Superlatives always attach to Glastonbury: the biggest, the most iconic, the best. Glastonbury Festival has become a cultural beacon, an internationally recognised brand for the UK’s creativity, panache and grit. This means that it is in an exceptional position, not always comfortable, of carrying the expectations of millions to be brilliant. And in environmental terms this is an extraordinary opportunity which carries with it extraordinary challenges.
Sited on a farm in lovely Somerset hills the aesthetics of romantic nature have somehow become compatible with rock and roll. Glastonbury is the world’s biggest single regular donor to Greenpeace, and a supporter of many organisations – including Julie’s Bicycle – committed to social and climate issues, an indication of global and strategic intent towards improving environmental sustainability and a recognition of influence. Crucially closer to home, the family Eavis and the festival team are striving to address environmental impacts at all levels, from major infrastructure issues such as water treatment, renewable energy and fence storage to audience campaigns such as “Please take it home again”.
Through the Industry Green certification, Glastonbury has joined a growing community of UK festivals that are committed to scientific scrutiny and public accountability with regards to climate change and environmental damage. Glastonbury Festival has achieved 1 star Industry Green for the 2010 event.
For 2011, the sustainability team have identified a number of targets that aim to reduce the festival emissions by 10% in 2011. These targets are based on strategic interventions, which, if achieved, will set an important benchmark across the industry. Glastonbury is also actively championing the development of cross-industry initiatives such as the Power Providers’ Forum established by Julie’s Bicycle and Kambe Events.
Glastonbury Festival has a team of five people managing the sustainability of its operations across infrastructure, procurement, waste management and recycling, traffic management, audience behaviour and overall coordination of environmental initiatives.
The Festival’s long list of campaigns and initiatives designed to address its environmental impacts are outlined on its website. Highlights include:
- The “Love the farm, leave no trace” campaign ensures that all negative impacts on Worthy Farm are being minimised through a range of initiatives.
- In 2010 the farm installed 1500 square metres of solar panels expected to generate 200 kW of power for the offices, the farm and the farmhouse. There are now plans to expand renewable power sources and reduce the number of generators on site through power sharing and liaising with power providers to rationalise generator and circuit layout.
- The festival uses green tractors running on 100% biodiesel, and in 2011 is moving away from 4x4 vehicles towards electric golf buggies that will be recharged using the solar panels. The golf buggies will be used to drive around the site, for example to pick up all stallholder batteries for recharging.
- New in 2011, stallholders who buy their own portable solar panel kits for their stalls can recharge them using the solar panels at the farm and receive a reduced pitch fee for their stall at next year’s event.
- The festival’s official t-shirt is printed using water-based inks and vegetable dyes.
- All food waste produced buy traders on site is composted.
- All coffee, tea, sugar and chocolate on site is Fairtrade.
- All cutlery used is compostable or reusable, from FSC-certified wood or cardboard.
- All wooden structures are made using local recycled wood that is FSC-certified, which is dismantled and chipped following the event to be re-used around the farm.
- Waste generation is tackled by initiatives such as the “Please take it home again” campaign; it encourages festival-goers to pack up all their belongings and take them with them when they leave the festival. Festival-goers are also encouraged to bring in their own reusable water bottles to fill up at taps instead of buying bottled water.
- Furthermore the festival uses solar showers and composting toilets. It has invested money in the local sewage plants to reduce the distance sewage waste from the festival has to travel to be treated. It has also invested in a main pipe and two water reservoirs to reduce the haulage miles for water; now all of the water comes from the mains so there is no longer a need to truck water in from 10 miles, reducing a large number of truck journeys.
- The “Glastonbury Festival Green Traveller” has been created for the 2011 event to give incentives for people to travel by public transport such as sole access to solar showers, discount on meals, free yogurt and festival t-shirts. Cyclists in particular are also provided with a reserved camping field. During the 2010 event the management team also put pressure on Eve Trackway to store the fence within 3 miles of the site, at a suitable alternative site they located, when it had previously been stored at Maidenhead, a return trip of 373.4 miles!
- Glastonbury Festival is the world’s biggest single regular donor to Greenpeace and also supports Oxfam and Water Aid. It works hard to protect the local habitats and plants a large number of trees on a regular basis.
Towards the future
Glastonbury Festival has set a range of targets going forward, aiming to reduce the festival’s emissions by 10% for the 2011 event:
The festival aims to reduce the number of generators on site by:
- intelligently communicating with its power providers, infrastructure and area organisers (8% reduction);
- promoting power sharing, reducing the bunker bin orders and analysing festival infrastructure (1% reduction);
- increasing the number of renewables on site (2% reduction).
The volume of water being consumed will also be reduced by:
- decreasing the number of showers and bunker bins with showers on site (8% reduction);
- decreasing water pressure onsite (20% reduction);
- increasing the number of compost toilets (8% reduction).
The “Please take it home again” campaign will tackle waste to landfill through:
- Displaying images of the 2010 event on site to highlight the increasing cost of landfill tax alongside its environmental and economic implications (5% reduction).the “Glastonbury Festival Green Traveller” initiative (9% reduction)
Finally the number of cars travelling to the site will be tackled through:
- the “Glastonbury Festival Green Traveller” initiative (9% reduction);
- incentivising people to cycle by providing cyclists with an allocated camping field and the option to have their luggage transported (1% reduction);
- increasing the cost of car tickets by 50%.
The festival’s management team will also implement a “Switch off” campaign and encourage festival-goers travelling by car to check that their tyres are inflated to the right pressure to allow the car to run efficiently and burn less fuel. There are also plans to increase the amount of reserved camping to cover all ‘green travellers’ by 2013.