When you think of the environmental footprint impact of festivals what springs to mind? A field marred by broken tents and discarded plastic bottles? The hum of a diesel generator at 3am? The weird blue chemicals in festival toilets…or the pollution to the water table from punters too busting to queue to use them…
These are all problems that impact on the environment BUT… Did you know that the CO2 emissions from travel have by far the largest impact on the average UK festivals’ carbon footprint? Audience travel alone typically accounts for up to 60-80% of their footprint! …and that figure will increase as we find out more about additional impacts of crew, supplier and artist travel.
Luckily there are easy ways that every festival-goer can help reduce their travel emissions and help their favourite festival cut overall emissions:
1/ Buy a ticket that includes public transport: Many festivals offer coach + entry tickets – which means you get a discount on the cost of your travel – and you might even get an extra perk: Boomtown offer all coach ticket holders free early entry… and travelling with a coachload of friends means your party starts even earlier!
Check out National Express, Big Green Coach or Tuned in Travel – who all provide coaches to many of the UK’s favourite events. If you go with Tuned in Travel have the added bonus of offering passengers the chance to offset or balance their emissions with a small donation to renewable energy projects through Energy Revolution.
2/ Go by public transport: Look into train or bus routes – festivals usually provide all the info you need – and many even have deals with local bus companies meaning your travel from the station to site is free. The team behind Timber Festival work with local bus company Midland Classic to offer a bus route direct the site. Cambridge Folk Festival go the extra mile by offering free bus rides from the main bus and train stations onto site.
Worried about carrying all of your kit there and back? More festivals are offering affordable pre-pitched tents – check out tent provider with Camplight to see which festivals you can rock up to a ready-made canvas home from home. The Green Gathering have created a detailed Green Traveller Guide to the event and are working with Camplight who will throw in FREE hire of a thermarest and camping chair for every public transport traveller who books a tent with them.
Some events even have onsite shops meaning you can lighten your load by saving your booze shopping until you’re there – Download, Latitude, and Reading and Leeds festivals all welcomed the Co-op into their grounds for the first time last year selling food, water, beer and wine, toiletries including medicines and, to cover all eventualities, both sun cream and rain ponchos!
3/ Use leg power! Many festivals organise guided bike rides – which means all your festival kit gets delivered for you while you freewheel onsite to meet it! You might even get an extra perk – Shambala Festival offer free programmes to all those who arrive by bike! Red Fox Cyclingoffer guided rides to a number of events including Boomtown, Shindig Weekender, Bluedot, Wilderness, Timber Festival and many more…
4/ Fill your car with friends! With four people in your car you cut your CO2 per passenger mile by 25%! Want to make new friends? Sign up to a lift share scheme and hop in someone else’s ride or pick up some travellers. Try Liftshare, Blablacaror GoCarShare. Got a lot of friends? Consider hiring a minibus at Tuned in Travel offer a range of options to get your crew there in style.
5/ Go electric! Electric vehicles (EV) are the way ahead with the government committing to making 60% of all vehicles manufactured EV by 2030. Don’t own one yet? Check out the benefits and find your perfect match at Go Ultra Low– they event offer grantsto help you make the switch. EV charging is also becoming available at events across the UK so you can hop back into your car for the return journey fully charged… check out S2VS who offer a meet and greet “valet” charging service for all types of EV at festivals.
6/ Be a happy camper… Driving solo in a campervan is one of the worst things you can do – the CO2 emissions are, on average, over double that of a solo journey by car. Worryingly the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) 10-year reportshowed that in 2017, 38.34% of travellers arrived by campervan – if you’re going to bring yours remember to fill it with friends or leave it in the drive this year and look into other ways of getting there.
7/ Drive efficiently: Over 70% of people still travel by car… if that’s you remember you can cut emissions by driving with care: Drive smoothly. Shift up early to a higher gear. Switch off your engine instead of idling. Slow down! Use your air-con wisely – if you’re travelling below 60 mph opening the windows is more efficient. Check your tyre pressure. Lighten your load & ditch the roof rack: To learn more check out the Energy Saving Trust’s guide on fuel efficient driving for businesses.
8/ Balance your travel emissions: However you decide to travel you can choose to do something positive to balance the negative impact of your emissions. Of course, the first step is ALWAYS to cut emissions at source, but for unavoidable emissions you can calculate your individual journey’s CO2 and make a small donation to Energy Revolution – we’ll give 100% of your donation directly to projects that create clean renewable energy. Balance your travel here: www.energy-revolution.org.uk
Photo credit: Ten Eight for Just So Festival