How Green?

windwonderfulwind-150x150The festival’s ‘Green’ ethos is embedded in all we do

The Green Gathering is a showcase of real life, low-impact alternatives. Its focus is education for sustainability, with the emphasis that education should be hands-on and fun. The festival’s philosophy is ‘beyond hedonism’ and we aim to provide an environment where creativity can be applied to ecological and social dilemmas in a tapestry of skill-sharing and entertainment, all powered by wind, sun and people.

Campaign stalls and a Speakers’ Forum vie for attention with tiny music stages showcasing up-and-coming and avant-garde talent. Traders and caterers are picked for their ethical sourcing policy and the quality of their wares. Workers’ co-op stalls, handmade goods and organic produce are abundant. Traditional sustainable crafts are passed on to new generations. The Permaculture community teaches practical future-proofing skills and taster workshops in permaculture design. There are forays into the surrounding woodland for wild food, and campfires on which to cook hand-picked produce.

Festival-goers frequently say that attendance at a Green Gathering inspired them to change their outlook, habits and lifestyle. Where many festivals are all about forgetting responsibilities and enjoying the show, GG aims to trigger a sense of responsibility and to equip festival-goers with the mindset and skills to transform their lives, and the world, for the better.

The Green Gathering Sustainability Policy

All contractors, volunteers and directors undertake to respect people, animals and the environment in the production of the festival. Waste, destruction, pollution, fossil fuel use and feeding corporate profits are to be minimised in the production of the festival.

All activities undertaken by The Green Gathering – the festival, its production company and charity – aim to promote environmental sustainability, ecological awareness, biodiversity, human rights, and appropriate education, technology and communication.

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Implementing the Policy

Electrical Power & Lighting

Policy: Power used at the festival to be derived from renewable source

Implementation:

  • Our on-site electrical requirements are primarily met by solar generation
  • A small amount of our on-site electrical requirements may be wind- or pedal-generated, or stored in batteries charged whilst driving to the event. This includes all venues, traders, workshops, lighting, on-site offices, water pump, and charging of mobility vehicles
  • No generators – diesel, petrol, gas or bio-fuel – are used
  • A soft-start water pump was bought in 2016 to reduce load on solar power providers
  • All on-site festoon and stage lighting is LED
  • As of 2018 the tower lights in our off site carparks are solar powered

Transport

Policy: Crew, artists and public to be encouraged to minimise emissions in their travel choices. On site journeys should be minimised when possible and fuel efficient driving methods adhered to.

Implementation:

  • We charge for public vehicle passes and encourage car-sharing and public transport use
  • We limit the number of free crew and artist vehicle passes available; we have reduced the % of these vehicle pass allocations from over 50% in 2016, to 48% in 2017, to 46% in 2018
  • We provide detailed information about public transport to the festival
  • We are registered with and promote Go Car Share
  • As of 2018 we provide and promote a stewarded shuttle bus from the local train station to the festival, on a donation basis
  • We arrange guided cycle rides to the event from Bristol (with incentives)
  • We offer affordable tent hire options (including Camplight recycled tents) – making it easier for people to travel by public transport or bicycle without heavy loads
  • We provide a shuttle mini bus with trailer from our off -site carpark to the main event site; only essential vehicles ever drive onto the site, and movement of those essential vehicles once on site is strictly limited
  • We arrange deliveries of locally produced bread, veg, milk and eggs so traders don’t need to drive off site for these and food-miles remain low; we also arrange delivery of bottled gas and dried staple foodstuffs to avoid multiple trips off site
  • We provide cargo-trike transport to and from venues for performers’ equipment and bar supplies
  • Our Medical team use bicycles to attend non-emergencies and short distance call-outs which are often quicker to reach by bicycle than by motor vehicle.

Heating & Cooking

Policy: Energy for heating and cooking to be derived from sustainable sources where possible.

Implementation:

  • Our main showers and sauna are wood-fired, using approximately 50% scrap wood and offcuts sourced locally
  • Our caterers mainly use bottled gas but we encourage alternatives
  • In 2018 two of our public-facing cafes were wood-fired; our Kids Area crew catering was 50% wood fired; our Sacred Activist Sanctuary used a central hearth for cooking, heating water and fostering community; our main crew canteen used biomass rocket stoves to boil water; our Permaculture crew utilised wood-gas, solar and biomass ovens and rocket stoves; we hosted an interactive showcase of working solar ovens; and we held workshops in building and using biochar, wood-gas and rocket stoves
  • We provide communal fires for warmth in the evenings, using at least 50% scrap wood and offcuts sourced locally; this prevents lots of individual fires being lit, without imposing a ban which would cause a loss of valuable community-building
  • Campers are reminded to respect woodland and wildlife habitat by not removing/burning green or rotting wood from the festival environs

Food & Drink

Policy: Local and affordable 100% meat- & fish-free food and ethically/sustainably sourced fair trade products such as beverages. Strict rules for minimising disposable waste and fully compostable system.

