How to Hold a Green Festival (or Event)

The fourth annual Barnes Film Festival starts at the end of September. And one thing we champion is a sustainable and responsible approach to what we do.

With global focus turning more than ever to curbing single-use plastics, finding greener alternatives, and all of us doing our bit, it’s a good time to take a look at how to make an event sustainable.

Learn from the past

Summer is here. It’s also the 50th anniversary of the legendary 1969 Woodstock festival.

That famous rave led to an equally famous documentary film in 1970, but also a colossal amount of mess from the 500,000 strong crowd. It’s ironic given the progressive nature of the hippy-friendly crowd.

The summer of love was really about excess. By the final day of Woodstock, the event was so muddy and devastated that Jimi Hendrix’s festival-closing performance was seen by an enormously diminished crowd.

The Who’s Pete Townshend and The Band’s Levon Helm described the event as a “war zone” and were delighted to get out of there, the former back to London where he criticised the festival heavily.

So, don’t go the way of Woodstock. Keep your crowds happy with the green initiatives we list below.

Go digital

It’s an age where printing out marketing materials really isn’t necessary—neither is printing out a bunch of tickets for your event.

Turn to digital options to cut back on excess paper usage.

You can use QR codes, for example, or ask attendees to show their confirmation email at the gate.

Be biodegradable

In the aftermath of any major festival, there’s going to be a lot of rubbish. Plastics will dominate proceedings—you can make a positive change by using biodegradable products.

Ecover is one option for some healthy, plant-based cleaning.

But there are also bin bags, plates, and cutlery that’ll naturally biodegrade over time—look out for them in stores or buy in bulk online for some cost-effective savings.

Don’t overdo the catering

Most events will solve the possibility of running out of food by overproducing to a colossal extent. In most cases, the result is a serious amount of daily waste—and most of that food will end up in a bin.

You can manage that through carefully estimating attendance figures (by referring to tickets sold) and working out how much food you’ll likely need.

In other words, avoid over-catering. Or, if you’re worried about attendees going hungry, produce more than enough and then distribute left-overs to those in need—homeless shelters or the local food banks.

Make it commutable

Don’t host your festival in the middle of nowhere, forcing hundreds or thousands to travel via car, taxi, or helicopter (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration).

But it’s important to keep it local so that most people will be able to get there easily by public transport.

Or, if they are driving, then it’s kept to a minimum, rather than a three hour slog out into a random location.

You can also recommend car sharing to make the process better for families, friends, or individuals attending—all of which is easy to organise through services such as Liftshare.

Power your event the green way

Services such as Event Solar let you power your event along using natural sunlight. Pretty handy given it’s summer, where even in England we bask in a heatwave from time to time.

By using this service you can cut down on carbon usage, overall pollution, the need to refuel, and you have a continuous supply of green energy.

Use Ecosia for your queries

This Berlin-based search engine donates 80% of its surplus income to non-profit organisations.

The result? Well, that’s a lot more trees being planted thanks to the efforts of one website with a green message to the world.

How can you help? If you’re off to a festival anytime soon and have some questions, pop them into this search engine instead of Google. That way you can help new trees flourish in the world around us.

And, of course, you can look to use it as your go-to search engine of choice from now on to keep on helping the environment.

Have sustainable ideas

You can also use your imagination - don’t just turn to others for ideas. Use your initiative to add some extra green power to your event.

This can concern water, waste, volunteers, and encourage recyling.

Or you could hand out stainless teel water battles to revellers, ensuring the event doesn’t end with a mass of empty plastic bottles everywhere.