Sunrise Celebration is a festival organised around the values of sustainability and permaculture, and the organisers have implemented a range of low-carbon initiatives which support their green credentials. Their team have developed a comprehensive sustainability policy for 2010, and proudly communicate their achievements through a dedicated section of the festival website.
The list of green achievements is sizeable, but perhaps most impressive is Sunrise's commitment to alternative energy. In order to reduce its environmental impact Sunrise generates electricity from solar and wind power, with biodiesel generators (and pedal-power!) providing back-up when necessary. Furthermore the organisers have teamed up with renewable energy provider Good Energy, and are working to install permanent wind turbines on the site. A stated aim to reduce dependence on biodiesel also saw the creation of their 2010 Energy Efficiency Challenge, which challenged traders to reduce energy usage by 20% and make a switch to renewables.
Steps have also been taken to minimise the amount of waste sent to landfill, with traders required to supply completely recyclable cutlery, plates and glasses. Festival-goers are provided with portable ashtrays and separate waste bags upon entry, along with a informational leaflets on what can be composted and recycled. Across the site are Natural Event composting toilets, complete with unbleached soap and recycled toilet paper. These eliminate the water and chemical treatments required for conventional portaloos, while also leaving behind a host of satisfied customers.
The pollution generated from audience travel is always the largest source of a festival's emissions, and one of the hardest to improve upon. However Sunrise Celebration have developed a range of initiatives to encourage a shift away from driving, from the 'Lemon Bus' run entirely from waste vegetable oil, to lift-sharing schemes and parking charges. Furthermore this year saw contestants entering into a 'Wacky Races' competition, to design and arrive at the festival in a low-carbon vehicle. With lifetime festival tickets, luxury accommodation and gadgets from Good Energy to be won, Sunrise Celebration found a way to communicate the issue of audience travel in an engaging, fun and highly visible manner. The Sunrise ethos of leading-by-example even extends to having locally sourced supplies delivered by horse and cart!
It is encouraging to see festivals which take the principles of sustainability into the heart of their operations and promote a positive message to those who attend. The festival organisers recognise that any event of this size will inevitably create a negative environmental impact, but have chosen to tackle this issue in a manner that is engaging, educational and most importantly, fun.
The team behind Sunrise Celebration are also responsible for creating Off-Grid, a smaller event now held annually in Somerset. The aim of this intimate festival is to provide a space for participatory interaction and community building, around a strong theme of low-impact holistic living and environmental sustainability. Here practical workshops on self-sufficiency run alongside a solar cinema, and healing centres offer a spiritual interlude between lectures on green technology and site-wide team games.