Implementation:

  • We ask all caterers to use our suppliers
  • Our bread is from a local bakery, baked fresh and delivered to site daily, high % is organic
  • Our milk and eggs are organic, from a local farm (G & R Morgan), delivered to site daily
  • Our veg is delivered twice during the festival, by Four Seasons Organic, a small Bristol-based family-run company which uses local growers where possible (Bristol is 18 miles away)
  • Dried foods are delivered pre-event by Essential Trading, a Bristol-based wholefood co-op
  • Organic caterers are given priority in the application process, as are those with a commitment to using local produce and those using re-useable cups
  • We don’t accept traders who sell meat or fish
  • We always have some 100% vegan food stalls, and most stalls offer a good range of vegan options (we aim for one third vegan foodstalls)
  • All food waste and disposable serveware (which must be fully compostable without industrial processing) is composted on site
  • We have strict trading conditions for caterers; trading conditions ‘bonds’ may be retained if conditions are broken: no polystyrene or disposable plastic containers/bottles; no non-organic canned drinks; no palm oil unless certified sustainable; no GM ingredients; no Coca-Cola or Nestle products; no one-portion condiment sachets; use only organic milk and free-range eggs; use only Fair Trade coffee, tea, sugar, chocolate and bananas; cleaning products to be biodegradable (where these can be found that meet food hygiene requirements); avoid products made by large multinational corporations
  • A Green Gathering Ethical Trader award scheme (with pitch discount for winners) encourages caterers and other traders to consider their environmental impact and to aim high
  • Caterers using disposable serveware pay a £50 surcharge
  • 2016-2018 we held workshops on subjects such as vegan baking, vegan cheese making, ethical cooking, avoiding food waste, foraging, permaculture systems of food-growing, low-energy cooking (eg rocket stoves, solar ovens), preserving and composting
  • We have invited food waste groups such as Bristol Skipchen / the Real Junk Food Project to the event to raise awareness
  • We run a donation based crockery-hire-and-washing service – Crock ‘n’ Rock – to reduce use of disposable serveware (trialled 2015, expanded each year 2016-2018)
  • All crew catering operations use reuseable serveware
  • In 2017 we trialled “green ice” – made on site in a freezer powered by solar panels – and managed to supply two bars and two caterers; we hope to expand this provision in 2019

Bars

Policy: Alcohol sourced from local producers and/or sustainable sources and served in reusable containers. Only in-house bars on site, all raising funds to support The Green Gathering festival.

Implementation:

  • Our bars sell ciders and beers from small producers based mostly in Wales, Somerset and Gloucester (Salisbury is the furthest we source from); organic wines and organic or artisan spirits; elderflower champagne; and locally produced or artisan soft drinks such as apple juice, temperance cordials, ginger beer and kefir tonic
  • Our bars do not sell bottled water or soft drinks in disposable containers
  • Our bars only use sturdy re-useable glasses, with deposits to encourage their return
  • Our cocktail bar uses compostable paper straws and edible decorations
  • Our cocktail bar has an extensive temperance (alcohol-free) menu

Re-use, Recycling & Waste

Policy: The use of disposable items and production of waste is discouraged and minimised by promotion of reuse, upcycling and repair. Genuine waste is composted or recycled where possible and education is provided on recycling categories and minimising waste to landfill/incineration.

Implementation:

  • We have multiple sets of highly visible and educational recycling bins, where waste is separated into 14 different categories and Greensweep, our recycling team, hand separates any waste that gets mixed up, and is available to explain the different categories of waste
  • Upcycling workshops creatively re-use waste on site
  • As mentioned in ‘food’, all food waste and disposable serveware is composted on site
  • Compost produced on site is used by our Permaculture community for planting and educational purposes
  • Recycling rate 71% in 2018 (the remaining 29% was incinerated for energy production in Cardiff)
  • Total waste produced at the festival reduced from 13.5 tonnes in 2016 to 12.18 tonnes in 2017  to 11.62 tonnes in 2018
  • We have increased our proportion of compost toilets (20% in 2014, 50% in 2017, 70% in 2018); the waste is composted in Somerset, for agricultural use
  • Camplight demonstrates the importance and possibilities of saving, reusing, repairing and upcycling camping gear
  • We include workshops such as ‘Make Do and Mend’ or a ‘Repair Cafe’, a free shop and swap shop
  • Sale of items in/of single-use plastic has been banned in our bars and food stalls since 2014
  • Plastic glitter banned since 2016; ‘bioglitter’ advised against since Dec 2017 (until full research into biodegradability in fields and water courses is completed and ethical sourcing is confirmed)
  • We discourage use of disposable items such as hazard tape, gaffer tape and single-use cable ties; site crew use reusable cable ties wherever practical
  • In 2018 we launched a ‘Don’t Be A Mug – Bring Your Own!’ campaign calling for festival goers to Bring Your Own Mug (#BYOM) to reduce waste; we provided mugs to hire or buy for those who didn’t bring their own

Education, Social Impact & Behaviour Change

Policy: To encourage positivity, communication, offer information and knowledge across the festival and through social media to stimulate and inspire current and future generations of responsible humans.

