The green wave: the rise of sustainable festivals

By Marijn Lenssen on 25-02-2020

In a world where sustainability is starting to play an increasingly important role, festivals can't stay behind. Fortunately, there are already a few festivals that are taking the lead in this area, and show how a festival can be organized as "green" as possible. We have listed the most remarkable examples from The Netherlands and abroad.

Leader DGTL

Looking at the Dutch market, DGTL really is the leader in sustainability. The electronic festival in Amsterdam functions on a so-called "circular zero-waste" principle. This means that all the waste that the festival produces can be reused. The food scraps and the biodegradable cutlery are converted into compost within 24 hours. This compost ends up with a few city farmers in Amsterdam, who grow their products from it. These products will then be used as ingredients for the menu during the coming edition of the festival, which is completely vegetarian and therefore uses much less CO2.

dgtlSeparation of waste at DGTL

The festival also got rid of the traditional plastic cups. From now on, only hard plastic cups are used, which last longer and are therefore less harmful to the environment. However, DGTL’s most ambitious project is the urine recycling project; the urine of visitors is recycled into drinking water! It seems like only a matter of time this will be implemented. So who knows, maybe next year you will be filling your bottle of water at DGTL with the beer you just peed.

Lowlands is catching up in 2020

Lowlands also wants to make their festival more sustainable. All disposables (cups, cutlery, plates, etc.) have been completely recyclable since 2010, which saves 28,000 kg of waste annually. In addition, various measures have been introduced over the years with regard to the infrastructure of the festival, whereby electricity, water and fuel consumption are reduced each edition. And so-called "Green Ghetto's" have been created on the campsite, where benevolent visitors together ensure that all waste is disposed.

Lowlands Carpark

In addition to these measures, which ensure that the festival is becoming increasingly sustainable, Lowlands has decided that it also wants to give something back to society. That is why, in collaboration with the company Solarfields, the largest solar carport in the world will be built on the Lowlands car parks. The expectation is that the solar park, consisting of 90,000 solar panels, will come into use in May 2021. Every year around 35 million kWh of electricity will be produced, which will provide 10,000 households with green energy. To put this figure in perspective: with the solar park the electricity consumption of around 100 Lowlands weekends will be generated annually.

Make The World Great Again encourages visitors

As the name suggests, the "Make The World Great Again Festival" also focuses on sustainability. Where DGTL is taking steps itself to become more sustainable, the "Make The World Great Again Festival" in Amsterdam is actually encouraging their visitors to live more sustainably themselves. For example, different houseboats will be opened, each with its own "green" theme. There will be various interactive sessions in which you as a visitor can come into contact with these different themes. The festival also offers the possibility to switch to a greener bank and/or energy supplier. All this must ensure that you as a visitor go home a little greener. And of course all of this takes place while enjoying good music, a win-win situation for the visitor!

Welcome to the Village is working on the village of the future

The Welcome to the Village festival in Leeuwarden takes the green philosophy to another level. A so-called DORP is created in the week around the festival. This village must represent the society of the future. The latest ideas and developments in the field of sustainability are tested in the village during the festival. The idea behind this is: If something can work at the festival, then it must also be possible in "real" society.

Aftermovie DORP 2019

The Netherlands wants to be completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050. That is why the most important development that the organizers of the festival want to test is the circular society principle. This is a society in which no residual electricity is left, and all products can be reused. Although everything within the DORP naturally takes place on a small scale, the festival sees itself as the perfect test location for both innovations and social experiments. So if you feel like living in the future, Welcome to the Village is the perfect festival for you!

Sustainability all over the world

For those who thought that only Dutch festivals did their best for the climate, don't be afraid. There are festivals all over the world that all try to have a positive impact on the environment in their own way. There is the Terraforma festival in Italy. During this festival no less than 50 percent of all the collected waste is recyclable, while all the dishes are completely biodegradable. Furthermore, all the lights at the festival run on solar energy, while all stages are made of sustainable material.

terraThe mainstage of Terraforma festival in Italy, from completely recyclable material.

The Shambala festival in England also focuses entirely on sustainability. Since the beginning of this festival in the 90s, it has been able to reduce its ecological footprint with less than 80%. The festival also runs entirely on renewable energy and they have switched to complete vegetarian meals. The most remarkable performance of the festival, however, took place in 2018. In that year no waste was brought to the garbage dump at all. This means that all the junk produced this year has been recycled, reused or biodegraded. Although this seems unattainable for much larger festivals at the moment, it is nevertheless a very good performance for a festival.

What’s next?

It is of course clear that the mentioned festivals are pioneers in the field of sustainability. One of the most important things that a festival can start with is switching to sustainable energy sources. An enormous amount of energy is used during a festival, so switching to a greener energy source can already have a major impact on the festival's ecological footprint. Apart from energy consumption, waste is one of the biggest problems for a festival. Some measures for this are switching to hard cups and using biodegradable material for food sales. Although this naturally requires an initial investment, it will certainly pay off in the future!

And you as a visitor? Of course you can also do your bit to make a festival more sustainable. Do not throw your waste on the floor indiscriminately, but make sure that it ends up in the (correct) waste bin! Also opt for that vegetarian option, instead of fries with a hamburger. Just as tasty, better for the environment and also a whole lot healthier! It is of course only a small start, but in this way you and your favorite festival will ensure that festivals work towards a greener society step by step. And let's be honest, that is desperately needed.

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Tags: festivals, gigstarter, sustainable