Shambala – Leading sustainability light on the UK festival circuit

With the UK festival season now in full swing I wanted to delve deeper and reflect on what really makes a festival sustainable.

With the UK festival season now in full swing I wanted to delve deeper and reflect on what really makes a festival sustainable. Using the example of Shambala Festival (25-28 August) I’m going to identify some key areas that require attention for festivals, in order to greater understand how other festivals can lower their impacts or even become carbon neutral.

In 2014, I produced a guide to the top sustainable festivals in the UK and a number of festivals including Shambala Festival were featured throughout. What makes Shambala so different is that it is committed to being as environmentally sustainable as it can. These key achievements really do portray it as an exemplar in its field, and how festivals should be run with regards to their impact on the local community and environment:

  • In the last five years they have reduced the onsite carbon footprint of the festival by 81%;
  • First festival in the UK to send zero waste to landfill;
  • In 2014 it was 100% powered by renewable energy;
  • Pioneered projects like the Bring a Bottle campaign and Travel Carbon Fund;
  • Founder member of the Green Festival Alliance and the Powerful Thinking initiative;
  • Co-founded a festival industry initiative – Energy Revolution, in order to grapple with audience travel. Audience travel is the biggest contributor to the festival’s carbon footprint;
  • In 2015 donations to their carbon fund raised over £4,000;
  • Their Bring a Bottle campaign resulted in 10,000 less plastic bottles on site and raised £5,000 for Frank Water projects in India;
  • Food waste leftovers from traders and campers amounted to 1.6 tonnes of usable food. This was distributed to local food banks with the help of Eighth Plate;
  • The festival recently achieved 4 stars for its Creative Green certification;
  • In 2016 Shambala will be completely meat and fish free on site.

It has won many other accolades, the list goes on! However there are of course areas for improvement such as recycling and other waste, as only 35% of waste was recycled – their target was 65%. They also did not meet their aim to get 15% of festival goers travelling on coaches, narrowly missing out with 14%.

Nonetheless, there is a recognition that the festival is taking an inspiring stance and vision to the way it powers the festival, sources local food and suppliers, promotes zero waste and contributes positively to the overall impact of the festival. Many other festivals could learn an enormous amount from its model, and could even look to adopt some of the practices it places at the very core of its operations.

Photo: Amelia’s Magazine via www.ameliasmagazine.com

2015 guide to the top international sustainable and green festivals

With the summer festival season now upon us, I have been looking in-depth at ten of the most sustainable or eco-friendly events taking place outside of the UK in 2015. Here is a rundown and mini-guide to the most sustainable festivals in the world you should explore or even visit this year, glancing briefly at their sustainability and green commitments.

This piece follows on from last year’s article on the UK’s top sustainable and green festivals: https://sethkirby.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/2014-guide-to-the-uks-top-sustainable-and-green-festivals/

Lightning in a Bottle Festival, USA  

Set in the San Antonio area of California and running for over a decade the festival celebrates art, music and sustainability.

When: May 21-25

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £175-185

Website: www.lightninginabottle.org

Sustainability: The ethos of the festival is focused around water, energy and education. Since 2006 the festival has been giving away free water; an environmental impact assessment is undertaken to ensure their activities do not negatively impact Lake San Antonio. Biodiesel, solar and wind are some of the key renewable energy technologies used to power the festival. This includes a solar and wind generator, LED lighting and solar lights. A contribution is made to local projects for any carbon emissions that cannot be offset. There are a range of environmental workshops and educational initiatives which bring together the community to discuss and share new ideas and solutions. It has been awarded outstanding for the last five years of A Greener Festival Awards, making it one of the most green and environmentally friendly festivals in the world.

We Love Green Festival, France      

A pioneering music festival committed to respecting the environment and a desire to promote sustainability.

