- 34 festivals and events across 12 countries awarded the prestigious Greener Festival Award
- First ever winners The Greener Event Award, launched in 2017.
- Awards presented at Eurosonic Noorderslag, Netherlands.
We work on the principle that every person drinks at least 1 bottle of water. One bottle is half a litre. So for a 10,000 capacity festival we are looking at least at 5,000 litres. At Electric Daisy, with 145,000 attendees, we poured roughly 1 million bottles: or 500,000 litres of water over 3 days.
Rocking the Daisies took place last weekend. This South African festival has been promoting sustainability since its inception. Craig Bright and Brian Little have been building the festival over the last decade. In January this year they gave an interview to South Africa's Entrepreneur Magazine. An interview every aspiring event planner should read. You can read the article here.
To get an overview of what sustainable event management means for Rocking the Daisies you should read the article from BizCommunity. The article provides a great overview of the festival's sustainable initiatives. I hope these initiatives will inspire you!
Together with the Event Safety Institute in the Netherlands I am organising a two-day workshop about Sustainable Event Management. It will take place in Holland on the 18th and 19th of January and yes, it will be in Dutch.
This workshop is for event planners, festival organisers, event suppliers, and event licensors. The aim of the workshop is to provide you the tools to make your organisation and your events more sustainable.
You can find more information here. All info is in Dutch but feel free to contact me of you have any questions.
The Sustainable Events Summit will take place on Monday 21 November. According to Conference News the summit will take place at 30 Euston Square in London. You can read the full article here.
This conference will present the findings of a research study about how global brands view sustainability.
Early bird tickets cost £130 + VAT and standard tickets go for £160 (+ VAT). You can find more info on www.sustainableeventssummit.com.
In a waste management plan you identify how you will deal with waste and the different waste streams at your event. There are different forms of waste. You can think of rubbish, air pollution, noise pollution, soil pollution, and sewage. When creating a good waste plan you should look at the layout and logistics of your event site.
Jakob De Proft has written this week’s blog for The Event Tutor. Jakob lives next door to one of Europe’s biggest music festivals, Rock Werchter, in Belgium. The number of tents left behind at this festival each year inspired him to create the most eco-friendly tent ever made. This is Jakob’s blog about the Fling Tent.
Last weekend I was at Bonnaroo music and arts festival in Tennessee. A great festival and with 80,000 people also an impressive undertaking. I was there to conduct a survey asking people how 'green' they think the festival is. Managed to collect 300 surveys. That's a lot considering it was boiling hot. Seriously, HOT! Did some filming on Sunday and it looks like my head is about to explode....
Like at Lightning in a Bottle people were up for participating in the survey. People really took their time to answer all the questions and quite often started to talk about the green initiatives at Bonnaroo and other festivals. Based on these observations people do care whether a festival has implemented green initiatives or not. That's encouraging! Obviously, the real data comes later this year.
One of the festival attendees I spoke to was collecting cigarette butts in a small plastic bag. She had to hand in a full bag of butts and in return she'd receive a freebie: t-shirt, free meals, or tickets. This is an initiative from Clean Vibes, the company in charge of cleaning the festival site. Loads of people were collecting cigarette butts. Amazing initiative! I did come across these little thing. Another great initiative. Pocket Ashtrays...
After filling out the survey one guy came running after me telling me that too many people throw their trash on the ground. "Can you tell the organisation that more needs to be done about that?" Passionate people, we need more of them...
A tour of the festival grounds by Laura, the sustainability coordinator, really shows that the organisation has sustainability integrated into their management. A great festival with some amazing green initiatives.
The results of the survey will be ready later this year. The online survey is still live so please visit www.eventtutor.com/survey. And help me out!
Meanwhile I'm in the process of moving out of my current apartment. My time in San Francisco, and America, is coming to an end. Back to England for me. But before I go I'm doing one more survey. Next weekend it's San Francisco Pride weekend and I'm conducting a demographic research study. And that's the last survey this year... I think.
