury Festival’s policy of using biodegradable disposables.
CO 2 Emissions
CO 2 emissions as an impact had the largest ‘not sure’ response at 36%. This may be due to some lack of understanding as to what CO 2 emissions are or how they are created, or possibly an uncertainly to the inner workings of festival logistics. Results suggest that the more frequent festival-goer is more likely to strongly agree that this is a potential impact of festivals, with a positive correlation of 0.93. Perhaps a description of the sources of C02 emissions would have affected the results. Overall 30% agreed or strongly agreed, and 36% disagreed or strongly disagreed that CO2 emissions are an impact of festivals.
Jennifer Sundance of Buddahfields referred to their use of wind and solar power to power the events. Nick Ladd highlights that the draw from such sources is limited and can only be used for smaller stages at festivals. This indicated a need for development in the technologies available before widespread implementation is possible in some areas. As highlighted in the literature review the present government is very focused on technological developments for example, of renewable energy (EAC, 2005).
Do you think festivals have an impact on the environment in any of following areas? (Noise, Waste, CO 2 Emissions, Water Wastage, Traffic, Land Damage).
Who do you think should be responsible for minimising the negative impacts a music festival may have on the environment? (Festival Organisers, Local Authority, Festival-goers, Nobody, Other (please specify)).
“I would separate my rubbish at festivals if separate bins were provided.”
“I would travel by public transport to a festival if it was provided as part of the ticket price”
“I would accept an increased ticket price for a festival I attend, if it was for the reason of improving environmental performance.”
“Food stalls should use re-usable crockery and cutlery (with a small repayable deposit) instead of disposables.”
“Environmental Protection is an important factor when choosing which festivals I attend.”
“The benefits that music festivals bring outweigh any environmental damage they may cause.”
“Do you think that all festivals should implement environmentally friendly practices?”
Festival Organiser Responses
- Big Session Festival
- Summer Sundae Weekender
- Global Gathering
- Chester Folk Festival
- Broadstairs Folk Festival
- The Glade Festival
- Northern Green Gathering
- Big Green Gathering
- Atlantic Waves
- and five festivals who did not wish to be named.
Do you have an environmental policy or implement environmentally friendly practices?
Are festival-goers becoming more aware about festivals environmental performance?
Can competitive advantage be gained from being environmentally friendly?
Festival organiser responses about competitive advantage of Environmentally Friendly Practice.
Have you noticed a move towards more environmentally friendly practices at festivals?
Most persuading Factors to Implement Environmentally Friendly Practices.
Awareness of environmental legislation affecting festivals.
Types of legislation highlighted by organisers.
Will there be an increase in environmental legislation affecting festivals?
Original research, © 2006 Claire O’Neill