When: May 30-31

Tickets: An adult two day pass is £37 (approx)

Website: www.welovegreen.fr

Sustainability: The festival’s mission is to raise awareness of sustainability and it is run by renewable energy sources, solar and wind power – the main stage is powered by solar energy. It is committed to “zero impact” and provides free drinkable water fountains, selects local service providers and uses disposable and reclaimed furniture and signage. Waste and recycling is managed and sorted on site, with food waste distributed to farms around the festival. We Love Green was rated outstanding by A Greener Festival in 2011, 2012 and 2014, in addition to being awarded the Green Operations European Festival Awards in 2012.

Roskilde Festival, Denmark               

One of the largest music and culture festivals in Northern European, running since 1971.

When: June 27-July 4

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £190 (approx); one day tickets are £95 (approx)

Website: www.roskilde-festival.dk

Sustainability: According to the festival’s food strategy their ambition is for 90% of the festival food to be organic by 2017. In 2013, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and Roskilde Festival developed an organic food label, Det Økologiske Spisemærke. At the 2014 festival they joined forces with the Stop Wasting Food Denmark and produced a total of 27.5 tons of excess food. This food waste was given to a number of homeless shelters. It was awarded the Green Operations European Festival Awards in 2014.

Ilosaarirock Festival, Finland             

Ilosaarirock Festival is an outdoor lakeside festival founded in 1971 and set in Joensuu.

When: July 17-19

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £75 (approx); one day tickets are £50 (approx)

Website: www.ilosaarirock.fi

Sustainability: 70% of the electricity used at Ilosaarirock is produced from water, wind or wood and each of the stages use LED lighting. Festival items are made from ethically and ecologically sourced cotton, decorations for the festival site are made primarily of recycled materials and fair trade coffee and tea is sold on site. In 2014, nearly 70% of the festival’s rubbish ended up in recycling. It has the aim of recycling 70% of waste in 2015 and houses recycling facilities for biodegradable waste, glass and cardboard. One of their campaigns “disposability is a four-letter word” looks to get attendees to think about disposable goods and their purchases. Festival partners have to show a commitment to environmental values and action. For example they work with a print house called PunaMusta which has received a Nordic Ecolabel for its practices. A Greener Festival rated it outstanding in 2014.

Splendour in the Grass Festival, Australia     

An Australian music festival that has been held annually since 2001 and takes place near the beautiful Byron Bay.

When: July 24-26

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are priced at £185, alongside a camping pass of £50 (approx)

Website: www.splendourinthegrass.com

Sustainability: Splendour’s sustainability strategy demonstrates how they have undertaken significant steps to enhance their environmental management and stewardship and community engagement. Their strategy is broken down into three categories – environment, social welfare and market supply and demand. The festival looks to respect the local community and environment. It seeks to engage with industry services to help place greater importance on sustainability through a track record of ethical practice. They possess an environmental procurement policy which underpins their sustainability ambitions. It was higher commended by A Greener Festival in 2014.

Øya Festival, Norway         

One of Norway’s biggest annual music festivals set in Oslo since 1999.

When: August 11-15

Tickets: Adult week passes are £235 (5 days); one day tickets are £79 (approx)

Website: www.oyafestivalen.no

Sustainability: The festival aims to be one of the greenest festivals in the world and has a significant focus on the environment. It is powered by a hydro-electric dam and is widely regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly festivals in Norway. In 2014, recycling cut their Co2 emissions approximately amounting to 13,000 cars a year. In addition, 72% of waste has been recycled and transformed into new products and 95% of all food was certified organic. It was the first palm oil free festival in Norway in 2014. With a procurement plan and other environmental criteria, including waste management and sustainable food plans, they aim to reduce and reuse as much as the festival produces. It achieved outstanding by A Greener Festival in 2014.

Way Out West Festival, Sweden     

An annual music festival founded in 2007 and held in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden.

When: August 13-15

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £180 and teenage tickets are £130 (approx)

Website: www.wayoutwest.se

Sustainability: It serves only vegetarian meals and organic food at the festival. This has enabled them to decrease their Co2 emissions by around 80%. In 2010, it became one of the first festivals in Sweden to be Krav-certified (a food eco-label that promotes agricultural sustainability). Sustainability, environment and social responsibility are important aspects of the festival since its inception. In 2013, it was the world’s first major music festival to be certified with ISO20121; it was also rated outstanding by A Greener Festival and received the Green Operations European Festival Award for that year.

