How to host a sustainable event this festival season

You can experience the unforgettable at a music festival. Captivating performances from the best music acts, delivered with the highest sound quality and topped off with vivid light shows and displays. However, there are many moving parts at play behind the scenes, with a lot of resources used in the process.

Everyone in the events industry has a responsibility to contribute to sustainable practices. After all, without the land festivals are held on, we’d have no space to create and enjoy the rich culture that they can provide.

Climate change is an issue that affects everyone globally and in different ways, so creating greener festivals improves the life of a music fan and also contributes to the health of the world as a whole. One more greener event means more greener events in the world. 

In this article, we take a look at how to host a sustainable event this festival season. 

Reduce waste across the weekend

According to ‘The Show Must Go On’, a report by the Think Tank Powerful Thinking, festivals produce 23,500 tonnes of waste annually, with 68% of that going to landfill. This includes disposable plastics like cups, bottles, food containers and plastic cutlery. Elsewhere, items like toiletries and sleeping bags are unable to be recycled, ending up in landfill sites across the country. 

So, what’s the solution? Commit to using recyclable materials. This means encouraging attendees to bring refillable bottles and selling water and other drinks in aluminium cans, which can be recycled easier. 

Photo: anna-m.w / Pexels.com

Tents impact waste, too. Like sleeping bags, they end up in landfill sites or incinerators. Compostable tent manufacturer Comp-A-Tent found that 77% of tents are abandoned based on data collected from multiple festivals with more than 50,000 attendees, which it says is over 900 tonnes of waste.

To solve this problem, consider trying to strike up a partnership with a sustainable camping equipment company. You could offer deals to your customers or sell the equipment on-site. Once the weekend is over, encourage attendees to hand in any tents that are still in working condition and donate them to a charity that helps out refugees. You’ll be reducing waste and helping out a good cause. 

Encourage alternative ways of travel

The Show Must Go On also states that up to 80% of a UK festival’s carbon footprint comes from audience travel. It’s easy to see why. You’ve got thousands of people, often travelling in cars from various parts of the country and overseas. It’s a concentrated mass of vehicles going to the same place. 

This is backed up by Ecolibrium’s Sustainable Travel & Transport Guide For Festivals & Outdoor Events, which says that transport emissions significantly contribute to air pollution. Fuel is now cleaner and more efficient than 20 years ago, but there are more vehicles on the road due to a larger population.

While you can’t control, you can encourage. Set up schemes that incentivize customers to travel via public transport. This could be an increase in coach pick-up points around the nearest city to the site, discounted coach tickets in collaboration with the coach company or coach travel included in the ticket bundle for your festival. 

Become energy efficient

Powering a music festival involves a massive amount of fuel usage across a weekend. This includes electricity from generators, stages, sound systems, food stalls and portable toilets. It’s said that festivals can use over 30,000 megawatts of electricity, and The Show Must Go On report states that the total annual fuel consumption for U.K. festivals is 4.96 million litres.

Using waste vegetable oil biodiesel is a solution when trying to become more efficient with energy. It can be used to power generators and is a renewable substitute for diesel, emitting 85% less Co2. Another option is using tractors to transport equipment to and from the site, fuelling them with biodiesel for a sustainable way of working. 

Photo: Pixabay / Pexels.com

Exploring solar power options can help you to host a sustainable event this festival season. It’s 100% emissions-free and can be paired with batteries to power the generators for your event. 

Monitoring your electricity consumption can also help. Set a maximum threshold based upon what the studies suggest and see where your event falls on the scale. You’ll have concrete data to work from, getting a better idea of the areas you can work to reduce. Sustainability is a long-term process. 

Keep up to date with the conversation

Researching every area to make your event the best is paramount, but keeping an eye on the latest debates on sustainability and climate change will give you a better understanding of the subject. You’ll be able to find out about the latest innovations, look at how they are doing and find underrepresented avenues to improve the targets you’ve set. 

It’s an area where new things are happening, with people trying to use different technology to contribute to treating the planet a little bit healthier. Being involved at an early stage with innovations in sustainability could see your festival coming across something that really works, allowing you to hit your targets, stand out as an event conscious of change and contribute to a shared goal across the industry. 

The more information you have means you can pass it on to other people, and that can only be a good thing when dealing with an issue such as sustainability. 

Communicate your ideas

As we said earlier in the piece, you can’t control people’s actions, but you can encourage them. Another way to spur change is to send these messages in your marketing campaign. So, create some eye-catching assets to post across your social media campaigns. They’ll show your audience how you will be committing to more sustainable practices. 

This will give your attendees context and may even teach them things they didn’t know previously. It’s a natural process to react to new information. Somebody hearing about a different way of engaging with the environment may lead them to change something in their day-to-day life. 

Photo: Pixabay / Pexels.com

A festival’s carbon footprint will be much bigger than a small household. That goes without saying. But sustainability is an issue that can’t be solved by a single group. Using your platform to spread the right message while backing up the message at your event will go a long way to encouraging others. 

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