Going green: how to festival with a conscience

Sunrise Festival Organisers on how to improve the environment

Going green: how to festival with a conscience

Photographer: Lisa Rocket27 April 2011

“Believe in your significance” - Seize The Day
Every one of us plays an important part. Coming to a green festival like Sunrise, Croissant Neuf or Shambala can actually work out as being less carbon intensive and arguably greener than staying at home! Wherever you go, it is possible to make a positive contribution to the environment. Be a consumer Activist and use the power of your pound to help create the world we want to live in.

Think about how you travel
All festivals are encouraging people to travel via public transport. Our aim at Sunrise is to make it cheaper and easier to travel by public transport than to come by car. Below are a couple of tips on how to make your journey cheap and green:
There is a ‘Groupsave’ deal with Great Western Railways that we promote for people coming to Sunrise. It is available to any group travelling with the rail companies listed here. Four adults travel for the price of two and up to four children can tag along for £1 each at any time. In many instances, this makes it cheaper than travelling by car.
If you are travelling alone to a festival, check in with a liftshare website and pick up some passengers to share the costs and lighten the load on the roads. Here at Sunrise we organise things through www.viamerge.com and www.freewheelers.co.uk
Help keep the site tidy
Festivals are like microcosms of the rest of the world. Setting up Sunrise is like establishing a small town and taking it down again, all in the course of just a few weeks! Crucial to the experience of the festival is the attitudes of festival-goers. We are constantly blown away by the warmth and openness of Sunrisers, and really pleased with how wonderfully tidy they leave our site. We are often spared the devastated wasteland that some festivals are left with. This gives us hope!

The dominant reality is formed by a consensus; that is, we all conspire to create the world we live in. At Sunrise, it’s deemed not okay to leave your waste everywhere and drop rubbish, so it remains largely litter-free. If we could develop this ethic as a culture and think more carefully about what we throw away and where we throw it, our environment would be in better shape. You wouldn't throw your rubbish on the street of your town, or on your living room floor, would you?

Festival organisers have a responsibility to make it easy, and festival-goers can help out by doing the following:
Use recycling bins correctly. It makes a massive difference to both those sorting the rubbish and to the recycling rates at events.

Use refillable bottles and cups. At Sunrise this year, we have water refill points for people to use with a refillable water bottle.

If you smoke, keep a film canister or little pot to fill with your cigarette butts so the animals don’t eat them for the rest of the year!

Use biodegradable washing products (e.g. natural soaps and shampoos), like the sort you can buy at www.ethicalsuperstore.com.

Do not bring highly packaged food and drinks. At Sunrise, the cafes and bars are 80% organic and locally sourced, so buying food and drink onsite is a lot greener than stocking up in advance at a supermarket, and we encourage people to do so.

Litter-pick your campsite when you leave. The site is cleared by a heroic team of volunteer litter-pickers, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to leave a mess. It takes no time to clear up and leave the place as good or better than you found it, and it leaves you feeling happy to have done your bit!

Take your things with you when you leave and re-use them. Re-use is so much greener than recycling. Leave No Trace!

Give Generously
Many festivals offer the opportunity to donate to carbon off-setting schemes when you purchase your ticket. Sunrise offers the chance to purchase a native tree for planting in a community woodland we are creating at Gilcombe Farm. These schemes cost almost nothing in comparison to the ticket price, but giving that extra few quid means you are leaving a positive and lasting legacy from your activities. Some festivals even match your donation, meaning those few pounds go even further.

Take It Home
Many festivals offer more than music on the bill. Often you can pick up fantastic new skills and a great deal of useful knowledge. One of the best things you can do to create a better environment is to take some of this home with you and practice what you learn. From carving new bowls for your kitchen or learning about wild foods through to making your own cycle-powered sound system, festivals can be a great place to inspire action.

Connections made at festivals can be inspiring and transformative, and the networks they create are more powerful than the sum of their parts. You can get involved with Transition Towns groups, charities, eco communities and campaigns, which all have a presence at many festivals. 

Spread the love
The environment includes us as people and the effect we have on it. Festivals have such great, free atmospheres, and goodwill spreads out from them to others. So to help our shared environment, be considerate, live peacefully and practice random acts of kindness, as encouraged by the amazing Kindness Offensive.

Sophie Docker and Daniel Hurring, Organisers, Sunrise Celebration Festival.

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