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The Show Will Go On

We did it! Yesterday, 17th July, with generous funding from supporters of the vision for sustainable events, we successfully raised £28,665 in 40 days to fund the Festival Vision: 2025 campaign. Exceeding our funding target secures the publication of a new Show Must Go On report, and signals the UK festival and event industry’s ambition to tackle environmental impacts. 

Work starts in earnest on the new The Show Must Go On Report, and the report will launch at an industry event in December, with limited edition printed report and a free downloadable version on the new online ‘Vision2025 Knowledge Hub’ providing comprehensive, practical resources and advice. 

Ahead of the report’s launch Powerful Thinking will be hosting the third annual Festival Vision:2025 conference at The Showman’s Show on the 16thOctober; a chance to learn more about the Vision, meet the experts who’ll be writing and researching the report, and event organisers and suppliers who are leading the way in sustainable practices. This is the 3rdannual edition of the Vision event and for the first year it is open to all delegates to The Showman’s Show as well as to event organisers who have committed to cutting their impacts by 50% by 2025 with Vision 2025. 

The appetite for the project reflects the industry’s commitment to taking responsibility for cutting environmental impacts. Initiatives launched over this season and last year show the dramatic shift towards more sustainable event management across the UK, with events working together and taking their audiences, suppliers and artists with them in their journey.  

Get in touch with bethan@powerful-thinking.org.ukto book your place or sign up to Powerful Thinking newsletter for programme updates for the Festival Vision: 2025 conference at The Showman’s Show: www.powerful-thinking.org.uk/sign-up

99.3% of tents taken home from Glastonbury 2019

Event Sustainability Becomes HOT TOPIC in Press: Early Season Round Up

It’s been an amazing summer for event sustainability in the national and international press. In case you missed it:

The UK event industry press have also embraced the topic:

  • Standout Magazine started a monthly Green Column in 2019, and launched The Green Series videos online. 
  • Insider Insights is running a Sustainable Summer Series, in which they dedicate half their monthly output to guidance on decreasing the environmental impact of festivals. 

To stay up to date with all the latest event sustainability news sign up to the Powerful Thinking Newsletter: www.powerful-thinking.org.uk/sign-up

Muddy festival

Meet the Festival Vision: 2025 Team: Steve Taylor on water…

Steve Taylor is an environmentalist and economic development advisor who specialises in developing and implementing sustainability projects. Well known for his work with music festivals, he has been Sustainability Manager for events such as T in the Park, Lake of Stars Festival Malawi, Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games Festival 2014 and Stornoway’s HebCelt festival, securing Greener Festival awards for each event. Steve will be heading up the Water chapter in the new Show Must Go On report – part of Festival Vision:2025. You can help fund the project at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/festivalvision2025

Encourage festivalgoers to drink water, but don’t waste it!

For some festivals there may be access to a water main. Scotland’s T in the Park had one installed as part of the development of their new site at Strathallan in 2015 and this enabled a series of standpipes to be installed where festival goers could fill reusable bottles with free water. Taps were push types with evidence showing that while a 3 second flow with ‘automatic turn off’ works well in bathrooms, the ‘hold in’ type work better at standpipes. If bottles are being filled from standpipes, the tap should not flow after the bottle is full so a push on/release off type is better than the 3 second flow type. This prevents not just wastage but spillage to ground causing mudpools. 

Where water mains are not available, festivalgoers are increasingly encouraged to bring their own bottled water. While plastic water bottles were popular in the past the drive to reduce single use plastic has made these unsuitable but many festivals now encourage the use of reusable water cups/bottles. One of the best schemes is run by FRANK water at numerous festivals. They provide unlimited free refills of chilled filtered water to anyone who buys one of their reusable bottles. Health and Safety may oppose stainless steel bottles on the grounds they might be a weapon so event mangers need to be aware of the nature of their audience before specifying bottle type.

Onsite water covers not only drinking water but water for toilets, washbasins and perhaps showers. Water use can be saved through utilising grey water. Toilets can be flushed with grey water from showers or primed with harvested rainwater, while compostable toilets eliminate water demand providing a potentially massive saving of water.   

Too dry / too wet, and we can’t control the weather

In the UK we’re used to rain and a wet weekend at a festival. But some years it may be too dry! Dust can be created at levels that exceed health and safety limits, especially during the build period when heavy vehicles may help generate dust particles. Site roads can be damped with sprayed water to reduce dust nuisance, but this may have to be cleared with the environmental regulator first, especially if it involves water abstraction from a local river. But in very wet years, even the best drainage might fail if the water table is too high and there’s nowhere for standing water to drain away to.

