Festivals may bring fun activities, epic headliners, and huge attendance numbers, but all those people gathered in one place can bring about problems we rarely stop to consider – the impact on the environment. Which leaves Australian festivals in the midst of a growing awareness of environmental issues. So, which ones are leading the way in terms of sustainability?
Like most events, festivals require a whole heap of resources – water, land, industrial equipment, energy and food. When tens of thousands of festival-goers defence on one place it can generate massive carbon emissions from travel, not to mention all of the single-use waste usually being left behind. Even local-style festivals draw in thousands of attendees and, as a result, there is a lot of potential for huge environmental impacts.
A large portion of the worlds larger-scale music festivals (looking at you, Coachella) show that they can be a large threat to the wider environment in which they inhabit. However, the great news is, some of Australia’s festivals are setting a totally green example on the world festival stage. Many Australian festivals have been named as some of the worlds most eco-friendly and conscious by UK-based nonprofit A Greener Festival.
So, who comes out on top for sustainability? Some of Australia’s biggest festival players are amongst those leading the way in environmental sustainability.
The Falls Festival
Falls Music and Arts Festival has picked up many awards for sustainability over the years. The Australian festival’s Lorne leg picked up recognising its water-saving and recycling features. Back in 2013 Falls managed to get 62% of festival-gets to reduce their carbon footprint by car-sharing or using public transport. Not only that, but over 55 tonnes of waste was also recycled.
In the same league, the Marion Bay leg won Tasmania’s Tourism Award in the Major Festivals and Events category. Ultimately, the festival injected more than $15 into the local Tasmanian economy. Not bad!
This Byron Bay Australian festival draws an impressive crowd in their tens of thousands each year. Bluesfest prides themselves on their continued commitment to environmental sustainability, mockingly dubbing themselves “Greenfest. A Greener Festival once awarded them with the Improving Award, given to “festivals at the beginning of the green ‘journey’” and they’ve gone from strength to strength since. Recently, they launched their #BYOBBottle campaign, endeavour to recycle and compost everything they’re able to and donate leftover food to the local homeless. But, as their website states, there “always more we can do”.
Splendour In The Grass
Splendour can take the cake as one of the most sustainable Australian festivals out there. Held in the North Byron Parklands every year in July, the sustainable journey starts from the moment you purchase your tickets – giving you the option to add a carbon offset for as little as $3. This money is then reinvested into Australian renewable energy projects. Just like Falls, festival patrons are encouraged to carpool, providing them perks and prizes at the event.
Refill stations are strategically placed around the festival, and you are encouraged to buy one bottle for the whole weekend. Splendour also green up their toilets! The majority of the site is fitted with 246 dry-composting toilets where the waste is composted and used to help grow trees in the parklands. Gross, but amazing!
As Australia’s festivals are leading the way in environmental sustainability, there must be some honourable mentions in the way of Regrowth Festival, Island Vibe Festival and Folk, Rhythm & Life. All three have won sustainability awards, and do everything they can to offset the footprint of their patrons.