Le Cabaret Vert Festival, France     

A French medium-sized music festival that celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2014 and features a range of genres.

When: August 20-23

Tickets: Adult four day passes are £65 (approx); one day tickets are £25 (approx)

Website: www.cabaretvert.com

Sustainability: Although it has grown in stature over the years from its small roots, Le Cabaret Vert still shares an ambition of being a responsible cultural event leading on environmental, economic and social practices. It has four main action areas – waste management, energy consumption, water and transportation. Recyclables are separated for waste collection, water is preserved and controlled, in addition to encouraging more sustainable forms of transports to the site, including bus, train or car-sharing. The festival also follows a responsible purchasing policy. It was highly commended by A Greener Festival in 2013.

Rocking the Daisies, South Africa

An annual music festival which takes place near Cape Town, South Africa.

When: October 1-4

Tickets: Adult weekend passes are priced between R650-750 (approx)

Website: www.rockingthedaisies.com

Sustainability: An integral part of the festival are its green and eco-friendly goals and it continues to follow the motto “Play Hard, Tread Lightly”. It carries out a comprehensive environmental audit and impact assessment each year. The audit covers and monitors areas such as procurement, water, transport, waste and energy. The events aims to be as carbon neutral as possible by reducing and off-setting any carbon directly from running the festival. A Greener Festival highly commended the event in 2014.

Island Vibe Festival, Australia

An annual celebration of world music, performing arts and island culture set in the stunning backdrop of Minjerribah, Stradbroke Island.

When: October 30-November 1

Tickets: Adult season tickets are £100 (approx)

Website: www.islandvibe.com.au

Sustainability: Island Vibe Festival takes a long term view and commitment towards sustainability and the environment. It produces a range of environmental policies, from transport to waste and recycling. Within its environmental policy it outlines its approach to a number of themes. These include areas like conservation, education, community engagement and leading by example. The festival understands its responsibility to the environment and stewardship of the planet. A Greener Festival rated it outstanding in 2014.

About the awards

A Greener Festival are a global awards scheme set up in 2007 that recognises festivals that deliver environmental best practice. www.agreenerfestival.com

The European Festival Awards, established in 2009, are an annual European awards ceremony, covering a variety of festival categories including the green operations award, best indoor festival, best small festival and much more. eu.festivalawards.com

Photo: Thomas Rousing via Flickr

2014 guide to the UK’s top sustainable and green festivals

With the UK’s summer festival season almost upon us, we will be looking in-depth at some of the most sustainable or eco-friendly events taking place in 2014.

But first, to whet your appetite, here is a mini-guide to the festivals we think you should look out for this year, glancing briefly at their sustainability and green commitments.

View the 2015 guide to the top international sustainable and green festivals: https://sethkirby.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/2015-guide-to-the-top-international-sustainable-and-green-festivals/

Wood Festival, Oxfordshire

A small family festival of music and nature, situated in Braziers Park, Ipsden. It was first held in 2008 and is run by the same people who organise the Truck Festival.

When: May 16-18

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £75; day tickets between £24-32

Website: www.woodfestival.com

Sustainability: The festival is 100% powered by renewable energy, with energy sources ranging from biodiesel to solar power. Organisers have invested in sustainable infrastructure, including the main green oak stage, with Julie’s Bicycle describing the event as a “beacon of environmental sustainability”. It has plans to become a zero-waste festival in the future, and it already promotes the use of public transport schemes, especially cycling and car sharing, for people travelling to the event. It is highly commended by A Greener Festival and was handed a silver award by Festival Kidz.

Glyndebourne Festival, Sussex

A Sussex-based opera festival, founded in 1934, that presents a range of opera productions each year.