Until next time.
Last weekend I, in my blue shorts and t-shirt, was at Lightning in a Bottle and it really was an amazing experience! The creativity on display is absolutely amazing. From teapots in which you can relax to the stage structures, it all looked really impressive. None of the tents had walls, everything was open and yet, it felt as though you were ‘inside’. The best stage was the Woogie stage: a stage wrapped around a tree with the tree lit up. Mesmerizing! Loved it!
Last Saturday the Dutch community in San Francisco (USA) celebrated their national holiday, Kingsday. The Dutch celebrate the birthday of King Willem Alexander with parties and events. A small family festival was organised in Golden Gate Park. Dutch food, Dutch music, Heineken and a lot of Dutch people...
Green Mary and Sol Solutions were contracted to make the event more sustainable. Orange goes green so to speak. Sol Solutions is the provider of portable solar power generators and at Dutch Kingsday they powered the DJ-stage. I've interviewed Sephyr Peling from Sol Solutions and asked him how it all works.
For more information about sustainable event management or workshops in greening your event visit www.eventtutor.com.
I've just finished a Skype conversation with someone from Sheltercare. Sheltercare is a Belgian company producing sustainable tents for, among others, festival goers. The company is born out of the realisation that so many tents are left behind at festival sites. At European festivals this tent dumping is a real problem.
Pictures of the 2013 edition of Reading Festival in England showing the vast amount of waste left behind at the festival site went viral. Outcry followed but it's pretty much the same at other festivals worldwide. Festival attendees, tired after several days partying, look at their tent and think: it's a cheap tent, I'm tired, and I can't be bothered to break it down and bring it all the way back home. Let's leave it!
The assumption is that the festival will clean it up. After all you paid a lot of money for your ticket so surely they can afford someone to clean it up. You see the same attitude in cinemas. People buy a gallon of coke and a bucket of popcorn. Once the movie has finished people get up and leave the buckets behind making sure Hans & Gretel can use the popcorn on the floor to find their way out of the theatre. After all, you paid for the ticket so someone else can clean your mess.
But if that is the attitude than surely that attitude changes when people visit a festival organised by a non-profit? Not really. Last year I worked at San Francisco Pride. A not-for-profit organisation that is well known here in the Bay Area. Last year the event welcomed almost one million people. That's a lot of people and also a lot of waste. A lot of waste is created by sponsors handing out gadgets wrapped in plastic or cardboard. The audience likes getting stuff for free so they accept the gadgets. Once they had a good look at it, they throw it away. Not in a bin. Bins are overflowing with waste already anyway. So on the floor it is. It makes the festival site look like a mess (let alone a safety issue). Not what the organisation had in mind and surely also not what a festival attendee wants?!
So is it 'green fatigue'? I guess it comes down to the psychology of the attendees. If something is already a mess you don't feel guilty for littering. After all you didn't start it, you just did what all the others are doing. Right... But still someone started it and must have thought that is was okay to do so. So what can we do to change that attitude?
Millennials are not as green minded as they say they are, according to a 2013 research study from DDB Worldwide. They don't recycle as much as baby boomers for example. But interestingly they do feel that an individual can make a difference.
Can festivals promote their cleaning activities to an individual rather than a crowd? I think they can. Make it a personal issue! Perhaps they can promote the benefits of their waste program to their audience. How they deal with waste and why they want to reduce the amount of waste collected needs to be communicated. What is it that a festival wants to achieve with their waste management program? A cleaner site, more pleasant environment for attendees, a safer place, sustainable motives? Whatever the goals are they need to be communicated to the audience in easy to understand messages. And for crying out loud make it easy for your attendees to actually do what you want them to do. Your average Joe doesn't know the difference between biodegradable plates, recyclable plates, and those plasticky looking plates. Is that plastic? Don't give them a reason to get 'green fatigue'.
