EXCITING AND CHALLENGING ROAD AHEAD
“We believe festivals offer a unique platform to effect positive change both nationally and globally. With plans to become carbon-neutral by 2027, Body & Soul delivers on sustainable objectives, guided by the principles of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The circular economy model is our inspiration and supports us to be accountable and bring our audience alongside us as change makers and collaborators. It’s starting to percolate world wide and is an exciting time to pioneer fresh perspectives and practices within the festival landscape.” Avril Stanley, Founder, Body & Soul
Unsurprisingly, rising costs due to inflation are impacting the festival industry. This, in conjunction with rebuilding infrastructures post-COVID, is making space for reinvention and innovation. Coldplay are committed to having the most sustainable global tour yet (powered by renewable energy, creating the first-ever mobile, rechargeable show battery made from recycled BMW batteries). It’s an enormous undertaking which by no means solves all the impact challenges that come with a global tour, but it’s a significantly important transformation from business as usual. Fernando Zabala Alfonso, Founder of Sold Out, and one of Spain's most experienced major festival promoters, is aware of the challenges ahead but is reinforcing the message that it’s important to start somewhere. “This means hiring low-consumption equipment, using recyclable materials throughout the venue, reusing the audience's glasses and collecting the different rubbish. It may not be enough and little by little we have to improve, but today this is what we are doing.” Shambala Festival, one of Europe's most pioneering festivals in the world of sustainability and circularity, has a site-wide ban on single-use plastics - it’s a BYO-Refillable Bottle and Cup kinda affair.
To make these changes scalable for more festivals as it becomes more mainstream, festival organisers are calling for support in making greener productions. The Vision:2025 report outlines what needs to be done - Across Europe there are initiatives, like the European Festival Association YOUROPE Future-Fit Festivals project and Circular Festivals, bringing together organisers, offering resources, and creating a space for collaboration and best practice sharing. Irish festival Body & Soul is a part of the Circular Festival program, and have achieved an average of 17.5% decrease in their use of fossil fuels each year since 2017, using bio-fuels and renewable energy sources. Denmark’s Roskilde festival goal is also going circular, offering tent rentals to minimise single-use waste. For the next generation, they have created a youth-led innovation lab, using the festival as a testing laboratory to explore new green solutions.