When: May 17 – August 24

Tickets: From £85

Website: www.glyndebourne.com

Sustainability: Glyndebourne uses a wind turbine as its main source of power. In its second year of operation (to January 2014), the turbine exceeded its targets, generating enough energy to cover 102% of the event’s requirements. The festival was awarded the maximum three stars by the environmental certification scheme Industry Green in 2013, and it has an ambition for its whole operation to be carbon neutral.

Sunrise Festival, Somerset

An ethical living arts and music festival that originally began back in 2006.

When: May 29 – June 1

Tickets: Adult tickets are £99; family tickets are £225

Website: www.sunrisecelebration.com

Sustainability: All the energy used at the festival site is from renewable sources such as solar and wind power. On-site biodiesel also is used, locally sourced and made from waste vegetable oil. Sunrise’s goal is to achieve best practice in ethics and the environment, and it was rated outstanding by A Greener Festival in 2013.

Hebridean Celtic Festival, Isle of Lewis

A Celtic music festival that takes place in Stornoway in the Scottish Outer Hebrides.

When: July 16-19

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £79; day tickets range from £26-35

Website: www.hebceltfest.com

Sustainability: The trust behind the festival has committed to minimising its impact on the environment, reducing carbon emissions and waste on site, encouraging more responsible forms of transport, and sustainably managing festival resources like energy and water consumption. In 2013, it was one of the first festivals to trial the Recycle and Reward scheme – to incentivise festival-goers to recycle. A Greener Festival rated it outstanding in 2013.

Larmer Tree Festival, Wiltshire

An annual music and arts festival set in the picturesque grounds of Larmer Tree Gardens.

When: July 16-20

Tickets: Adult tickets start at £160; youths at £105 and children at £60

Website: www.larmertreefestival.co.uk

Sustainability: The festival works with organisations such as Wiltshire Event Services to improve recycling initiatives during the five-day event. It encourages the use of public transport to and from the site, and supports the local economy by utilising local suppliers as often as it can. In 2014, the festival’s official charity partner is the food poverty charity the Trussell Trust. A Greener Festival commended its efforts in 2013, and it was given a gold award by Festival Kidz in the same year.

Cambridge Folk Festival, Cambridgeshire

One of the most popular folk festivals in Europe, running since 1964, the event takes place on the impressive grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall.

When: July 31 – August 3

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £144; day tickets from £53.50-63.50

Website: www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk

Sustainability: A 2009 report, commissioned to measure the carbon footprint of the festival, found that 42% of staff walked, cycled or used public transport to get to the event. In 2010, the festival saw a recycling rate of 71% for all waste, and its bars generate minimal or zero landfill waste. It also has strong links with the environmental charity Friends of the Earth, and was highly commended by A Greener Festival in 2013.

Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons

Intimate, independent festival set in the idyllic, rolling Welsh hills of the Brecon Beacons.

When: August 14-17

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £159

Website: www.greenman.net

Sustainability: The event uses music and art activities on site to raise awareness of environmental issues and promote a sustainable lifestyle. In Einstein’s Garden, the three stages are powered by sustainable sources of energy, and the area gives festival-goers the opportunity to engage with innovative low-carbon technologies like solar power and hydrogen fuel cells. Festival Kidz gave it a gold award in 2013.

Shambala Festival, Northamptonshire

A small, diverse and family friendly festival which takes place on a quaint country estate in Northamptonshire.

When: August 21-24

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £135

Website: www.shambalafestival.org

Sustainability: For the first time in 2014, it is set to be 100% powered by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and waste biodiesel, and it is the first festival in the UK to send zero waste to landfill. It has pioneered projects like the Bring A Bottle campaign, which encourages festival-goers to bring their own reusable water bottles, in addition to encouraging car travellers to make a contributory donation to the Travel Carbon Fund – in order to offset a portion of their carbon emissions. Julie’s Bicycle acknowledges the importance of Shambala’s sustainability management plans on the industry, saying that it “provides a guiding light in educating, inspiring and motivating the festival sector“. The festival is a founder member of the Green Festival Alliance and the Powerful Thinking initiative. It was named best green festival at the 2013 UK Festival Awards, and has also received accolades from A Greener Festival, Festival Kidz and Industry Green.