As far as the audience goes they need to understand that their behaviour has a price tag attached to it. Someone has to pay for cleanup and a festival organisation will recoup the money somewhere; most likely your ticket price. No one likes to sit on a waste dump so try to keep the festival site (relatively) clean. I hope you agree with me so why do you litter when you're at a festival site? Don't tell me you're too wasted (...) to think about it.
So, this summer we'll all pick up the cr*p we've created when at a festival site. We promise to throw everything in the bins provided and we promise to take our tents back home with us so we can reuse them again. And again! Let's start a culture change. Somehow I need to think of the South Koreans who made it to the semi final in the 2002 football World Cup. Huge crowds gathered to watch the game and afterwards they made sure they took all their stuff with them, leaving behind a clean place. So perhaps we need a Korean approach at festivals: a change of culture!
Over the years festivals have launched initiatives such as 'love your tent', 'leave no trace', and 'pack it in, pack it out'. Great initiatives but the real struggle is to convince the audience to participate. Let's hope 2015 will be the year that we start loving our tent and we pack it in and out so that we don't leave a trace. Please!
California is in a drought. No rain and not enough snow. Hardly any snow fell on the Sierras this winter and, as it is spring already, not a lot more snow is expected. Hence governor Jerry Brown's statement last week that California is more or less running on its water reserves and that we, the residents, need to cut down our water usage. The idea is to cut overall water consumption by 25%. Fair point, I thought. Do-able as well for the Stegeman-Sheard household.
But how bad is it really? California has been in a four year drought. Normally it relies on snowfall in the Sierras and the water coming from that should get the rest of the State through the summer. Besides the lack of snow it also doesn't really rain in California. Already at the beginning of March I received an email from a ski resort near Lake Tahoe that they were closing for the season. Normally they close at the end of April. Go figure...
Residents will have to rethink how they're using water. That made me wonder how Californian festivals will deal with the drought. It's tricky to come up with an exact figure for water usage per person at a festival. How much water is used depends on where and when an event is taking place. It depends on the weather, the nature of the event, and on the audience. According to research done in 2009 by Stew Denny, a former student of mine, it was estimated that a visitor at Glastonbury Festival (UK) used about 13 liters of water per day. That's almost 3.5 gallons of water per person per day.
So let's have a quick look at some festivals: Coachella (90,000 visitors per day), Lightning in a Bottle (15,000 visitors), and Bottle Rock (120,000 visitors) are only 3 of the many festivals here in California about to kick off the festival season. That's a lot of water... The key thing is that festivals need to look at how they can minimize their water usage. Lightning in a Bottle actively communicates to its audience their sustainable intentions. Some great ideas have also been implemented at several other festivals here in the USA. From faucet monitors to shower fairies and from dry showers to dishwashing programs, there are some great ideas out there.
Are festival attendees aware how much water is used at festivals and do they know what happens to 'non drinking water'. You know, the water used at showers, the production area, the staff kitchen, toilets, food stalls, bars. They all use water or they produce some form of water (sewage for example). It might be a good time for festivals to start creating awareness among their audiences about water usage at festivals.
Earlier this year The Huffington Post published a story that carried the title 'ecstasy levels spike in rivers near major music festival in Taiwan'. Turns out that traces of xtc, ketamine, and caffeine found their way into the soil and river near the festival site. The effects on local wildlife are yet unknown. Think about that next time you squat behind some bushes. On their website Glastonbury Festival is asking their attendees to please use toilets and not to pee on the ground as it will increase toxic levels of the water table. So there you have it... potty training done by festivals.
Meanwhile in Belgium they came up with something new. In 2014 Rock Werchter festival in Belgium introduced an onsite water treatment station. Unique in the world! This mobile water treatment unit collects sanitary and other wastewater the festival has produced in a holding basin. Within the basin the water is filtered and separated from the waste. All of it is done in a biological manner. A great initiative!
This week I've published an e-book. Event Management: Your Environmental Plan. It covers water usage at festivals as well. Coincident? I think not!
The forecast is for rain tomorrow. Let's hope it actually rains this time... I think we need it.