I was down at the Isle of Wight festival last weekend – along with 55,000 others…a crowd who pretty much seemed to treat the site like most people would treat their Grandma’s lounge when visiting her (making no pre-judgements about you, reader, but I mean to say that the majority of festival-goers there seemed rather conscientious of their carbon footprint and keen to leave no trace). And, for those who were less aware of the social mistake of dropping discarded cups, bottles, food cartons and other mess… there seemed a veritable army of ‘Biffa’ representatives diligently clearing up after the ugly lazy drones.
Now of course, it is a festival organiser dream to have an audience who behave nicely and don’t leave too much mess – but with the aid of Eco Action Partnership (see: www.ecoactionpartnership.com) this festival doesn’t sit on it’s already green laurels. You can learn about the various messages and projects that IOW Festival is involved in on the festival’s eco-page here – but some of the most interesting things I found were:
Give Bee’s a Chance:
The chill-out zone at the festival, otherwise known as ‘The Hive’ (see insert picture), is as much about sitting back on hay bale sofas in an area powered by solar panels as it is about environmental education – the passing festival goers being captivated by the rather serious plight of the fast disappearing humble honey bee. The ‘Give Bee’s a Chance’ project is focussed around researching and monitoring bee’s habitats, managing their sustainability and investigating the impact of climate change on bees. The message at the festival, alongside promoting the project and raising money, was also about informing festival visitors about just how important the seemingly trivial honey bee is to our survival and eco-system.
No, not another term for when your partner passes wind in bed and traps you under the covers…but a waste to energy plant which, according to Eco Action Partnership turns the festival’s waste stream into a very efficient affair. Waste is collected at the site in mixed streams (although plastic bottles are given their own bins – see insert picture). The sorting plant does the usual processes to extract anything that can be recycled – but then rather uniquely, most of the waste which would otherwise end up in landfill for the next few generations, is thermally converted into energy. The plant, part of Defra’s New Technology Demonstrator Programme, powers around 10,000 homes – an output equal to 18 large wind turbines (src: Island Pulse article, Nov 2008). The IOW festival is lucky enough to be able to use the plant in dealing with their waste – significantly reducing what ends up in landfill.
So as I sit here on my laptop in the garden, wireless broadcasting my thoughts to you – wherever you are in the world, it’s clear and present that technology helps immeasurably in getting messages around at events these days. Various bluetooth push messages and text message, incentive based, advertising have been seen at gigs and festivals for a while and it now seems like Twitter, Facebook & MySpace are the new ‘word of mouth’. Couple this with the huge presence of BlackBerry’s, iPhone’s and other ‘smart phone’ devices with social networking applications and you’ve got an instantly captive, subscribed audience to your broadcasts. I think that most festivals have a Twitter page and / or FaceBook profile – although I was impressed at how IOW used this to promote ‘green’ things at prevalent times of the day and weekend. For example, as well as reminding subscribers of what bands are coming up, thoughts on performances etc., there were messages about where to purchase fluffy bees that donated to the cause detailed above – and a reminder on Sunday about how important it is to take your tent home with you. I was casually checking in on the IOW Twitter feed over the weekend and the timing of these messages was spot on…
Big Green Screens
One of the most obvious ways to get a message across at a festival has to be using the big screens, right? You have an audience – most of whom cannot go anywhere as they are holding position for the next band. You have a large public address system in place and you have the LED screens which most of the audience are accustomed to staring up at to see the performance in something larger than lego man size.
IOW had a rather clever angle on what content they put up there though – along with the customary music videos and pre-prepared message films – they also had a roving cameraman grabbing the performing artists and any other celebs backstage and getting them to say a little something about the environmental aspects of the festival…the footage was then edited down and broadcast to the masses.
Anyway, I just wanted to share a few elements of the weekend with you that I found interesting. Please do check out the Isle of Wight festival website @ www.isleofwightfestival.com – where you can find much more information on the festival’s environmental projects and ethical policies. It was just lovely and I am already looking forward to 2010 – hope you will bee there too.