As we near the end of summer, the festival season starts to draw to end (sigh), it’s nice moment to reflect on the festivals that incorporate green thinking and awareness raising into the fun. I enjoy going to see live music but I am always conscious – when you trundle and trip on your way out over the littered empty drinks cans, bottles or glasses – of the amount of wastage that it leaves behind. Whether it’s a camping trip or the tidy up after a kid’s party, there is always a greener option that does not mean being a party pooper and popping the (biodegradable) balloons!
In July, I attended WOMAD, 23rd – 26th July, the ‘World of Music Arts and Dance’ festival. WOMAD holds the tranquil Kunming Garden, which is home to the Sustainable Village. Within this area, there are a bunch of stalls which feature organisations and products to empower sustainable lifestyles and practices. In an event organised by green energy suppliers, Ecotricity, I gave a talk about sustainable fashion under the theme: ‘Britain’s going Green – it’s all in the planning’. It was chaired by Channel 4 iconic reporter Jon Snow who was awarded the Bafta fellowship earlier this year! The panel consisted of Dale Vince OBE, the Founder of the great green electricity company Ecotricity, Mary Shayler, the Author and eco innovator and myself. We tackled the three things that contribute the most to our personal carbon footprints: Energy, Transport, Food, plus the need to make more space for Nature. We each gave our angles on the role of business, education, the government and what the people of Britain can, and need to, do to live a greener lifestyle. Me, from a fashion and ethical consumption perspective!
Other sustainable activity can be seen at Shambala festival. Winners of the 2014 ‘Greener Festival Award’, Shambala, 27th to 30th of August, is 100% renewably powered. Amongst other initiatives detailed on their website, they have banned single use plastic water bottles and instead hold a ‘Bring a Bottle’ campaign to encourage reuse. There’s Valley Fest, 28th to 30th August, where an organic farm in the heart of the Chew Valley, Somerset, is transformed into a family-run festival that celebrates all things organic and locally sourced.
The festivities are not completely over. September is the month The Festival of Thrift takes place in on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th September, in Lingfield, Darlington. At the Observer Ethical Awards I was pleased to see it won the Art and Cultural Award as a cultural celebration for the people of the North East, the UK and beyond. The two-day event is a chance for people to find the fun in learning how to reuse, recycle and upcycle, saving both money and reducing waste. This is so important when an estimated £140 million worth (around 350,000 tonnes) of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year.
There are also many small scale popup events throughout the year from carboot to yard sales, organic music festivals and Fair Trade fairs. All give an opportunity to pick up little things made with respect for people and planet. Remember to leave behind only your footsteps.