Festival season is here and as Collette McEntee packs her backpack and tent, she considers how festival goers and festival organisers can ensure an enjoyable experience, while at the same time not harming our planet.
Searching ‘Green Festivals in Ireland’ I come upon GreenHospitality.ie and GreenYourFestival.ie come up. Between them these initiatives linked up festivals such as Taste of Monaghan, Fleadh Cheoil na h-Eireann in Cavan, The Rose of Tralee. The nature of these festivals differ greatly to the 4 day field event I have in mind.
The GreenYourFestival.ie – an initiative of local authorities (LAPN) – seems from their website to have been wound up two years ago. Could this be an indication of a lack of ongoing support to ensure that festivals are not adversely impacting on the environment? Having said that it’s good to see that GreenHospitality.ie Programme is the hospitality, travel & tourism resource for sustainable and responsible tourism in Ireland.
Looking beyond Ireland I see that AGreenerFestival.com acts as an international umbrella to inform and guide organisers with their promotion and practice of ‘leave-no-trace’. AGreenerFestival.com is described as ‘a not-for-profit company committed to helping music and arts events and festivals around the world adopt environmentally efficient practices.’
For me; ‘green’ festivals conjure up images (and the scent) of saw dust/compost loos at festivals. At Electric Picnic (EP), my mother collected empty plastic pint containers for a spin of the reward wheel. And for some years at EP, you could be rewarded with a free t-shirt when you collected and disposed properly of a bag of used drink cans. A nice initiative but shouldn’t we be cleaning up after ourselves anyway without the pat on the back?
‘Plastics do not biodegrade. Instead they photodegrade — they break down under exposure to the sun’s rays.’ – Upworthy, Sara Critchfield
Walking from your tent to the arena, you’ll meet many plastic pint containers, cutlery, Styrofoam holders, cans, phones, clothing, cans, bottles – the list is endless. Harking back to a recent Transition Monaghan article about Responsible Travel, we should employ similar practices as we would in our own homes. Even more so because we’re in a field, immersed in the habitats of thousands of creatures!
You can be/are a conscious camper if you do simple things like carry your own reusable bottles to refill your water/alcohol and a Keep Cup for coffee/tea, avoid the use of disposable cutlery, plates, products and packaging, reuse your towel, shower once a day and the list goes on (although you won’t need to worry about the latter two..!)
BODY AND SOUL
Many festivals have sustainable practices in place but how far that filters down to those at the event, on the field, is something we can’t accurately measure. Body & Soul (B&S) in Co Meath has an impressive sustainable strategy online. In it they claim, “When it comes to sustainability, Body&Soul is dedicated to being a leading light in the Irish festival scene” – B&S would indeed be one of the more notable green field festivals in Ireland. For a large festival, B&S certainly waves the green flag loud and proud. I have stayed in their eco ‘Us&You’ campsite where campers are expected to leave with what they bring.
Tents and the additional camping paraphernalia are a major issue at some festivals. People leave so much behind and as B&S Festival director points out. It’s largely due to how cheap camping gear is now with tents costing only €20. Believe me, I know it can be tough on the Monday morning of a long festival weekend, but we need to cooperate with the planet and stop living disposable lifestyles. It’s harmful to earth and our bank balances.
LEAVE NO TRACE
At the upcoming Carrickmacross Arts Festival from 10th to 13th August, Conan Connolly of Transition Monaghan will be the festival’s Environment/Sustainability Officer. He also plans to have a transition/permaculture event at the festival. A designated Environment / Sustainability officer is a role that probably every festival should have on their Committee.
Whatever festival we plan to go to, our visit drips back into the environment…literally and figuratively! For travel to / from festivals, carpooling or buses are recommended. We need to be mindful of what we bring, our impact while there and what we’re leaving behind – ensuring that we ‘leave no trace’, apart from happy memories!
A link to events on in June and July can be found here