The best organised festivals understand how their drainage is likely to act before the event starts. Many Scottish festivals, used to heavy rainfall, monitor the rainfall on (or near) site for four weeks beforehand. Comparing this to historical rainfall data for the area (usually by checking rainfall records for the past 20 years) will let organisers know if they are in a wet, medium or dry year. Or a very wet year. If its very wet (higher rainfall than three quarters of the previous 20 years) then drainage will probably fail, and a contingency based on pumping water off site may be needed. Again permission may be needed from the environmental regulator to find a suitable location to eject gulped water as it could effectively create a new lake. Water can be gulped and moved by a waste water lorry, so remember to keep one clean for this purpose if you’re encountering a very wet year!

Protecting our water courses

With so many festivals taking place in our beautiful countryside, we’re all keen on the mantra of leave no trace, but this doesn’t just apply to clearing waste and litter. It also means protecting our water courses from sewage, litter, and festival goers urinating in streams. With the Environment Agency successfully prosecuting a major festival in 2015 for polluting a local river, promoters should be more aware. But…. A recent survey asking festival organisers about conservation measures, only 2% of the responses considered water conservation. And returning to that prosecution, the river recorded ammonia levels over 60 times greater than allowable limits, leading to extensive fish kill.  

Finally control of the products we use can help our water management. Eco friendly cleaning products reduce the need for high volume dilution, water conditioning can minimise detergent requirements while foam soap needs less water than gel based products – and generally is likely to have lower levels of microplastics.”

Check out the Festival Vision:2025 crowdfunder campaign video below to see how you can support the festival industry to come together around a vision of sustainable events – researching best practices and innovations and creating up-to-date resources, like The Show Must Go On edition 2, to help event organisers cut their environmental impacts: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/festivalvision2025

Waste food

Meet the Festival Vision: 2025 Team: Mark Laurie, Lead on Food & Drink

“ Food that costs the Earth… “

Mark Laurie is a director of the Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS), the industry body for Festival and Street-Food caterers and part of the Steering Group for Powerful Thinking. Inspired by the Green Traders awards at Glastonbury in 2011 & 2012, Mark and NCASS worked with the SRA (Sustainable Restaurant Association) to develop the UK’s first sustainability training course for festival caterers on behalf of NCASS. Since 2015 Mark has developed the 8th Plate Food Waste Project which diverts usable food waste, that would have gone to landfill, from festivals to charities helping people living in food poverty. Mark will be heading up the Food & Drink chapter in the new Show Must Go On report – part of Festival Vision:2025. Here he explains why food is costing us the earth…

“The food industry generates a quarter of all global GHG emissions making it an essential part of the fight to limit global warming and climate change. Around half of all food produced globally goes to waste. Transportation, single use packaging, water use, de-forestation, land degradation waste are all areas of concern that will need to be addressed very soon if we are to avoid the worst of climate change. The temporary nature of festivals can compound the problem with short selling windows leading to post event waste, over supply of food and a disposable culture. Food should be the low hanging fruit of the climate fight. Greater efficiencies, awareness and cultural change both from business and consumers can help us to reduce our impact and overcome hunger. One in 8 people in the world goes hungry every day but half of the food produced globally is wasted.

The food chapter of the new edition Show Must Go On report will look at the impact of the food industry at events on the environment, identifying areas where events can have an impact, often at neutral cost or better. We aim to show how festivals can limit the environmental impact of food provision for their events, including caterer sourcing, single use packaging, food waste and water while inspiring change in the habits of their customers. “      

Check out the Festival Vision:2025 crowdfunder campaign to see how you can support the festival industry to come together around a vision of sustainable events – researching best practices and innovations and creating up-to-date resources, like The Show Must Go On edition 2, to help event organisers cut their environmental impacts: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/festivalvision2025

Cambridge Folk Festival: Measuring and tackling travel impacts

Cambridge Folk Festival has been running since 1965, it takes place in July and has a capacity of 14,000. As part of their commitment to sustainability they have taken the Festival Vision:2025 pledge to cut environmental impacts by 50% by 2025. Here their environmental consultant Liz Warwick talks about how they have focused on reducing the carbon emissions from audience, crew and supplier travel. 

“Held in urban green parks, Cambridge Folk Festival is close to bus routes serving the train and main coach/bus stations and the City centre. To promote audience use of public transport we offer a free bus pass for the return trip from the stations and a free shuttle bus between the campsite and festival. As we’re not far from the city a significant number of attendees walk or cycle with plenty of cycle spaces provided. 