Greenbelt Festival, Essex

An arts, faith and justice festival with traditional Christian roots.
When: August 22-25

Tickets: Adult weekend tickets range from £119-149

Website: www.greenbelt.org.uk

Sustainability: Caterers on site are required to use reusable or biodegradable food packaging, and traders are encouraged to use fair trade products – which includes Greenbelt Festival branded clothing, which is manufactured using fair trade cotton. The festival uses energy efficient bulbs for the venue’s lighting, and it is supported by a range of partners for 2014, including the sustainable bank Triodos and ethical retailer Traidcraft. it was commended by A Greener Festival in 2013.

End Of The Road Festival, Wiltshire

A small, alternative and independent music festival located at the splendid Larmer Tree Gardens.

When: August 29-31

Tickets: Adult tickets start at £170; youths at £130 and children at £40.

Website: www.endoftheroadfestival.com

Sustainability: The festival programme is printed on recycled paper using eco-friendly ink, sourced from vegetables, and over half of non-catering traders offer eco-friendly products. The event has partnered with FRANK Water, a Bristol-based charity, since 2010. Its FreeFill initiative provides filtered drinking water at the festival, which then goes on to fund clean water projects in developing countries. It also partners with A Greener Festival to support the Festival Wood campaign through valuable voluntary donations. Festival travellers by car can opt to purchase a tree in order to restore ancient woodland and wild forests in Scotland.

About the certifications and awards

A Greener Festival are a global awards scheme set up in 2007 that recognises festivals that deliver environmental best practice. www.agreenerfestival.com

The Festival Kidz awards were held for the very first time last year to celebrate the most family friendly festivals on the circuit. www.festivalkidz.com

Creative Industry Green, established by Julie’s Bicycle, is a certification of environmental sustainability. www.juliesbicycle.com/industry-green

Powerful Thinking is an industry initiative for festivals exploring ideas to reduce costs, respond to climate change and transition to a low-carbon industry. www.powerful-thinking.org.uk

The UK Festival Awards, launched in 2004, are an annual awards ceremony, covering a variety of festival categories including the greener festival award, family festival award, best small festival and many more. www.festivalawards.com

The Festival Wood is a forest regeneration campaign led by A Greener Festival. www.agreenerfestival.com/festivalwood

Photo: Ella Mullins via Flickr

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Games for Change: ‘social impact gaming’ celebrated at New York festival

The Games for Change Festival, New York City’s largest gaming event, gets underway next week, celebrating the innovation and development of ‘social impact’ gaming.

Founded in 2004 and now in its 11th year, Games for Change hopes to “facilitate the creation of social impact games“, as well as promote, educate and “leverage entertainment for social good”.

The annual festival will feature an assortment of gaming experts and guest speakers working in the gaming industry across the globe.

During the course of the three-day festival (April 22-24), and the one-day (26 April) outdoor public arcade at the Tribeca Film Festival in Lower Manhattan, speakers will present their gameplay visions, inventions and ideas, and explain how they can bring about social change.

There will be a range of talks, panel discussions and game demonstrations covering many different themes, including how to design and engage commercial games for social impact, as well as gender inequality in games and gaming culture.

Experts like Noah Falstein, chief game designer at Google, will discuss the rapidly evolving technology, and look at the implications this evolution may have on the Games for Change approach.

Midway through the festival, a Games for Change Awards ceremony will take place, which looks to pay tribute to those individuals who have made the greatest contributions to games that do social good. There will be winners from each of the categories for the year in most innovative, most impactful and best gameplay, and a further one winner for game of the year.

On this evening, a game changer award will be presented to Dr James Paul Gee for his work on the learning attributes in digital games, and how ultimately video games hold the ability to have a real impact on people’s lives.

Photo: Joao Paulo via freeimages

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