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Curbing your carbon footprint during festival  season

Summer is fast approaching and people around the world are going the extra mile, be that sculpting their summer bodies or saving up their cash for the ultimate summer blowout. Festival season is just around the corner.

The variety of festivals that we have at our disposal in today’s world is remarkable. We have been spoilt by the wealth of talent on display catering to all audiences.

For many of us festivals deliver some of our most cherished summer memories. But it is important to bear in mind whilst you’re buying that overpriced pilsner, prancing around in a dark tent with a glow stick or holding on to your last intact shred of dignity - what you’re leaving behind once you exit the campground you’ve called home for the last 4 days.

Flickr | Veld Music FestivalOnce the dust has settled and the ground has stopped shaking, nature can begin to reclaim the land. However it is an environment drastically different from 4 days before. The annual festival goer’s quest to seek refuge, locate the nearest shower and sleep for 24 hours uninterrupted is prioritised over a conscious thought for the mini landfill that they and their peers have created. The majority of materials discarded are non-recyclable and destined for landfill sites but we can eradicate this practice by adopting the actions of several global institutions pioneering a new and green festival experience - called eco festivals.

This movement has taken off in the past decade with a greater number of people every year being more environmentally conscious. In this timeframe as a species we have witnessed atrocities of the plastic industry being exposed and truths revealed about global agricultural practices. This has consequently birthed a revolt against such industries, placing demands on corporations to provide more sustainable and ethical products and practices. Institutions have listened to these requests and now more eco-friendly festivals can be enjoyed and experienced spanning the globe. Below are just a few examples of these events.


We Love Green (France)

This music festival, which takes place just few a minutes by train from the centre of Paris, offers a program that contains not only amazing musicians such as Björk, Charlotte Gainsbourg or American hip hop trio Migos; but also discussions and workshops to raise awareness about environmental issues. Its Think Tank located right in the heart of the festival aims to encourage the exchange of ideas and therefore invites eminent scientists, activists and artists to lead the round tables and conferences.

We Love Green puts special emphasis on dining as its organizers claim that at festivals, catering services are the second highest producer of greenhouse gasses. Their food suppliers are required to serve organic, local, and vegetarian dishes that can even include donated or unsold products.

Coachella (California)

In a valley between two Californian National Parks resides the world-famous festival Coachella - hosting stars like alt-J, Beyoncé, The Weeknd and Eminem. This two-weekend event has come up with several sustainable innovations to meet its effort to be more thoughtful. To tackle littering, Coachella’s recycling store accepts cans, cups and bottles found on the festival ground and exchanges them for tees, sweatshirts or refillable bottles.

Visitors can also support wildlife conservation with the “Saving Nature Claw Machine” or charge their phones on the Energy Playground while burning some calories on seesaws that generate power. However, eco-innovations aren’t limited to the festival’s grounds. The event’s initiative called Carpoolchella encourages drivers to share their vehicle with at least three other persons to lessen the number of cars coming to Indio and consequently curb their carbon footprint.

Colours of Ostrava (Czechia)

In 2008, the initiative called Clean Festival was established in Czechia. It started as a single stand on one festival that encouraged visitors to collect waste and exchange it for some merchandising products. However, the initiative evolved and became prestigious. If festivals meet the criteria, they can gain its certificate and join the network of Czech clean festivals.

One such festival is Colours of Ostrava that takes place every summer in a former industrial city. The festival ground can be considered as a symbol of ecological success itself. In its past, Ostrava’s economy and lifestyle used to be bound to coal mining and the steel industry. However, as the city is fast changing into a modern and greener place, the old factories are becoming out of use. Fortunately, the buildings were saved as a part of cultural heritage and host many cultural events nowadays.

The music festival Colours of Ostrava invites a vast diversity of artists from various parts of the world. As a part of the Clean Festival network, it offers recycling bins, recycling store and also uses Nicknack cups for the majority of beverages. Festival participants pay a deposit for the cup which they can reuse, return to get their money back or even take home as a souvenir. The cups can be used at various events as they are printed with an original design, so many people even set up their own festival cups collection.

Wikimedia Commons | MMOThe Show Must Go On

According to The Show Must Go On report, UK festivals create 23,500 tonnes of waste annually - only 32% of this is recycled and 68% ends up in the landfill. The report also found that a major contributor to festivals’ carbon footprint is travel - as it constitutes 80% of their CO2 emissions. The Powerful Thinking group, which stands behind the report, believes that festivals, as important cultural and community events, have the power to inspire people to think about their responsibility to the planet and their environment. If you are interested in more stats and figures, click here to view the full report.

So whatever your plans are for this summer, you shouldn’t need to sacrifice fun for environmental conscientiousness. These initiatives show that the two can go hand-in-hand!

By Matt Couldwell and Eliška Olšáková - Online Media and Journalism Interns

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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