If you love music festivals, art shows, and other outdoor celebrations but you are worried about their environmental impact, the good news is that as is the case with other industries, the festival industry, too, is becoming more eco-friendly. Events like Glastonbury, for instance, have completely banned the use of single plastics. Considering the fact that this festival has hundreds of thousands of attendees, the big reduction in waste can easily be imagined.
Additional initiatives include the use of solar energy, the use of public transport, and the ditching of non-compostable glitter. With respect to the land itself, many strategies can be embraced to reduce the environmental impact of big festivals further. Read on to discover a few.
Encouraging Participants to 'Leave No Trace'
At events like Burning Man, participants are focused on leaving the land exactly as they found it prior to the festival. This involves packing up all structures and installations and leaving no waste products or materials behind. The Pohoda Festival (an open-air music fest in Slovakia), meanwhile, is part of the 'Green Europe Experience' as it has its own power plant and it has a host of trash bins, collection sites (where trained staff recycles waste), and more ashtrays for smokers. It also completely bans the use of single-use plastic cups by providing attendees with returnable cups.
Choosing the Right Grass or Turf
Both real and artificial grass have benefits though as a whole, artificial grass can be considered more environmentally friendly because it requires far less maintenance and water than natural grass. Although they may pose a significant investment in large festival landscapes, they are cost-effective, as they can be permanently placed or completely removed for reuse the following year. Because artificial turf can be rolled up, it can be easier to clean as cleaning staff don't have to comb each blade of grass to look for litter. Artificial turf can also reduce the rate of accidents and falls since it does not accumulate mud.
Providing Enough Space for Cars
Festival organizers should ensure that those attending by car have enough space to park their cars offsite, so as to maintain the structural integrity of the land and its plants and trees. These car parks should have temporary charging stations, to encourage drivers to use electric cars to the events. More trains, buses, and other forms of public transport should be provided during festival season, so that attendees are motivated to leave their vehicles at home.
Trees planted on festival sites need special protection. Not only does this mean preventing people from climbing or vandalizing them, but also protecting their most vulnerable part—their roots. As stated by scientist Geoff Monck in A Greener Festival (n.d.), a tree's roots mainly grow outwards rather than downwards. When the soil around them becomes compacted (for instance, because people stand on it), the air that is normally present in the soil is forced out and the tree's roots can no longer breathe. In some cases, the roots and eventually the tree can die. Festival organizers need to provide a minimum root protection area, with a diameter of 12 times the diameter of the stem, measured, says Monck, at 1.2m above the ground. People should not encourage the area within this protected zone.
Many big worldwide festivals are doing their share to reduce their environmental impact. These include organizing clean-ups, choosing artificial turf, and providing enough space for vehicles. More initiatives are required if the land is to be truly protected. Trees should be protected. Specifically, their roots should be protected so that people do not stand too close to their roots.