How festival land turned green

UK event organisers are leading the way in terms of staging eco-friendly events, and have hatched some inspired ideas

“We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap,” wrote author Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse-Five.

Well, there are a raft of music festivals trying their level, eco-friendly best to not "cheapen" or wreck our planet, most notably the Sunrise Celebration festival, which is the UK's leading sustainable event of its kind. Powered by 100 per cent sustainable energy, the gathering has been leading the way in innovative green technology since its inception seven years ago.

"The long-term vision of Sunrise is to have a farm and have a year-round eco centre," says Sunrise organiser Katherine Ritchie, who lives with the festival's creative director, Jake Ewen, in a small community outside Glastonbury. "We power everything with solar, live in a caravan and a cabin we built," she says. "And we collect our water from a spring."

In fact, a third of the core Sunrise team and a lot of the people who put on the music festival live off-grid. "So Sunrise isn't greenwash and that's what makes it different to the others," emphasises Ritchie. "Sunrise is powered on 100 per cent renewable energy, from solar, wind and bio diesel from recycled vegetable oil," she adds.

Sunrise are also the only large festival with site-wide compost toilets; they have a strict 80 per cent organic policy on all food and drink sold at the event; and they have comprehensive policies across the festival including a full disposable nappy programme, a UK first.

"We're working with Green Bottom to ensure that all nappy waste, as well as other sanitary products, are taken to a depot for turning into products such as roofing tiles," says Ritchie. "We expect it to reduce landfill waste by around 500kgs to one tonne over the festival."

However, hearteningly, Sunrise isn't alone as many of the slightly smaller, less corporate festivals are striving to be as green and ethical as possible; embracing the tree-hugging values of the original UK music festivals. For instance, Standon Calling is run 100 per cent on biodiesel, has composting loos and full waste recycling. All the packaging and containers from the caterers is made from special biogradeable material, and they offer reusable cups at all the bars with a 50p deposit, which helps avoids waste.

Then there's Northamptonshire's Shambala, which snaffled the Greener Festival gong at the UK Festival Awards last year, alongside numerous green awards over the past few months and years. "It's 100 per cent carbon neutral," says the event's organiser Chris Johnson. "We're 98 per cent powered by wind, sun and waste veg oil and we ensure free range, local and good quality food is served on site." Shambala, which is completely free from any kind of sponsorship branding, also emphasise that they subsidise coach travel as part of their sustainable transport strategy. Last year, 72 per cent of festivalgoers arrived in cars, 11 per cent came by coaches and an impressive 17 per cent arrived on the free biofuel shuttle bus, which is provided from the local train station.

The question of travel and carbon dioxide emission is an important one that many festivals are trying to desperately to embrace. Kent's Hop Farm festival, which has the ethos of "no sponsorship, no branding, no VIPs", have teamed up with the Big Green Coach company to ferry festivalgoers to the site.

Suffolk's Latitude, meanwhile, is promoting Tour de Latitude – a charity cycle trip to the site. Camp Bestival also has a charity ride – Bike to Bestival – which will take in a section of the London 2012 Olympic Road Race route before winding its way to the Isle of Wight. Lleucu Siencyn, chief executive of Literature Wales and an organiser for Wales' wildly diverse Dinefwr literature and music festival, expects "many festivalgoers from the local area to make their way down the sweeping driveway that leads up to the festival on foot, bicycle or maybe even on their roller skates."

Everywhere you look festivals are endeavouring to be more eco-friendly. For instance, No Direction Home, the new three-dayer established by the End of the Road organisers and set in the beautiful Welbeck Estate near Sheffield, have a few innovative ideas. "We're using low-energy technology such as lights with daylight sensors," says festival spokesman Seb Emina. "We have restrictions on fuel use, a good fair-trade policy and a company called Complete Wasters running our recycling who aim to get our landfill to just 30 per cent of waste."

"We also just pledged 20 trees to The festival's wood," Emina adds, "which is a great idea as in it's not an "offset scheme", but an actual, physical wild wood in Dunreggan, Scotland that festivals can donate to." So, in the words of CBeebies' lovely scientist Nina (Katrina Bryan), who is appearing alongside her Neurons at Cheltenham's Wychwood festival, it's time to "go eco": ditch the car, minimise your waste and, of course, enjoy the music...

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...