For the last few years the Festival has built up a social media/ communications campaign and enhanced internal processes to promote eco awareness, including sustainable travel, actively promoting public transport, car share options available and locating nearby electric vehicle charging points.

In 2019 Cambridge is partnering with Tuned In Travel, a specialist travel operator, to offer dedicated coaches and minibuses to cut down on individual car use. The Folk Festival is also partnering with Energy Revolution to offer the audience the opportunity to carbon balance their journey miles. 

We closely monitor and record the impacts of transport to pinpoint areas we need to tackle – each year new ideas for increasing sustainable travel at Cambridge Folk Festival are reviewed and put into action.

Recent detailed transport measurement and analysis has shown:

  • Car use at 60% (down from 74%) 
  • Staff and contractor car passes decreased by one third by encouraging car share and low carbon travel.
  • Traders’ and caterers’ travel emissions reduced by 30% over 2 years due to the actively selecting more local suppliers – saving over 2 tonnes CO2e.
  • Car share at about 4% of audience travel.
  • 10% audience walking and nearly 7% cycling.
  • Public transport used by 11% of the audience

Check out the Festival Vision:2025 crowdfunder campaign to see how you can support the festival industry to come together around a vision of sustainable events – helping more organisers cut their environmental impacts and share best practices, resources and innovations: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/festivalvision2025

The Vision2025 event at the Showmans Show 2019

Vision:2025 Session to return to The Showman’s Show in 2019

The annual Festival Vision: 2025 session returns to the Showman’s Show on Wednesday 16th October 2019

The session is a chance for event organisers to get inspired, share experiences and meet innovative suppliers. This year for the first time the event will be open to events who are not yet signed up to the Festival Vision: 2025 pledge – through which over 70 events have pledged to am to reduce their CO2 impacts by 50% by 2025.  

This year’s program includes sessions such as ‘The Future of Food’, which will explore food waste, understanding the supply chain and sharing inspirational examples from the season. Additional topics on the table currently include the circular economy, insights on waste management practices and an industry briefing on innovations in energy management with the full program set to be revealed in early September.

Participants can also expect an exclusive preview of some of the new Show Must Go On Report findings and insights from the festival season with panellists presenting initiatives from a number of well-known UK events.

Once again, the three shortlisted exhibitors of the Green Supplier & Innovation award, co-founded by Energy Revolution’s founding organisation, Powerful Thinking, and The Showman’s Show, will be invited to present their sustainable products and services to the event organisers in attendance in a Dragon’s Den style format. 

In addition, there will be networking opportunities over a sustainable lunch and drinks reception at the end of the day. 

Chris Johnson, Chair of Powerful Thinking says: “The Vision:2025 event at The Showman’s Show has proven to be a great success over the last few years. We’re looking forward to returning this year with another set of interesting topics, bringing together organisers and suppliers and sparking some lively debate.”

Email: bethan@powerful-thinking.org.uk if you’d like to attend. 

Coach travel to events can save CO2

The Festival Vision: 2025 Team: Liz Warwick, on TRAVEL & TRANSPORT

Liz Warwick is an environmental consultant who has specialised in providing environmental and energy advice to businesses and events since 2008. She is passionate about promoting climate change policy and reducing impacts and will be heading up the Travel chapter in the new Show Must Go On report – part of Festival Vision:2025 – a project to help events cut impacts by 50% by 2025.  Liz works with clients such as Cambridge Folk Festival, Fully Charged Live and Sony Pictures Entertainment to improve environmental performance. Reductions in energy and travel emissions are of particular interest; Liz is trustee of festival travel charity Energy Revolution and has undertaken detailed research on festival travel emissions.

“The time to change habits is now. To stop jumping in our cars and driving down the road burning fossil fuels. To stop adding to road congestion. To stop polluting the air.

Combustion engines are on their way out and will be replaced over the next 15-20 years with cleaner, smarter vehicles. But existing vehicles in the meantime are still busy adding greenhouse gases and poisonous fumes to our environment.

We want to help drive the behavioural change required. To offer new ideas and alternatives.  Let’s limit the number of journeys we make and change the way we view our vehicles as convenient transport. Not just travelling to festivals but every day. A climate emergency has been declared and this calls for urgent action to target net zero emissions. Governments, car manufacturers and the tech industry all recognise that vehicles and fuels need to be cleaner but that alone won’t help in the short to medium term. We all have a responsibility to change our travel patterns to limit carbon and pollution. Most cars being driven on the road don’t meet the emission standards or carbon targets published by manufacturers and some are 6 times higher in testing. Yes, the manufacturers should pay for rectifications and upgrade existing stock – but that’s probably a pipe dream and everyone on the planet should be invested in promoting a more sustainable way of life.

