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Festivals play a crucial role in switching on our environmental antennas

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As Glastonbury 2013 gets underway, Francesca Baker reflects on how festivals can inspire a generation of environmentally-aware individuals.

Music playing, beer flowing, away from home, everyone hanging free, sweet songs flowing through the breeze, and a time when everyone is your friend.  Festivals are an opportunity to step away from everyday life and forget worries, when the normal world seems very far away.

Who has the time or indeed inclination to worry about their environmental impact as they harness their inner passions so closely in a field of fun? Except of course a sustainable solution is one that is both always on, and therefore is relatively easy to undertake – even at a festival.

As one of the biggest celebrations of positivity, shouldn’t the 400 plus festivals taking place every year be not only limiting their negative effect on the environment, but indeed having something of a positive one?

A study by the organisation A Greener Festival, run in conjunction with Buckingham New University, found that the majority of people are concerned about the impact of festivals upon the environment. Of course, the name of the organisation suggests some inherent biases, but the fact that 83% of people polled said that they would still go to a very environmentally poor festival if the line-up was strong suggests that the audience polled are representative of the usual music crowd.

It is only when the major players make it easy for festivalgoers to behave in an environmentally positive way that real effect can be had

A weekend’s worth of fun can do a lot of damage, both at the time and after – and not only to the reveller’s liver. Noise, waste and traffic all have a negative impact not only on the local community, but the wider world.

More than 84,000 tons of carbon are emitted from UK festivals every year. Queues of cars are frustrating for local people, as well as emitting harmful gases. Mounds of rubbish build, not all of it being carefully recycled, or even making it to a bin. All night noise understandably frustrating people living nearby, which consequently affects the relationship a community has with the festival.

Sustainable remedies will look to not only minimise the effect whilst still allowing the festival to thrive, but also harness that festival feeling and allow it to flourish.

However, like so many things, the problem is one of taking responsibility, especially for the average alcohol addled music fan letting loose for the weekend. Ninety per cent of those surveyed believed it was the organisers’ responsibility to minimise any damaging effects that a festival may have, with only 33% believing it to be that of the individual festivalgoer. So with the buck being passed back and forth, who should seize the initiative, and what should those initiatives look like?

Start small. A free cup of tea for bringing the rubbish around your tent to a recycling pen is one of the ways that Bestival and Camp Bestival encourage their audiences to be green. At V Festival, fans are encouraged to collect cans for a reward, and last year around 130,000 were picked up, which equates to over two tonnes of aluminium and steel.

Most festivals also knock 10p off a pint when bringing back a paper cup, which is why you often see people wandering around stacking discarded cups. After a few years of too many abandoned tents, more than 30 festivals have signed up to the Love Your Tent campaign that encourages people to bond with their portable homes in the hope that this will cause them to take their canvas home rather than leave it.

Location is an issue. The majority of events take place in the middle of nowhere, making travel by any means other than car difficult. By organising festival coaches, transport is not only more cost efficient but environmentally efficient. Organisers can also vastly reduce the amount of land needed to serve as car parks, and selling tickets that include transportation, rather than offering it is an additional option, at additional cost, is a simple way that organisers can improve uptake as well as make some extra cash.

Sustainable remedies will look to not only minimise the effect whilst still allowing the festival to thrive, but also harness that festival feeling and allow it to flourish

As a place to spread the message of environmentalism and activism, there are few better forums than festivals. And everyone knows the power of an idol and their action. By asking artists to get involved and do just one thing, the effects are also likely to reap dividends. Addled to the eyeballs on serotonin, most people are more receptive to charities and concerns, and so speaking to people when at the events can represent a valid marketing opportunity.

There are signs of success. In 2011, Lowlands festival ran entirely off solar energy. Meanwhile, ethical bank Triodos helped finance the installation of over 1,100 solar panels on Worthy Farm’s cow shed back in 2010 to help power the UK’s largest festival Glastonbury, although this will never be enough to support the mighty infrastructure that the event requires.

Croissant Neuf is a small family festival entirely run on solar energy, as is Sunrise in Somerset, and one that larger events like Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, V et al can learn from.

It is only when the major players make it easy for festivalgoers to behave in an environmentally positive way that real effect can be had. And once festivalgoers are convinced, they will behave in a sustainable way whichever festival they are at, if the context allows.

This is where the real solution lies – teaching individuals the ways in which they can behave that will have a less harmful impact, and enabling festivals to provide opportunities to do so. Of course, if the line-up is rubbish, there may be no hope.

Francesca Baker is curious about life and enjoys writing about it. A freelance journalist, event organiser, and minor marketing whizz, she has plenty of ideas, and likes to share them. She writes about music, literature, life, travel, art, London, and other general musings, and organises events that contain at least one of the above. You can find out more at www.andsoshethinks.co.uk.

Further reading:

Honing festival sustainability: from travel to renewable energy

Renewable energy: something to sing loudly about?

Recycled 18-foot bee sculpture to stand among festivalgoers at Glastonbury

Francesca Baker is curious about life and enjoys writing about it. A freelance journalist, event organiser, and minor marketing whizz, she has plenty of ideas, and likes to share them. She writes about music, literature, life, travel, art, London, and other general musings, and organises events that contain at least one of the above. You can find out more at www.andsoshethinks.co.uk.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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