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2014 guide to the UK’s top sustainable and green festivals

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With the UK’s summer festival season almost upon us, we will be looking in-depth at some of the most sustainable or eco-friendly events taking place in 2014.

But first, to whet your appetite, here is a mini-guide to the festivals we think you should look out for this year, glancing briefly at their sustainability and green commitments.

Wood Festival, Oxfordshire

A small family festival of music and nature, situated in Braziers Park, Ipsden. It was first held in 2008 and is run by the same people who organise the Truck Festival.

When: May 16-18
Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £75; day tickets between £24-32
Website: www.woodfestival.com
Sustainability: The festival is 100% powered by renewable energy, with energy sources ranging from biodiesel to solar power. Organisers have invested in sustainable infrastructure, including the main green oak stage, with Julie’s Bicycle describing the event as a “beacon of environmental sustainability“. It has plans to become a zero-waste festival in the future, and it already promotes the use of public transport schemes, especially cycling and car sharing, for people travelling to the event. It is highly commended by A Greener Festival and was handed a silver award by Festival Kidz.

Glyndebourne Festival, Sussex

A Sussex-based opera festival, founded in 1934, that presents a range of opera productions each year.

When: May 17 – August 24
Tickets: From £85
Website: www.glyndebourne.com
Sustainability: Glyndebourne uses a wind turbine as its main source of power. In its second year of operation (to January 2014), the turbine exceeded its targets, generating enough energy to cover 102% of the event’s requirements. The festival was awarded the maximum three stars by the environmental certification scheme Industry Green in 2013, and it has an ambition for its whole operation to be carbon neutral. 

Sunrise Festival, Somerset

An ethical living arts and music festival that originally began back in 2006.

When: May 29 – June 1
Tickets: Adult tickets are £99; family tickets are £225
Website: www.sunrisecelebration.com
Sustainability: All the energy used at the festival site is from renewable sources such as solar and wind power. On-site biodiesel also is used, locally sourced and made from waste vegetable oil. Sunrise’s goal is to achieve best practice in ethics and the environment, and it was rated outstanding by A Greener Festival in 2013.

Hebridean Celtic Festival, Isle of Lewis

A Celtic music festival that takes place in Stornoway in the Scottish Outer Hebrides.

When: July 16-19
Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £79; day tickets range from £26-35
Website: www.hebceltfest.com
Sustainability: The trust behind the festival has committed to minimising its impact on the environment, reducing carbon emissions and waste on site, encouraging more responsible forms of transport, and sustainably managing festival resources like energy and water consumption. In 2013, it was one of the first festivals to trial the Recycle and Reward scheme – to incentivise festival-goers to recycle. A Greener Festival rated it outstanding in 2013.

Larmer Tree Festival, Wiltshire

An annual music and arts festival set in the picturesque grounds of Larmer Tree Gardens.

When: July 16-20
Tickets: Adult tickets start at £160; youths at £105 and children at £60
Website: 
www.larmertreefestival.co.uk
Sustainability: The festival works with organisations such as Wiltshire Event Services to improve recycling initiatives during the five-day event. It encourages the use of public transport to and from the site, and supports the local economy by utilising local suppliers as often as it can. In 2014, the festival’s official charity partner is the food poverty charity the Trussell Trust. A Greener Festival commended its efforts in 2013, and it was given a gold award by Festival Kidz in the same year. 

Cambridge Folk Festival, Cambridgeshire

One of the most popular folk festivals in Europe, running since 1964, the event takes place on the impressive grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall.

When: July 31 – August 3
Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £144; day tickets from £53.50-63.50
Website: www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk
Sustainability: A 2009 report, commissioned to measure the carbon footprint of the festival, found that 42% of staff walked, cycled or used public transport to get to the event. In 2010, the festival saw a recycling rate of 71% for all waste, and its bars generate minimal or zero landfill waste. It also has strong links with the environmental charity Friends of the Earth, and was highly commended by A Greener Festival in 2013.

Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons

Intimate, independent festival set in the idyllic, rolling Welsh hills of the Brecon Beacons.

