When a music festival held outdoors ends, what is the first thing that comes to mind? A large plain or field on the outskirts of a city, full of garbage bags, packages, containers, glass bottles, soft drink cans… A priori it may seem an impossible task to avoid this outcome in this type of event, since Controlling the conduct and behavior of thousands and thousands of viewers is very complicated. Apart from the huge amount of waste generated, there are many other factors that are harmful to the environment, such as noise pollution, the use of energy generators that emit polluting gases, the use of non-reusable materials, etc However, there are several European music festivals that have set out to reduce these harmful effects on the environment. Here are some of the most notable festivals (focusing a bit more on Iceland’s Secret Solstice) and their respective initiatives.
In the case of the Secret Solstice, held in Laugardalur (a district of Reykjavik, Iceland), its greatest feature is the almost zero energy used for lighting. In this three-day festival, held in mid-June, the sun never sets, due to its proximity to the Arctic Circle. The sun only bounces off the horizon at 3.30am and it never gets dark. This festival has taken advantage of a natural quality of this peculiar geographical area to become one of the most environmentally friendly music festivals in the world. Any additional or supplemental energy that could be used comes from Iceland’s vast hydroelectric and geothermal energy reserves. For example, last year these sources supplied 8,500 kilowatt hours of renewable energy to the festival.
To reflect the importance of this festival, we collect the words of Giles Bristow, production manager of Secret Solstice 2014 and owner of Acute Audio Productions: “This is the first outdoor event in which not a single drop of diesel when generating energy”.
In the waste section, Secret Solstice hires cleaning services that work throughout the festival and implemented an intensive recycling plan months before the first event.
Claire O’Neill, co-founder of the consultancy A Greener Festival, says that Waste and resource use remain two of the biggest headaches for event organizers trying to reduce their environmental impact.
In addition, O’Neill urges more festivals to follow the example of the Shambhala Festival in Northamptonshire , in which festival-goers are asked to pay a token amount for a bag of rubbish at the start of the festival. At the end of this, the spectators will recover the money deposited in exchange for showing the bag full of waste.
She also cited another exemplary festival on the issue of waste management, such as Glastonbury and its corresponding waste policy. Worthy Farm plans to swap out all plastic cups and cutlery for reusable items, and urges festival-goers to use stainless steel bottles instead of the usual plastic ones.
This ecological trend is on the rise and more and more festivals are joining this sustainable festival culture. Let’s hope that all these measures are implemented as soon as possible in all the festivals in the world, and we stop seeing those huge fields full of dirt, those huge and noisy diesel generators, etc.