Pictures of ‘mountains’ of waste at festivals are a depressing feature of the British Summer and according to Powerful Thinking the UK festival industry creates 23, 500 tonnes of waste annually, of which 68% goes straight to landfill. This brings to mind a challenge from Goldblatt (2014, 59); ‘sustainability means looking at the big picture; what impact will your event have in 100 years’ time?’ Whilst abandoned tents often grab the headlines (metaphorically, not literally), waste generated on site which cannot be reduced, re-used or re-cycled is also a significant issue.
This post will share an initiative developed as a simple solution to help minimise cross-contaminated traders waste at festivals.
Festival waste contractor to Glastonbury and ‘bit of a legend’ Binrat recently, explained to me; “We did the waste, recycling and litter at a festival earlier this year (and) the cross contamination in the traders waste was unreal; broken glass in food waste, recyclables in general waste … Its so depressing to sort through a bag so cross-contaminated that it unfortunately ends up going to landfill, so we invented the Waste Information Traders Station. We think everyone should think about what they are doing with their waste, instead of stuffing it into a black bag … We thought of loads of ways to hold the WITS bag in place, but none were as effective or easy for the traders to use as two buckets, because we didn’t want any situations where the bag slipped and waste goes all over the floor and traders don’t want to pick it up. This way we have nailed it 100% and if festivals use different coloured bags then it will work perfectly.”
“We would encourage festivals to stop traders using black bags for waste in the future, use clear bags then everyone can see what is going to landfill; it removes the temptation to just shove it in a black bag and forget about it, visibility makes people try harder, it may be an extra couple of pennies on bags but a massive saving to the environment … We ran the whole idea past a number of Market Managers at different festivals this year, it was really well received and they could see immediate benefits on cross contamination and how easy it is for traders to use.”
Hopefully more innovative solutions which address Goldblatt’s sustainability challenge to festival promoters will be rolled out at festivals this summer and raising awareness of the specific issues also feels incredibly important. We hope to help with the Falmouth University / A Greener Festival Online Training course for event organisers interested in sustainable practice. The next course starts on 11th February 2019 – You can find out more at firstname.lastname@example.org
Goldblatt, J (2014) Special Events – Creating and Sustaining a New World for Celebration Wiley New Jersey
Johnson, C (2016) http://www.powerful-thinking.org.uk/site/wp-content/uploads/TheShowMustGoOnReport18..3.16.pdf (accessed 25.01.19)
Adrian Bossey is a Head of Subject at Falmouth University and former manager of artists including Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine and Chumbawumba. Adrian blogs at http://www.tumblr.com/blog/futurefestivals
Adrian Bossey will join us at GEI11 on 5th March to consider digital futures for specialist training, including how partnerships between academia and industry can effectively provide specific skills and knowledge to the live events industry, using online short-courses run by Falmouth University in conjunction with both A Greener Festival and Attitude Is Everything, as examples.