Great Big Green ideas - the winners!

By benchallis on 21 June 2010

The entries are in - the judges have judged – and in the end after much deliberation we have one clear winner, Natalie Porter, and two most excellent runners up, Gearoid Maher and Ben Harris. We had so many good ideas we thought we should mention some of them here and we would also like to point out that all of these ideas will be looked at carefully by lots of festivals and so when it gets to the next festival season, some of these ideas might well be actually happening at events  – making them greener and cleaner – thanks to you!
 
Natalie’s idea was very simple – and clearly could be very effective in preventing food waste at festivals.  Natalie works at Glastonbury and she helps to run a large backstage catering facility.  She said: “every year we have to order food before the festival, and as the weather is inherently unpredictable, so are our sales! Any perishable food left over, such as bread and vegetables, that isn’t worth taking away is donated to the welfare groups catering for clean-up crew and their families. It would be great if festivals could encourage this on a larger scale, as so many food outlets must have leftover stock that would otherwise be binned”. Simple, neat and an idea that our judges Claire, Lucy and Catherine felt sure many festivals will be looking at.
 
Gearoid’s idea was equally simple but effective – and believe it or not is to do with tyre pressure on cars. Both Catherine and Claire liked this idea and Claire pointed out that it goes way beyond just festival travel. Pointing out that transport is a major source of CO2 emissions at festivals, Gearoid proposed a solution called “Reduction by Inflation”, focussing on reducing emissions from private cars, by offering a free tyre check and inflation service to all vehicles queuing to enter festival car parks. Users of the service will have their tyres inflated to proper pressure, and will receive tyre safety fact sheet to keep in their car. It’s a neat solution – as Gearoid points out, under-inflation needlessly increases rolling resistance of tyres, forcing engines to burn more fuel, increasing fuel consumption by 10-15%.  By inflating festival-goers’ tyres to proper pressure, a festival can cut CO2 emissions and increase the fuel efficiency of attending cars. What a result!
 
Ben’s idea can be best be described as “putting the ‘pee’ back into power”. Ben pointed out that toilets could use the dead aim of festival-goers to power simple electric generators. “A turbine placed inside the catchment area of a urinal would prove to be an irresistible target. These could be installed in the men’s urinals and the women’s she-pees giving a light-hearted fun edge to the one part of festival life that people often speak badly of” adding “Energy produced from these toilets would go to an adjacent charging station where phones, PDAS or cameras could be left charging while watching a band. Money made on this stall could be used to further off set the festivals carbon footprint by going towards a green policy already in place”.
 
Recycling was high on many people’s agendas – particularly cup and beer glass deposit schemes and left behind tents. It’s already good to see a number of festivals like the Cambridge Folk Festival and Latitude running successful souvenir beer mug initiatives, but many of you suggested this should be widespread – reducing waste and keeping festivals green and clean. With tents, Kevin Deely pointed out that the thousands of tents that get left behind at festivals are often brand new or in good condition and that whilst many festivals have tried to persuade people to take the home them or find another solution – they have met with little success. So Kevin says: “why not have a simple sign that can be universally agreed which means “I have left my tent, you can have it. Maybe a sticker, or cheap flag or something?” And with the sticker affixed, either organisers or indeed other festival-goers can take the tent home." We liked this as a positive grass roots idea that lets people take the initiative – and coupled be an ‘anti-prankster device’ to stop your idiot mates sticking a sticker on a wanted tent, this is a really good idea – thanks Kevin! Paul Barker’s idea would be to collect up all the tents and camping equipment left behind, have volunteers sort clean and repack the equipment up into bags and sell it on the official festival websites - and the money raised could be split between charities and organisations linked to festivals such as WaterAid and Greenpeace. Paul points out “this would save the equipment going into general rubbish waste and would save fellow festival goers hours of hunting around on the internet looking for the best deals, as we could come directly to you for second hand equipment that would also benefit others”.  Ed Gawne came up with a couple of corking ideas and we really liked the idea of priority tickets at a future festivals for those who support the environment.  Festival-goers would need to  check in with attendants when they have set up their camp and state they want to take part in an opt-in scheme. This means people can’t claim to have cleaned an area they haven’t actually camped in. They have to go back to attendants and have their site checked when they leave, and/or could contribute a couple hours to clearing other sites. Their wristband number is recorded, and traced back to whom they are. “Priority ticketing are exactly the kind of loyalty thing done by mobile phone companies, where it works well. Tickets obviously go like hot cakes, so allowing people a ‘day beforehand’ to buy if they opt into “love the farm, leave no trace” ticketing would make a real difference. If there are concerns too many people would sign up, this could be done under a quota”.
 
