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UpCycle – A Summer of Creative Greening

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Our friends at UpCycle tell us about how the summer of 2012 was for them[/note]

 
Oh dear! (sad face).. Is it that time already? It seems the summer had only just started, now where has it gone?

At Upcycle we’ve had a fantastic summer and wanted to share if it with you. We’re on a mission to clean up our festival culture. Our aim is:

to assist in the creation of a small festival culture in the UK that is ecologically harmonious, where festival goers creatively participate in the event and where the environment is left more beautiful than before the festival.

Sounds a bit dreamy for you? We feel a radical vision is necessary, then we have something to aim for. So how will we get there?

Upcycle provides teams of volunteers (the Eco-Rangers!) to UK festivals. The Eco-Rangers work to maximise recycling rates and inspire a more responsible, caring attitude towards the environment. For larger events (more than 1000) we provide our Free Shop as a means of creatively engaging the festival goers in the recycling and waste management system on site.

For festivals with less than one thousand people we can provide a holistic waste management solution. This includes setting up and running the recycling system, sourcing a team of committed Eco-Rangers and coordinating the professional removal from site and disposal of all waste.

This summer we’ve been to Sunrise Celebration, Secret Garden Party, Cock and Bull, Cloud Cuckoo Land and Shambala.

We feel we’re learning, slowly, and often the hard way. Achieving an ecologically harmonious event is not so easy. And it is hugely important that these festivals can occur within the natural capacity of the landscape.

In our eyes small is an absolute necessity, it is the only way of festival making in an environmentally harmonious way. For this reason we’re focusing on developing a system of waste management that is aimed at events with less that one thousand people yet is also professional, creative and participatory.

We consider small festivals – particularly Cloud Cuckoo Land – to be spearheading the shift towards a new paradigm of ecologically sound, community living. Actively visioning and creating new ways of being, interacting, celebrating and sharing in a human scale environment festivals are where we get to play out our desires. This video gives a little taster of Cloud Cuckoo Land.

At this kind of small event we provide assistance in production and planning encouraging: local procurement of resources; the use of reusable cups and returnable drink containers; the use of locally sourced, returnable decoration and plugging into off-grid energy or ‘good energy’. We also ensure that all food receptacles and cutlery are compostable.

During the event we’ll setup clearly labelled recycling stations, monitor the use of these stations emptying them when full and moving them if necessary. We’ll meet and greet festival goers on the gate, circulate the campsite handing out bin bags and litter pick dance floors continuously. We’ll also build our Free Shop.

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The Free Shop exists to inspire behaviour change. We use our the shop as means of having a conversation around waste and recycling. It is an interactive space with signposts inviting in festival goers. Through our workshops and interaction with the Free Shop we hope to tell our story while explaining the importance of everybody’s participation in the waste management system. We foster a feeling of mutual responsibility and shared ownership of the festival environment. By accepting a free gift from our shop often festival goers feel a sense of reciprocity, a wish to return the favour so we don’t feel so bad when asking them to help with some litter picking in Monday morning! This video shows our work at Shambala festival where we used the Free Shop to inform festival goers about their £10 rubbish bag deposit scheme.

It is powerful and, we feel, effective work. We aim to inspire, and work to foster the inclination that all festival goers should take care of the land, will not drop any litter, will leave the site more beautiful than before and will help us if they see us litter picking a dance floor at 3AM.

During the pack down of the event we’ll: assist in the clearing of the campsite ensuring festival goers take their possessions with them, bring all waste to our final sorting depot, meticulously sort through mixed bags of waste ensuring our recycling rates are as high as possible. We also help area managers ensure their areas are left spotless with particular assistance given for the ultimate fine pick.

We will have lined up a local In-Vessel Composter to take all our organic waste (food, paper, cutlery) and a local commercial waste depot to take our recyclables and any landfill we might have. We aim for at least 75% recycling rates of which about 30% is usually compostable.

And that is where we are at, for now. Let us know what you think. Any advice, interesting connections or recommendations are always welcome. We’re in the process of evaluating our work and making plans for the coming summer, feedback is always welcome.

Yours, The Eco-Rangers
www.up-cycle.org.uk chris@up-cycle.org.uk
www.facebook.com/upcycleuk
@upcycleuk
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