Travelling to a festival and living away from home for a few days can mean needing to bring a lot of kit and it seems inconvenient to not use our comfy cars. But let’s be creative and lead the way, travel on this earth lighter and question where we can make a difference.

The festival industry is pioneering innovative alternatives and schemes. We want to help everyone to understand that carbon reductions can be made through low carbon partnerships, engagement, incentives and new visionary policies.”

Check out the Festival Vision:2025 crowdfunder campaign to see how you can support the festival industry to come together around a vision of sustainable events – researching best practices and innovations and creating up-to-date resources, like The Show Must Go On edition 2, to help event organisers cut their environmental impacts: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/festivalvision2025

“Where does it all end up?” Greenbelt tackle festival waste

Greenbelt is a weekend festival of ‘arts, faith and justice’ that has been running since 1974. The team has strong commitment to creating an environmentally sustainable festival – and have taken the Festival Vision:2025 pledge to cut their environmental impacts by 50% by 2025. In this blog Mary Corfield, sustainability lead for the event, talks about their mission to tackle festival waste – a journey that started with the crucial question: Where does it all end up?

Building a festival is a wonderful thing, but the process of turning green fields into a beautiful site and then back again involves stuff, lots and lots of stuff. Then the festival ends and everyone goes home…leaving the stuff behind.

The key moment for us at Greenbelt came when we started asking the right question: Where does it all end up? It is a big question, and if you ask it post festival when faced with mountains of things, it might seem overwhelming. You have to ask it at the beginning, before you buy things, because it radically alters what you buy, where from, how you engage with the traders and caterers on your site, your crew and even your festival goers. Ask it and keep asking it. It makes all the difference, as hopefully some of the examples below will show…

Re-usable pint glasses: We made the decision for our bars to have re-usable pint cups several years ago. In 2019 20,000 of them went through our bars and then back to the supplier for re-use. Making this switch has already saved us from using  more than 100,000 disposable pint glasses. 

Compostable Packaging:All our caterers are required to use only fully compostable packaging, whether plates, bowls, cups, stirrers or cutlery. This means festivalgoers can put it straight into our food waste bins when they’re done, whether they licked the plate clean or it is still half full of noodles.

Banning single use plastic bottles:Asking our caterers to switch to selling soft drinks in cans and upping the amount of free water refills around site radically reduced the amount of plastic waste at the festival. Our festivalgoers are now used to carrying refillable water bottles with them, a habit lots of them have carried on into their daily lives.  

Eco-Glitter:Everyone loves to sparkle at a festival, but regular glitter is essentially just microplastic. Our Sparkle Squad use only eco-glitter, made from cellulose. Our festivalgoers shimmer just as brightly and in fact more of them pay for glitter now they know it is plastic free. Glitter beard anyone?

Waste Providers:The key to upping your recycling is working with your waste providers. We reduced the size of the holes on our bin toppers so that festivalgoers couldn’t just throw things in from a distance. That meant they were much more likely to read the bins and so put waste in the correct one, aiding recycling.

Bin Fairies: Our team of Bin Fairies are always on hand to help people be confident in which bin to use. We know for instance that festivalgoers often assume compostable cutlery must be plastic, so reminding them that it isn’t means much more of the compostable packaging ends up in the food waste bin, which is exactly where we want it to go.

Festival signage:Like most festivals we have different themes and artworks each year. However all our key event signs for places like car parks and campsite are made to last. They don’t have short-term logos on them and they are made of metal, designed to cope with whatever the UK weather throws at them.

Food Waste:Campers love the idea of cooking but get drawn in to using food vans instead, leaving lots of uneaten supplies in their tents. We collect it as they leave the campsite, donating it all to a local foodbank – several tonnes of it.

New for 2019, will be food waste collections from our traders! All unsold food supplies will be collected by The Real Junk Food Project, taken away and turned into meals for those who most need them.

Sofas:We have sofas in a few locations on site. We buy them in from a local charity shop, boosting their funds, and then donate them to another local charity who uses them for those in greatest need. It takes a little planning and coordination, and we always choose sofas that are easily cleaned in case of a wet festival, but it means we have comfortable furniture where we need it, at affordable prices, without waste.

Upcycle Vibing:We upcycle endlessly in our site vibing. Wood that is part of a stage set one year may be in a sculpture the next, the same with fabrics, lighting etc. Key to all of this is the team thinking about how they will remove it post event as they are installing it, so it can be stored away safely ready for the next transformation.