We had simply masses of ideas about kinetic energy and Claire really liked Theo Miller’s point that as “Every person at the festival has to go through the turnstiles at the entrance” this could be “turned into power”. Martyn Hill was one of a number of people who suggested turning all indoor dance floors into pressure pads so that energy is collected and stored for use elsewhere, or just to offset those tents saying: “Add them just randomly around the site with a booth and a (solar powered) stereo and people will just dance on them regardless of what time of day or night…that’s just what we do :) ”. Nice idea Martyn, as was the suggestion as the Kids Field “surely has high levels of energy that can be captured. Kids love doing things, and middle class parents love saving the world even more!” Casey Shaw suggested that the heat that is given off by the lighting on the stages could be transferred back to heat water for use in showers saying that this technology was already being used at the TV studio she worked at (well done ITV!). Our judge Catherine thought that the best and most elaborate of the many kinetic energy ideas (which judge Lucy thought was practical and efficient too) was simply to put kinetic energy converters under walkways at festivals. Phil Shuttleworth said “With the paths being the main walkways and very busy especially at night I am sure you would create enough power to run some of the festival as well as run the lights.  If you also have the paths locked together in the fields in from of the stages, (not the whole field) then when music is playing and the crowd jump up and down as they do at the front this will also create energy. The more excited the crowd is the more energy created. This would particularly work well in the dance village.  It just seems that at a festival there is so much kinetic energy spent this should be harvested. And with these boards platforms if you will being portable there could be money made transferring them from festival to festival”. Thank you Phil.
 
Matthew Arnold sent us a some really detailed set of opportunities open to festivals that would assist in reducing the environmental impact including using anaerobic digesters to create biogas from faeces before turning it into biomethane for central heating and gas appliances saying “biomethane gas can also be used to drive a gas engine to produce electricity for the festival”. Matthew also highlighted the Hatsudenyuka Floor, “a technology that features elements capable of generating piezoelectricity. The piezo elements convert the pressure and vibration of footsteps into electricity, used to power electrical equipment. Piezoelectricity applications have been trialled in train stations and dance floors, and while large-scale systems are yet to be launched, roll out of the technology is being planned”. Thank you Matthew.

David Minch was one of a number of you with ideas about waste – human waste – saying that the proceeds of one Glastonbury should fund a main sewer network and on site processing plant. The long term aim should be biogas production to be stored for use on the farm and if possible and economically viable it could also produce fertilizer adding “this is a chance to create a centre of excellence in poo processing” – love it David!
 
Finally, Travel is a major concern for festivals and we had lots of good ideas here. Audience travel to out of town sites really does form a major part of all greenhouse gas emissions, and Gearoid’s idea on inflating tyres is already a winner. Catherine really liked Samuel Walter’s idea that festivals should make travel a part of the festival experience saying: “Host a folk club and music on certain bus and train services (the Sheffield to Edale folk train is an existing monthly folk club in which folk performers perform on public transport on the way to a venue in the middle of the Peak District.) If this model can be organised on a major scale to a festival, getting the festival-goers to partake as well as professionals then it makes the public transport travel more appealing to the public, you will miss out if you don’t do it. Travelling should be made a part of the festival”. We know our friends at the Big Green Coach Company are already doing this and Beach Break Live set up their eco-race competition for low carbon travel solutions – so things are getting better! John Milburn said “For me a great way for the festival to get greener would be for the coach companies to genuinely subsidise entry to the site as at the moment it is not attractive enough to get people out of their cars." John said: “The coach companies could offer a better rebate against the cost of the tickets and / or provide better services for customers – showers on the coach for the return trip?” A good idea John.
 
There were some amazing entries and we will make sure the best ones get to festival organisers. A big “Thank you” to our judges Catherine (Julies Bicycle), Claire (Association of Independent Festivals/AGF) and Lucy (The Glastonbury Festival).  Natalie’s winning goodie bag is fabulous and includes CDs from The Verve, Orbital and the Futureheads, DVDs and CDs from The Glastonbury Festival, a very exclusive Nirvana T-shirt from their last ever ‘In Utero’ tour, A Latitude Festival mug, a Glastonbury Crew T-shirt, BRITS memorabilia, our new Festival Harvest CD featuring the best of new British talent and lots of other goodies. The runners up bags for Gearoid and Ben will be almost as good. Promise! Special thanks for the prizes to Glastonbury, EMI, Big Life Management, BPI, Darren and FaceAche and DMS. We would also like to give EXTRA special big thanks to all of you readers of Virtual Festivals for entering!

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