Implementation:

  • Many of the talks in our Speakers’ Forum and workshops in the Kids, Campaigns, Permaculture, Crafts and Earth Energies areas are geared to informing and inspiring festival-goers to engage positively with environmental, sustainability and climate change issues
  • The event as a whole is a showcase of what can be done with renewable energy and low impact alternatives
  • Several workshops each year are specifically geared to practical skill-sharing in renewable technologies and low impact alternatives, with all ages and skill levels catered for
  • Our publicity, website etc also carry these messages
  • The Green Gathering charity has a mission to reach out beyond the annual August festival and bring the wealth of expertise in our community to a wider audience
  • The GG charity runs the Crock ‘n’ Rock service, has funded a Radical Youth Space and free Craft workshops, supported a ‘Celebration of Sustainable Futures’ event in rural Carmarthenshire in 2016, has improved Assisted Access facilities at the GG festival and in 2018 funded a Biodiversity Assessment of the festival site to help us protect and respect local flora and fauna
  • In 2018 we added family-friendly moth, flora and wildlife spotting workshops to the programme and collaborated with an MSc research project into bat activity
  • In 2018 we trialled the Resource Hub – a centre of practical skill sharing and one-to-one ‘clinics’ for those wanting to incorporate renewable technology into their homes or businesses
  • From 2018 we are collecting detailed information about social impact and behaviour changes brought about as a result of attending Green Gatherings

Other

Policy: To act ethically and sustainably in all we do

A Few Examples of Implementation:

  • We bank with Unity Trust Bank (promotes a socially responsible and sustainable approach to banking)
  • We network and work with other organisations to promote ethical and sustainable messages; to this end we have joined A Greener Festival; contribute to events such as the Green Events and Innovations conference; took the Festival Vision 2025 pledge; signed up to and spread the message of Yourope’s Take A Stand initiative; and in 2018 worked with ReFiesta Leicester
  • We leave the site in a better condition than we found it and have been praised by local residents for our respect for the land

Priority areas to improve upon in 2019 and beyond

  • Reduce fuel miles (customer, crew, traders and artists)
  • Further improve waste reduction, reuse and recycling
  • Continue research into onsite recycling of grey water
  • Improve customer satisfaction with compost loos
  • Keep searching for more solar or wood-powered showers
  • Ensure the less financially well off aren’t excluded from cafes by high prices
  • Better promote what we do across public platforms and within the events industry, with a view to providing encouragement, inspiration and knowledge to others seeking sustainable pathways

Barriers to improvement

  • Customer & crew habits/expectations
  • Costs
  • Capacity
  • Lack of available or affordable quality infrastructure
  • Difficulty reaching new audiences as a small event with limited marketing budget

Solutions: ongoing work to make improvements and overcome barriers

  • Continue to build on current financial sustainability through careful budgeting, good marketing and provision of a great event
  • Prioritise environmental sustainability when budgeting
  • Encourage the Green Gathering charity trustees to raise funds and invest in sustainability solutions for the festival
  • Continue to expand Crock n Rock service, Bring Your Own Mug and other waste reduction schemes
  • Raise awareness about the impacts of car travel, encourage further car-sharing and public transport use
  • Increase incentives and make it easier for people to choose car-sharing or public transport eg by providing ‘kit lists’ for lightweight travel, offering discounted tent hire to people travelling on public transport or cycling, providing discounted tickets for families or groups travelling on public transport…
  • Consider feasibility of free or low cost shuttle bus from cities such as Bristol  /  London / Cardiff
  • Prioritise crew, traders and artists who don’t need to make long vehicle journeys
  • Encourage our Security team to use bicycles to attend non-emergencies and short distance call-outs which are often quicker to reach by bicycle than by motor vehicle
  • Discuss issues and improvements with infrastructure providers
  • Add into caterer T&Cs that they’ll offer at least one satisfying meal option for £5 or less
  • Continue to monitor and record what we do
  • Put more time and funding into promoting and sharing what we do
  • Collaborate more with like-minded organisations
  • Engage more crew or bring on more volunteers to increase capacity to do this work
  • Do the research required to compare Green Gathering attendees’ environmental impact during their travel to/from and time spent at the festival with their impact during a similar amount of time spent at home or elsewhere

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This is a living document…

 

PHOTO CREDITS: Thanks to Stefan Handy, Keef Gibson, Ayesha Jones, Ben Cavanna, Brian Darcy, Zoltan, Johnny Solstice & Cathryn, Mike Urban, AimeeVPhotography, Garry Holden, Mark Pickthall, Greeny Lens, mistereb.com & all who've shared their pics.

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