The First winners of the Greener Festival Award 2010 have been announced – and we have a record breaking eight Australian festivals getting our prestigious Award, topped by Peats Ridge Festival whose team win our outstanding Award for 2010. These brilliant festivals eventually made the grade in Australia (nearly double the number of last year) are a testament to the real efforts Australian festivals are making to get green clean, and lead the fight against climate change. The winners are Bluesfest, The Falls Festival (on two sites) WOMADelaide, Southbound, Fairbridge, Island Vibe, Blues n Roots and Peats Ridge.
Our Awards Organiser in Australia, Amie, adds this: “Due to Australia’s magnificent size, 5 new assessors put their eco-credentials to good use in the 2009/2010 festival season here, helping us to collect data from states around the vast continent. Our motley crew is female dominated, not because we have anything against the boys but that’s the just the way its turned out. With a steady increase of participating festivals, up to 8 from 5 last season, and with festivals from 6 states covering distances of over 5,000kms (around 3,000 miles) the sheer magnitude of assessing events over this kind of space without flying or otherwise pumping out carbon emissions is our biggest challenge. That’s where my girls come into it. The process usually starts pretty quickly after a festival has contacted me with a desire to be involved and assessors are usually found through friends of friends. All of our assessors have a passion for the environment and most have had some experience with the workings of the music industry. But the key recruiting factor is a desire to get involved. Once contact has been made training on what is expected of the assessors and how they might go about this takes place. Access to a help-sheet, which details practical advice for the first-time assessor as well as looking over some previous assessments to gain an understanding of what level of detail is needed. It is at this point that assessors are asked to clarify key words so they are clear in their meaning in this context. Please bear in mind that all of the above goes ahead via email or occasionally phone. In fact I couldn’t actually tell you what two of my assessors even look like. We’ve never met face to face. But despite that I can tell you they’re dedicated and professional and carpooled to get to each festival they attended. And they smile all time!”
The final part of the mentoring process involves developing the attitude of fair and impartial information hunter. This skill is honed by experience and every festival that takes part in the Awards scheme plays it’s part in educating assessors into an unbiased mindframe. Festivals are only ever awarded marks on their own merits and not comparatively. Of course the comparisons come later when the Outstanding award winner is announced. It’s good to encourage a bit of a healthy competitive spirit and the Auzzie festivals in particular thrive on it. Although I am suitably impressed with the Outstanding award winners it is the Improving festivals that I am most proud of. Those first tentative steps, be it writing the festivals first environmental policy or designing a waste management program that focusses on recycling and re-use, or even moving to a new site and modifying all existing systems takes an enormous amount of mettle and determination.
But I alone cannot claim to be producing such a rare batch of volunteer assessors. Naturally the obliging sustainability co-ordinators of events such as Falls, Fairbridge and Bluesfest have been of enormous benefit to these new assessors, as they act as their ‘go to men’ on site by providing endless hospitality, showing them around their site and chasing up reports and information from outside contractors. These conversations, no matter how brief, builds the relationship between AGF and festivals trying their hardest to outgreen their previous years efforts. The interaction between assessor and festival is all important as green ideas and solutions are discussed and each assessor gains a deeper understanding of the operational side of event management. Having a large team of assessors has its benefits. Each assessor is able to spend a decent amount of time at each festival (the vast majority being held over at least two days) and really get a good feel for the overall vibe of the event. This helps them answer the overarching ethos behind each assessment, namely that the festival promotes environmental sustainability and efficiency. By being on site for a protracted amount of time, assessors are granted the ability to measure the success of initiatives, such as contain deposit systems or campsite clean-ups, over the lifespan of the entire festival. This gives AGF a richness of data to not only compare festival against festival but also to provide milestones for year-on-year improvements so that an assessor returning next season (yet another unforeseen benefit of having such a sprawling network of AGF volunteers) can see real measurable improvements. Despite all this, by far the biggest benefit of having volunteers ready to delve into festivals left, right and centre is the inspiring ideas that they bring to the table.
Take our newest recruit, Heidi
to lessen the impact on their immediate surrounding area as well as on a global scale. And the more people know about AGF the better.”
