On the account of Earth Day that is celebrated  every 22nd  day of April, The Sherp looks at all the ways festivals can do their bit for the environment.

Festivals command large numbers, huge logistics and grand business. It’s all large scale; even the waste generated afterwards. And when these festivals are held amidst the woods, or in a huge park, or by the beach, the cause of concern is much higher. With waste being unavoidable at festivals, what can they do to dramatically minimise it? The Sherp lists a bunch of easy ideas to keep in mind, even when the festival you organise is in your own backyard.

1. Keep it natural at the very start

A certain sense of environmental consciousness will be invoked in the festival attendees if the festival takes them in the midst of nature, quite naturally. A festival that looks and feels as authentic as possible, surrounded by nature of insurmountable beauty, will encourage people to think twice before littering or indulging in anything that’s harmful. Our recently covered ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ gets this absolutely right as it takes place in the picturesque state of Manipur.

11091183_1619170198326511_156349094845578973_n(image credits: Where Have All The Flowers Gone? Facebook)

2. If you must build, use bamboo

The amount of installation going on at festivals is massive. Stages, parakeets, zones, the likes. The best bet for a festival then, is to shift to bamboo stages, like various festivals right from Coachella, to the recently covered ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ have done. Bamboo makes for durable building material, and because it’s a rhizome plant, hence regenerative, it grows right back up, once the set is brought down. They’re strong, and they will weigh well on your conscience!

SONY DSC(image credits: examiner.com)

3. Believe in Solar Power

Electricity is consumed in insane amounts at a festival. You need it to light up the place, power up the equipment, and for just about everything right from running the food stations to make the organising seamless. Which is why moving to solar power is a conscientious decision many festival organisers are undertaking and with good reason. Not only they help save money that you’d be spending on the electricity, but they also help tap energy that can be used for when the night sets in. Coachella has solar powered dj booths, Bluesfest has a solar powered sound system. Solar stages are big too!

Solar and human powered stage at Coachella

Solar and human powered stage at Coachella

(image credits: inhabitant.com)

4. Let people work for power

Phone charging booths are one too common at a music festival. But many such festivals are instead letting people earn the power they need. Charging bikes are in! You can pedal away for as long as you wish to charge your phone. It not only helps keep attendees on the go, quite literally, but it will also teach them the value of ‘it’s enough’. Plus, it helps burn all the beer you’re constantly consuming. Triple the whammy!

11150321_10153161015286648_1872309257594674445_n(image credits: Coachella Facebook)

5. Reduce plastic consumption

The biggest compliant to waste generation is plastic, which because of its non-degradability, is that much scarier. What one can then do is avoid using plastic wherever possible. Instead of selling plastic bottled water, water coolers or sprinklers can be installed, so people can fill their bottles and consume water through them.

For eg : Food can be given in packets made from paper or better still in reusable napkins. Or, one can even use bamboo utensils instead of plastic forks. Flea markets can use cloth  bags as wrapping material. Installations can use hybrid, degradable versions of plastic. It is possible!

bottles-byo(image credits: sunshinecoastlifestyle.com.au)

6. Organic tie-ups

Festivals tend to tie-up with various customer service organisations. If all of these tie-ups were done with brands like Ecoy that are environmentally conscious, you will be setting a good precedent for  conservation.

7. Disposable stations

How can you expect your audience to not generate waste, if enough trash stations aren’t installed? Coachella sets a wonderful, involving example, by calling out people to design trash bins. These must be installed at regular intervals, so one succumbs to dumping waste in them than on the ground. Cigarettes make for annoying post festival waste, and picking them up can be too consuming. How about ash-bins at regular intervals?

11070987_10153158030951648_1153402983968514179_n(Image credits: Coachella Facebook) 

8. Allow people to pack well

The most annoying trend is how festivals expect attendees to come with nothing but money and passes, and insist on them using everything at the festival premises itself. Maybe these rules can be bent on accounts where waste is generated? Campers can be encouraged to carry their own porta-chargers instead of using the ones at the festival. They can be allowed to carry their own generators, or natural coolers. Plus, go back to point 5, if they carry their own bottles and refill them, imagine the amount of waste that can be avoided!

campers-in-tent-1000x750(image credits: Festival Survival Guide)

9. Massive clean drives

When you head to a forest, or a beach, or any ground, and make it your home for a week or so as you go about organising a festival, you build an allegiance to it. You cannot shrug off your responsibility once the festival ends. Build the thought within the organising team that your waste must go with you! Clean up the place, collect all your garbage, and then get going. Basically, leave the place as you found it, pristine and neat.

Meredith Music Festival 2011(image credits: 2013.mmf.com.au)

10. Harbour a ‘Be Nice To Nature’ angle

As you may have a bunch of stalls with your stages, how about an additional stall dispensing positive attitude towards the environment. The numbers that festivals churn out, lends them such a huge audience for a good message. Plus, it lends a great personality to your festival. As one that cares. Let attendees know as they enter, that they must give back, as much as they take with them. Tortuga Music Festival tries to be as educative about waterfront preservation as it is about music.

1926647_758564054176697_2853658203618170209_n(image credits: Tortuga Music Festival Facebook)