When: August 14-17
Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £159
Website: www.greenman.net
Sustainability: The event uses music and art activities on site to raise awareness of environmental issues and promote a sustainable lifestyle. In Einstein’s Garden, the three stages are powered by sustainable sources of energy, and the area gives festival-goers the opportunity to engage with innovative low-carbon technologies like solar power and hydrogen fuel cells. Festival Kidz gave it a gold award in 2013.

Shambala Festival, Northamptonshire

A small, diverse and family friendly festival which takes place on a quaint country estate in Northamptonshire.

When: August 21-24
Tickets: Adult weekend tickets are £135
Website: www.shambalafestival.org
Sustainability: For the first time in 2014, it is set to be 100% powered by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and waste biodiesel, and it is the first festival in the UK to send zero waste to landfill. It has pioneered projects like the Bring A Bottle campaign, which encourages festival-goers to bring their own reusable water bottles, in addition to encouraging car travellers to make a contributory donation to the Travel Carbon Fund – in order to offset a portion of their carbon emissions. Julie’s Bicycle acknowledges the importance of Shambala’s sustainability management plans on the industry, saying that it “provides a guiding light in educating, inspiring and motivating the festival sector“. The festival is a founder member of the Green Festival Alliance and the Powerful Thinking initiative. It was named best green festival at the 2013 UK Festival Awards, and has also received accolades from A Greener Festival, Festival Kidz and Industry Green.

Greenbelt Festival, Essex

An arts, faith and justice festival with traditional Christian roots.

When: August 22-25
Tickets: Adult weekend tickets range from £119-149
Website: www.greenbelt.org.uk
Sustainability: Caterers on site are required to use reusable or biodegradable food packaging, and traders are encouraged to use fair trade products – which includes Greenbelt Festival branded clothing, which is manufactured using fair trade cotton. The festival uses energy efficient bulbs for the venue’s lighting, and it is supported by a range of partners for 2014, including the sustainable bank Triodos and ethical retailer Traidcraft. it was commended by A Greener Festival in 2013.

End Of The Road Festival, Wiltshire

A small, alternative and independent music festival located at the splendid Larmer Tree Gardens.

When: August 29-31
Tickets: Adult tickets start at £170; youths at £130 and children at £40.
Website: 
www.endoftheroadfestival.com
Sustainability: The festival programme is printed on recycled paper using eco-friendly ink, sourced from vegetables, and over half of non-catering traders offer eco-friendly products. The event has partnered with FRANK Water, a Bristol-based charity, since 2010. Its FreeFill initiative provides filtered drinking water at the festival, which then goes on to fund clean water projects in developing countries. It also partners with A Greener Festival to support the Festival Wood campaign through valuable voluntary donations. Festival travellers by car can opt to purchase a tree in order to restore ancient woodland and wild forests in Scotland.

About the certifications and awards

A Greener Festival are a global awards scheme set up in 2007 that recognises festivals that deliver environmental best practice. www.agreenerfestival.com

The Festival Kidz awards were held for the very first time last year to celebrate the most family friendly festivals on the circuit. www.festivalkidz.com

Industry Green, established by Julie’s Bicycle, is a certification of environmental sustainability. www.juliesbicycle.com/industry-green

The Green Festival Alliance (GFA) is an organisation aiming to catalyse sustainability in the festival sector. www.juliesbicycle.com/about-jb/green-festival-alliance

Powerful Thinking is an industry initiative for festivals exploring ideas to reduce costs, respond to climate change and transition to a low-carbon industry. www.powerful-thinking.org.uk

The UK Festival Awards, launched in 2004, are an annual awards ceremony, covering a variety of festival categories including the greener festival award, family festival award, best small festival and many more. www.festivalawards.com

The Festival Wood is a forest regeneration campaign led by A Greener Festival. www.agreenerfestival.com/festival-wood 

Photo: Ella Mullins via Flickr 

Further reading:

The Just So Festival: no ordinary festival

Festivals play a crucial role in switching on our environmental antennas

Honing festival sustainability: from travel to renewable energy

In pictures: 18-foot bee sculpture unveiled at Glastonbury 2013

And finally… renewable energy: something to sing loudly about?

Environment

4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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