Bluesfest: Bluesfest has been held in Byron Bay, New South Wales for the last 20 years, but they will celebrate their 21st birthday for the first time on their own site. The approximately 120 hectares of land is managed through a team of consultants with huge passion for their community, local culture and the delivery of excellent entertainment within sustainable & environmentally minded goals. Some initiatives put in place by the Bluefest team include; printing programmes on 100% recycled paper, green ticket options to offset transport related emissions and beginning an Australian first Koala plan of management (KPoM) study, which looks set to continue for the next 3 years.
The Falls Festival: The environment is very close to the heart of The Falls Festival which boasts two of Australia’s most incredible natural environment venues, one in Lorne, Victoria and one in Marion Bay, Tasmania. The Festival protects the surrounding flora and fauna through projects of revegitation and has incorporated a worm farm to help with the composting of biodegradable waste. Water initiatives are noteworthy as taps are available all over the campsite with rainwater that is drinkable and outside showers are all rainwater, cold and have timers on them. The Falls really do reach beyond the festival and help make the world a better place by using this wonderful opportunity to pass on important information and ideas to hundreds of thousands of people over the years.
Island Vibe: A new entrant for the 2009/2010ʼs award season and the first to represent the state of Queenland. Operating from North Strandbroke Island, sustainable logistics are a little more costly to implement by Island Vibe have done an amazing job by making sure beer and other beverages are drunk from reusable cups, ensuring our market vendors lead the way through use of biodegradable products, plates, detergents and packaging, and collecting all organic waste and donating it to the first ever Stradbroke Island Community Gardens and finally aiming for a plastic bag free event.
Peats Ridge Festival: Peats Ridge Festival is one of those events where you know you’re going to be getting down and getting dirty but it’s all in such an enlightened way that you really feel good about reveling. Some of the artwork is just fabulous, a tree made out of recycled mobile phones, the trash Temple-an inflatable stage made from last years left over tents and bunting from recycled banners. Walking from organic food stalls, drinking your refillable Love One water-all profits fund drinking well pumps in Africa- and eating organic local produce from the Eden mini-market. Shopping is bought fro Sydney market stall holders selling bags who previous lives included inner tubes and the Eco-living area expands the mind where you can do a workshop with vibrant permaculture enthusiasts, brush up on your composting skills or ask questions about sustainable housing. Peats Ridge Festival really does include a greener alternative to everything.
Southbound: Sunset Events are taking the environmental impact of their festivals and events seriously and Southbound is a case in point. After last years wildly successful Ecobound initiative, Southbound have continued this year’s efforts by working with Greensense, an environmental auditing company, to directly measure their impact and work on lessening it year-on-year. Greenhouse gas, water and waste analysis’ were all undertaken in a bid to provide benchmark figures and aid in the generation of even more green initiatives next year.
Blues ‘n’ Roots: This year’s West Coast Blues and Roots Festival was held at the new venue of Fremantle Park and was as always a great success. Audience members of all ages made full use of the grassy green banks sitting back to relax and soak up with friends the awesome sights and sounds the festival had to offer. Food stall and market stalls showed that the organizers definitely had an environmental conscious and the festival was trying to make as little impact as possible. Green money vouchers were distributed worth approx $2500, with this money going towards the green roots program which keeps it’s self busy collecting and cleaning up after the 21,000 strong audience.
WOMADelaide: This year’s event had an extra 40 volunteers as crowd controllers to patrol the festival to keep any patrons from doing damage to the beautiful park contained within the heart of Adelaide’s CBD. WOMADelaide tries extremely hard to please the patrons in every area by looking over feedback forms at the end of each day and at the end of the festival to see where any improvements can be made. A through carbon auditing process is undertaken and knowing that transport has the biggest impact on the environment they provide over 700 free bicycle parking spaces and restrict parking at theevent site.
Fairbridge Festival: Fairbridge is a unique festival situated about 300 kms south of Perth, and the third festival in Western Australia to receive a Greener Festival award. The festival is staffed entirely by volunteers who are responsible for protecting local waterways from contamination, processing the waste and recycling and co-ordinating all sustainable practices. Buggies, bikes and buses are the main means of getting around the festival site which also scored highly in Land and local environment protection. Committed to ongoing change, Fairbridge Festival use the AGF assessment as a template for improving practices.
Congratululations to Australia and all of our winning festivals and THANK YOU to Amie and her team.