Carpets: Taking soggy carpets with muddy footprints on them and throwing them away post event has always been something we hated seeing. So, we’ve found a carpet recycling facility, and as our waste management teams head off site taking thing to the local recycling facility, they will also be delivering all of our carpets to be turned into a new product.

Check out the Festival Vision:2025 crowdfunder campaign to see how you can support the festival industry to come together around a vision of sustainable events – helping more organisers cut their environmental impacts and share best practices, resources and innovations:  www.crowdfunder.co.uk/festivalvision2025

The Festival Vision: 2025 Crowdfunder is LIVE!

The Festival Vision:2025 Crowdfunder is now live, 11th June 2019! The campaign invites everyone in the events industry to be part of an ambitious strategy toward a sustainable events industry.

The Festival Vision:2025 crowdfunding campaign, launched by not-for-profit group Powerful Thinking, gives the whole live events industry the opportunity to work together and provide leadership around climate breakdown through the Vision 2025’s pioneering strategy. 

The campaign aims to raise £25k to publish a second-edition of The Show Must Go On Report, to provide comprehensive, free-to-use, practical resources and advice, to develop networks to share best practice, and strengthen a bold roadmap for change – and to make sure the information reaches decision makers who can implement the new strategies. 

A lot has moved on in the industry since the first report in 2015, and the updated Show Must Go On report, to be published in early 2020, will provide fresh, relevant information and guidance. Events and companies will be supported through Festival Vision: 2025 to make and meet a pledge for events to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2025 in the key areas of energy, resource management, water, food & drink, travel & transport and governance. 

“This is more than resources – it’s a movement. We have the opportunity for the events industry to come together and co-fund the best possible up-to-date resources, share information and support each other, to catalyse action on travel, waste, plastics, energy and emissions. It’s bold but achievable if we engage now and act, and the first step is to fund the work collaboratively.” Chris Johnson (Powerful Thinking, Shambala Festival)

Already many key voices have pledged their support for the campaign; with some companies sponsoring relevant chapters; Grist Environmental on materials & waste, NCASS on food & drink, Tuned In Travel on travel & transport and Power Logistics on Energy. Others have aligned their brands with the overall report, including Playpass, The Showman’s Show, Enviral agency, Event Buyers Live and Immersa –and there are many options left for companies to get involved. 

Watch the video and visit the Festival Vision: 2025 Crowdfunder page for support and sponsorship opportunities: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/festivalvision2025

Festival Vision:2025 began in 2015 when The Show Must Go On report edition one, was delivered to the COP21 talks in Paris as a festival industry response to climate change. The report has since become the foundation for the sector’s discourse about sustainability and over 70 festivals have taken the Festival Vision: 2025 pledge to cut their impacts using the advice provided.  

Five years on and significant steps forward have been taken in the event industry, technology is changing, and there are many examples of innovation across the sector. The Festival Vision: 2025 campaign will gather and share the most up to date information so event professionals can make the best decisions for events and businesses.

“This is more than resources – it’s a movement. We have the opportunity for the events industry to come together and co-fund the best possible up-to-date resources, share information and support each other, to catalyse action on travel, waste, plastics, energy and emissions. It’s bold but achievable if we engage now and act, and the first step is to fund the work collaboratively.” Chris Johnson (Powerful Thinking, Shambala Festival)

Visit the Festival Vision: 2025 Crowdfunder page for support and sponsorship opportunities: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/festivalvision2025

Get ready to support the Festival Vision: 2025 Crowdfunder on 11 June!

Festival Vision:2025 aims to bring the whole festival industry together around the vision for a sustainable events.  The project will provide comprehensive, free-to-use, practical sustainability resources and advice in key areas, including a second-edition of the seminal environmental report The Show Must Go On and fund a campaign to make sure the information reaches the decision makers who can implement the new strategies. 

It’s now 5 years since the 1st edition of the Show Must Go On report was launched (pictured) and over 70 festivals have take the Festival Vision:2025 pledge and are actively working to cut their impacts. The Show Must Go On report has become the foundation for the sector’s discourse about sustainability. It is typically a source for facts for articles about sustainability in the industry, and has been downloaded thousands of times. Festival organisers have repeatedly cited it as the most read environmental resource in surveys.

“This is more than resources – it’s a movement. It’s time to act decisively on climate change – we have the opportunity for the festival industry to come together as companies, events and individuals to co-fund the best possible up-to-date resources, share information and support each other, to catalyse action on travel, waste, plastics, energy and emissions.” Chris Johnson (Powerful Thinking, Shambala Festival)

The Crowdfunder campaign will be an opportunity for events, companies and individuals to be part of an ambitious vision and to position their brands in a responsible context. Find out how to get involved ahead of the live date HERE.

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