Festivals: party towards sustainability!


July 1, 2014 

Dear reader, the (music) festival season has started. Aka: party till you drop, dance to the stars, rocking to great music, and possibly drinking till you get drunk. That's basically the main point of many festival visitors around. And it probably sounds familiar to you. However, like my former blog topic, this is an event which normally has a great negative impact on the environment, in social and ecological ways. So what can be done to turn it around into positive impacts?

I focus here on Music Festivals because I know most of those and these are the biggest in terms of festivals. The Music Festival history started in 1967 in San Francisco, USA. It was a political statement towards racism and the Vietnam war, while flowerpower young people came to the events. However, in the Netherlands, this idealism didn't trickle over, since in NL, it was commercial, targeting mainly young people. It was a new way for organizers to earn big money, which it still seems to be. Yet, there is development towards more social and environmentally friendly festivals (Wikipedia, 2014). For instance, LowLands is known for its efforts to become green, the Vierdaagse March and Festival (the biggest event in the Netherlands with 1.5 million people in 2013) is trying to become sustainable as well, and cultural festivals aim high in this regards.

However, much can still be improved and learned since for instance, the Vierdaagse has no clear policy or position paper on this, and it often remains to vague ideas or small projects. Luckily I'm not the only one acknowledging this. Indeed, the Vierdaagse stimulates reactions and suggestions for sustainability projects on their website by providing an email address which you can mail your answer to. So here it is.

In the light of the circular economy (see former blog), I have here some ideas, which were also mentioned in my former blog regarding the World Cup and Olympics. Off course, combinations and creative innovations can be part of this.

  1. Reduce, reuse and recycle (materials). For instance, reuse biodegradable cups and plates and use recycled materials for the tents.

  2. Use local and organic food and beverages, including the beer (Gulpener) in order to reduce the use of big companies, but while stimulating local economic growth and markets. 

  3. Use local labour and skills to stimulate the local economy.

  4. Use the excrement of the portable toilets, kitchen waste of food stands, and other organic waste for local energy generation (biogas, and maybe in the future, microbial fuel cells running on pee). The leftover can be used as a fertilizers for crops (see my former blog about Bioslurry and publication).

  5. Use part of the revenues of the festival tickets to invest in sustainability issues in and around the festival terrain.

  6. For every km a person walks during the march, it obtains money from its supporter, which can be invested in a local sustainability project in Nijmegen.

  7. Stands and festival tents can use solar panels for energy generation and use LED lights to enlighten the stand.

  8. Tents can use a portable biogas installation (container) to deliver the rest of the energy not being provided by solar panels, since when playing music, you don't want the risk of being cut off electricity at one point. The excrements from the portable toilets, the kitchen waste from the food stands, and other organic waste can feed the biodigester. This has to be investigated whether it is feasible in technical and economical terms, though there are examples of container biodigesters in Germany. And it would be an excellent possibility to showcase the circular economy at festivals.

  9. Reduce sound pollution. 

  10. Team up with UMEF: United Music Event Foundation for sustainable festivals.

  11. Let someone scan your organization with the Earth Charter Assessment and implement the suggestions. Currently, I do such scans together with Alide Roerink at different organizations, businesses, schools, and institutions. 

  12. Any other suggestions/comments? Please do share them! So I can share them (with your name) with the Vierdaagse organization.

In this way, a festival can have positive effects on social, ecological and economic terms during the festival, as well as thereafter in the community/city through the sustainability projects. We have to turn negative issues around into positive forces! 

So let's make Festivals a Party towards sustainability!

Roskilde Festival


Source: Youngmindz.nl


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