Reviews and comment from the Demon Crew - creative writers at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Greening festivals

With the festival sector becoming one of the most talked about topics in recent years, it was fitting that De Montfort University's Cultural eXchanges Festival was host to a talk on the sustainability of such events.

With the economy at fault for many smaller festivals lacking the resources to keep running, a large amount are forced to close down. Paradoxically, the larger festivals such as Glastonbury and Reading/Leeds are booming, with a price rise of roughly 15% each year, yet selling out all the same.

The focus of this talk was Green and environmental issues with regards to outdoor festivals, and whether or not such problems could be putting these events at risk.

Included on the panel of speakers was Ben Challis, a founding member of the Greener Festival Awards. His scheme to recognise the efforts of festivals around Europe towards the goal of increasing efficiency has proved very successful so far, with much improvement by the majority of festivals that have joined in with the campaign. Still, Challis conceded that the uphill battle has only just begun.

He also claimed that the most recent objective has been to work with festival attendees as much as organisers through schemes such as Love Your Tent. A common misconception is that tents left on festival sites at the end of a weekend are recycled or given to charities. The truth is that it is often impossible to do either, especially when the tents in question are damaged.

Chris Johnson of Shambala Festival chose to focus on power and CO2. He claimed that the cost of power is one of the main reasons that smaller festivals are struggling.

A question and answers session brought up more issues of efficiency. One audience member asked whether we can really be efficient at festivals, as they are a time of celebration and having a good time rather than cutting back. Challis answered that whereas there is a minority of festival goers who are almost anti-environmental in their actions, most people at festivals are either conscious of such matters or open to persuasion.

In a debate way too expansive for so short a space of time, the panel could be forgiven for only scratching the surface of the topic, yet their knowledge was more than enough to make for an intriguing hour.

Jack Arkell

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