How green is glastonbury?
You might need a canoe and a wetsuit at Glastonbury this year. The festival site might be the soggiest its ever been but that’s no deterrent for Glasto fans. Ditch the tent, dance all night every night and you’ll be a-ok. We love a mud-soaked boogy and nothing can keep us away but, could Glasto’s environmental credentials be under threat from the rise of DGTL, a festival that plans to become the first circular, climate neutral event by 2020? Here at Monkey Wrench we’re starting to wonder, just how green is Glastonbury?
Glasto’s green policies
In February 2019, Glastonbury announced its plans to ban the sale of single-use plastic bottles. In an attempt to encourage festival-goers to bring reusable bottles with them, free water taps will be installed around the site. This plastic ban is the most recent addition to a long list of ways in which Glastonbury festival aims to be as green as possible.
In 2010, 1500 square meters of solar panels were installed on the roof of a cattle shed at the festival site. These solar panels make up one of the largest privately owned solar photovoltaic systems in England and contributes to the power used during the festival. Wind power, biofuel created from cooking oil, a ground source heat pump and a new anaerobic digester are all used to power various areas of Worthy Farm and the festival it hosts. Not only that, but the Pee Power Project created by Bristol University and UWE is turning urine produced during the event into electricity.
The festival encourages its attendants to travel via public transport by selling coach and ticket packages ahead of regular tickets, thus giving the environmentally conscious a head start in securing their place. A free shuttle bus runs from Castle Cary train station to the site and the Bike to Glasto scheme ensures cyclists have a secure place to lock-up their bicycles, as well as a cyclists’ campsite. To reduce food miles an onsite wholesale market is set up every year. Additionally, water need not be delivered to the site as Worthy Farm’s water supply and reservoirs provide enough water during the festival weekend.
In addition to banning single-use plastic bottles, Glastonbury festival has also developed a reusable steel cup that is to be sold in order to reduce the number of people drinking from soft plastic cups. These steel cups are made from 90% recycled materials and have proven to be extremely popular amongst festival-goers. Continuing their war against plastic, all disposable serve ware, such as plates and forks, must be compostable and plastic condiment sachets are banned.
Glastonbury is a place where we can release our inner child, get covered in glitter and dance like no one is watching, but we must remain mindful of the fields we’re dancing in. What might seem like a bit of harmless, glittery fun is actually causing microplastics to pollute the festival grounds after the party is over. At Glastonbury, all glitter sold must be biodegradable, although nothing currently stops attendees from bringing plastic glitter onsite.
In order to bring this make-shift city to life, timber is needed to create the stages and other structures. All timber used during the festival is FSC certified and is chipped and used on Worthy Farm when the festival ends. Also, Glastonbury spends a lot of time and man-power ensuring that as much waste is recycled as possible.
To find out more about Glastonbury’s Green Policies click here
Re-design rather than react
While it’s clear that the organisers of Glastonbury festival do take a passionate interest in sustainability and preserving the environment, their recent announcement that 5G will be trialled on-site has left us wondering just how green they actually are. Five temporary masts are to be installed at the festival, much to the outrage of many ticket-holders and residents of Glastonbury itself who are concerned about the radioactive pollution such masts might give out. This news is a huge blow to Glastonbury’s green reputation and is made worse by the fact that the festival continues to allow meat to be sold. Plant-based diets are more sustainable, but are Glasto goers ready to give up meat? At DGTL festival, organisers have taken the plunge and made their event completely meat free. It’s this ability to make bold decisions that gives DGTL its status as an environmentally innovative event that seeks to re-define what it means to be a green festival.
DGTL started in Amsterdam before expanding to organise events in Santiago, São Paulo, Barcelona, Tel Aviv and Madrid. For seven years, the organisers have provided a sustainable space for fellow environmentalists to enjoy music, art and much more. What’s really striking about DGTL is its aim to become the world’s first circular festival. This means that they aspire to generate no waste and achieve carbon neutral status by 2020. Although Glastonbury and DGTL have employed many of the same ideas in order to preserve the sustainability of their festivals, for example compost loos and reusable cups, DGTL clearly states that circularity is the most important consideration when planning their event. DGTL professes to completely re-design the festival every year in order to ensure that its carbon footprint is as small as possible. Yet, Glastonbury appears to take a more reactive approach. Rather than designing the event around a green ethos, the organisers seem to implement the environmentally friendly elements around the festival in its current form. DGTL aims to create a green festival, whereas Glastonbury aims to make its festival more green.
One of the main reasons we attend music festivals is the brilliant performances and installations. Alongside the amazing music and art at DGTL, sustainability itself becomes part of the entertainment. While festivals such as Glastonbury encourage their ticket-holders to recycle during the event, DGTL takes this one step further. Recycling becomes a source of entertainment and a destination within the festival site. DGTL created Resource Street in order to change people’s perception of the things they throw away, rather than seeing waste, attendees will see resources that can be used to create new things. Resource Street displays the recycling process from beginning to end, using a pyrolysis installation to transform bottle caps into oil before your eyes.
After heading to Resource Street, DGTL’s festival-goers can take part in sustainable Revolution projects in order to earn ECO coins. Next Nature Network have partnered with DGTL to create the world’s first digital ecological currency. These coins can be used to purchase rewards such as sustainable food. Additionally, in 2017 ticket-holders were given the chance to understand the circularity of plant-based diets like never before. Algae can benefit hugely from human breath which contains heat and carbon dioxide. So, attendees would lie down under a table of algae and allow this plant to take in their breath. Afterwards, algae shots and smoothies are served, nourishing the volunteers and closing the circle. It’s clear that this festival truly immerses visitors in its sustainability practises, in a way that is more likely to extend DGTL’s sustainable impact beyond the festival and into ticket-holders’ personal lives.
So, when considering what Glastonbury can learn from DGTL it seems that this world-renowned music festival may need to adjust its outlook to truly become a green event. Just as in the wider world, many smaller actions can have a meaningful impact but, to really solve the problem we need to make more fundamental changes. Incorporating green practises into our lives as we currently live them is not enough. Our government must rethink every decision they make through an environmental lense and completely change our current systems in favour of circular processes. Perhaps it’s not just Glastonbury that can learn a thing or two from DGTL.